Tulalip art to grace county park

TULALIP — The Snohomish County Arts Commission plans to dedicate a new work of public art by James Madison at noon on Saturday at Kayak Point Regional Park, 15610 Marine Drive, south of Stanwood.

Called “Tulalip People,” the piece is Madison’s contemporary representation of traditional Coast Salish design.

The aluminum sculpture depicts salmon in a fish ladder, representing the life of the Snohomish people, one of the Tulalip tribes. The sculpture consists of five rectangular boxes with cut images. It stands more than 15 feet tall.

“James did a beautiful job on this artwork,” said Wendy Becker, economic and cultural development officer for Snohomish County and the county’s liaison with the arts commission.

The county is privileged to have one of Madison’s pieces at the park, said County Executive Aaron Reardon.

Madison, a member of the Tulalip Tribes, began carving at age 8 under the tutelage of his grandfather. Madison’s father, an abstract painter, and his uncle, a teacher of American Indian art, also influenced James, encouraging him to add another dimension to his art and to sculpt rather than to simply carve.

Madison earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Washington in 2000.

Today, his artwork contains traditional Salish elements and designs, featured in a variety of contemporary mediums such as glass, bronze and stainless steel, county officials said. He also is a master wood carver and many of his large-scale pieces can be found at the Tulalip Resort and Casino, including a 24-foot story pole.

The installation project is part of the 2011 Arts Plan approved by the Snohomish County Council. It was paid for through the county’s 1-percent-for-the-arts program, which since 2006 requires a 1-percent contribution to the county’s arts fund on construction projects in the county that cost at least $100,000, excluding roads. The money does not come from the general or transportation funds and does not affect or reduce general-fund services or road improvements, county officials said.

The dedication event is free and open to the public.

More information about Madison is at jamesmadisonart.com.

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