The Chinookan village of Cathlapotle was located on Bachelor Island, which later became the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, in Washington. Lewis and Clark and the Corps stopped by there on their way to the Pacific Ocean in 1804 and stayed there again on their return home in 1805. The Chinook Indians lived along the banks of the Columbia River for at least the past 2200 years in Western red cedar plank houses. In 2003, the construction of a 21st century version of one such plank house began. I was commissioned to carve 5 house post for the interior of the house as well as texturing the roof planks and general construction aspects. During this project I worked with over 200 volunteers, many state employees, engineers, archaeologists and members of the Chinook tribe. During this 2 year project I became friends with the designer of the house posts, Chinookan cultural expert, Tony Johnson. Tony worked with me on the carvings as well as having a significance role in the overall design of the house. I worked on a day to day basis with Greg Robinson, another prominent member of the Chinook tribe, who also helped to see to the overall construction of the house.
These two house post were carved and erected as part of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial in 2005 at Blue Lake State Park in Oregon. They are 18′ tall and 18” squared and carved of red cedar. They are carved in the traditional Columbia River or “Chinookan style”. Both posts depict stories of the myth age when Coyote was traveling up the Columbia River setting taboos and telling the people how to go about their business in a manner that would bring them good fortune. I worked in collaboration with Tony Johnson, a prominent member of the Chinook tribe on the project.
For hundreds of years prior to a written language, totem poles were the traditional way of the northwest coast Indians expressing a historical story as an art form. This totem pole was caved in the traditions of the Northwest coast tribal manner on an old growth cedar log,and tells of some of the highlights of the city of Lacenters past.The figure on the bottom right is a steamboat captain, representing the steamboats traffic important to lacenter during the 1870′s and 1880′s. Steamboats effectively connected remote La Center to Portland and Vancouver,providing opportunities for commerce not available to many other remote frontier towns.
The figure on the bottom left depicts a pioneer women in recognition of their part in the history of La Center. In addition to their cornerstone role in the home, women were the primary workers in the predominant prune canneries that flourished around La Center until the 1930′s.
The figure in the middle of the totem pole is a logger, representing the logging industry that was an essential part of the La Center economy for so many years. Prior to world war one, La Center had as many as 3 active sawmills, most noted for the production of railroad ties.A thunderbird was placed at the top of the totem pole,as they can depict the construction of villages or construction of a prominent buildings in villages such as long houses. This traditionally carved thunderbird represents the sustained presence of the town of La Center.
The Navigator was my first commission through the Washington State Arts Commission. It was completed in 2006 and stands in the Columbia Valley Elementary school in Vancouver, Washington. I carved it from a massive piece of old growth Western Red Cedar and it is 10 ft. tall, 4ft. wide and 22 inches thick.
I was selected for the project by a jury of students from the school based on my past work. Originally the students and faculty were interested in having me carve a totem pole. After meeting with the selection committee and discussing the fact that the Native Americans along the Columbia River did not carve totem poles, but rather carvings called power figures, they agreed to let me do a model to better illustrate my idea. The selection committee was also interested in having me do something that corresponded with Lewis and Clark and the Chinook Indians. I explained to them that it was the Chinook people that made such a positive influence on Lewis and Clark with their knowledge of the best means to travel through the area. Canoes made a major impression on Lewis and Clark and all of Europe. The schools motto is the Navigators, so it seemed only natural to carve the representation of that influence and the power to navigate the mighty Columbia River much the same as one navigates through life.
In 2010 I was commissioned by the Port Of Portland threw the Regional Arts and Culture Council or Oregon to carve a set of doors for the new Port Of Portland headquarters in Portland Oregon. The doors were carved on reclaimed old growth fir and adorned with bronze door pulls resembling Columbia River straight adzes.