Lifestyle

Valley's St. Nick colors walls at North Bend's Boxley's Place

Boxley’s owner Robyn Kolke and artist Richard Burhans are collaborating on a holiday display of paintings from Burhans’ “St. Nicholas and the Valley Beyond.” - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Boxley’s owner Robyn Kolke and artist Richard Burhans are collaborating on a holiday display of paintings from Burhans’ “St. Nicholas and the Valley Beyond.”
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Big, colorful canvases at Boxley's Place restaurant and jazz club in North Bend have been drawing looks and remarks from patrons.

Scenes from St. Nick's storied visit to a different kind of Valley hang on the walls—more than a dozen canvasses from Valley artist Richard Burhans' 1994 Valley-themed Christmas book, "St. Nicholas and the Valley Beyond," written by Ellen Kushner.

Local art on the walls has been a longtime feature of Boxley's.

"We've always supported local artists," said owner Robyn Kolke. "Not just music—the arts in the Valley."

So when Burhans offered to place the paintings above tables in the restaurant, along with press sheets and a copy of the book, she bit.

Burhans spent 10 years creating the 50 paintings for the book, then found a publisher, fantasy-award-winning author and Italian printing company to create a high-quality product.

While St. Nicholas' mythical Valley echoes the local landscape—"It is the Valley, with our farms and small community," Burhans said— the scenes themselves span the globe: from St. Nicholas' hometown of Myra to Vienna and colonial Williamsburg. The buildings and technology represent colonial times.

"We did all the research," Burhans said. "Now you can look it up on a computer. We had to go to the library."

The final painting shows St. Nicholas' transformation into Santa Claus. Burhans painted a roomful of Valley children of different roots and backgrounds, playing together.

"Our Santa Claus now represents all the children of the world," Burhans said. "That painting is symbolic of our Christmas... He is the spirit of the season."

"St. Nicholas and the Valley Beyond" is available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Powell's and other booksellers.

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