Category Archives: Art

Education stories on a lighter note

In today’s Kitsap Sun, we ran a roundup of top stories on the education beat for 2016.

Teachers’ walkouts, McCleary madness, the Kennedy flap over school prayer, the end of No Child Left Behind … It was a whirlwind year.

Not all the education news coming out of Kitsap County was serious, however. Here are a few of the stories that still make me smile.

In late January, a fourth-grade class at Mullenix Ridge Elementary in South Kitsap decided to do their own scientific investigation of De-flategate, the uproar over allegations the New England Patriots weaseled their way into the Super Bowl using underinflated balls in the AFC championship game.
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Ashton Smith, the lone Patriots fan in the class, defended quarterback Tom Brady, but quickly became a bitter old man, when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld a four-game suspension imposed on Brady for his part in the scandal. A federal court later tossed the suspension, for lack of due process in the investigation.

In February, acting students at South Kitsap High School made a regional ripple on social media with the hashtag #SKvsFallon. The students and their coach Scott Yingling issued a video challenge to late night host Jimmy Fallon for an “Improv-off.” The video racked up 30,000 views shortly after it posted and SKvsFallon was briefly a trending topic on Facebook in Western states.

In March, Brownsville Elementary School Principal Toby Tebo kissed a goat for a school fundraiser. “Kissing goats, it’s a good idea. It’s going to be fun, and I can’t wait to pucker up,” Tebo said, before giving Peanut the pygmy goat 21 kisses, one for each goat the students sponsored for an African village.

In December, we asked students at Pearson and Vinland Elementary schools what advice they’d give Santa. Here’s Rachel Seymour’s video with their response.

OMG! Herman’s Hermits!

IMG_3654In our family this story has become legendary, and like most legends its truthfulness is worth questioning.

Mom swore it happened and her honesty was something you could set your watch by, and that’s good enough for me, especially because it’s about me and reminds people that I was once certifiably cute.

My oldest brother was a operating on the grass and dirt of a Southern California baseball diamond. By “operating” I mean he was playing, baseball to be precise. “Operating” just sounds more like a college word than “playing,” so I went there. Jim, the brother I mentioned earlier, played for the Twins in the Mustang League in West Covina, a Los Angeles suburb that was once home to Lee Majors and developments built on top of a cancer-inducing former landfill. We didn’t live on the former landfill, so we weren’t at risk for cancer except for all the smoking and breathing outside air.

I’m told Jim was pretty good, but I was only somewhere between 3 and 5 years old, so my interests were elsewhere. In one memorable moment my interest was going to the bathroom, so I ambled over to the portable outhouses they set up near the bleachers and went about my business. I’m guessing it was a seated affair, because I had time to sing “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” at full throat. Outside at least one man was waiting his turn as I sang. Apparently he wasn’t in an urgent state, because he was smiling.

Back then young Americans worshipped at the Beatles altar, but I was a Herman’s Hermits man, myself. My brother had a stack of albums (What you kids might call “vinyl.”) and often at the front of the pack was Noone’s face. Mom wasn’t much a fan of 60s music, Dad even less so, referring to it often as “rotten roll,” then laughing, usually with his mouth full. Jim would play his records in his room. I was sometimes not allowed in, by Mom or maybe Jim, so I would many times sit outside listening to what would become my own personal Wonder Years soundtrack.

The outhouse incident I’ve described is not one I remember. I obviously had the ability to speak, and sing, but this memory does not exist for me. Nonetheless I don’t doubt it. As I mentioned I was a big fan of Herman and his gang (I thought Peter Noone’s name was “Herman.” I’m sure people older than I thought the same thing.) and I was an even bigger fan of singing whenever the notion struck. To some degree I still do that, though it’s not cute anymore.

The memories I do have involving Herman’s Hermits include singing “Dandy” as a solo in my first-grade class. Seriously, it was sharing time, so thought it would be good to sing. I also remember my heart aching for Debbie Frazin every time I heard “There’s a Kind of Hush.” There were lots of sappy love songs in the 1960s. That song, though, had a depth even a 6-year-old could admire, a vision of an entire world so mesmerized by love that it falls silent. Poetic genius, perfectly elocuted by Noone.

