Gateway: News

Parks commission talks totem pole, other art pieces

The City of Gig Harbor Civic Center is a potential home for the Ulsh totem pole, which was donated to the city.
The City of Gig Harbor Civic Center is a potential home for the Ulsh totem pole, which was donated to the city. Staff photographer

Vic Ulsh was the only one to put a sticker on the Civic Center green when the city’s Parks Commission considered locations for public art pieces.

Ulsh sees the green as a good fit for a piece of art he feels a deep connection with: The totem pole built by his father, Wesley Ulsh. Recently donated to the city, the totem pole stood on Pioneer Street for years.

Along with the totem pole, citizens weighed in on the location of two other art pieces: A Wish Fish and a Peace Pole, both put forth by the Midday Rotary.

At a Sept. 2 meeting following the open house, the Parks Commission decided to postpone suggesting a location for the totem pole. Instead, the commission began to form a subcommittee made up of a Parks Commission member, an Arts Commission member, a city staffer and, possibly, a citizen with a historical background.

That subcommittee plans to contact the Puyallup Tribe, but has not made any formal contact yet, said Public Works director Jeff Langhelm.

Ulsh said he appreciates the amount of thought that’s going in to the location of his father’s famous totem pole. The spot outside the Civic Center is special to Ulsh because it would sit on the location of the old Harbor Heights Elementary School building, where he attended school.

At the open house, maps featuring all of the city’s parks were displayed and visitors put stickers on locations for the three pieces, the totem pole, the wish fish and the peace pole.

Overwhelmingly, stickers showed the Austin Estuary Park as the favored place for the totem pole.

The Wish Fish is a project of the Gig Harbor Midday Rotary and would resemble the pigs of Pike Place Market. Money dropped in the Wish Fish would go to charity.

The Peace Pole is also a project of the Midday Rotary and was presented to the public by Bob Anderson, who has seen them installed across the world. The pole offers a message of peace in many languages and are meant to foster worldwide goodwill.

“These peace poles have meaning when people come across them,” Anderson said.

For now, things are still up in the air as far as location and pieces. The open house does give the commission and the city a clearer idea as to how to proceed.

“One of the things we really value as a commission is public input,” Parks commissioner Nicole Hicks said.

Karen Miller: 253-358-4155