In the early 1970s, landscape architect Fred Bassetti asked Northwest artist and sculpture Richard Beyer to design sculptures for children to play on in King County Park #10 (later renamed Dottie Harper Park). The main piece was a large cedar old growth stump from Snohomish County, signifying the Northwest’s vanishing virgin forests. Beyer cleaned it and, adding more cedar pieces, carved life-size figures encircling its base, dancing to bring it back to life. Sources list the artwork’s title as both “Ghost Dancing” and “Wobblies Dancing”. Wobblies was a name given to Industrial Workers of the World labor union supporters at the turn of the 20th century.
Other pieces created at the park included a unique drinking fountain made by running plumbing through a huge granite boulder, with a sculpted frog adorning the spigot. Small buffalos made of laminated hardwood and mounted on pipes stood nearby, ready for children to ride. There was also a mathematical game with pebbles in carved cups in a cedar log. The cedar stump remains intact and “polished” from years of children climbing on it. The frog sculpture can still be found in the park.
Source: The Art People Love: Stories of Richard S. Beyer’s Life and His Sculpture, Margaret Beyer, Washington State University Press, 1999, p 43.
- Why do you think the artist titled this “Ghost Dancing”? What is this sculpture made from?
About the Artist
Richard Sternoff Beyer was an American sculptor from Pateros, Washington. Between 1968 and 2006, Beyer made over 90 sculptures. Beyer was best known for his sculpture “Waiting for the Interurban” located in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. The sculpture, which is one of the popular works of art in Seattle, was commissioned by the Fremont Arts Council and dedicated in 1978. It depicts six people and a dog waiting for the Seattle to Everett Interurban, a public transportation service that ended in the 1930s. Other sculptures by Beyer include a statue of Ivar Haglund in Seattle; a statue of Christopher Columbus in Columbus, Georgia; a sculpture of a bull sitting on a bench in Ellensburg, Washington; and a sculpture of a fisherman kissing a fish in Des Moines, Washington.
Western red cedar
City of Burien/ 4 Culture (installed in 1974 by King County Arts Commission)
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