TDI -- Reporter's Blog

Sep. 13, 2010 at 2:50pm

Welcome To Tacoma

Native wood sculpture arrives in Tollefson Plaza

I dropped by this morning to see local tribal members and city officials inspect the installation of the 22-foot-tall, wood-sculpted welcome figure in Tollefson Plaza. It was a preview of sorts for the official unveiling and blessing ceremony this weekend. According to a city press release, the public is invited to witness the ceremony on Sat., Sept. 18 from 10 a.m. to noon. According to an announcement posted on the TacomaArt listserv, the figure was carved by Puyallup native artist Shaun Peterson (Qwalsius) and depicts a native female wearing a traditional woven cedar hat and white dress with a Thunderbird design. Her hands are outstretched in a welcoming gesture. Its location in Tollefson Plaza is significant because two prominent villages once existed in downtown Tacoma.

Earlier Tacoma Daily Index coverage here. Excellent Tacoma Weekly coverage here.

Here are a couple photos I shot this morning. I'll have more in tomorrow's print edition of the newspaper.

From what I understand, the face will be unveiled Saturday . . .

Artist Shaun Peterson (Qwalsius) . . .

The invitation for Saturday's ceremony . . .

comments [63]  |  posted under Art, Cool, Downtown, Tacoma


by Erik on 9/13/2010 @ 3:33pm
Looks different from what I thought the original concept was:

Cartoonist Donates Massive Sculpture to Tacoma's Award Winning Tollefson Plaza

In an unprecedented act of selflessness, Tacoma's Only Political Cartoonist will donate this original, classical bronze statue to the City of Tacoma for reason of saving Toffefson Plaza from complete entropic disaster.

The cartoon artist, Mr. RR Anderson is waving his artist fee and only asks for a token "Donation Fee" of $750,006.66 tax payer dollars which should cover the several Environmental Impact Reports needed before creation of bronze statue & installation in plaza could take place.

"Tollefson Plaza is one of the worst urban planning disasters ever visited upon the people of Tacoma since the ill fated Tacoma Dome, Aramco Copper Smelter and David Brame put together" announced Mr. Anderson at a press conference in the Courtyard Marriot Hotel's womens restroom, "Only though charitable donation of my outrageous public art alone is there any hope to reverse the damage done by our inept public officials."

by Erik on 9/13/2010 @ 3:43pm
Is this better than the goddess?

by NineInchNachos on 9/13/2010 @ 8:37pm
I think it's better than GOC and the original design sketch....

by intacoma on 9/13/2010 @ 8:42pm
Lol ^

by morgan on 9/13/2010 @ 10:01pm
Is it better than Fisher-Price people?

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/13/2010 @ 10:08pm
I still think a 200 meter tall statue of Admiral Ackbar would be a better fit for Tacoma.

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/13/2010 @ 10:25pm
Remember, my friends:
The Geek shall inherit the Earth.'s best to give them what they want.

by NineInchNachos on 9/13/2010 @ 10:57pm
Giant native american woman with a bag on her head! Must get photo1!!

by fredo on 9/13/2010 @ 11:26pm
klaatu barada nikto

by NineInchNachos on 9/13/2010 @ 11:37pm

by The Jinxmedic on 9/14/2010 @ 1:34pm
It's a trap!

by The Jinxmedic on 9/14/2010 @ 2:42pm
Welcome to the Mos Eisly Container Port- A more wretched hive of scum and villainy yada yada (yoda)...

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/14/2010 @ 8:56pm
@ Jinx....

It's rare for me to admit that someone is a greater genius than I.

Sir, the Ackbar sentinels are the single most brilliant thing I have seen on FeedTacoma.

I humbly bow to your vision.

by NineInchNachos on 9/14/2010 @ 11:02pm
meanwhile, the poor Goddess of Commerce suffers humiliation

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/14/2010 @ 11:35pm
The goddess of Commerce should have known better than to tangle with the Admiral.

by The Jinxmedic on 9/15/2010 @ 6:13am
She should have known that it was a trap...

Build the Ackbar Sentinels Now! :-)

by KevinFreitas on 9/15/2010 @ 6:21am
Can't wait to see the face of that new statue once they de-Abu Ghraib-ify her!

by NineInchNachos on 9/15/2010 @ 7:49am
can't wait! the bag on the head is creepy!!!

by The Jinxmedic on 9/15/2010 @ 7:55am
Very creepy. Did we go all Sharia when I wasn't looking?

by NineInchNachos on 9/15/2010 @ 12:57pm
Meanwhile in Seattle:

by acapere on 9/15/2010 @ 10:27pm
Okay, who knows anything about developing initiatives?

