Cars drive by the new “Guardians of the Mountain Pass” sculpture by Milo White and Jay Bowen on the southeast corner of Main and Lewis streets. The sculpture was commissioned by the city of Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Cars drive by the new “Guardians of the Mountain Pass” sculpture by Milo White and Jay Bowen on the southeast corner of Main and Lewis streets. The sculpture was commissioned by the city of Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

New 14-foot-tall sculpture in Monroe inspired by mountain goats

Titled “Guardian of the Mountain Pass,” it captures the city’s history and surroundings.

If your journey takes you through the Skykomish Valley along U.S. 2, here’s one more reason to do more than just pause at one of Monroe’s string of stoplights.

A new sculpture, entitled “Guardian of the Mountain Pass,” has been added at the southeast corner of Main and Lewis streets, just off the highway.

It was designed by Milo White of Sedro Woolley and Jay Bowen, a member of the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe who is a steel sculptor, glass blower and oil painter. The two previously collaborated on creating a totem pole for Mount Vernon’s Riverwalk Plaza in 2018.

The curving, nearly 14-foot-tall sculpture in Monroe was inspired by mountain goat horns, White said.

“We wanted to tell a story,” he said. “It’s not a totem pole, but all cultures have ways of telling their stories. We liked incorporating the city’s history and surroundings to set that piece specifically to that city.”

There are mountain peaks on the sculpture based on the familiar jagged outline of the Cascade range that can be seen when looking east in downtown Monroe. It also includes river rocks and blue glass (the Snohomish and Skykomish rivers flow nearby) and an alpine tree on its front.

Stop by at dusk or in the evening to see yet another element of the sculpture. There is a light inside that remains on all night to illuminate its colors and composition.

“People are just in awe,” said Katie Darrow, the city’s events and tourism coordinator. “It’s really gorgeous.”

The sculpture was officially unveiled in a ceremony Saturday — the first time it was seen by the community. City officials approved a $20,000 art grant to pay for the project.

Cities along the U.S. 2 corridor in the Skykomish Valley are trying encourage tourists to venture into the surrounding towns and cities, she said.

“Anything we can do to draw people in to town helps us and improves their experience, as well,” Darrow said. “We’ve got a lot of hidden gems throughout the town.”

White said he and Bowen initially considered about eight small model designs, looking at their shapes before finally settling on one. “The shape was the hardest part,” he said.

Gold leaf at the top of the sculpture was added at Bowen’s request.

White calls his life transition to becoming an artist a leap of faith. “I had to create,” he said.

For most of his life he had worked as a designer and builder of homes and commercial buildings. That ended with the deep economic recession of 2009. “That was about the time I started exploring my artistic side a little more,” he said.

He worked at Dakota Creek Industries, a shipyard in Anacortes for five years. When he was injured on the job, he decided it was time to devote himself to being an artist, doing metal work.

That was in 2016. Since then, his works have been displayed in backyard gardens and public installations. In 2017, he installed a 22-foot hyperbolic cylinder with red, orange and yellow glass called “Apierum Major” at CityCenter Apartments in Lynnwood.

White, 49, opened his own art gallery, Trinky Busiu, in Sedro Woolley last Friday.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

If you go

You can see the sculpture “Guardian of the Mountain Pass” on the southeast corner of Main and Lewis streets in Monroe, just south of U.S. 2.

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