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exhibit explores the many facets of travel

  • Written by Deborah Stone
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Timothy Horn, Mother-Load
For most people, traveling is an enjoyable leisure pastime, often full of new and stimulating experiences. It offers an escape from the mundane and the routine, promising change and adventure. For others, however, it might be associated with displacement; leaving their native countries ravaged by war or devastated by nature’s destructive forces. They must often hostile cross borders, encountering hunger and violence, in their search for a new home.

“Travelers: Objects of Dream and Revelation,” Bellevue Arts Museum’s newest exhibition brings together nine international contemporary artists who explore the ambiguous theme of travel and the objects associated with it. Featured artists include Janice Arnold, Margarita Cabrera, Marc Dombrosky, Erika Harrsch, Timothy Horn, Cal Lane, Walter Martin, Paloma Muñoz and Robb Putnam. “While each of the works in the exhibition is loosely associated with travel, they also become a point of departure for a larger investigation,” says Stefano Catalani, BAM’s artistic director and curator of the show. “Familiar icons like the VW Beetle or a snow globe are transformed into sculptural works and installations that tell stories that are unexpected and revelatory.”

The artists delve into the reinvention of such objects, moving back and forth between their cultural associations and practical use. They give them a deeper dimension of reality, which generates new perspectives regarding their social, economic and cultural contexts. In the process, truths are disclosed that emphasize both the beauty and the uncertainty of the dream of a better life in a better place.

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Margarita Cabrera, Bicicleta Azul Platino
Margarita Cabrera’s work with traditional Mexican sewing and embroidery techniques, can be viewed as an exploration of the economic and cultural exchange between the U.S. and Mexico. Her series of soft foam and vinyl sculptures – bicycles and a potted cactus – depict the struggles of Mexican immigrants bent on crossing the border. The life-size bicycles are in fact modeled after actual bikes used by immigrants who risked their lives in such an endeavor.

They are shown in a dilapidated state, with flat tires and broken handlebars, and appear as confiscated items or ones found discarded in the desert. A wild Nopal cactus made from border patrol uniforms sits nearby. Native to both countries, this species is ignorant of political boundaries. Also on display is a full-scale reproduction of a VW Beetle, a car that has seen many uses, from a taxi cab to an ambulance.

Another eye-catching piece is Timothy Horn’s “Mother-Load,” a Cinderella-like half-scale carriage inspired by San Francisco socialite Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, wife of millionaire Adolph B. Spreckels, who made his fortune from sugar. The carriage is covered with encrusted, amber-colored sugar crystals. It appears to have come directly out of some storybook tale which evokes the essences of beauty and opulent decay.

Consumer waste is the focus of Robb Putnam’s work.

This artist is known for his life size animal forms created with castoff materials such as used blankets, shirts, rags, plastic garbage bags, leather scraps and faux fur. The sculptures initially evoke playful characters found in children’s books and appear cuddly from a distance. Up close, though, they are something quite different. Each of the pieces, “Mutt,” “Mongrel” and “Mascot,” are actually wounded dogs or “outcasts of the dog world,” as the artist describes them. The abandoned creatures, all which hang suspended from the ceiling, wear sad looks and are torn and crudely bandaged with the detritus and remnants Putnam collected.

These materials, though once worthy, have outlived their usefulness and no longer have any value. The artist has transformed them, giving them rebirth, and shedding new light on the unwanted and overlooked.

One of the more disturbing works in the exhibit is Cal Lane’s “Filigree Car Bombing.” A crushed car, obviously the result of a bomb, has intricate lacy patterns cut into what’s left of its steel body. The feminine floral patterns are in direct contrast to the rawness of the decimated steel, resulting in the collision of beauty and horror.

“My work,” says the artist, “has become more political, the consequence of living in a time of war and feeling the guilt of a bystander. With ‘Filigree Car Bombing’ I focused on creating a tasteless relationship of images.

The crushed steel of the car is cut into fine lace creating a drapery of disruption and sadness, a conflict of attraction to fancy work and the attraction to a horrific image.”

“Travelers: Objects of Dream and Revelation” runs through December 31st at Bellevue Arts Museum. For more information: (425) 519-0770 or www.bellevuearts.org.

In step with Obadiah Dunham: new principal at Leota Jr. High

  • Written by Deborah Stone
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Obadiah Dunham, Leota Junior High principal. Photo by Deborah Stone.
Being principal has its rewards and challenges. For Obadiah Dunham, the joys of the job are many. “It’s seeing the light turn on for students and finding that thing that connects for them,” he explains. “It’s seeing smiling and happy people in the classrooms and in the hallways, and having those personal conversations with staff and students.”

He notes that the challenges lie in balancing the needs of many different “stakeholders,” as well as helping others find the “common grounds” and keeping what’s best for students at the forefront of their thinking.

“It’s this challenge that makes the job so much fun,” he adds. “It is like a constant riddle.”

