By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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The 88-year-old Port Angeles artist cast the “Homage to Elza” in honor of Elza Mayhew, his late friend and noted Canadian contemporary.
After two months of waiting and hoping, McKiernan received word this week that the University of Victoria's Legacy Art Galleries agreed to accept the abstract piece for its collection.
“It's excellent news,” McKiernan said Wednesday.
“Everything is now looking rosy. I'm very happy to have been able to accomplish that.”
Mary Jo Hughes, Legacy Art Galleries director, said the donation was accepted on the condition that it passes an examination of gallery officials.
“It's pretty much a sure thing,” she said.
She added that Mayhew was a “very important artist from Victoria.”
McKiernan, a wheelchair user, is making arrangements with Mayhew's son, Alan, to pick up the 40-inch tower-shaped sculpture from his Port Angeles studio and take it to Victoria on the MV Coho ferry.
Like McKiernan, Alan Mayhew is “very interested seeing it come here,” Hughes said.
McKiernan met Elza Mayhew in the early 1970s and remained her friend until her 2004 passing.
He cast the “Homage to Elza” shortly after her death as a tribute to her family.
Elza Mayhew's totemic works are displayed throughout Canada and are featured prominently on the campus of the University of Victoria, her alma mater.
“What's interesting about her is very few women artists were doing monumental sculptures at that time,” Hughes said.
Legacy Art Galleries has a primary gallery in downtown Victoria, the Legacy Maltwood at the McPherson Library and satellite exhibitions around campus.
The “Homage to Elza” likely will be kept in the Legacy's permanent collection on campus, Hughes said.
Public art in PA
McKiernan is known locally for his public art displays in Port Angeles.
In 1980, he cast the “Cormorants,” a larger-than-life bronze statue of two majestic birds mounted on a 2-ton granite rock at City Pier.
He also cast a 1989 state centennial bell displayed at City Pier.
McKiernan has a life-sized bronze cougar near his studio and other works in private collections around the U.S., Canada and Japan.
A Port Angeles native, McKiernan served in the Marines during World War II. He moved to Aberdeen after the war and built a 42-foot gaff-rigged schooner called the Windolee.
He moved back to Port Angeles in 1975 and became the founding director of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center.
During his directorship in 1988, the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center featured an Elza Mayhew exhibit.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.