Want to experience the beauty outside in Walla Walla, take in breathtaking works of art, and get your steps in all at the same time? Look no further than the Whitman College Outdoor Sculpture Walk. This self-guided experience takes you through the Whitman College campus to view 21 magnificent sculptures, many of which were commissioned by graduated classes or created by Whitman College alumni.
Where to start your Outdoor Sculpture Walk
To keep your walk efficient, park in the Hall of Science parking lot (off Isaacs Rd.) and proceed east past the Rempel Greenhouse to Ankeny Field. This is where you’ll find Styx, the Outdoor Sculpture Walk’s first piece. Crafted in 2002 by Deborah Butterfield, the original driftwood for the horse was acquired from the Columbia and Snake rivers. The bronze was cast at the Walla Walla Foundry.
Next, head straight up the left side of Ankeny Field to the northeast corner to arrive at Jewett Hall’s terrace. Here, you will find stop #2 on the Whitman College Outdoor Sculpture Walk: Students Playing 4D Tic Tac Toe. Throughout the Northwest, artist Richard Beyer is known for his realistic public art. This piece is cast in aluminum and represents both the intellectual and playful aspects of college life.
Proceed along the sidewalk next to Lyman House. On the right, you will see a multi circular sculpture. This is Moongate, created in 2000 by California artist Benbow Bullock, who donated this sculpture of burnished stainless steel in 2004.
Around the corner on the south end of Lyman House you will see what appears to be a boulder, but don’t be fooled. This is PE-WA-OO-YIT, the oldest sculpture on your self-guided tour. Commonly referred to as “Treaty Rock,” PE-WA-OO-YIT was a gift in 1955 from the Yakama, Nez Perce, Cayuse, Walla Walla and Umatilla tribes commemorating the signing of treaties with the U.S. government in 1855. Be sure to check out the back of the stone to see a plaque honoring Hol-Lol-Sote-Tote, or Small Eagle.
Head back toward Ankeny Field and Maxey Hal for stop #5 on the Outdoor Sculpture Walk: Lava Ridge. Lee Kelly, the artist responsible for Lava Ridge, is a noted artist from Oregon City, Oregon, who draws inspiration from ancient and contemporary sources. You will see Kelly’s inspiration on full display in this impressive steel structure.
Totem Poles & a Picnic
Stops 6 and 7 on your Sculpture Walk are magnificent totem poles. The Benedict Totem (#6) was donated by Lloyd Benedict (class of 1941). Totem Pole (#7) is a 24-foot totem from western red cedar carved by Jewell Praying Wolf James of the Lummi Nation of Native Americans of northwestern Washington.
All this walking and art-taking-in will probably have you working up quite an appetite. Come prepared and pack a picnic lunch of sandwiches from the local favorite sandwich shop, Graze “A Place to Eat.” Graze serves some of the best sandwiches in the area, featuring the freshest ingredients and house-cured meats. Soups and salads are also on the menu. Don’t forget a delicious Ghirardelli chocolate brownie for dessert. Graze will make you the best brown bag lunch to pair with your art walk!
The best stop on the Sculpture Walk for a quick picnic is Cordiner Glen, also known as Narnia. The basalt archway leading into Narnia is part of the landscaping provided by the Class of 2002 to create a meditation grove in the glen. It was designed by Thomas Berger of Seattle, Whitman’s landscape architect.
With a full stomach and well-rested legs, you’ll be ready to proceed to the final installations on your Outdoor Sculpture Walk.