I would fully vote for Tacoma's tax dollars to go toward the Ackbar Sentinels. If I were in your district...

In 2020, we can put two more near the narrows!

by Warren on 9/16/2010 @ 7:21pm
It has been more 5 years for "Figure" to arrive.
I am glad she's here.
Shaun told me the other day, "She's not imaginary anymore!"
This used to be a site her people had a village area now it is again.
No, Tollefson was not a sacred site, it was a Puyallup village.
Not a burial ground so there are no poltergeists,
The Goddess of commerce has tried to placed a curse on me
The curse has failed.
Hail to the Welcome Figure.
Abu-grabby was a hoax and so was the Goddess of Comerce.
The "Welcome Figure is welcomed!
Welcome Welcome!!!

by Warren on 9/16/2010 @ 7:36pm
Shaun has gone through a lot to create this scupture.
Other carvers that have spent anytime training shaun were
called in to help and give credit to.
The log which took a long time to acquire was switched in transit
A new log had to be selected.
A new tribal coucil had been selected and the whole process
of getting the tribe involved had to begin again.
At the same time he has to make a living.
I have been privy to a little bit of this story and I tell you if he had to do it again,
he might not. I am not sure.

by NineInchNachos on 9/16/2010 @ 7:51pm
Thanks Warren! Interesting!!

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 9/16/2010 @ 7:54pm
I, for one, welcome our "Welcome Figure".

by Erik on 9/16/2010 @ 9:34pm
It will be cool to have a statue downtown. Perhaps it will get dressed up in the wintertime by anarchist artists.

by jenyum on 9/16/2010 @ 10:01pm
I hope it is treated with respect, although I admit I'd love to see what a really dedicated urban knitter could do with it.

Actually leave the statue alone, let's just knit up Tollefson Plaza.

Or wait! Get people from all over the world to help create the world's largest bridge cozy for the Murray Morgan.

by Erik on 9/16/2010 @ 11:39pm
I think there is an electrical outlet in Tollefson Plaza.

Idea #1:

Any more?

by NineInchNachos on 9/17/2010 @ 12:18am
It has spot lights built in. Can't wait to see it at night

by NineInchNachos on 9/17/2010 @ 12:20am
I love the size of it. It's starting to grow on me. I hear there are Native artifacts in that grassy patch area near the Tacoma Art Museum... Kinda neat.

by The Jinxmedic on 9/17/2010 @ 8:09am
Um, once a welcome figure is in place, don't mess with it. It would be extremely disrespectful to do anything to it.

by AngelaJossy on 9/17/2010 @ 10:17am
I really like it. I'd like to see more public art downtown Tacoma. I've always pictured a herd of life-size or larger wild bronze horses running through town.

Jen - I freakin' love your bridge cozy idea! That's bad ass!!

by fredo on 9/17/2010 @ 5:14pm
What's missing is some sort of articulated feature which every hour or so would be activated. Perhaps she could remove the bowl from her head and reveal a nest of birds which would commence singing. Or she could pull out a peace pipe and smoke it with real smoke coming out. This sort of thing keeps crowds of people standing around for a long time in anticipation. It's used to good advantage at Ceasar's Palace in LV. The statue of Ceaser wakes up every hour and performs for the crowd. Looking at a big statue that doesn't do anything gets tiresome.

by Erik on 9/17/2010 @ 5:19pm
It will be Tacoma's iconic statue.

by The Jinxmedic on 9/17/2010 @ 5:21pm
These Salish welcoming figures have always creeped me out. Just respect the thing, and let it be.

by NineInchNachos on 9/17/2010 @ 6:05pm
you know what she needs ? a cozy pair of mittens.

by The Jinxmedic on 9/18/2010 @ 7:23am
Leave it alone.

by Mofo from the Hood on 9/18/2010 @ 7:44am

by Erik on 9/18/2010 @ 10:28am
For anyone in downtown after the unveiling, please post a picture for the blogosphere.

by NineInchNachos on 9/18/2010 @ 11:55am
got some fun pics. man what a terrible park for a new statue. hard to listen to the opening prayer when the Link is SKKKKKKKKKKRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEching through the center of the park.

by NineInchNachos on 9/18/2010 @ 12:38pm

children enjoy picking up pennies from the water tubs and splashing them back down in the water. Waiting for the event to start. Hard to hear speakers over traffic and light rail. They had lots of yummy fresh fruit enjoyed by my toddler.

