Take a closer look at Issaquah’s public art

February 23, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Public art is a big part of Issaquah today. In fact, there’s an entire city policy dedicated to it.

While it may be an addition to the city’s beauty — depending on your tastes — you may have driven by more than one of the pieces and wondered, “What is that?”  Well, here are some answers to some pieces you may have wondered about.

Have others that we didn’t list? Send them to editor@isspress.com.

‘Copper Clad’

  • Location: Front Street North
  • Artist: Jason Paul Dillon
  • Installation: 2007
  • Funded by: Arts Commission
  • Story: ‘Copper Clad’ was temporarily installed along Front Street North near the Hailstone Feed Store, at the request of DownTown Issaquah Association officials who use the store as their headquarters. Old ‘Copper Clad’ quickly turned into a conversation piece among residents and visitors and has been there since.

‘Chefchaouen Blue Door’

  • Location: City Hall
  • Artist: Omar Ettaleb El Alami and Ahmed Benyoussef, from Chefchaouen
  • Architects: Omar Herras, Brett Dean, BAD/CAD
  • Engineer: Terry Baldwin, B&T Design & Engineering
  • Contractor: WYN Property Maintenance
  • Installation: April 2008
  • Funded by: Arts Commission
  • Story: Since beginning a relationship with Chefchaouen, Morocco, through a local student’s study abroad program, both cities have enjoyed a relationship of cultural exchange. ‘This traditional door is a gift from the city and the people of Chefchaouen, Morocco, to the city and people of Issaquah. The gift’s message is one of welcome and friendship. Once you enter through the doors, you are welcomed into our homes and lives and are among friends and family,’ the dedication plaque says.

‘Linda Ruehle’

  • Location: City Hall
  • Artist: Rich Beyer with assistant Steve Love
  • Installation date: Salmon Days Festival 2001
  • Funded by: Rowley Enterprises, Arts Commission, Microsoft, Talus, Port Blakely Communities
  • Story: Ruehle was the city clerk for 30 years. In recognition of her dedication to businesses, community groups, city officials and residents, members of the community commissioned the statue in her memory.

‘Reaching Home’

  • Location: Issaquah Salmon Hatchery
  • Artist: Tom Jay
  • Installation: Finley (1997) and Gilda (1998)
  • Funded by: Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and city Arts Commission.
  • Story: Officials purchased the piece as a visual and hands-on rendering of salmon during the spawning season for educational purposes at the hatchery. The pair got their names, Finley and Gilda, from a public naming contest.

‘The Valiant Effort’

  • Location: City Hall
  • Artist: Doug Eck
  • Installation: January 2000
  • Funded by: Arts Commission
  • Story: Heroic and patriotic, the bronze eagle depicted in ‘The Valiant Effort,’ is a tribute to the city’s police department. Artist Doug Eck is a descendant of Issaquah’s pioneer Eck family. City officials believe it is an outstanding depiction of Issaquah’s enduring spirit.

‘Logging steam pull’

  • Location: Rainier Boulevard Park
  • Company: Puget Sound Iron and Steel Works
  • Built: Between 1895 and 1910
  • Dedicated to: Ted Cook Jr.
  • Donated by: Issaquah History Museums
  • Story: This early road engine, or steam donkey engine, as they were most commonly called, helped once clear-cut vast mountainsides of timber in the Puget Sound area. It was abandoned in Tacoma’s Green River watershed at 2,600 feet before making its final home Issaquah as a donation by Ted Cook Jr. It was later dedicated in his memory. Engines like this once helped clear-cut all of the tops of the Issaquah Alps during the beginning of the city’s logging industry and helped build Issaquah’s economy.

‘Kateri Brow Memorial Raven Sculptures’

  • Location: Issaquah Library
  • Artist: Robert W. Cooke
  • Installation: 2000
  • Funded by: Schools advocates who wanted to honor Kateri Brow in a public way
  • Story: Kateri Brow was an Issaquah School District superintendent from 1986-1992. There are three life-sized raven sculptures around and outside the library to honor her memory and dedication to learning. There’s a raven outside the library with a book, which says, ‘Knowledge makes all things possible;’ there’s a raven flying into the library and a raven with ‘keys of knowledge’ in its talons. The three sculptures present a sense of a community working together at the library.


