Natural world in copper: Port Angeles artist displays his work at fine arts center

Clark Mundy

Clark Mundy

PORT ANGELES — Clark Mundy’s signature multi-hued copper salmon can be seen all over town — at the Clallam County Courthouse, on a staircase at The Landing mall, in the Great Hall of the Lower Elwha Klallam Heritage Center, over the entrance to the Feiro Marine Life Center and at private homes.

Through Mother’s Day — May 14 — his work also can be viewed at the gallery at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd., which is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

The show, “Between Worlds,” is a culmination of the 66-year-old sculptor’s work, with about 40 pieces made up of some 60 individual parts.

“It has been a popular show,” said Tavin Dotson, administrative assistant at the fine arts center, who said about half of the pieces are for sale.

It brightens the small gallery, which offers a sweeping view of Port Angeles Harbor.

“When the sun shines through the windows, it has an awesome glimmer effect,” Dotson said.

The centerpiece of the show, “Our Elwha,” is a 52-inch copper tree trunk entwined with fish, hands and symbols of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.

“He worked on that all winter,” said Mundy’s wife, Leya Heart. “It brings together all of his artwork up until now.”

A statement displayed with the piece says it embodies Mundy’s “deep reverence for the Elwha river and expresses how all our helping hands are lifting up the salmon so that as they freely journey home to their ancient spawning grounds, we can all thrive together.”

The show is Mundy’s first at the fine arts center.

It’s called “Between Worlds” “because Clark feels like he has always in his life traveled between worlds, the different cultures and all the different kinds of work he has done, the natural world and the human realm,” Heart said.

“He has often been called a bridge person,” she added. “His hope is that his artwork can help bridge differences between people.”

Mundy is a self-taught artist who has lived in the foothills near Port Angeles since 1979.

His work has ranged from watercolor painting to photography to woodworking — with a stint in the boatbuilding industry — printmaking and copper sculpture.

In 2000, Mundy was invited to study Northwest native woodcarving with Al Charles Jr. and Darrell Charles Jr. of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, and collaborative works with these artists are on display around the Pacific Northwest, including “Elwha Return,” a mixed-media piece in the lobby of the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St.

Copper is Mundy’s preferred medium now.

He hammers the copper into relief from the reverse side in a technique called “repousse” (French for “pushed back”). He heats and works each piece many times to reach the desired shape and finishes with a torched and/or traditional oxidized patina, which is usually protected by a tough automotive topcoat for outside placement.

Each piece is created freehand in contrast to many copper artists, who use molds.

In 2008, Mundy installed 21 copper salmon swimming up the spiral staircase inside The Landing mall, 115 E. Railroad Ave. The upstream journey of “The Gift” leads to a 7-foot-high salmon sculpture on the second floor.

In 2010, Mundy worked with Tom Rankin of ONA Landscaping to create a 9-foot copper fountain sculpture with a cedar bench and tile planter for the Great Hall of the Lower Elwha Klallam Heritage Center at First and Peabody streets.

“Elwha: Journey Home” celebrates the return of the wild salmon runs to their ancient spawning grounds on the Elwha River, he said.

Mundy also created the copper welcome masks above the heritage center’s entrance. The masks were designed by Al Charles Jr. from old Coast Salish tradition.

In 2011, Mundy produced “Lucy and the Welcome Crab,” a 20-foot sign and sculpture for the Feiro Marine Life Center entrance on City Pier.

Inside the Feiro is a floor-to-ceiling cedar story pole and bench. “Kindred Spirits” was created to honor Art Feiro and Will Wirt, the men whose shared vision brought the marine lie center into being.

Mundy’s work also is displayed in and around buildings of the Lower Elwha Klallam, the Jamestown S’Klallam, the Makah, Suquamish and Muckleshoot tribes.

For more about Mundy, see www.coppersalmon.com or his Facebook page, phone 360-912-1193 or email info@coppersalmon.com.

Port Angeles artist Clark Mundy is featured now at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center. (Ernst Ulrich-Schafer)

Port Angeles artist Clark Mundy is featured now at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center. (Ernst Ulrich-Schafer)

Exhibit curator Randy Powell discusses the sculpture “Our Elwha” by copper artist Clark Mundy as another Mundy sculpture, “Four Winds,” stands in the background in the main room of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Exhibit curator Randy Powell discusses the sculpture “Our Elwha” by copper artist Clark Mundy as another Mundy sculpture, “Four Winds,” stands in the background in the main room of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

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