Fremont’s Lenin statue traces journey from Slovakia — and Issaquah

July 2, 2011

The statue of Vladimir Lenin casts a steely gaze along a street in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. By Greg Farrar

In Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood and, for a time in Issaquah, Vladimir Lenin, so reviled and revered throughout the 20th century, is just the dictator next door.

The reason a bronze Lenin statue came to rest in Fremont, the self-styled center of the universe, is almost as convoluted as a Cold War potboiler. The statue’s circuitous route led from Slovakia to Issaquah after a local man, Lewis Carpenter, chanced upon the statue in the former Soviet satellite state.

Overnight, after the Iron Curtain collapsed, residents discarded such Soviet propaganda symbols by the cartful.

Communism in Eastern Europe imploded not long before Carpenter, a business and English instructor at a nearby university, discovered the toppled statue in a Poprad, Slovakia, storage yard. Inside the hollow statue, a homeless man had set up camp.

The less-than-enamored Slovaks planned to melt down the statue for benches, but the college instructor offered another idea — purchasing the statue as a landmark — and cash.

So, after dropping $13,000 and slicing through red tape, Carpenter owned the statue. The transoceanic shipment to Washington cost another $40,000.

Carpenter, a colorful character and self-described playboy, could not resist the irony inherent in displaying Lenin in the Soviet Union’s archnemesis. Soon, however, tragedy caused the plan to screech to a halt.

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City purchases cedar carvings as public art

November 9, 2010

The city has added the carved cedar poles outside City Hall South to a burgeoning public art collection.

“Forest Carvings,” by Seattle artist Steve Jensen, has adorned the lawn outside the municipal building since August 2009 on a temporary basis.

City Council members decided to make the arrangement permanent Nov. 1, and authorized the city Arts Commission to purchase the piece for $12,000. The cost included installation by the artist.

The sculpture consists of three 8-foot, carved cedar poles of naturally felled wood. The artist, the descendant of Norwegian fisherman and boat builders, used chisels passed down from his grandfather to create the sculptures.

Take a closer look at Issaquah’s public art

February 23, 2010

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.

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Joan Probala relies on past experiences in new challenge

October 6, 2009

Joan Probala

Joan Probala

Long before she launched her bid for City Council, before she even became a city resident, Joan Probala laid the groundwork for her campaign. Probala and her family moved to South Cove in 1979, decades before the neighborhood along Lake Sammamish would be annexed into Issaquah.

When Probala talks about her candidacy — and she talks about her candidacy a lot these days — she mentions her role in extending city limits to include South Cove, where residents voted for annexation in November 2005.

Probala, a real estate agent and former Issaquah Chamber of Commerce president, touts her ability to bring together South Cove community groups. Her credentials as a member of the city Arts, Planning Policy and Sister Cities commissions form a cornerstone of her bid. Read more

Community honors Harvey Manning at statue unveiling

September 22, 2009


Harvey Manning's statue, dedicated Sept. 20, sits on its permanent rocky perch looking toward Squak Mountain from the corner of Southeast Bush Street at Rainier Boulevard South. By Greg Farrar

Harvey Manning's statue, dedicated Sept. 20, sits on its permanent rocky perch looking toward Squak Mountain from the corner of Southeast Bush Street at Rainier Boulevard South. By Greg Farrar

Harvey Manning, who dubbed the mountains around the city the Issaquah Alps, is now immortalized in bronze at the Issaquah Trails House.

Manning, known as the “Wilderness Warrior,” founded the Issaquah Alps Trails Club and helped establish Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. Manning died at 81 in November 2006.

Elected officials, residents and friends of the late conservationist, more than 100 people in all, turned out Sept. 20 to dedicate the life-sized statue. The artwork depicts Manning in his signature wide-brimmed hat and thick-rimmed glasses seated atop a boulder. The rocks included in the statue installation were hauled from the Manning property. Read more