Downtown Sculpture Walk
By Kimberly Miner – Tourism Walla Walla:
Today someone at the Visitor’s Center window asked me if I knew where they could find some of Nano Lopez’s art. I googled it and found that he created the sculpture “Matilda on Her Way to Market,” which is located at the Walla Walla Public Library. That led me to a brochure that we have at the Visitor’s Center called “A Walking Tour of Public Sculpture.” I spent a few minutes looking over the brochure, trying to memorize which sculptures were designed by which artists. It only took me a moment to realize that without having the sculptures in front of me, I would not remember who sculpted what. So Friday evening, after work, a friend and I decided to take the walking tour and visit each of the sculptures on the tour.
As a local resident, I have seen all of the downtown sculptures, but I have never actually stopped and read the details about each one. We started at letter A and worked our way alphabetically through the map, starting with PeoPeo MoxMox, 2005 bronze, by Roger McGee. PeoPeo MoxMox was head of the Walla Walla Tribe and was part of the 1855 Treaty; he was killed and mutilated during the Battle of Walla Walla. Right off the bat, the sculpture tour was intriguing and I found myself daydreaming about the Native Americans and what it would have been like to live here, amongst them.
Our tour continued down main street, skipping from one side of the street to the other. We stopped and read about each sculpture and talked about what stood out about each one of them. By the time we were just a little more than 1/2 way through the walking tour, we came to the “Windows on the Past,” 2010 photo mural, by production artist Jeanne McMenemy. Depicted are historic and contemporary photos from ethnic and cultural groups that lived in the Walla Walla Valley from 1850 – 1950, as well as photos of the valley with over twenty different ethnic and cultural groups represented: Native American, Chinese, African-Americans, French, Italians, Jewish, Lebanese, Latinos, Japanese, Norwegians, English, Scots, Irish, Swiss, Polish, Germans from Russia, Ukrainians, Germans and Greeks. We spent nearly 30 minutes looking at each and every one of the photos and talking about them. Oh how I wish I could go back in history and experience life in the early days of Walla Walla.
The walk continued up Main Street and we had to wrap it up because it was dark, at the Marcus Whitman statue, 1953 Bronze by Avard Fairbanks. I felt like a tourist during the tour – I found myself looking at things from a different perspective and really had a great time, so much so that I later googled PeoPeo MoxMox to read more about the story of a man who has so much more to do with Walla Walla, than I in my 45 years here, do. I wish I could sit down with him and talk to him about life back then.
This walk really gave me a huge appreciation for the history of our valley and the artists who have memorialized this history. My plan is to continue to try all the different walking tour guides that the Tourism Walla Walla has to offer, not only to help me become more informed of the brochures that I am handing out as the Visitor Services Manager for Tourism Walla Walla, but also for my own enjoyment, since I had such a wonderful evening on the Sculpture Tour.
Tags: , Downtown, Marcus Whitman, Matilda, Peo Peo Mox Mox, Sculptures, Walla Walla, Windows on the Past, tour, tourism, walking