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New Public Art (controversy?) and Second Saturday in Cashmere

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Well, Saturday being a great day to get out and about in the valley and beyond I took the opportunity to see some of the new and old public art in Wenatchee before heading out to Cashmere to check out the art at the Cashmere arts and Activities Center.

I had seen the article by Michelle McNiel in the print version of the Wenatchee World on Thursday Feb. 7th about the installation of the new public art at the water treatment facility on Worthern Street. The photos there by Wenatchee World Staff photographer Mike Bonnicksen were of Artists Carolyn Law and Gwen Demombynes looking at one of Laws sculptures as it was being installed Monday at the Wenatchee sewer treatment plant. The photos sparked my interest in seeing and photographing the ten aluminum and Plexiglas art pieces for myself.

So, I headed on over on Saturday afternoon, which I think was a good time as the afternoon sun was casting some interesting shadows on the pieces and the overall architectural design of the sculpture garden. I was able to get up close and personal with the art and see the works from a number of different angles but, could only imagine how the effects will be enhanced once the water is passing over the glass walls behind the art. I happened to have my ladder in my truck when I visited and was able to get up high to see the whole area from a perspective that most visitors will not get to see when it is open to the public.

Overall it was worth stopping by to see, but I’m not really sure that most of the public will really see much of it as they pass by on Worthern Street as the rock and sculpture garden are elevated several feet above the level of the road and most passersby will be in their cars. Those who choose to find a place to park and get out of their cars or who just happen to be walking by will need to go up some concrete steps in order to see well and appreciate what is there. Only time will tell if many folks actually make the effort to check this public art out that is frankly not in the downtown corridor or near anything that attracts persons interested in art. However, it just might be possible to see the garden from across the railroad tracks through the windows of the Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel. Perhaps this will spark interest in seeing the art up close by visitors staying there. We shall see.

After my stop at the water treatment plant, I stopped in at Terry Johnson’s Studio to visit and see what new art he is creating there. I was so pleased to see him working on a commissioned piece and to see fellow artist Milo Mirrabeli there. I got a first glimpse at one of Terry’s new paintings including this one of a historic Native American in traditional garb. I’m looking forward to seeing this at Two Rivers Gallery next month. Milo, I learned has been looking at some laths. I hope he finds what he is looking for and starts creating some more of those fantastic wood sculptures he is famous for.

While there I mentioned I had just been photographing the new public art at the treatment plant and this sparked some discussion on the use of the 1% Funds for Art on something on Worthern Street vs. on the Ave. where it would clearly be more visible to the public or in keeping the Museum better funded. I guess I opened up a can of worms that was just bursting at the seams.

Having sufficiently stirred the pot of art politics in Wenatchee, I headed out to Cashmere to visit and check out the art at the Cashmere Arts and Activities Center. Saturday was of course the Second Saturday of the month which means art, entertainment and refreshments at CAAC. I wasn’t going to be able to attend the evening festivities; so I made a point of getting over there during the day.

There, I visited with Janet who one can always count on to give a good tour of the art and update one on the success of the current show and sales of art at the gallery. The current featured artists there are Local artist and architect Brad Brisbine and nationally recognized master pastelist Jen Evenhus. For those interested and willing to travel a ways in order to learn from Jen, she is offering a pastel workshops at the Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Island this summer.

I was so pleased while I was there to see some really nice water colors by Walter Graham provided by his niece Denise Marker. I found this piece portraying a fly fisherman on a stream most engaging.

And, for all the new art, art controversy and art receptions going on, I am still drawn to the old murals on what is known as Art Alley in Wenatchee and the words of Jan Cook Mack found high on the west facing wall at the entrance there:"Startled we stand witness to the dream in you" Words to that inspire. Thank you Jan.