Snoqualmie and North Bend residents may not recognize Richard Burhans by name, but many will recognize his work.
For the past 50 years, Burhans has contributed to the Valley through a range of artistic and civic services.
Burhans has spent a lifetime in artistic pursuits. After graduating magna cum laude from the New York Phoenix School of Design, he worked as a professional artist in New York. Military service in the army brought Burhans and his wife, Sallie, to the Northwest, where Burhans later launched a commercial architecture design career in Seattle. In 1969, the couple built their home along the North Fork of the Snoqualmie River, where they still reside today.
Several of Burhans’ community artworks are displayed throughout the Snoqualmie Valley, including the North Bend Library mural, “Characters from the Classics,” Starbucks Coffee, “The Coffee House in Art Music & Letters,” the Snoqualmie Ridge TPC, “Opening Day,” and the murals on display in the city of Snoqualmie City Hall council chambers, “The History of Logging.”
For Burhans’ murals, he used local residents to pose for him. He said he has had hundreds of residents pose for his murals over the years.
“It wasn’t an easy chore,” he said. “It was always fun to find people to pose as the characters for the different murals.”
During his time in the Valley, Burhans has provided a range of civic services in support of many landmarks. In 1976, Burhans chaired the Preservation of Mount Si Committee, and the following year served in the mediated agreement that created Three Forks Park. In the 1990s, Burhans chaired the Snoqualmie Citizen’s Advisory Committee on Flooding for Mayor Jeanne Hansen, and also served as the King County Boundary Review Board vice chair, one of the authorizing bodies which created Snoqualmie Ridge.
The city of Snoqualmie recently honored Burhans at a reception for his services to the Valley. About 30 people, including Mayor Matt Larson, gathered to celebrate Burhans’ contributions to the city.
“We really just wanted to honor his legacy as a community member and artist,” said city of Snoqualmie senior planner Nicole Sanders. “He really gave his heart and soul to the Valley for the past half-century.”
As part of the celebration, the Snoqualmie Arts Commission transformed a selection of his paintings into banners now hanging in Historic Snoqualmie and on Center Street on Snoqualmie Ridge.
The Snoqualmie Arts Commission selected four of Burhans’ paintings for display on banners throughout the city. A banner based on the work “Salish Waters” originates from a canyon trip guided by George Swenson from Tokul Road to the Tokul Creek fish hatchery. A banner showing youths playing violins, “Rondo,” is inspired by a holiday with the family of local music teachers, Fritz and Julie Gere. A third banner depicts a painting from the Burhans’ Studio Garden series, and the fourth shows an excerpt of the painting “Marvin” sporting a red hat while resting in the woods.
Throughout his life in the Valley, Burhans said he was grateful to the city and to the residents.
“I’ve had so much fun working with people and chatting about the community,” he said. “They made my work worthwhile.”