I felt sad that the statue was well removed from the event... seems they erected a safety barricade complete with day-glow orange sand bags to prevent people from crossing the link tracks. A god damn shame, because you get a sense of how big it is when you're right up at the base. Seeing the woodgrain in the legs and carving marks is part of the fun most people won't experience.

In a climax of drum beats and some down feathers sprinkled at the base, the hood is dropped. Face is revealed! (golf clapping).

Max and I (Ms. Darcy is away) took the public transit NO.2 bus downtown to see this...stepping off at the top of the UW Tacoma stairs. We rode the link back to the commerce station and caught the no. 2 back home. It was fun to see people in downtown on a Saturday! Joy building is looking good.

by Erik on 9/18/2010 @ 4:11pm
Face of statute revealed.

What does everyone think?

by The Jinxmedic on 9/18/2010 @ 9:46pm
It's Frida Kahlo!

by fredo on 9/18/2010 @ 10:33pm

by NineInchNachos on 9/19/2010 @ 12:19am
ha! is she making the 'kissy face" ?

by The Jinxmedic on 9/19/2010 @ 6:55am
I stand corrected- Devo Kahlo!

by fredo on 9/19/2010 @ 7:27am
"Her hands are outstretched in a welcoming gesture"

I'd call that the begging gesture.

by jenyum on 9/19/2010 @ 8:34am
Yeesh, that wasn't very nice.

It's nice to see Tacoma connecting with her roots.

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/19/2010 @ 9:52pm
Dunno... the size is too small (75 feet would have been better). The statue isn't big or bold enough, so I guess it's appropriate for Tacoma's decidedly non-stellar aspirations.
Publicly-funded art in a public space says a lot about a city.
Today, I drove through Raymond, WA. It's a city of about 3,000. All over were rusty metal silhouettes of animals, hunters and trees. They were sort of cool, but it gave the impression of not really trying.
This statue gives the impression that T-Town wants to be a Frank Sinatra but is willing to settle for being a Lance Bass. Just seems to me that we ought to be demanding bolder, bigger and more art. No one goes to Raymond to see the metal geese on the side of 101. I think the Welcome Statue will only be an afterthought to someone visiting the MOG or LeMay.

I know everyone will fawn over it, but I don't care for it.

by Erik on 9/19/2010 @ 9:59pm
Interesting posts Thorax. Yes, Tacoma is very very conservative when it comes to arts and usually the only thing that gets approved is something "non-objectionable."

Hammering Man in Seattle is 48'

Apparently, there is supposed to be a second larger statue installed later.

by Erik on 9/19/2010 @ 10:15pm
Frontal view:

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/19/2010 @ 10:25pm
Maybe some gurella knitting will make her more palatable.

No offense to the artist, but I'm very underwhelmed.
All offense to the City Council/Mayor/Anderson: you all underwhelm me.
120 years ago, it is said that there was a version of "Go big or go home". It was: "Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realized"

by dolly varden on 9/19/2010 @ 10:35pm
Very cool -- glad to have her here.

by Nick K. on 9/22/2010 @ 12:17am
No matter how much I try, I just can't shake this image from my head.

by NineInchNachos on 9/22/2010 @ 7:58am
my god... it's full of stars

by The Jinxmedic on 9/22/2010 @ 8:09am
..full of "win", you mean...

However fantastic that DeVo photoshop adaptation is (and it is pretty wonderful), this is the type of thing that I was worried about with the welcoming figure.

by fredo on 9/22/2010 @ 9:36am

heh...whip it good

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/22/2010 @ 3:06pm
My god.

That is actually 1% more awesome than Ackbar.
I want I want I want!!!!

by Nick K. on 9/22/2010 @ 6:18pm
Well, this was my first impression.

by fredo on 9/22/2010 @ 6:44pm
what's in her left hand? looks like a spatula with a beanie baby humping a tube of toothpaste.

by NineInchNachos on 9/22/2010 @ 9:56pm
it's a dirty hoe fredo. you're sick.

also the lawn jockey is a nice touch.

by Erik on 9/23/2010 @ 11:11am
Great photoshop pictures.

We should have a contest which will help the statute become iconic in Tacoma.

by The Jinxmedic on 9/23/2010 @ 11:22am
No, no, no- leave it alone.

Did any of you ever see "Poltergeist" by any chance?


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