By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Exactly one week has now passed since one of the four “Walking on Logs” sculptures was discovered missing, but there’s still no word of breakthroughs in the case.
The theft was discovered when volunteers from the Walking on Logs Landscape Restoration Group and Kiwanis Club of West Seattle arrived at the site alongside the Fauntleroy end of the West Seattle Bridge last Saturday morning for cleanup and weeding. (Here’s our first report, from last Saturday night.) The sculpture was severed above the foot that had balanced atop a “log,” as shown in our top photo (from Friday), leaving behind these three:
It’s not the first public-art theft in West Seattle; the Rotary Viewpoint Park totem-pole heist of 2009 comes to mind, as do years of vandalism/theft incidents targeting the original Alki Statue of Liberty.
But the Dancing on Logs site has had other challenges. First, some history: The four bronze “dancing children” by renowned artist Phillip Levine of Burien were installed in 1996. Following up on the installation’s history and context over the past week, we learned that Clay Eals, executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, interviewed Levine on video just last month, out at the sculpture site, with traffic whizzing by. He and Levine agreed that this unedited interview could be published as part of our followup:
He talks about location as well as the inspiration for the “sheer joy” exuded by the sculptures’ pose. (You can see more of Levine’s work here.) Eals also recorded video of each of the sculptures – starting with the one that is now gone (also visible behind Levine during much of the interview above):
Eals then photographed Levine with Earl Cruzen, who made the Murals of West Seattle project happen – that’s what the statue was part of, confirmed Calandra Childers of the city Office of Arts and Culture, noting that “the whole project was funded from matching-fund grants from both King County and from Department of Neighborhoods. SDOT allowed the artwork in the right of way with the understanding that the community would maintain the artwork.”
In Eals’ May photo below, that’s Levine at left, Cruzen at right, and the now-stolen sculpture at top left:
Cruzen, now 93, took care of the sculptures’ site often singlehandedly until four years ago, when Nancy Driver of Fairmount spearheaded the organization of what became the Walking on Logs Landscape Restoration Group, as reported here in March 2010. Volunteer cleanups organized since then have not drawn much response. Driver got a few volunteers from the Kiwanis Club for the one last Saturday.
The theft of one of the sculptures might lead to renewed attention for the site’s plight. The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce has long been accountable for giving permission for nonprofits to display messages there, and board president Nancy Woodland tells WSB:
The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce has been calendaring the Walking on Logs decorations for years. Local non-profits schedule time to dress the statues to promote activities that support the local community. The Chamber is now committed to stepping up that involvement to help support the dedicated work of others including Nancy Driver, the Department of Neighborhoods, SDOT, and SPU to maintain the site. We’re exploring all options for involvement but are hopeful that our membership of business owners will step in to help with clean-up efforts bi-annually at a minimum. This is a first impression of our amazing community and we want to help make it a good one.
Right now, though, the search is still on for the missing sculpture. Here’s another look:
(WSB file photo by Christopher Boffoli)
If you have any information about what happened to it and/or where it is, you can call 911 – mention case number 14-198308 – or contact the Southwest Precinct at 206-733-9800. Its burglary/theft detectives are handling the case, according to the SPD spokesperson with whom we last checked.