As a 3-year-old, Steven Madison remembers sitting on a totem pole his grandfather was making.
By age 12, he was blocking out wood with a chainsaw for his grandfather, Frank Madison, the first step in creating a totem pole’s art.
The tradition of art and carving among his Tulalip relatives is strong. “It’s a family of artists,” he said, one that includes cousin James Madison, the 2013 Artist of the Year at the Schack Art Center, whose sculptures are displayed at the Evergreen Arboretum, Mukilteo Lighthouse Park, Kayak Point County Park south of Stanwood and along the Centennial Trail in Arlington.
“Everything my grandpa knew, he taught me and my cousin, Steven. He was grooming us to carry on,” said James Madison in a 2014 interview with The Daily Herald. “He taught us the stories and their messages, and how to carve. It was like learning to walk. It was just something that happened naturally.”
Steven Madison, whose 30 art pieces are in displays or for sale at the Hibulb Cultural Center & Natural History Preserve, will be demonstrating his art Saturday at The Tulalip Foundation’s third annual salmon bake, a benefit for the Hibulb Cultural Center.
The master carver is making a flounder bowl made from yellow cedar for the event, which he will donate to the auction.
“It’s what they used to make a long time ago, based on traditional style,” Madison said. He began work on the piece last week and expects it will take up to 15 hours to complete.
Madison, 49, said he never really made a decision to pursue his art. “I just started doing it,” he said.
Madison, who works as a graphic artist for the Tulalip Tribes, has an associate degree from Northwest Indian College in Bellingham. He also teaches “Intro to Carving” classes at the Hilbub Cultural Center. The classes were created after Madison’s carving demonstrations at last year’s salmon bake spurred interest in the art.
The goal for this year’s salmon bake is to raise $35,000 to $40,000, said Nicole Sieminski, executive director of The Tulalip Foundation, a nonprofit that serves tribal programs and the community.
Money raised at last year’s event helped fund the current exhibit, “Coast Salish Wool.” The exhibit, which can be seen through January, includes four shadow boxes and about 20 displays of historic materials and photographs.
In addition to funding new exhibits, the salmon bake also pays for additional programming at the Hibulb Cultural Center. “It’s an opportunity to enhance what we do here,” Sieminski said.
Saturday’s event includes a fashion show based on the “Coast Salish Wool” exhibit, a dinner with salmon cooked traditionally on sticks over an open fire, and live music provided by Paul Nyenhuis, who will be playing the flute.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
The Tulalip Foundation’s Salmon Bake fundraiser is 3 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Hibulb Cultural Center, 6410 23rd Ave. NE, Tulalip. The event includes a salmon dinner, a silent auction of works by Tulalip artists and a fashion show. Tickets are $50. Call 360-716-5400 or go to www.hibulbculturalcenter.org/Events/Calendar for more information.
This story has been modified to correct the name of the hosting organization of the salmon bake.