Sunday, November 19, 2006

Looking for Paintings - Part 4

I don't want to go back and edit the last post regarding the Astoria Column, so I'll tell you about it here. I never had any intention of going to see the Astoria Column because a) I didn't have any idea what it was and b) It was out of my way. But, as we established earlier, I have a penchant for exploring little roads that go around the bend so before I knew it, there I was at the base of the Astoria Column, having stumbled upon it by accident. I'm glad I did.

The Astoria Column was designed to symbolize the American presence in the Pacific Northwest. The idea was to erect a tower that would rival the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In 1926 the Column was designed by Electus Darwin Litchfield and constructed by A.B. Guthrie and Company, Portland. The Column stands 110' high with a spiral staircase inside that leads to the viewing platform near the top. The artwork spiraling around the outside of the Column portrays stories of local Native Americans, explorers Lewis and Clark, and the founding of Astoria by John Jacob Astor.

Italian artist Attilio Pusterla was hired to create a frieze and 525' mural to spiral around the Column. Pusterla executed the work in sgraffito, a technique akin to scratchboard only on a grander scale using clay and etching into it with a spear-shaped blade. The Column was dedicated in 1926. Within three years the wind and rain in the area began to takes its toll on the mural and Pusterla returned in 1936 to repair and waterproof the mural. In 1995 the Column underwent an extensive restoration. For further info, here's a good link:

So, I left Astoria and crossed over to Washington via the Astoria Bridge.

I turned left for Cape Disappointment and found a jetty sticking out into the mouth of the Columbia River. Best I can do for a panorama is this:

Then I took 101 north toward Aberdeen.

Scenes along the road to Aberdeen

Aberdeen is a lumber town with nicely restored turn-of-the-century homes on the north side of town. Down along the Chehalis River stacks of timber piled 30'-40' high awaited conversion to floors, furniture, houses, and toilet paper.

Headed east on 12 through Montesano, Rochester, south to Centralia, Chehalis, Mary's Corner, Morton, Glenoma, Randle and the road south to Mt. St. Helens, but after 20 miles on the winding road to Mt. St. Helens and a gas tank hovering on empty, I turned around and went back, heading north on 7 to Seattle.

I'm guessing it was in Eatonville that I saw this view of Mt. Rainier. That's not volcanic activity, it's just a weather system hugging the top of the mountain.

Weird tree stumps in a drying lake.

Next day I stopped in at Fantagraphics with material for an article I'm preparing for a future issue of The Comics Journal. Spent about 4 hours there before heading north again to catch the ferry to Whidbey Island.

This is Puget Sound from the bow of the ferry looking south.

Next: Whidbey Island


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