That Noone and the rest of the Hermits are performing Saturday at the Admiral Theatre in Bremerton on the same weekend my oldest brother is here visiting us from Hawaii was a message from God. I saw McCartney last year and did a whole podcast afterward about how much my brothers needed to go see him. Neither Jim or I have seen the Hermits before, so this is just pefect. I predict I will probably cry like a little boy when Noone appears, not crushed like the young female Brown’s former boyfriend, but because I’ll be into something good for a couple of hours, something that has lasted almost five decades for me now.

EPILOGUE: No crying at the beginning, but when the Hermits broke into “There’s a Kind of Hush” at the end of the concert I got a little misty.

IMG_3678The music in the show was as good as I would have hoped. What surprised me was how funny Noone was. He bordered on Don Rickles humor at  times, saying some people from Belfair must have driven their in their house. I only wished he had said it about Port Orchard, the historical butt of my jokes.

My brother Jim, the bushy-mustached one in the photo here interacting with Noone, spent a few decades of his life on the radio in Honolulu. When I was taking Jim’s picture with Noone my brother asked when Noone and the rest of the Hermits would make it over to Hawaii. Noone said they don’t get over there much, but mentioned concert promoter and radio/TV personality Tom Moffatt. It turns out Moffatt is a friend of my brother’s. Noone mentioned that Moffatt introduced him to Elvis, then asked my brother to say “Hello” to Tom for him.

The Belfair reference was part of a string of local jokes. He poked fun at the airport in SeaTac, gas station attendants, and got the whole bit rolling by saying that when he was a kid he always dreamed that one day he would get to play at the “Admiral Theatre in Bremerton, Washington.” I was on vacation last week, part of it in Portland and I saw a poster advertising a Herman’s Hermits show at a casino down in Oregon. I would love to go, mostly to hear all the same jokes related to the different locale.

There was a time when we would laugh at guys like Noone and other musicians whose prime had passed, but they continued performing. I saw Paul McCartney last year and it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended. (I’d say one of the best I’d ever “seen,” but man we were sitting far away.) I’ll continue to go to any Springsteen concert. But neither McCartney or Springsteen are good examples, because they never lost the ability to fill arenas. I’m talking more about groups like REO Speedwagon or Three Dog Night.

In reality, it was seeing Christopher Cross that made me finally gain a renewed respect for performers whose hits are decades old. Now I think it’s wonderful that these musicians can continue to make a living by touring and performing for old and new audiences. Now that I’ve seen my first favorite band, (Noone is the only original Hermit in the current band, but he’s the most important one to me.) I’m really glad that they do.

Their defense against the jokes is their own willingness to poke fun at themselves. It’s like we’re all in on the joke. Noone said something akin to being on the tour of musicians who haven’t died yet. He asked to see if there were teenagers in the audience. He asked them if their moms made them attend, then said it was their grandmothers. He finished by joking that one of the young girls had forced her mother to go to the concert. I bet that joke will seem just as funny in Oregon.


Making little of Christmas

Some people go for Christmas in a big way. In the case of this Shelton couple you might say they make little of Christmas … big time.

Here’s a story written by our freelance reporter Arla Shepard for our North Mason publication about Steve and Roxie Martinell, who create a miniature wonderland in their home, and open it to the public during the holidays. The couple is shooting for a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

You can visit the Martinells’ amazing collection for yourself and take in another miniature display at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island (details below).

