Adventure # 1: The Bronze Soul

Today was a big day. Everyday is a big day from here on out, but today in particular was of a slightly larger scale for me personally. Today was the day I take that first big step into the abyss. The first step is always the hardest, one of many cliches I’ve found to hold true in my life.

It’s time to adventure, time to take that journey… but where? That has been the biggest hurdle plaguing me at the inception of my great life’s expedition: if one must embark on an exploit everyday of his/her life, where does one venture to? It never hurts to start small so I decided to take a look in my own backyard.

I had recently heard about a new art museum opening up not far from where I live. An art museum in Everett? I suppose anything is possible and this was something I had to see.

I took off down the fractured sidewalk of Hoyt Avenue and took in the sights and sounds. It’s kind of a sad part of town but it has it’s own beauty, sort of a weathered quality, like an above water human version of a coral reef; all the fish, big and small, poking their noses out of the windows and openings in the buildings just to update themselves on the goings on. The buildings are mostly made of old concrete and brick with moss and ivy growing in every crevice at every opportunity.

I can see a small crowd gathered outside the Salvation Army building. Two women are arguing with one another, yelling so loud that everyone can hear them yet no one has a clue what they’re yelling about. Several elderly shuffle down the steps of the public library, quickly heading off in the opposite direction.

I’m momentarily caught up in my surroundings when a mechanical voice says “walk”. What technological  advancements we have nowadays, the crosswalk is speaking to me.

I jaunt to the other side and I soon notice a stone egg adorned with a lightning bolt, my signal that I have finally arrived at the Schack Art Center.

Upon entering it is evident that I’ve come on the wrong day if I were only just a patron of the arts. They are halfway through setting up what appears to be a sculpture exhibit; this is perfect for me. The real adventure isn’t JUST in examining the artwork but in meeting those who make it happen.

I head to the counter, stick out my hand and introduce myself.

“Hi Michelle, I’m Tyler”

Michelle shakes my hand and, after realizing her name tag is how I knew her, puts on her finest customer service face and asks, “How can I help you?”

“Well I’ve never been here before, what do you guys have going on today?”

Michelle adopts an apologetic tone, “Sorry but you sort of came on the wrong day. As you can see we’re setting up for our next exhibit.”

“Well that’s ok, any chance of meeting the artist? Or at least snapping a few pictures with the ol’ smart phone here?”

Michelle leans around the corner, “hey Kevin, do you mind if someone takes pictures?”

A muffled reply and then I’m welcomed into the Schack Center with open arms.

I quickly meet Kevin Pettelle, bronze sculptor extraordinaire. He’s a medium height gentleman, a patch of grey hair lining the outer edge of his head. He’s got a quick handshake and an easy smile, a friendly person eager to make acquaintance. I ask him about the exhibit. He tells me about the work he does, how long he’s been doing it and a little about the inspiration behind his work.

Kevin was born in Seattle and has since made the Pacific Northwest home base. He tells me he’s been sculpting bronze since 1980, a very established artist in his field to say the least. Way back in 1987 he partnered with his father and brother to establish the NW Artworks Bronze Casting Service and he now runs his own studio called Soul in Bronze Studio; I highly suggest checking it out. From speaking with him and examining his work it becomes apparent to me that Kevin finds a great deal of his inspiration in the human form, a most inspiring object indeed.

Ah the human visage in all its glory and splendor. So capable of invoking a nearly unending multitude of feelings and reactions; it bends and twists, it gets fat and then skinny and then fat again, it demands, it gives, it flatters and it insults. All of this is evident in Kevin’s work, he truly is a master of his craft.

Upon exploring the rest of the art center I come to realize that this is not just a place for artists to display and sell their pieces but a teaching ground for artists new to their craft. I walk down the hallway lined with student work, admiring the guts and the glory of it all. I peer into the currently empty classrooms where hopeful amateurs have spent hours honing their skills.

At the end of the hallway I notice a pleasant surprise; a few lovely pieces from a friend in the graphic arts program at Everett Community College. I’m very interested in delving the depths of Tara’s brain to find out what inspires her interesting brand of graphic art; that will be it’s own adventure for another day.

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