Dunham is the new principal at Leota Jr. High. It’s his first time to take the helm of a school, though he’s previously served as assistant principal at three middle schools in the Federal Way School District.

Dunham is thrilled to be at Leota, where he notes that the teachers and community work as a team to create a successful learning environment.

“Everyone here is so caring and supportive and they all work together to help ensure student success,” he says.

Dunham chose the Northshore School District because he felt his skills were a good match and that they would be easily transferable. He was aware of Northshore’s strong reputation and knew that its instructional direction was closely akin to that of the Federal Way district. In his previous posts, Dunham was highly respected for his excellent understanding of instructional best practices.

The new principal describes himself as calm, consistent and reflective, noting that others he has worked with have viewed him as a “steady voice for underrepresented students, families and staff.”

He explains that he tries to be an approachable and reasonable leader, who has an open door policy that encourages interaction with students, staff and parents.

“It’s important for me to be visible,” he says. “I want to be out in the halls and in the classrooms where I am able to observe the learning and teaching that’s taking place.”

He adds, “I plan to use a pedometer like I have done in the past, with the aim of walking 10,000 steps a day. I want to be out visiting with the kids and not sitting behind my desk all the time when school is in session.”

Dunham notes that ensuring the success of all students at Leota is an all-important goal.

He emphasizes the need to provide the necessary support for each student to stay on track in the continuum of his/her education, from junior high to high school and beyond. The focus, he explains, must be on developing systems that build on strengths and support weaknesses, as well as creating a plan for early identification when a student begins to struggle.

“Really,” he says, “it just comes down to strong relationships with students and all the people — counselors, families, teachers, support staff, etc. — who are here to support them. Ultimately, we want all students to graduate school ready for college or a career.”

Though many folks might shy away from working with middle school or junior high kids, Dunham, on the other hand, truly enjoys this age group and the challenges they present.

“They’re in a transitional phase in their lives,” he comments. “They don’t know whether to be kids or adults at times. And it can be tough on them if they don’t have the support and guidance to help them understand how to make adult decisions as they get older.” He adds, “I have a lot of fun with the kids and I take much joy in watching them grow and mature.”Dunham has four children of his own, ranging in age from two to 11 years old. Free time is a luxury for him.

“When I’m not at school, I’m with my family,” he says. “If I ever have any spare time, I like to golf. But, I can’t quite remember the last time that happened!”

An eagle takes wing at NW Stream Center

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

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Jeff Guidrey and Freedom
On Saturday, September 17, at 11 a.m., at the Adopt A Stream Foundation’s Northwest Stream Center in Snohomish County’s Mc Collum Park, a beautiful female bald eagle named Freedom will be flapping her wings and helping Sarvey Wildlife Center’s Jeff Guidrey teach kids and adults about eagle habits and habitat requirements.

In 2008, Freedom fell out of her nest in Edmonds as a fledgling and broke both of her wings.

In spite of long odds against it, Jeff was able to nurse her back to health and later, after he learned that he had cancer, Freedom helped inspire him to recover.

That relationship is chronicled in a new book called “An Eagle Named Freedom: My True Story of A Remarkable Friendship by Jeff ” (published by Harper Collins).

“We are excited to have Freedom bring her human (Guidrey) to the Northwest Stream Center,” says Adopt A Stream Foundation Director Tom Murdoch.  Jeff is a rock and rhythm-and-blues guitarist who has played with artists like Brian Wilson (of Beach Boys fame) and guitarist Roy Buchanan.  After many years of volunteering at the Sarvey Wildlife Center, he has also become an expert on eagles.  Murdoch says, “Freedom really enjoys an audience and moving her very large wings while Jeff talks for her about eagle wildlife requirements.”  Freedom is not camera shy!!

Murdoch adds, “This is a great show, so you should register early by calling (425) 316-8592.”  Tickets are $5 for Adopt A Stream Foundation members and $7 for non-members; proceeds benefit Sarvey Wildlife Center and the Adopt A Stream Foundation’s Streamkeeper Academy.  Jeff’s new book will be available at the show and he will stay to sign your copy.

Back to School

  • Written by Don Mann

Back to school 

Photo by Don Mann

Two students from Arrowhead Elementary School in Kenmore get off the bus for the first day of school last Wednesday. Northshore School District is comprised of over 19,000 students at 22 elementary schools, six junior high schools and four high schools across Bothell, Kenmore and Woodinville. 1,424 of the students in the head count are entering kindergarten.

Experience the spirit and history of the Tulalip Tribes at the new Hibulb Cultural Center

  • Written by Deborah Stone
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An interior shot of the Hibulb Cultural Center. Courtesy photo.
Vision finally became reality for the Tulalip Tribes with the recent opening of their new Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve.

