Play area also a galleryThe KidsUp! playground drew contributions from 18 local artists.

"It's easy to imagine the KidsUp! playpark as a small wooden island in Puget Sound, rather than a play structure anchored in a sea of pebbles.Fish and water images abound. In the art works that are an integral part of the Battle Point Park structure, salmon leap into the air, climb a glimmering metal waterfall, dive under the surface of the pond at Rockaway Beach, shimmy across a glass pool.The art lets you know this is a playpark in the Pacific Northwest, said Babette Gazarian-Cherne, the project's art coordinator.Without the art works, the feeling of the playpark would be a lot more impersonal. "

  • Saturday, June 2, 2001 2:00pm
  • News

“It’s easy to imagine the KidsUp! playpark as a small wooden island in Puget Sound, rather than a play structure anchored in a sea of pebbles.Fish and water images abound. In the art works that are an integral part of the Battle Point Park structure, salmon leap into the air, climb a glimmering metal waterfall, dive under the surface of the pond at Rockaway Beach, shimmy across a glass pool.The art lets you know this is a playpark in the Pacific Northwest, said Babette Gazarian-Cherne, the project’s art coordinator.Without the art works, the feeling of the playpark would be a lot more impersonal. All of the works at the playground, put in place through the volunteer efforts of 18 artists, are related to the Northwest . But the most pervasive theme is depictions of the salmon that so deeply inform the area’s sensibility.Suquamish’s Bob Lucas is an artist whose work has a more consistent signature than many sculptors in the concrete salmon, whose partial bodies always seem to be just emerging from, or disappearing underwater. The implied transience of the pose has a certain poignancy in this memorial for Lucas’ late wife.William Baran-Mickel’s hammered-metal waterfall with leaping salmon, while static, catches the sun to remind one of the glint of sun off water.Melanie Lassard’s concrete bench will have schools of glass fish swimming across an iridized glass pond by this weekend, the artist says.Lassard looks forward to the installation, noting that she was impressed by the child-care arrangements for workers and the food provided at the KidsUp! site. More glass fish transit the fused-glass tiles made by representatives of every island fourth grade class and one Suquamish student. Diane Bonciolini and Greg Mesmer of Mesolini Glass Studio oversaw the production of the triptych that represents early history, 19th century events and contemporary context of the area.Various sea creatures populate a niche Gazarian-Cherne has painted.Gazarian and the other artists made a notable effort to include Northwest images, in an attempt to give the play park its spirit and specificity – the images from this land, this place. There isn’t unanimity about the selections, which have drawn complaints from some Suquamish artists. Conscientious inclusion of imagery indigenous to the area makes the absence of indigenous artists conspicuous – the more so, they say, because Salish and Nootka styles are presented by non-natives.But the point is lost on the pint-sized numbers clambering over the structure’s surface. Their spirit seems embodied in the bright fish they painted on small scraps of building material now affixed to the structure in ad hoc schools. The volunteers brought the left-over material to the center set up for volunteers’ children, Gazarian said, and the kids would paint the fish. It was so great to watch them transform the scraps to art. When you see the finished work where there was just a pile of raw material, it’s always a thrill. “

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