Main Street Public Art

Art on Main Street

Hopefully you've noticed, but downtown is packed with great art. From the carved cedar planks, laser cut benches, gateway signs, and murals - there is a lot to look at. With a theme of the "River" the 2008-2009 reconstruction project installed this art to reflect our community and create an inviting & attractive space for our citizens and visitors. Next time you're downtown take a minute, look around, and you're sure to find something you like.

Probably the most dramatic art pieces are the 18' tall cedar planks. They were all carved by residents of the Snoqualmie Valley and follow the river theme of the project. You will notice a reflection of natural elements like wildlife and water in all of the boards. 

While all of our carved cedar planks are amazing works of art there is a very specific meaning behind the set produced by one of our artists, Bob Antone. His planks are located at the intersection of Stella and Main Streets, across from City Hall. To keep some reasonable scale to these 18’ tall boards, they are shown side by side instead of stacked. Check out their stories below:

"Sacred River Song"

Designed in a contemporary graffiti style, this plank design features words and phrases from the Snoqualmie Language. The Snoqualmie Tribe Canoe Family uses this particular song during modern cultural gatherings. The words translate to "sacred river come to me". In historic times, dots were used to record songs on rocks and trees. 

 The dots and marks represent drum beats of the song. At the top of the piece tower the words 'Xa Xa', meaning 'sacred or most high'. The row of circles and H forms represent the eyes of the ancestors watching us. They also represent the scales of river lightning serpents, servants of the Thunderbird. They also represent the vertebrae of living things, animals and human beings alike. The rectangular sections of alternating triangles signify the thunderbird and friendship between native and non-native people. 

The triangles also signify artifacts such as spear tips and arrowheads found along the Snoqualmie River. The bottom section features a river canoe, a pregnant women in the middle, an elder at the back and her husband in the front. The spiral patterns above and below the canoe are found in ancient petro glyphs all throughout the Northwest and signify wind, or, a journey on the river. 

The Southern Puget Sound Salish basket design features V patterns symbolizing mountain people. Three wavy lines next to each other represent three forks of the Snoqualmie River above Snoqualmie Falls. At the bottom, below the row of alternating triangles, the English translation reads, "watch over the land, country, earth"...

"Moon The Transformer" in his mother's arms, moon / transformer song

Moon the transformer was born to a human mother and a star being father in ancient times. He descended with his mother and aunt from the sky world on a cedar rope. Before becoming what we know as moon up in the sky, transformer changed the plants, animals, mountains, and people into what they are today. His brother became the sun. At the top of the plank looms the faces of grandmother and grandfather. These are the ancestors watching over us. In a contemporary graffiti style, the words of "moon / transformer song" scattered among clouds and stars translate loosely to "power of the moon, singing praises to". 

Once again, dots represent drum beats and wavy lines signify the three forks of the Snoqualmie River above the falls. The alternating triangles are thunderbird and the spirit of friendship between native and non-native people. On the bottom section, Moon the Transformer is being held in his mothers arms. His mother is caught somewhere between the spirit world and the world of the living. This is why she glows with light and her outline is exaggerated with dramatic and deep cuts into the wood. The red star and white star next to her head represent two star husbands who captured two Snoqualmie sisters and took them to their sky world. Later, one of the women became pregnant and gave birth to moon the transformer before escaping the sky world on a cedar rope. 

 This entire plank has petro glyph and other ancient symbols mixed together with contemporary graffiti. The fish design is representative of an ancient petro glyph located along the Raging River just outside of Fall City, WA. The canoe in the middle of the plank features a male and female paddle sticking upright. At the very bottom of the plank, the sun is rising on a new day. The translation of the bottom section below the mother and moon child reads, " Hello my friends and relatives, hello high class honorable people, praise you / thank you" Above this is a spirit eye motif found on spirit boards located in the Burke Museum. The eye opens on a re-awakening of indigenous culture in the Snoqualmie Valley. The Moon / Transformer song is used by the Snoqualmie Tribe Canoe Family during modern cultural gatherings.

"Legend of Snoqualmie Falls"

Many years ago Snoqualmie Chief Patkanim caught wind of a war party intending to cause trouble on the West side of the mountains. He decided to play a trick on them. He sent a messenger to invite them to a potlatch. The messenger guided them down river above Snoqualmie Falls. He waved them on saying, "the party is here, come to our potlatch".  

As the canoe party approached Snoqualmie Falls, Chief Patkanim hopped across to stand firmly on the center rock. 

Above the falls this appeared as an optical illusion to the men in canoes. The sky and the river blended together and since a chief stood there waving them on, they got the impression that all was safe going ahead. Soon it was too late to turn back and they plummeted to their death.

"Modern women" First Nations, Snoqualmie River disconnected

In ancient times, Coast Salish people believed good health and spirit power could be gained by regular cold water bathing practices. During adolescence, young men and young women journeyed into the woods without food or water for three days to receive a guardian animal spirit and name. Over the course of three days, a person would bath early in the morning in cold river or mountain lake water. Supernatural beings were said to then visit, endowing each with a specific animal or guardian spirit that would protect and guide them for the remainder of their lives. 

This plank design showcases two Coast Salish women and the Snoqualmie River. Notice the figures seem slightly disconnected to both ground and water. The smaller figure on top is almost urban looking, a fashion model wearing a cedar hat not quite her size. She floats above the waterfall and seems unattached to the landscape. 

The larger figure on the bottom section of the plank is also disconnected and awkward. Her arms and legs are posed in an uncomfortable position. She seems anxious. Money, fame, urban versus rural lifestyles, gambling casinos, and the conflict between the modern world and tribal traditions consume the larger figure. She is being pulled in four different directions. Her head is down and heavy with sadness.