Burien residents step up to replace sculpture stolen from Eagle Landing Park
Burien residents John White and Guy Harper – along with others – have teamed up to replace a sculpture (pictured above) stolen from Eagle Landing Park in February, and are planning on funding and installing a replacement sometime this Fall.
The original wooden carving, made from Western Red Cedar and carved by Artist Galen Willis, was installed at the park in Oct., 2011 (read our previous coverage here). It stood 44 inches tall, and was mounted on a pedestal and housed in a shelter constructed by Eagle Scout candidate Sean Kent as part of a project to complete his Eagle Scout requirements.
Willis, a longtime Burien resident and former Colonel in the Air Force, served as an intelligence officer fighting the war on illegal narcotics. He has a master’s degree in international marketing and a minor in art from SPU. Willis did the carving of the original eagle using a native Northwest coast art theme.
Willis took carving lessons from Dale Faulstich, an artist and woodcarver located in Sequim. The style is termed “Northwest native coast art” but Willis is quick to point out that his work is his own interpretation rather than a copy of any particular art form.
Galen had a monster piece of western red cedar stored in his back yard and had dreamed of carving it into an eagle for years. Galan says his wife Nancy came up with the idea to complete his dream by carving an eagle for Eagle Landing Park.
He spent a year of his life carving the eagle in his home garage workshop using his hand tools. He spent 40 hours painting it with special ultraviolet resistant paint. The mixtures were very complicated to achieve – just the right color or red.
Nancy recruited Kent, an Eagle Scout candidate and member of Troop 392, to construct a shelter to house and display the carving. His project was done complete his Eagle Scout requirements. Sean solicited and received numerous donations from local business owners, including eight massive peeler poles which supported the structure. Other donors included Manke Lumber, Miles Sand and Gravel, Puget Sound Steel, Sound Building Supply, Stella Jones, Tacoma Screw, and Valley Equipment and Truck. A general contractor, Mark Leggett, also generously gave his time and expertise on the project.
The original sculpture was installed at the park on Oct. 24, 2011. Standing 44 inches tall and mounted on a concrete pedestal housed in a shelter, it served as a welcoming beacon for Eagle Landing Park. The eagle was stolen a couple of weeks after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, leaving many to speculate it was stolen by an unethical football fan seeking a trophy piece for their man cave.
No one reported seeing anyone steal the art work. However, White shares the driveway leading to the parking lot of the park and he did report seeing a car illegally parked just outside the locked gate at approximately 8 p.m. A photo of the stolen art along with the police report is displayed on the pedestal where the sculpture once sat.
White lives just to the north of Eagle Landing Park, and his property includes the parking lot which was granted as an easement to the City of Burien. The driveway to the parking lot also serves as the entrance to John’s home.
“I drive up and down the driveway ten times a day, each time passing the parking lot,” White told The B-Town Blog. “There have been many car break-ins so I drive slow and scan the area looking for anyone that might be breaking into a car. More often than not I also see people standing in front of the mounting pedestal where a photo and police report are posted. They read it and gaze up at the perch where the Eagle once stood as if somehow it is still there.”
“Seeing this depressing scene everyday started to wear on me. In addition, as I travel through Burien I would run into the posted signs displaying the photo of the sculpture. It is like a wound that just will not heal. Each time I drove past the parking lot I felt a void. It started to wear on me and that is what drove me to an idea to put another eagle on the pedestal.”
White then tells a story of how he ran into Guy Harper (http://www.guyharper.com) while dining at the 909 Restaurant in Olde Burien.
“I knew he was a wood carver so I approached him with the idea of having a new eagle made to mount on the pedestal,” White said. “Guy’s eyes lit up immediately. We discussed a design. I did not wish to try to duplicate the northwest coast art since it would be impossible to copy Galan’s work and perhaps would be insulting. I just wanted a standard looking eagle. I wanted an eagle with his wings spread out. Guy discouraged me from this design because he felt someone would hang on the wings and break them off. I agreed and he came up with a layout that was not easy to vandalize. He found an expert wood carver so I placed the order. Guy did everything right with regards to the city procedures. The Burien Arts Commission reviewed and approved the art and presented it to the city council for approval. The city council unanimously approved it. I spoke in front of the council and explained that if the original sculpture is recovered it should be returned to its home at Eagle Landing but until then this new eagle will stand watch.”
White will donate around $1,500 of his own money to create and install the replacement eagle, which he hopes to have installed this November.
Local Artist Shelli Park and Crimson Park Design will also donate four Western Red Cedar 2×10’s for an elbow height, 360-degree surround-arm rest at the Eagle statue location, and we will be installing those after the new Eagle is in place.
“Hopefully, this will send a message not to go beyond this large plank barrier,” Harper said.
Eagle Landing Park – located at 14641 25th Ave SW – was established in 2005. It is a six acre park containing many native plants, mammals and birds including a metal staircase which winds its way down a steep slope to Puget Sound. Eagles have nested and rested in the old-growth conifer forest of the park since 1991, and if all goes as planned, a new wooden sculpture of one will return to the parking lot!
(read our previous coverage here)