New art museum hauls in donated pieces from Bainbridge Island

One island family donates life-size sculpture by Seattle-based artist Phillip Levine to the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

By Seattle-based artist Phillip Levine

Islanders Barbara and Grant Winther came across the sculpture by artist Phillip Levine almost 30 years ago. Its photo was featured alongside a 1984 Seattle Post-Intelligencer review of the sculptor’s art show.

Barbara Winther loved it so much that she was willing to pay for it over a five-year period. And Grant Winther enjoyed it enough to be willing to skip out on a new car for a while.

To Barbara Winther, the sculpture emitted a glow of warmth.

“It welcomed me,” she explained. “We need more that’s good in the world. This sculpture has a caring, warm kind of peace about it.”

The piece is a woman with her arms outstretched. Her face offers an array of expressions to decipher, whether it is one of maternal instinct, worry or that of a person looking out on the world with open eyes. She is life-size at 5-foot-8 and made of bronze.

Levine says that he worked to emulate a gentle, restful and feminine gesture when he created this piece.

Appropriately titled, “An Imagined Past,” Levine explained that when coming up with titles for his pieces he likes to make sure to give viewers a start.

“You don’t want to limit the possibility of someone bringing their own experience to the meaning of the piece,” he said. “It’s a meditative piece in that sense.”

In the beginning, it sat outside the Winther’s Sunset Drive home, overlooking the water. And over the years, the artwork has had two more homes with the Winthers, ending on Taurnic Place.

This week, however, it has been moved into its new home at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art where it will be displayed as part of the museum’s permanent art collection.

“We love it,” Winther said. “And we love our community so much that we thought we would

share it.”

It is one of 60 donated pieces to the collection from Bainbridge Island, Whidbey Island and the Seattle area.

The sculpture will also be featured alongside a wood sculpture by Levine’s son, Aaron Levine, a Bainbridge Island artist.

Islanders can expect to get their first look at the collections and the new 20,000-square-foot two-story museum at 11:15 a.m. Friday, June 14, right after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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