By Chris Hendrickson, Monitor
The city of Sultan honored bronze sculptor Kevin Pettelle at a recent city council meeting. Pettelle’s Sultan business, Soul in Bronze, was featured as November’s Business Spotlight, a citywide effort to recognize and applaud local businesses.
Pettelle, who has been a sculptor for over 32 years, sculpted the bronze statue of a child sitting on a tree stump located in the community center lobby at Sultan City Hall. The piece, titled Future Dreaming, is of a pensive young boy sitting, gazing upwards, with a book resting on his knee. Clustered at the foot of the sculpture are several different animals and objects including a turtle, butterfly, bird, book bag, fern and a pair of child-size rubber boots.
The book, resting on the boy’s lap like an afterthought, is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Pettelle chose the book because of parallels he drew from the river in the book to the rivers in Sultan.
Economic Development Coordinator Donna Murphy explained the significance of some of the different aspects of the piece.
“Future Dreaming is very symbolic on many levels,” said Murphy. “All of the animals represent a loved one in Kevin’s family.”
The city commissioned Pettelle to begin creating the piece in 1998. The 900-pound sculpture was rolled in on Aug. 18, 2000, and permanently affixed to the floor of City Hall. The statue rests atop a centennial time capsule that was buried there, to be opened on Aug. 18, 2100.
The child in the sculpture is fashioned after Pettelle’s son, Max, who was, at the time, in the second grade. Pettelle paid his son to model for the piece in Pokémon cards, along with a $35 tip.
Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick presented Pettelle with a certificate of business recognition, honoring Pettelle for his work.
“Thank you very much for this honor and this recognition,” said Pettelle.
Pettelle moved to Sultan in 1980 with his wife, whose family had been in Sultan for generations. After meeting her in Bellingham in 1976 and visiting the Sultan area, Pettelle knew he wanted to live there.
“I have to say that, when I moved to Sultan, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” said Pettelle. “Sultan was instrumental in my career.”
Pettelle’s work has been commissioned by the cities of Lacey, Wenatchee, Seattle, Oak Harbor and Anacortes, as well as the Port of Everett. He is the Artist in Residence for Wenatchee’s Art on the Avenue’s Beauty in Bronze program, a grant-funded program that gives fifth-grade students the opportunity to spend the day with him. Students from all of Wenatchee’s elementary schools are invited to observe the sculptures in their community with Pettelle, and to learn about the medium of bronze sculpting from him.
Pettelle finds value in his work with the kids.
“Of all the things I do, I feel this is one of the most important,” said Pettelle in a press release. “I love working with kids; they have an openness and enthusiasm.”
Pettelle has worked with over 6,000 students.
Pettelle was named Artist of the Year in 2012 by the Schack Art Center Exhibition, a nonprofit organization in Everett dedicated to promoting the arts. He will work with the city of Sultan and the Return of the Salmon Committee in an effort to revitalize the statue of Chief Tseul-Ted located in River Park in Sultan.
Soul in Bronze is located at 1116 East Main St. in Sultan. For more information about Pettelle, visit his website at: http://www.soulinbronze.com/.