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MAC high on Hoh

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by DANA CASEY
Sequim Gazette

The Museum and Arts Center has reopened with a new exhibit focused on the Hoh River Valley.

The Hoh Valley region contains one of Earth’s few intact temperate rain forests, where the annual rainfall can exceed 200 inches. Washington nature photographer Keith Lazelle photographed the river over a year’s time to capture the changing beauty of the river.

The Hoh flows from its source in the Olympic Mountains more than 50 miles to its estuary at the Pacific Ocean. The valley supports a wide array of wildlife — bald eagles, northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets, Roosevelt elk, bull trout and salmon.

Fourteen framed color photographs of the Hoh River ecosystem are at the MAC from an exhibit organized by the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, and the Hoh River Trust.

Visitors can trace the Hoh’s rich history and cultural significance, plus learn about the cooperation among environmentalists, local communities, tribes and governments to protect and preserve the river.

Accompanying the pictures and the informative text are nature sounds by Emmy award-winning sound recordist Gordon Hempton.

Local artists
To enhance the visual experience, the MAC exhibits works by three local artists.

Gordon Day of Sequim has several wood carvings on display. Day started drawing and painting as a child but switched to woodcarving after retiring from law enforcement and moving to Sequim from California in 1994.

He now teaches woodcarving with knives, chisels and power tools. He is an expert in duck decoys and recently began carving raptors, mammals and other birds. He accepts commissions.

Day has a shop at his home where a group of carvers meets from 1-4 p.m. each Tuesday.

Another Sequim artist, Marlien Hennen, has several cedar weavings on display and for sale during the show. Hennen took a cedar weaving class after she and her husband moved to Sequim four years ago. She immediately was delighted with this art form using bark and other natural materials. A story about Hennen appeared in the Dec. 31, 2009, Sequim Gazette. For details about Hennen and her weaving, see it in the archives at sequimgazette.com.

A carver to the bone
The third artist is Victor Judd of Port Townsend. Judd and his wife, Mary Lynn Maloney, moved to Port Townsend in 2005.

Judd became intrigued with bone carving while traveling in New Zealand where such carvings often are seen as necklaces worn as talismans. Each design combines symbols to represent a wish for protection, good luck or bounty.

In 1998, Judd decided to learn how to make his own carvings rather than buy necklaces as souvenirs. He loved the process and continued carving when he returned to the United States.

In New Zealand, Maori carvers use whale bone for their carvings. They feel it is a sacred creature given to them by the sea spirits. They do not hunt whales; however, when it is offered up on the shore, they use every bit of it.

Cooking, then carving
Not having access to whale bone in Dallas, Texas, where Judd lived when he started carving, he decided to use buffalo bone. He uses the shank — the thick bone between the knee and the ankle — and buys bone that is fresh, with meat still on it. He must boil the bone several times to loosen and separate the meat and marrow and to remove oils. After drying, it is ready to carve.

Judd starts the rough cutting with a handsaw or a Dremel; then carves with files before sanding, starting with 220-grit sandpaper and progressing through finer grits and finishing with 1,500-grit and water.

The piece then is polished by hand or power buffed. Some pieces are inlaid with paua shell, abalone, mammoth tusk, amber or wood. The necklaces are strung on waxed cotton and often are embellished with beads.

S’Klallam longhouse
The last exhibit is a longhouse constructed with advice from the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe’s cultural council. Although its outside is finished, the interior will not open until mid-February.

The longhouse facade opens onto a room that will hold changing exhibits about the
tribe and its culture, history and current projects. Executive director Katherine Vollenweider is excited finally to have a showcase for the tribe and its connection to this area.

She emphasizes that the exhibits won’t be just about the tribe since the advent of the Europeans but will focus on the tribe as it has been for thousands of years as well as the tribe today.
“History didn’t start in 1863,” says Vollenweider.

One future exhibit will be art by tribal children plus an audio feature to bring the experience alive. The first recording will be stories told by tribal elder Elaine Grinnell. The MAC is open 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 175 W. Cedar St. in Sequim.

Reach Dana Casey at dcasey@sequimgazette.com

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