Artists create lasting memories of community icons
September 1, 2009
By David Hayes
Alex Berry was left with such a lasting impression after being honored in the 2008 artEAST Collective Memory Project, that he decided to return the favor for someone this year.
The Collective Memory project began in 2007 when 18 artEAST artists partnered with local community members — from well known to obscure, quiet to colorful — who helped shape the community. The artists honored these citizens by telling their life stories through original works of art.
Berry, 43, a native of Issaquah, had his story told of working 30 years at Village Theatre as everything from director to set designer, in the form of a sculpture by artist Ashley Weiss.
“It was absolutely fabulous,” he said. “I was so impressed by all the quality of work produced.”
So impressed, he asked to be involved this year as an artist. Karen Abel, executive director of artEAST, paired him with Greg Spranger, the man behind many DownTown Issaquah Association projects.
“I had heard of Greg long before I actually met him,” Berry said. “A couple years ago, he called me and wanted me and my father to come down and paint oversized wooden Christmas ornaments for the Hailstone Feed Store project.”Since, the two have sparked a friendship built on their mutual love of old Issaquah.
To commemorate Spranger’s legacy, Berry gathered old boards lying about Spranger’s home, discarded from various projects over the years. He then attached them to an old door, creating a canvas for a portrait of Spranger, all from stain. Berry said he’d created many portraits as part of sets for Village Theatre productions, but never a portrait for just portrait’s sake.
“It turned out not as easy as it sounded,” he admitted. “But it was fun.”
Neither Spranger nor any of the other 13 honorees have seen the completed works. ArtEAST hosts a private reception Sept. 10 before being moved to UpFront Gallery, 48 Front St. N. The exhibit will remain there through Oct. 4.
Abel said those who view the exhibit will come away with stories to tell.
“As a community, we need to share our stories. It is what connects us on a human level,” she said. “Lists of impressive accomplishments are simply résumés. But stories, somehow — in ways large or small — leave us changed after we hear them.”
Collective Memory 2009 Artists and Honored Community Members
Greg Bartol — Steve White, owner of Issaquah Hardware, closed after 100 years
Alex Berry — Greg Spranger, director of DownTown Issaquah Association
Ricco DiStefano — Karen Ridlon, founder and executive director, Eastside Baby Corner
Anita Feng — Chuck Kheriaty, longtime Issaquah School District math teacher
Donna Gelinas — Barbara de Michele, Issaquah Arts Commission chairwoman, Issaquah schools supporter
Carolyn Hall — Mary Scott, President Issaquah History Museums
Deby Harvey — Alan Haywood, Issaquah arborist and horticulturist
Kerstin McKee — Michael Johnson, events director, Downtown Issaquah Association
Susan Melrath — Dr. John Milne, emergency medical physician and director of Strategic Development, Swedish Medical Center, Issaquah
Miska — Robb Hunt, executive producer and founder of Village Theatre
Sherry Cozens Pepke — Elvira Lindsay, Issaquah pioneer
Michelle Sidnie Ryan — Robyn Barfoot, curator of Cougar Mountain Zoological Park
Kate Watts — Bob Gray, retired minister and founder of Pine Lake Presbyterian Church
Ashley Weiss — Ankhasha Amenti, owner, Ankhasha’s Consignments