WITH CRAB FESTIVAL — Featured artist melds copper, wood and heritage into quite a catch
Port Angeles coppersmith Clark Mundy shows off a copper crab sculpture that will be featured at this year’s Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival. Mundy also created the facade of the Feiro Marine Life Center, shown behind him. -- Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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Mundy, the featured artist at the 2013 Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival, which begins today in the City Pier area, has been an artist for 60 years, but it was only in the past 10 years that he discovered the melding of copper, wood and Northwest native cultural heritage, he said Thursday.
“I was fishing with Al Charles Jr. and Darrell Charles Jr. [members of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe] when we looked at the salmon and wondered what they would look like in copper,” Mundy said.
“The first one turned out great,” he said, adding that the salmon are the most popular of his sculptures, having sold “thousands” of them.
Mundy's sculptures are familiar to many Clallam County residents and visitors.
They include salmon swimming upstream in the Lower Elwha Klallam Heritage Center at 401 E. First St., a giant Pacific octopus and sea life over the entrance to the Feiro Marine Life Center and a tree and copper fish sculpture inside the center on City Pier, and the round copper faces on a Jamestown S'Klallam administrative building on the south side of U.S. Highway 101.
The Crab Fest committee selected Mundy as the celebration's first “featured artist,” in what is planned to be an annual tradition.
“He is one of the best artists there is,” said Scott Nagel, festival director.
A T-shirt inspired by Mundy's “Welcoming Crab” — pincers raised in a traditional Klallam greeting — will be sold at the festival.
The original “Welcoming Crab,” one of Mundy's copper crabs with an added mask on its back, is on display near the gift shop at 7 Cedars Casino.
Future featured artists will be selected according to their importance to the cultural scene, seafaring and other local traditions, Nagel said.
Having grown up in Forks, though now a Port Angeles resident, Mundy said there is a certain connection that simply happens while living among the Quileute, Makah and Klallam people.
“You can't grow up here and not become part of their culture, too,” he said.
Copper seemed to be a natural medium to combine with traditional native people's traditions and art, he said, because it was commonly used by the tribes before the first European contact.
Chunks of natural copper could be found along the banks of rivers and streams, he said, and the tribes made use of it in their art.
It's very soft and easy to work with, another reason Mundy said he likes to work with the material.
Many of his sculptures are created on commission.
“I only do two shows a year,” Mundy said.
Mundy expected to have several of the copper crab and salmon available for sale at his booth near the eastern windows of the Feiro center, as well as copper crab jewelry.
Like live crab, the copper crab's bright colors are the result of cooking — but with a torch, Mundy said.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: October 10. 2013 8:18PM