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Local artist finishes Fall City sculpture

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FALL CITY - There's a new sculpture in place in Fall City's Totem Pole Garden. "Precious Moments," a poignant piece of public artwork, was revealed during the recent Fall City Days on June 18. It was crafted by local Valley artist Victor White.

White, who donated hundreds of hours of his own time, was inspired to work on the sculpture two years ago when he saw Vanessa Allen, a Fall City business owner and president of the Fall City Community Association (FCCA), at work on a new garden at the site.

The garden, located in downtown Fall City across from the library, replaced a once bare patch of unsightly and miscellaneous groundcover at the base of the town's historic totem pole.

"There used to be a big patch of weeds here," said Allen, "and I said 'that's horrible.' That's just too prime of [a piece] of property to have a big patch of weeds here. So I started two years ago and actually finished in that year," said Allen.

That's when she met White. "Victor came over one day while I was working in the garden and said, 'I would like to do a sculpture' and I said, 'I just happen to have a little round area here that has nothing to go in it.' So then we just started talking about it and he agreed to donate his time, which was a huge donation," said Allen.

"When I first moved to this community ... I noticed that there wasn't much of an art-based community, the 'walkability' wasn't really there, and I wanted to contribute somehow," said White. "I met Vanessa when she was at the beginning stages of this garden, which I thought was phenomenal, [an] all-volunteer effort, and that shows that people in the community are willing to bring about a walkability. So I wanted to be involved in placing a sculpture here, but ... my initial intention was to provide a participatory experience for the community to contribute in the creation of my vision of the 'Precious Moments' public artworks. It's a series I have been working on for about 10 years."

Initially the sculpture was intended as a silhouette, but it grew into a three-dimensional depiction of a male (buck) and female (hen) salmon as they near the spawning grounds of the Snoqualmie River, White explained.

"The way the salmon have evolved to this position is it all has meaning. Salmon, by the time they get to this point in the river, they have one goal in mind and one purpose. Along the river's edge and along the flow, in the journey of the salmon, they are tattered and battered. They have struggled to get to this point and they are beat up and bruised but by no means is their spirit diminished because they get to a certain point," White said.

"It's through that point, there's a unity, there's a transformation that takes place and they work together. They sweep the riverbed's ground and prepare for a new beginning, a new life and that's where the idea, the theme of the T-shirts for Fall City Days, 'Spawning the Arts in Fall City' came about.

"So this is evolving into not just this one location or sculpture, but at large in the community spawning the arts in Fall City. Even in history, art has been a big part of the building of communities. The building of America is based on creative art. I want to continue and touch one student, one community at a time," he said.

The sculpture also serves another purpose. Although not intended as a memorial per se, the name of a beloved local Girl Scout leader, June Starkie (who passed away two years ago), has been engraved on the hen salmon as a unique way of remembering a Fall City hero.

"Her philosophies and my philosophies tie in," said White. She really felt that ... through teaching and through learning you can bring a community together, and what she did for the girls was phenomenal," said White.

"She was just an amazing [woman] ... gave all of her life to Fall City," said Allen. The Girls Scouts raised $175 to help defray the cost of some of White's materials.

Allen said that signage will be installed this summer to help explain the significance of the totem pole and the accompanying sculpture, as well as their connections to the local Snoqualmie Tribe. Both White and Allen look forward to continued community interest in the Totem Pole Garden and invite people to come down and view the totem pole and the sculpture.

"This is my first install for public community," said White, whose Web site is www.natureslivinggallery.com.

"It's an honor to be part of the beginnings of a community that is heading toward walkability and art in public places," he said. "My hope is to inspire one student and one community at a time. Public art is a necessity [and] it's something that can bring a community together."

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