Larger than life: Statue of Cascades icon takes shape in Chimacum

CHIMACUM — In life, Harvey Manning was a giant who single-handedly took on the challenge of preserving wilderness in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

In Sara Mall Johani’s studio in the wooded hills above Chimacum, Manning is also larger than life.

Johani and her husband, Tom Jay, owners of the Lateral Line Gallery and Studio on Van Trojen Road, are creating a statue of Manning, whose passionate advocacy for wilderness helped create the North Cascades National Park, Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area and Cougar Mountain Regional Park.

Commissioned by the Issaquah Alps Trail Club, which Manning founded in 1979 to save Cougar Mountain from development, the statue has now reached the first stage, a clay version from which the bronze will be cast.

“There’s Harvey,” Johani said, indicating the larger-than-life figure dominating her studio.

Johani sculpted the head first, working from photographs of Manning, who died on November 12, 2006 at the age of 81.

She also visited relatives in the Seattle area and created a mask of Manning’s son’s face to use as a guide to the bone structure.

The goal: to create a statue of Manning as he looked when he was in his ’60s, Johani said.

Feels she knows him

Although she has never met Manning, who wrote hiking guides, she feels she knows him through people who did.

“People who came here to see the statue said he was inspiring,” she said.

“He knew all the facts and could put them together and make it interesting.”

Johani did have an interesting encounter with her subject.

She had the head completed and was working in the studio on the body, when she felt that someone was watching her.

“He looked at me,” Johani said. “It’s not something that happens all the time.”

Members of the hiking club approved the clay version in January, so now Johani and Jay are moving onto the next step, making a mold of each section of figure — the two feet, the knee and hand areas, the arms, the torso and the head.

The molds will be used to create bronze versions of the sections, which will be welded together.

Headed for Issaquah

Scheduled to be finished in September, the bronze statue of Manning, sitting on boulders, will be erected in downtown Issaquah, a block from the trail club clubhouse.

The project cost $60,000, most of which the club raised.

The casting process tends to shrink the proportions, Johani said.

And when the completed statue of Harvey Manning is put up outdoors, it will not appear quite as big as it does inside the studio.

But Manning’s spirit — a mix of rough mountain man and the writer who always had a notebook in his shirt pocket — comes through.

“He was a force,” Johani said.

For more information about Manning, go to www.issaquahalps.org.

For information about bronze-casting classes and apprenticeship opportunities at Lateral Line Gallery and Studio in Chimacum, see www.thelateralline.com.

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Port Townsend/Jefferson County reporter/columnist Jennifer Jackson can be reached at [email protected]

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