Artist sought for memorial sculpture at Oso mudslide site

Planners envision a depiction of the row of mailboxes that once marked Steelhead Drive.

OSO — A committee that has been making plans for a long-term memorial at the site of the deadly 2014 Oso mudslide is seeking an artist for a very specific sculpture.

It would re-create the row of mailboxes that once marked Steelhead Drive.

The mudslide swept away the neighborhood there, off Highway 530 between Darrington and Arlington, and claimed 43 lives.

The planned memorial would remember loved ones lost, honor those who rallied to support the community and teach visitors about the Stillaguamish Valley and the disaster. Families who have taken part in the planning announced their vision for the memorial in March. It is to be located near an existing memorial grove of 43 cedar trees.

There were about 19 mail and newspaper boxes, a landmark for visitors to Steelhead Drive and passersby on the highway, according to the call for artists released Thursday.

“Seen from (Highway) 530, the cluster was a place to tie balloons for birthdays, a place to catch up with your neighbor,” according to a news release. “(Re-creating) this iconic symbol for the community is one part of memorializing those who lived in the area.”

To create the sculpture, the artist would work with a group involved in planning the memorial. It would be placed near the entry to the site. It should be “as accurate as possible” to the original mailboxes.

Before being placed in its permanent home, the sculpture would be displayed at events and in public places to help with fundraising efforts to pay for the memorial project. The memorial cost estimate is about $6 million, according to the Snohomish County project website. Donations can be made online at slidememorial.com.

Plans also call for the inclusion of a Callery pear tree donated by the 9/11 Foundation, a boardwalk, shelters and an area with curved steel panels for each of the people killed in the slide, with space for names, photos, mementos and decorations.

Artists’ proposals for the mailbox sculpture should be submitted by July 3 to Hal Gausman with the Snohomish County Arts Commission: Hal.Gausman@snoco.org.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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