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NOLT mural unfolds at artist’s gallery

Visitors to Anderson Gallery, 107 N. Laurel St., in Port Angeles, can watch owner Michael Anderson paint a mural depicting North Olympic Land Trust history or even follow progress after gallery hours.

Anderson is painting the mural where it can be seen through the gallery’s glass windows.

The completed mural will be available for public viewing from 5:30-8 p.m. July 10 and 11. Delegations from the Port Angeles Downtown Association and Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce will be on hand to celebrate the Land Trust’s move to a new office suite on the south end of the historical Morse Building’s second floor. The gallery is located in one of the first floor spaces, just below the Land Trust’s previous office suite.

The July 10 and 11 events also will welcome the Land Trust’s first full-time executive director, Greg M. Good. The organization’s board hired Good after a more than six-month selection process. Before coming to Port Angeles, he was deputy director of the Orient Land Trust, in Colorado’s San Luis Valley.

Anderson will be available in his gallery both nights to talk about his work. Friday night’s event will be part of Second Weekend Art Event, when a growing number of galleries in the downtown Port Angeles area spotlight featured artists.

The mural’s three panels depict some of the qualities North Olympic Land Trust protects permanently through legal agreements with property owners, along with some key players in the organization’s 18-year history.

One panel shows Nash Huber, who leases 140 acres the Land Trust protects for his Nash’s Organic Produce operations, talking with John Willits, longtime Land Trust leader. Willits and his wife, Pat Willits, have protected more than 160 acres through agreements with the Land Trust, including the first 42-acre parcel to come under the organization’s stewardship. Huber and his staff farm on 120 of those acres.

Children admiring Ennis Creek are featured in the middle panel. About a half mile of the stream and nearly 50 acres of the surrounding watershed are included in an agreement between owners Jim and Robbie Mantooth and the Land Trust. Guides teach children and adults about the habitat for salmon, steelhead and other wildlife during the Land Trust’s StreamFest each year on the weekend following Labor Day.

The third panel of the triptych shows the late Harry Lydiard checking growth on one of the thousands of trees he planted. Lydiard, a longtime veterinarian whose numerous civic activities included two terms as a Clallam County commissioner, completed agreements with the Land Trust ensuring that nearly 300 acres of commercial tree farms west of Port Angeles and the 40-acre Bell Farm, which Huber farms, always would be available for agriculture. His first agreement, for Crescent Tree Farm in 1998, doubled the number of acres the Land Trust protected in its early history.

Mural planners used artistic license to transplant Gary Colley from his law office to one of Lydiard’s tree farm roads where he is shown walking, briefcase in hand. Colley helped with legal work for many of the permanent legal agreements completed since he and other local citizens formed the Land Trust in 1990. More than 1,500 acres now are protected.

Several Land Trust leaders contributed to the mural’s cost, but Anderson is donating much of his time. He opened the gallery a year ago and also has been helping Bob Stokes, owner of Studio Bob, with metal sculptures.

Anderson grew up in Port Angeles and after serving three years in the U.S. Army, he completed undergraduate and graduate degrees in sculpture: a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Washington and Master of Fine Arts at Montana State University, Bozeman.

In addition to his own work, his gallery features work of some 15 local artists.

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