  • Location: Rainier Boulevard Park
  • Artist: Andrew Carson
  • Installation: 2004
  • Funded by: Arts Commission
  • Story: Arts Commission members received the piece as a part of their ‘loaned art’ program. The program allows city officials to try out a piece of art and gauge the public’s interest in purchasing it. The ‘Zephyr’ was extremely popular, so they purchased it to keep as a piece of public art.

‘Fathers of the Issaquah Valley’

  • Location: Gilman Boulevard
  • Artist: Boris Spivak
  • Installation: 2001
  • Funded by: George ‘Skip’ Rowley Jr.
  • Story: The sculpture celebrates ‘the connection between history, families and land while honoring the shift from an agricultural area to what is now known as the suburban city we call Issaquah,’ according to the sculpture’s plaque. It was commissioned by George ‘Skip’ Rowley Jr. to honor his father, Issaquah developer George Rowley Sr., (seated, left) and Issaquah residents Henry Bergsma (seated, right) and his son Bill Bergsma Sr. (standing). The Bergsmas owned and operated the Issaquah Valley Dairy from 1930-1962 until they sold it to George Rowley Sr., who began selling and developing the land. Today, the Hyla Crossing development stands on the site of the former farm.

‘The Dig’

  • Location: Gilman Boulevard
  • Artist: Brian Goldbloom
  • Installation: 1993
  • Funded by: King County Arts Commission and the city Arts Commission
  • Story: The piece, made of Cascade granite, was purchased to commemorate the Issaquah Centennial in 1992. The sculpture was paid for with funding from the hotel/motel tax. The piece includes several pieces of granite lying on the ground, a standing broken granite piece and a granite bench on the west side of Front Street North. Together, the pieces represent a historical or archeological dig, said Parks and Recreation Director Anne McGill, who was with the city at the time. The elements combine various aspects of the city’s history, including its tie to the railroad, fishing and mining industries.

‘Man-Who-Eats-Lots-of Fish’


‘Song Carrier’

  • Location: Beaver Lake Park
  • Artist: David Horsley and David Boxley
  • Installation: 1992-1999
  • Funded by: King County Public Art Program
  • Story: The totem and story poles were placed at Beaver Lake Park, because the area was once part of American Indians’ summer lands. Tsimshian artist David Boxley and adopted Snoqualmie artist David Horsley created the American Indian artworks for Beaver Lake Park. During the artists’ residencies with 4 Culture, thousands of students and adults experienced the artists’ extraordinary carving skills, heard the stories of the poles and learned about the differences between the Tsimshian tribes of Alaska and British Columbia and the Salish Tribes of the Puget Sound, according to the 4Culture Web site.

‘Under story’

  • Location: Issaquah Highlands
  • Artist: Jean Whitesavage and Nick Lyle
  • Installation: 2003
  • Funded by: Sound Transit
  • Story: The enlarged plants and flowers reflect those found in Issaquah’s forest under story. The artwork was purchased while improvements were being made to the Sunset Way and Interstate 90 interchange. Sound Transit, state Department of Transportation and city officials, as well as local artists, chose the pieces to reflect the area’s native flora. The pieces are made from iron and were forged using blacksmith techniques. They may be orange at the time of this publication, but keep an eye out for them to turn color soon as they’ll be repainted this year.

‘Miracle Grow’

  • Location: Issaquah Highlands
  • Artist: Leon White
  • Installation date: 2005
  • Funded by: Arts Commission
  • Story: The piece was part of the city Arts Commission Loaned Art program. The piece was placed in the highlands to recognize their annexation to the city. After a survey of highlands residents, Arts Commission officials found it was popular with the residents and purchased it.
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