Over the last couple of years it has been my fortune to collaborate on public art projects with two exceptional artists, Brian Perry (Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe) and Preston Singletary (Tlingit) These projects have made me become a better artist and it has been a dream come true to work on a large scale with artists that I have admiration for.
Building the Skills
My art education, which began with a graffiti crew in Denver, Colorado, culminating in a decade long apprenticeship to artist Duane Pasco. Duane is one of the foremost teachers of indigenous art forms on the Northwest Coast. This apprenticeship was invaluable to my development as an artist. The disciplines gained from this training led me to a career in sculpture and large scale public art.
Over time I developed a team for tackling these kinds of projects. Kurt Nordquist of Davinci’s Workshop became my second mentor and the man who showed me how to make my ideas into a reality. He helped me find my way in the world of large scale, architecturally integrated, and free standing sculpture.
Working With Brian Perry
Brian Perry and I have spent a lot of time carving and working together over the years. I have witnessed him grow and helped him develop as an artist, in part by passing on the skills I learned from Kurt and Duane. He was considering a career change when some large scale art opportunities materialized from his own Tribe, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. They were building a new casino at the time and were looking for artwork for their new hotel, The Point Casino and Hotel. Brian was interested in applying for the commissions and enlisted me to work in support of him. Brian took the lead in working with his tribe, the contractors and the architects on the project. In conjunction with this, I helped him work with my team to make it happen.
The result of this was the 40′ tall sculpture called “Paddles Up” that adorns the front of the hotel. Brian’s success led to a permanent position working for the Stillaguamish Tribe as a resident carver, teacher, and canoe-maker. He is actively providing traditional expertise to the Stillaguamish People.
Working with Preston Singletary
Much of my training as an artist was focused on art forms that originated on the coast of British Columbia and Southeastern Alaska. I had known of Preston Singletary’s work for years and was amazed by the quality of his craftsmanship and breathtaking use of color. Preston has a mastery of Tlingit design, combined with hard earned skills as part of the Studio Glass Movement.
Preston was raised in Seattle and worked with many of the preeminent contemporary glass artists of our time. He developed a style of work that I found to be a vital and enduring expression. I visited Preston’s studio and offered my services as a carver and a public artist in support of his vision. He enlisted me to help on a few things and our friendship grew. I discovered that Preston was one of the most generous and kind people I have ever had the fortune to work with. He had just scratched the surface of his public art potential, so we began to apply for projects together. We applied for several projects, and were successful in getting a couple of commissions.
First Projects Completed
Preston and I have completed two projects in the last year. “Dance Staff” at the Diane Apartments in Portland Oregon’s Pearl District, and “Sunrise Raven, Northern Lights Eagle” was completed at the Boney Courthouse in downtown Anchorage, Alaska.
Preston takes much of the lead in the design and conceptual part of the project when we collaborate. Once the idea is formed my work begins in finding the right team to bring the idea to fruition. Public art requires some dedication to navigate through all of the needs of a project. There is usually a mountain of paperwork and endless negotiations required to get the work successfully completed. I have gained a lot of experience at this process over the years of doing projects large and small.
More to come…
These collaborations have found great success and many more projects are in the works. One of the most exciting projects is a collaboration between Preston Singletary, Brian Perry and Anthony Jones Sr.(Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe) for the lobby of the new Burke Museum at the University of Washington.
While I pursue my own contemporary projects, I am fortunate to have great friends, and world class collaborators. The Regional Arts and Culture Council of Portland, Oregon and The Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe were great partners on these projects. None of it would be possible without my amazing wife, Joanne, and my family. They have all pitched in to make this happen.