Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Travel: Orcas Island, art of the natural

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to take a short trip out to Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juan Islands in northeastern Washington state. My friends and I walked from the airfield into a town called Eastsound, the largest on the island with around 3,000 people. 

A lot of the island communities in Washington have an eclectic mix of residents. These areas were first inhabited by the Coast Salish--the name given to the various tribes that live(d) in the Pacific Northwestern coastal areas from Canada's Vancouver Island down to northern Oregon. In the mid-19th century settlers came from the mainland, mostly farmers and fishermen. In the last quarter of the 20th century the San Juans became a draw for artists and writers and people who own yachts and have a lot of money and time.

East Sound Bay, looking southwest
Outside the Orcas Island Historical Museum there is a large wooden sculpture of a heron with a red metal ball. I took a quick photograph, and later decided to dig up some more information about it (the museum was closed for the evening). 

The artist is an island resident named Todd Spalti.  The sculpture is an interpretation of a Tlingit story about the creation of people. (The Tlingit are a tribe that live further north, on the Alaskan and Canadian coast.)