In 1963 one of the most important works by Native American master carver Joe Hillaire (Lummi, 1894-1967) was installed in Suquamish, Washington. Standing 35 feet tall and 3.5 feet in diameter at its base, the red cedar story pole was entitled "Land in the Sky". Carved on its sides is the story of two brothers who journeyed up to the moon and back again and is complete with all the characters and creatures they met along the way. It stood until 2005 by which time weather and age had made it unstable and it was taken down with the aim of eventually restoring it.
The Hillaire family chose to gift the pole to another Lummi artist and carver, Felix Solomon, charging him with caring for the pole into the future, including its restoration (you can read more about Felix below).The time is now right to make a concerted effort to preserve and restore this masterpiece of Lummi carving and return it to a public place for everyone to enjoy, as Joe Hillaire intended. Our first step is to erect a semi-permanent shelter over the pole. This will improve its current condition by offering more substantial protection from the weather, as well as providing a covered space under which Felix and his crew can work when restoration begins.
The pole is already at Felix’s workshop in a spot sheltered from the wind, outside the main building, as it is too large to be brought indoors. The structure that we will build over the pole is commonly known as a “polytunnel” or “monkey hut”. It is made from lightweight PVC pipe, PVC fittings, rebar and a heavy duty sun-blocker tarp. These lightweight structures have a long history of use in the horticultural industry and as temporary shelters in many situations. They can be built to varying degrees of permanence, are fast to erect and economical to build. We plan for ours to last at least 5 years, including replacing the tarp once during that time.
Prior to building the structure, the pole will be lifted, a heavy duty vapor barrier laid out beneath it to combat dampness coming up from the ground, and new cribbing installed to support the pole. Once that is done, we will erect the polytunnel over the pole. The tunnel will be 40 feet long, 12 -14 feet wide and 7 – 8 feet tall at its apex (the height depends on the final width, which we will determine based on the ground conditions at the site).
We plan to have the polytunnel in place by the end of April, 2015.
MASTER CARVER, FELIX SOLOMON
Felix Solomon has been many things in his life, including a fisherman, a restaurant owner and cook, but his true calling is that of a carver. Felix produces works of art large and small - fish hooks, rattles, masks, boxes, poles, canoes. His work has been featured in galleries and museums across North America, and he has spoken at many major museums including the Smithsonian. Through his work he aims to bring the traditional style of Coast Salish carving to a larger audience, while at the same time guaranteeing its survival into the future.
He is also a conservator and restorer of poles and this has seen him work alongside non-native conservators and museum professionals, both treating poles and demonstrating and teaching restoration methods. He is no stranger to the work of Joe Hillaire. The "Land in the Sky" pole, which this Kickstarter benefits, will be the second Joe Hillaire pole that Felix has been involved in restoring. In 2007 Felix was the lead carver for the restoration of Hillaire's 1952 "Bellingham Centennial" history pole that now stands outside the Whatcom County Courthouse, Bellingham, Washington.
This Kickstarter will raise the funds to purchase the vapor barrier and the materials to build the shelter: the structure will cost around $600 (we are negotiating the donation of some materials), the vapor barrier $200, and we have included a contingency fund of $150 to cover unexpected expenses and the costs of fulfilling our rewards.
No Kickstarter campaign is complete without rewards, and ours are described below. We have been able to keep much of the cost of providing them to a minimum (mostly shipping costs) thanks to the generosity of folks donating their time to make the mats, or by covering the actual cost of items (the stickers, the CD/DVD sets and books) as their donation to the project.
We are also developing fundraising efforts for the final restoration of the pole, which will return this work of art to its former glory and allow it to once again be enjoyed by the public. Any funds raised over our goal, and not needed for the shelter, will be rolled into our upcoming fundraising for the restoration. This guarantees that your financial support will benefit this work of art.
Here is an overview of the rewards we have to offer in return for your support.