Christmas is everyone’s favorite holiday in the Martinell household.
For about 30 days, from Halloween to Thanksgiving, Steve and Roxie Martinell work hard at transforming their Shelton home into a winter wonderland.
This year, they’re planning to enter their annual Christmas village, a miniature display of the holiday season, into the Guinness Book of World Records.
The display includes between 250 and 300 miniature homes, as well as post offices, railroad stations and movie theaters. There are also miniature people, a forest, the North Pole and a carnival.
The display totals about 2,500 pieces in all.
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“My favorite part is seeing the kids’ eyes light up when they see it for the first time,” said Roxie Martinell, who collects and sets up the pieces each year. “We like doing it for the kids.”
The couple of 38 years have three sons and 14 grandchildren, but they also open up their home to the public during the month of December, offering hot chocolate and cookies to people who want to stop by and marvel at the village.
The tradition started many years ago, as a simple display beneath the Christmas tree, Roxie Martinell recalled.
As the years passed, the display grew larger, soon outgrowing a table display that the couple put up every year for their family.
In 1990, the couple decided to open up the Christmas village to the public for the first time, and since then the collection has increased in size and popularity.
“The table just got bigger and bigger,” said Steve Martinell, who now spends two to three days building a platform each year for the display. “People saw what we had and started to give us some more. We’ve got a lot of houses we can’t put up because we have too many.”
This year, Steve Martinell strung up between 28,000 to 30,000 lights outside their home, about 3,000 more lights than he put up last year.
Roxie Martinell enlisted the help of her son, Jeremy Martinell, and her grandchildren to set up the indoor miniature wonderland.
“It can be scary because there’s pieces out here that can’t be replaced, but it’s mostly fun,” Roxie Martinell said. “It’s a family thing that we can all do together.”
The family matriarch can remember nearly every piece that she owns, so there are no duplicates on display.
When she does receive an extra collectible, she often gives it to a friend.
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About 500 people visit the home in December to see the lights and the display. Some are friends, and many are regulars that come back every year, Steve Martinell said.
The couple would like to set the record for largest miniature Christmas Village display. They can’t find an existing record and are working with a representative from the Guinness Book of World Records to have it verified.
The process can take up to six weeks, Steve Martinell said.
While their children have asked when they’ll start charging people, Steve Martinell said the couple has no plans to put a price on the Christmas display.
“It brings us happiness and joy,” he said.

The Christmas Village is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday throughout December. The address is East 161 Johns Creek Drive in Shelton.

Bloedel Reserve Miniature Display
What: “Intricately designed, hand-made buildings and whimsical trains create holiday memories for years to come. With the Visitor’s Center decked to the nines, and cider simmering, it becomes an experience for the senses.”
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily (except Mondays) through Jan. 5
Cost: Included with admission to the Reserve; adults, $13; seniors/military, $9; students 13 and older, $5. Children 12 and younger are free.

Musical Guests:
Dec. 14 from 1 to 2 p.m., The IslandWood Forest Chorus will carol in the Visitor’s Center. The chorus is an informal group of IslandWood staff, graduate students and docents.
Dec. 15 from noon to 1 p.m., singers from Grace Church will carol in the Visitor’s Center.

Silverdale: It’s time to revive the monthly art walk

Brynn writes:

It appears Silverdale is restoring its tradition of hosting art walks. The newest variation — the Silverdale ArtWalk — is scheduled for the first Thursday of the month — yes that means tomorrow.

There used to be a monthly art walk that was spearheaded by Maria Mackovjak, owner of Old Town Custom Framing and Gallery, and other Old Town business owners that helped build the Old Town Art Walk . Mackovjak has since moved her business from Old Town and it seems the art walk sort of fell off the radar.

Its revival is slated for tomorrow with the showing of “Rockitdog”, a 7-foot tall sculpture that will be on display in the lobby of the Oxford Inn and Suites. The event runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and refreshments will be served. Anyone and everyone is invited to attend.

The sculpture at the center of the walk is the work of Karsten Boysen from Port Orchard. Boysen’s sculpture, described as a “brilliant yellow” made from “River Run” steel, will be surrounded by other pieces of art from local artists Lisa Stirrett, Debbie Drake, Lori Balter, Rebecca Westeren, Joan Wells, Darell Severson, Cathy Kelley and Elizabeth Haney, according to a press release sent by Boysen.

Boysen was one of 17 featured artists recently sponsored by Vigo Industries, Gunderson, Esco and other port companies to attend a Port of Portland Seaport Celebration. His work is displayed in Alaska and Washington through different communities “1 percent for the arts” campaigns, and his work is the center of many prominent private collections. Boysen is a former art instructor for the University of Washington and the University of Alasaka- Juneau and was a Washington State Arts Commission artist in residence at the Seward Park Art Studio in Seattle.

