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Bringing the arts to life
Stroke by stroke, painter Dick Burhans is recreating one of the Valley’s treasures on his canvas.
The painting doesn’t depict any of the Valley’s scenic vistas or business scenes, but a cultural treasure.
His subject, local bandleader and educator Harley Brumbaugh, appearing with the Snoqualmie United Methodist Church choir, is one of five local artists and craftspersons depicted in “The Arts in North Bend Are Alive and Growing,” a five-panel, 50-foot mural.
The murals are slated to go on the Glazier building in downtown North Bend in time for the centennial block party, slated for 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 27.
Included in the five panels are North Bend potter Jeff Griswold, cross-stitcher Richard Buchmiller, Valley Center Stage members Gary Schwartz and Tina Brandon, and local women Joyce Littlejohn and Georgia Kramer, who appear alongside Burhans himself as models for one of his community murals.
“We really haven’t been able to publicize enough how many really fine artists we have in the community,” Burhans said.
The mural shows just a handful of the 35 artists taking part in the “Festival of the Arts,” a celebration of local creativity taking place during the Festival at Mount Si in August. It’s a sample of local talent.
“You start to get a feeling for the undercurrent of art that the community has,” Burhans said.
With North Bend in the process of forming a city arts commission, Burhans said that the mural and planned Festival of the Arts, coming during the Festival at Mount Si, are the beginning of a local art community.
“I feel honored to anybody that wants to paint this face,” joked Brumbaugh.
Pictured in a vest and derby, trumpet in hand, Brumbaugh is one of the Valley’s musical giants. A trumpet player, choral director, composer and educator, Brumbaugh has been involved in all dimensions of music since his career began while he was still in his teens.
Involved in music since high school, he has toured the world as a musician and now directs the Methodist Church choir and the Voices of the Valley. He is also working to organize music for the upcoming North Bend centennial block party.
Brumbaugh said he’s grateful to Burhans for sharing his appreciation of the Valley’s unique, even quixotic arts and music scene.
Burhans’ work celebrates the local, he added.
“Dick has been very generous with this town,” Brumbaugh said. “He captures the flavor of the Valley. He knows the personalities of the people that he’s painting.”
Burhans’ painting captures Brumbaugh in two stages of his career. Brumbaugh is dressed in a costume of the big band era, but is flanked by what appear to be robed Valley choir members.
The mural, Brumbaugh said, helps show that local arts are alive, genuine and from the people.
Decked out in tux and topper, gold choker and straw hat, Schwartz and Brandon were recorded on video in Burhans’ workshop for their scene in the mural. Burhans then used the videos for his sketches.
“He captured various elemnts of our bodies, mostly upper body,” Schwartz said. “He was very interested in the hand position.”
Schwartz has been promoting the arts in North Bend at his theater for the last seven years. But being tucked away on the second floor of the Masonic Lodge had made it hard for the theater to build buzz.
“I’m glad there’s going to be some visible signs that there’s culture going on downtown,” Schwartz said. “There’s a lot of talent here in town.”
“The arts and cultural activity in North Bend are extremely important,” he said. “They give the community its distinctiveness. Without the arts, it’s just a place to get gas.”
“A theater is the cultural anchor of a town,” Schwartz added.
For his personal panel, Burhans is painting himself, painting Kramer and Littlejohn. He used sketches of his 1991 community coffeehouse mural, which hung in the North Bend Starbucks. Kramer and Littlejohn appear in the costumes of yesteryear.
Both women are long- time residents — icons of the Valley, in Burhans’ words.
Buchmiller is a cross-stitch embroidery artist who has lived in North Bend since 1991. He started cross-stitching in 2001, and typically stitches four to six hours each day. His medium has always been linen, and he uses cotton floss, silk and other materials to express the patten. He strives to make each stitch as precise as possible.
Griswold, a Seattle native, trained as a carpenter but found pottery as a fulfilling, useful outlet that also brings in money to support his ski habit.
After several years of work as a full-time carpenter, Griswold decide that something was missing in his life. He took a class at a local college and began to throw clay again. It wasn’t long before he took his craft in a new direction, making more artistic, fine-art pieces.