What would a Kickstarter campaign be without a sticker! Ours is based on a design used as the logo for an international conference, held at the Tulalip Tribes’, Hibulb Cultural Center in 2014. The conference, “Poles, Posts and Canoes”, brought together individuals from around the world to discuss the issues – practical, historical and cultural – of caring for large, Native American, wooden objects, as well as providing a platform for contemporary carvers to talk about their take on the current carving scene.
The idea was that the logo would live on as a means to identify projects related to the scope of the conference. This is the first time it has been used beyond the conference and the first time as a sticker. The logo incorporates typical Coast Salish graphic forms, and includes the hands of carvers and conservators circled round the silhouette of an adze – an essential component of the carvers’ toolbox. For $5 and above, a sticker is yours!
Miniature cedar mats
The cedar tree was arguably the most important source of raw materials for the native peoples of the Pacific Northwest in ancient and historic times, and it continues to be a vital part of their cultural material traditions. Cedar bark, after being harvested, cleaned, split and processed into usable strips (tasks all done by hand), can be woven into hats, clothing, baskets and mats. As a thank you gift at our $35 reward level we would like to offer you a miniature cedar mat, perfectly sized to be used as a coaster, or simply admired as an object of craftsmanship and beauty. As these will be handwoven especially for this campaign, we have to limit the number we can offer to 30.
“Coast Salish Totem Poles”, DVD and 2 CD set
We are grateful to have been given three sets of a DVD and 2 CD compilation featuring recordings by carver Joe Hillaire and his daughter Pauline Hillaire:
- CD1 – “Lummi Songs” sung by Joe Hillaire
- CD2 - “Totem Poles Stories” told by Pauline Hillaire (this CD also includes a commentary on carving by Felix Solomon)
- DVD – “Interpretation of Totem Poles”, a series of three videos featuring Pauline Hillaire talking about her father’s work and the role of poles within Lummi culture, as well as telling the story of the “Land in the Sky” pole (the pole this Kickstarter is associated with), both illustrated with many photographs of Joe Hillaire carving and of his works. The final video is a recording of Joe Hillaire telling the story of Grandmother Rock and the Little Crabs.
This compilation was produced as a media companion to a book. Interested in having both? Then take a look at our final reward level.
“A Totem Pole History” book and companion media set
Our final reward is a real treat - the hardback book “A Totem Pole History: The Work of Lummi Carver Joe Hillaire”, by Pauline Hillaire, edited by Gregory P. Fields, complete with the companion DVD and 2 CD set “Coast Salish Totem Poles”. This is perhaps the ultimate source of information on the life and work of master carver Joe Hillaire, recounted in text, photographs, video footage and sound. Not only will this provide you with the most complete account of the history of the “Land in the Sky” pole, it also gives you a unique way to experience the cultural heritage of the Lummi people through the voices of Joe and Pauline Hillaire and carver Felix Solomon. Only two of these sets are available as a reward at the $125 level.
Risks and challenges
Risks and challenges?
Well, I am lucky to have accumulated a fair bit of experience in the world of Kickstarter. I have already run one successful campaign of my own, including meeting all of the fulfillment goals (if you would like to check it out please search for "DOOP" here on the Kickstarter website), plus I have been involved in the organization and fulfillment of 3 other successful campaigns, not to mention having backed well over 100. This is a huge help in being able to design and administer this new effort. All that experience leaves me feeling confident that I will be able to run this one successfully.
This Kickstarter is pretty modest and straightforward, as such campaigns go. We are not looking to raise an enormous sum of money and our rewards are simple. I do not anticipate any major challenges with fulfilling the rewards offered here - they either already exist and are on hand, or the skills and the manpower needed to create them is ready to get working.
As for constructing the poly-tunnel........I also have experience building them as well, varying in size from the small blue one seen in the video, up to one with exactly the same dimensions as the version we will build for the "Land in the Sky" pole. We have a crew of willing volunteers to help with this, and we look forward to a weekend in the near future when we will be able to build the shelter.
We can and will do this, along with the help of your donations. Thank you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (26 days)