The new Silverdale ArtWalk is sponsored by the Lisa Stirrett Gallery, Oxford Inn and Suites and Reid Real Estate on Silverdale Way.

Next month’s First Thursday Silverdale ArtWalk will have a breast cancer awareness theme because of October being breast cancer awareness month. More than 25 artists will be featured and will highlight a Harrison Medical Center fundraiser scheduled for Oct. 3.

Manchester’s answer to the Space Needle

David C. Eddy has an idea that could put Manchester on the map.

As you locals know, the town of Manchester, Wash., is a quiet, little waterfront burgh with a sweeping view of Blake Island and Seattle and the Cascade Mountains. Eddy envisions a rotating restaurant along the lines of Seattle’s Space Needle on Manchester’s waterfront. He calls it “the Space Barge.”

The barge signifies Manchester’s connection to the Navy. As locals know, the Manchester Navy Fuel Depot — also part of the Manchester view — is just down the road. The fuel depot comprises 38 storage tanks with a capacity for 60 million gallons of fuel and 11 miles of pipeline, most of it cleverly hidden under the facility’s hillsides. The fuel depot serves primarily Navy vessels, but also Coast Guard ships and the occasional foreign vessel.

Like the space needle, the barge would rotate 360 degrees its topside beacon light flashing in the night sky, Eddy says.
Space Barge
Eddy, an artist, author and economic philosopher, displayed an oil painting of the Space Barge at a recent art show. The reaction?

“I didn’t really get a whole lot of feedback on it,” he said.

Funding the enterprise is another matter altogether.

“I was thinking because Bill Gates is local, he may be interested in funding a major attraction that would represent the futuristic approach for Microsoft Corporation,” Eddy said. “The Space Barge would also provide a key player in attracting people to the West Sound.”

Eddy is “semi-retired” and owns Manchester Ventures, a catch-all business for his diverse endeavors. Eddy in 1983, published “Earthland,” about economic theory and “the relationship between people, their earth, and the delicate balance that makes life possible.” The book is available at

Eddy said his interest in economics was sparked by a trip to China he made decades ago through the People to People ambassador program founded in 1956 by then-president Dwight D. Eisenhower. He also teaches Tai Chi.

Mr. Gates, the ball is in your court.

Worthy Sasquatch! splendor

Scott Robinson looks incredible in this big ... coat.
Scott Robinson looks incredible in this big … coat.
Scott Robinson and girlfriend, Rachel Harmon, look incredible in the same big ... coat.
Scott Robinson and girlfriend, Rachel Harmon, look incredible in the same big … coat.
For $337.50 you can attend the four-day Sasquatch! Festival 2013 this weekend.

It’s the annual music event at The Gorge and at that price it’s no wonder there is a dress code. Scott Robinson and Rachel Harmon, pictured in the big furry coat, plan to look stellar, and the big furry coat is proof.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis is part of the line-up for Sasquatch!, and this $15 beauty from the Goodwill in Silverdale fits the definition of a “come up.” But I have a hunch Robinson would have worn this thrift-shop beauty no matter who was performing.

I stopped the Bainbridge Island couple outside Goodwill in Silverdale, because I found the coat to be absolutely cowbell. I was jealous. This is just the kind of clothing I want to wear in public to embarrass my wife.

Don’t come at these guys with paint, either. The coat is a fake, all acrylic. “No animals were harmed in dressing for Sasquatch!” said Robinson. Besides, over four days of camping and watching musicians, that coat will likely be used as a sleeping bag, napkin and maybe even a vomit target. And if it’s raining, it could double as a sled. Something tells me that coat won’t be making the trip home.

No worries, though. If you want one, Robinson said there was another one inside the store. I’m sure it’s not my size. I’m working on that, though, so you better hurry.

Tent Man’s at it again

Well look who’s moving up in the world.

You’ll recall we wrote about “Tent Man” Don Strom of Olalla in August. He’s the guy who turned heads with his floating tent, made of old hot tub covers and what-not, gliding inches above the chilly waters of Puget Sound and later the toxic-algae laden waters of Long lake County Park.

