Artist re-creates favorite downtown landmarks in handmade postcards

September 13, 2011

By Tom Corrigan

Jane Garrison, Issaquah landscaping architect, displays her hand-drawn postcards of downtown landmarks. By Tom Corrigan

Downtown Issaquah isn’t necessarily related to Jane Garrison’s duties as a docent for the Issaquah History Museums at the Gilman Town Hall Museum.

Still, it seems appropriate that Garrison can speak happily and fluently about the background of various downtown buildings and landmarks.

“I love downtown Issaquah. I love the buildings,” said the talkative and friendly Garrison, 70.

With an architectural landscaping business of her own on Front Street for roughly 25 years, Garrison said that after she retired she got to know and truly appreciate the feel of downtown Issaquah. Always having been an artist, one of her side projects included pen-and-pencil drawing of various downtown landmarks.

The spots she sketched include Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in, the Eagles Hall and the salmon hatchery. Garrison initially made the drawings strictly for her own enjoyment. But now she has decided to use the sketches to create some very unique and localized greeting cards.

A portion of the proceeds from sales of the cards will benefit the history museums. The cards are blank inside, but one of Garrison’s 12 drawings appears on the front along with a history capsule about the location depicted.

The histories contain some lesser-known facts. For example, you might have known that the XXX was once a large chain that catered to the car culture of the 1950s and 1960s. But did you also know there are only two left? Or that the name comes from the fact that, during Prohibition, placing “XXX” on a product meant it contained no alcohol?

One of Garrison’s favorite drawings is of the Alexander House on Northwest Gilman Boulevard.

Built in 1902, the house once served as a resort on the shores of Lake Sammamish. Then Puget Power eventually purchased both the home and the property it sat on. With help from the company, the local historical society moved the home to a temporary new location in 1986. After another move to its current location, in 1989, it became the headquarters of the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce and Issaquah Visitor’s Center.

Where to look

Purchase Jane Garrison’s hand-drawn postcards individually or as a set at:

  • Boehm’s Candies, 255 N.E. Gilman Blvd.
  • In the gift shop of the Swedish/Issaquah hospital, 751 N.E. Blakely Drive
  • Online at www.etsy.com. Search for Garrison’s name and the cards are displayed, complete with pictures and location descriptions.

For the most part, Garrison stayed carefully true to the modern-day appearance of her subjects. One exception was the hatchery. Her drawing is somewhat stylized, showing off aspects of the facility that are spread out in reality. She also did away with the fencing around the hatchery.

Garrison’s other cards include the historic Shell gas station on Front Street, the Odd Fellows Hall and Boehm’s Candies.

While the cards are on her mind presently, Garrison writes a regular gardening column for The Issaquah Press. She also is working on a series of paintings she dubbed “Suburbanality.” They are snapshots of suburban scenes, but perhaps not the ones you might expect.

For example, a painting of Interstate 90 might emphasize the ugliness of the freeway cutting through green mountainsides. Garrison was able to sell the first painting in the series to Swedish Medical Center.

Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or tcorrigan@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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