GIG HARBOR — An Arlington artist is making a landmark difference to another community.
Arlington Arts Council member Verena Schwippert’s works are familiar features on the Arlington landscape, between the salmon spawning pool on the trail south of Burke Street, the “Dedicated to the Beauty of Earth” artwork on Fourth Street, purchased by Virginia Hatch in honor of her husband, and most recently, “Waterline” in the park adjacent to Lebanon Street, across the street from Les Schwab.
“Verena gave us a really good deal on ‘Waterline’ a few years ago,” Arlington Arts Council President Sarah Arney said of the three huge, highly polished granite boulders. “It’s a real tribute to the power of the river.”
Schwippert, a stone sculptor who often uses granite from the Cascade Mountains, was again in her element when she was commissioned to create three large granite mussels for a piece called “Mussel Beach,” which was funded by Percent for the Arts from the Washington State Arts Commission, and will be part of Gig Harbor’s Eddon Boat Park.
“There will be a ribbon-cutting for the entire park, which is a Washington State Historic Heritage site, and an extensive environmental cleanup and restoration project, with help from the Department of Ecology,” Schwippert said. “The entire project took 10 years to complete.”
Schwippert’s sculptures will be located within an ADA-accessible area at the southeast corner of the park, and the ribbon-cutting will commence at 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28.
Schwippert personally invested more than 600 hours in sculpting the mussels, and extended her thanks to Pat Barton, Carl Nelson, Bob Leverich, Travis Brown, Reg Akright, Norbert Jäger, Tracy Powell, Martin Beach, Michael Gardener, Ken Barnes, Tom Monaghan and Mike Sweney, as well successful restoration project.”
“Verena is one of our extra-special community treasures,” Arney said. “Her sculpture in Gig Harbor is so perfect for the location. The beach itself is now named ‘Mussel Beach,’ after her sculpture.”