Friday Harbor Port Commissioners, Victoria Compton and Gibb Black, decided to pay $30,000 for a whale sculpture to be placed on the Spring Street Landing, something they had not actually even seen! The vote was not announced and came as a complete surprise. Nobody on San Juan Island was even asked about spending this money or given the opportunity to be involved in their choice.
The third Port Commissioner, Barbara Marrett, voted against the arbitrary move. She has a history and much experience with this process. Barbara spearheaded a multi-year project to place the Portals of Welcome by Susan Point at Jack Fairweather Park. Hundreds of islanders contributed to the effort. Margaret Bell donated a virgin cedar log. Peter Kilpatrick donated the installation and Browne Lumber made a journey to Vancouver to give it a ride home to Friday Harbor.
Peter Lane from San Juan Island Museum of Art (SJIMA) has been progressing on plans to place a welcome figure in the very same location! Referrals for Proposals are being prepared to send out to indigenous artists for the project. The people on San Juan Island will be heard from in a comment period at least. Friday Harbor Arts Commission would also review the choices before one is made. The question now is whether the Welcome Figure and the Whale will fit in the same space. None of the commissioners knows the dimensions of the sculpture.
Most welcome figures are presented in an encaustic position with hands held open at the waist. We are searching for an uplifting piece of art to extend a relaxed invitation to visitors of the island. The whale sculpture they accepted is of a local orca that lost her calf and then carried it for two weeks before letting it fall to the bottom of the Salish Sea. What makes two Friday Harbor Port commissioners feel like this is welcoming?