One was discovering digital technology and how to incorporate its advances into his work.
The second was going from a gallery artist, selling his bronze nudes to private parties, to a commissioned artist where all the world can admire his statues free of charge.
We should all be grateful for that second milestone.
In Everett, for instance, we can see Pettelle's detailed works any time, near the waterfront and in the city's downtown core.
We can see the larger than life "Fisherman's Tribute" at the Port of Everett offices and feel as though we are on the deck of a boat hauling in our day's catch from the sea.
Or we can walk down Wetmore Avenue and take the seat offered to us by dancer Mike Jordan and become part of the bronze statue that is "Simple Song."
For Pettelle's talent in creating classically executed bronzes and for the impact his art has had on the community, Schack Art Center has named the sculptor 2012 Snohomish County Artist of the Year.
Pettelle's bronzes "have a tactile warmth, historic durability and a remarkable ability to accent form" and will be presented in a retrospective of his life's work in the exhibit, "Celebration of the Human Form," according to a Schack Art Center press release.
Pettelle will be honored in a public catered reception on June 28 at Schack Art Center.
Also honored will be Schack's 2012 Art Advocate of the Year, Josey Wise, who, along with her husband, Marc, owns WiseDesignz Framing & Gallery in downtown Everett and who has done much to further the growth of the Everett Art Walk.
Pettelle, who turns 56 in July, has lived in Sultan since 1980. His commissioned bronze pieces can be seen throughout the Pacific Northwest, from Fremont to Wenatchee, to Renton to Oak Harbor and elsewhere.
Pettelle said becoming a commissioned artist was a "completely different animal" for him.
"What you do as an artist on that level is not only figure out how to produce in an artistic way, the composition and all these things, but also bring that spark into it," Pettelle said.
For the "Fisherman's Tribute," Pettelle learned that fishermen don't pull their nets out of the water underhanded but overhanded. The knowledge "completely changed the whole sculpture."
"It's a collaborative effort," Pettelle said. "As an artist I'm fluid. My job is to take the piece to where they want to go and to take it to where I can take it."
Pettelle said that he is still fascinated by the human body and will continue to "sneak" in nudes in his work whenever he can. He plans the next step in his career to make pieces on a big scale and be more focused on parts of the anatomy that are universal: the hands, the feet, the neck.
But for now, Pettelle appreciates that commissioned work has allowed him to do work he never imagined before.
"The way I look at it is, the most important thing is what it should be because it's going to be around for a long time," Pettelle said. "It's an amazing way of getting your work to the public and it connects with the audience."
Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; email@example.com.
"Celebration of the Human Form"
Kevin Pettelle: Artist of the Year: Pettelle celebrates the human figure in this solo exhibit of bronzes.
Josey Wise: Art Advocate of the Year: Wise displays her contemporary oil paintings with this solo exhibit of landscapes and wildlife.
Meet the artists at a catered reception from 5 to 8 p.m. June 28 at Schack Art Center, 2921 Hoyt Ave., Everett. The art is on exhibit in the Schack Main Gallery through July 29. For more information go to www.schack.org.
Pettelle will present a lecture, "Bronze Age Meets the Digital Age," from 6 to 7 p.m. July 21 at Schack.
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