"It was the vision of the Tulalip people to build a cultural center where we could gather as a community to share our knowledge and stories with one another, a place where we could rediscover our traditions together, and a place that offers our children an educational experience so that they can carry our culture into the future," explains Mel Sheldon, chairman of the Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors. "And now the time has come when we can also share with the surrounding community our own story in our own words – so that visitors can learn in a place that truly expresses the spirit of the Tulalip people."

The $19 million center was 30 years in the making and its development was carefully planned and guided by the Tulalip Tribes’ elders and leaders.

It was named for a village that the tribes once lived in, which was located at the mouth of the Snohomish River. Translated, Hibulb means "place where the white doves live" or "place of a thousand fires."

The state-of-the-art facility includes a 23,000-square-foot cultural center, a 10,000-square-foot collections and archeological repository and a 50-acre natural history preserve.

Within the cultural center, there is a main exhibit wing, a gallery for temporary or rotating exhibits, two classrooms, a cedar longhouse, a research library and gift shop.

Aimed primarily at assisting young tribal members in learning about tribal traditions and history, the museum was created to be highly interactive with a variety of hands-on activities.

Themes within the permanent collection include the boarding school era in Tulalip, dating from the mid-1800s to the 1930s, when tribal children were taken from their parents to become "civilized" and assimilated into American society.

They were forbidden to practice their ways or speak their language and as a result, the Coast Salish culture and spirituality was suppressed and family life severely compromised during this time. A series of historical photographs and quotations from tribal members describing their experiences helps to illustrate this harsh period. The impact and effects of this era on four to five generations still lingers today, adding urgency to the role of tribal government in sponsoring cultural rediscovery.

There’s also an exhibit that tells the story of the Point Elliott Treaty, the land settlement agreement, which the Tulalip Tribes, along with other tribes in the greater Puget Sound region, signed in 1855.

A display on cedar honors the tree for its strength, beauty and ability to provide an array of materials for the people. Considered "the tree of life," cedar was used in all aspects of the tribes’ daily existence. Salmon is also given its proper homage with a colorful display depicting the salmon cycle and various fishing equipment and techniques utilized by the people.

For centuries, the Tulalip Tribes depended on the region’s natural environment for food, clothing, commerce, culture and protection. They hunted and gathered wildlife, seafood, cedar and plant life, and traded and socialized with hundreds of other groups around the area.

A large wall map indicating ancestral lands shows the extensive holdings of the Tribes within the Puget Sound region. In a display case nearby, there are clamshell discs and beads once used in trading. Of special interest is a value scale, explaining the worth of the various types of shells.

Four Dentalium strings, for example, were equal to one canoe.

In "Tulalip Today," the structure of the Tribes’ government is detailed, along with information on business and education.

The language of Lushootseed, the Tulalip’s native tongue has survived despite efforts in the past to vanquish it and it is now a mandatory subject for all elementary school students.

There are about 4,000 members of the Tulalip Tribes, with 2,500 living on the reservation.

A genealogy wall within the center lists every tribal member, past and present, providing a detailed ancestry record. Any Tulalip member can learn about their roots by entering an enrollment number into a system, which then lights up the names of their family relations. "Warriors: We Remember" is the subject of the exhibit in the temporary or rotating gallery.

It tells the stories of the Tulalip Tribes’ military tradition, which was born of a warrior spirit.

Here, the Tulalip men and women who served the country in times of conflict and peace are honored and celebrated on a wall covered with their portraits and quotations describing their experiences in battle.

A number of these veterans fought for a country that didn’t admit them as citizens, as Native Americans did not gain U.S. citizenship until 1924. Large handmade canoes, story poles, carvings and art-stenciled design elements adorn the main corridor of the museum.

They are examples of the beautiful craftsmanship of the Tribes’ contemporary artists. And then there’s the cedar longhouse, which has been built into the museum.

With the assistance of an interactive media system, visitors can sit, listen and experience a traditional Tulalip gathering place, learning about the role the longhouse has played in the Tulalip Tribes’ spiritual, political and everyday lives.

The Natural History Preserve, which adjoins the center, will eventually include large-scale environmental restoration projects, walking paths, an observational platform to view the estuary, a totemic sculpture garden, visiting artists’ accommodations, a carving shed, a canoe storage facility and various gardens that will supply food and medicine to the tribal membership.

"We have dreamt about this day for many years," says Hank Gobin, Hibulb’s Director. "Words cannot express the joy we feel that our cultural center is open and ready to educate and inform the Tulalip community and the world about our vibrant culture. While our priority will be helping our Tulalip youth and membership with the rediscovery of our traditions, values and life-ways, we will share our dream with everyone." He adds, "With our service to the community, we hope to remove stereotypes and barriers and promote more understanding and respect for our history, traditions and future direction."

The Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve is located at: 6410 23rd Avenue N.E. in Tulalip. For more information: (360) 716-2600 or HibulbCulturalCenter.org.