In this recent photo, posted to the Kitsap Sun’s Facebook page by alert reader Taumy Laughlin, you’ll see Tent Man has made himself a cozy little cottage on the water, complete with window box and American flag … looks like something that might entice Hansel and Gretel or Beaver Cleaver.

“Yes, the once dung gray tent has now transformed into a beautiful swan of sorts,” Strom said.

When I asked if he’d taken up residence in the waterborne abode, Strom replied, “I cannot confirm or deny at this time.”

As it turns out, Tent Man has a kindred spirit out there in Kitsap County. After the story ran, I heard from Barbara Burns, writing on behalf of her inventor husband Brett Dawson, who “can’t stand email,” so relied on his spouse to reach out.

Mrs. Burns was hoping I could connect her to Strom. (I directed her to the phone number at the bottom of the story, since Strom was trying to rent the tent out.)

“I would very much like to introduce him to my husband, Brett Dawson, who would be thrilled to work with him on a propulsion system for in-line skates, or any other oddball project for that matter,” Barbara wrote.

“My husband is a compulsive builder and tenacious engineer and has thus far been unsuccessful finding like-minded people who are interested in building unique things. He has built a robot mailbox holder (you can see it on reddit), an electric lawn cart for hauling brush, an electric bicycle where the wheel is actually the motor, numerous fighting robots (one of which he competed with at Battlebots in San Francisco) and more.

“Brett is also a somewhat shy outdoorsman who would happily live outside if I would join him (which I will not, because I like sheets and running water), Barbara informed me. “To compensate, he’s got a shop that’s bigger than our house.”

I searched high and low for a video of the robot mailbox, which I told Barbara I would love to see in action. But it turns out a video would be pretty boring.

“It doesn’t actually move,” Barbara replied. “It just looks like it can.”

Love it. A robot with potential.

Tent Man, clearly, you have competition.

Snowplows in July

With weather in the 70s and 80s, sunny with the occasional summer thunderstorm, snow and ice may be the last things on our minds. But when frigid, dark days close in on us, we can take comfort from knowing that four of Kitsap County’s snowplow blades now sport works of art created by local schoolchildren.

Students from Manchester, Brownsville, Green Mountain and Breidablik elementary schools were selected by county public works officials in May from among 14 competing schools to decorate the plow blades. The contest was modeled after similar competitions in other jursidictions around the United States. Teachers  used the art project as a teaching opportunity, according to Anne Giantvalley, a teacher at Manchester Elementary. The students got a field trip to the public works department. They submitted drawings, then the classes involved voted on their favorite designs, which were chosen for transfer to the snow removal equipment. When it came time to paint, the county brought the blank canvass blades to each school.

“Our students learned about design and had to work collaboratively to complete the painting in a limited time in some inclement weather too,” Giantvalley said. “Students also had the opportunity to see the truck bring the blade and unload it – quite fascinating.”

We may not need it now, but tuck this link to the county’s snow removal plan in your bookmark bar for when the snowflakes start to fall. Now, get out and soak up the sun while it’s here.

Dicks Center a blank canvass for retired florist

Gordon Andrews is a florist by trade, but we’re not just talking your daisies-in-a-teacup florist — no disrespect to florists of that genre. Andrews, with a specialty in estate management, does things in a big way. When he was living in San Francisco, his clients were countesses and other multi-millionaires, including the Ghirardelli family of chocolate fame. Such was the size of their digs that some had whole rooms devoted to floral arranging.

When Andrews moved to Bremerton in 2005, he brought with him a large stash of silk flowers. He became involved with the Bremerton Arts Commission, through which he attended an event at the Norm Dicks Government Center. There, he saw a black canvass.

Andrews got permission to create floral arrangements for the desk, where concierge Patty Stewart presides. The work is all gratis.

“I just wanted to share some of the things that I can do,” Andrews said.

The dramatic bouquets rotate about monthly. Andrews has been at it since December, and people have noticed.

“I can’t tell you how many people walk right up, shake my hand and say thank you,” he said. “I think little things like that make a difference.”

People have donated silk flowers toward the cause. “It’s a community effort,” Andrews said.

For more information or to donate silk flowers, contact Patty Stewart, concierge, on the main floor of the Dicks center.