Project Receives Sculpture Site in Spokane Parks

Spokane Park Board of Directors approves placement of bronze statue recognizing issues of international conflict impacting women and children, Native Americans, war veterans, refugees and displaced persons.

Full Press Release

The public sculpture titled "Bearing" will be cast life-size in bronze.

Press Release

Spokane –– 05/15/16 –– On Thursday May 12, 2016, at the City of Spokane Park Board regular meeting, the Bearing Public Sculpture Project 501(c)(3) passed a major milestone securing a site in Spokane’s Sunset Park. Spokane Parks and Recreation Director Leroy Eadie introduced the Bearing Project to the Spokane Park Board after Bearing Project board of directors completed provisions meeting the City of Spokane’s park placement criteria. The sculpture will be a gift to the City.

Sunset Park is located at the west end of Kendall Yards on an elevated embankment situated between the Centennial Trail and Spokane River. Visual artist and cultural anthropologist Ildikó Kalapács toured the site after Bearing Project Board president Patricia Kienholz had met separately with Greenstone Corporation and Kendall Yards developer Jim Frank and West Central Neighborhood Council park committee representative Larry Swartz to discuss current and future plans for the area.

Kienholz stated the most pivotal aspects of securing the site were “receiving the positive vote of Park Board Vice President, Lieutenant Colonel Susan Traver, Air Force, and working out a plan with Spokane Tribe of Indians Business Council Tribal Chairwoman, Carol Evans. Chairwoman Evans is the first woman to lead the Spokane Tribe of Indians Business Council. Receiving support from her and Colonel Traver is a tremendous honor and testament to the abstract impact and aesthetic value of the piece. We are very grateful to the City Parks department, representatives from the City Council, and to the Park Board for the positive vote.”


Tribal Outreach

Discussions and plans for placement included the Spokane Tribe of Indians and centered on considerations brought forth by City of Spokane Historic Preservation Officer Megan Duvall. Duvall recommended Kienholz contact officers from the Spokane Tribe of Indians Office of Historic Preservation. She stated, “Because no State funds are being used for installation, a formal [City of Spokane] study is not required. With any potentiality for archeology, it’s important to include the Spokane Tribe if they want to be present during the process. No cultural resource studies have been done in the area.”

Bearing Project board members Patricia Kienholz, Cat Garrett and Ildikó Kalapács met with both Spokane Tribe of Indians Council Chairwoman Carol Evans and City Councilperson Karen Stratton who is also a member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians. Chairwoman Evans described the Spokane region as “the historical homeland of the Spokane People who [because of their displacement] have been affected by personal identity and social issues including domestic violence and alcohol. My ancestors were peaceful, not a warring People, but did have a couple of wars on the West Plains.” They include the Battle of Four Lakes (September1, 1858) where Lieutenant Colonel Edward J. Steptoe (1816-1865) was defeated, prompting Colonel George Wright (1803-1865) to return a US Army campaign armed with the superior Springfield Model 1855 Rifle-Musket and resulting in the deaths of many Native Americans*; and The Big Fight or Battle of Spokane Plains (September 5, 1858) which subsequently defeated the combined Native American troops of Spokanes, Coeur D’Alenes, Yakamas, and Palouses (see City of Spokane Historic Preservation Office, Battle of Four Lakes Monument, and Battle of Spokane Plains Monument).

Evans notes, “Natives have a high percentage of Natives joining the [US] armed services and have deep feelings about supporting the Nation.” One artifact Evans described involves a tree on her family land, which encased a baby board placed in the tree by a mother whose baby drowned as the she attempted to cross the Little Tshimakian River with her baby in an effort to escape conflict. The tree has since been removed and preserved by the Spokane Tribe of Indians. Evans mentioned there are twenty-nine Tribes relevant to Plateau Indians discussion, however she further emphasized the concept of “Tribes” is a governmental designation coordinating families into categories that did not exist prior to US involvement. The Eastern Washington Historical Society (aka Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture) in Brownes Addition, holds one of the largest Plateau Indian artifact collections is the US.

Former Spokane Arts Director (1997-2012) Karen Mobley testified in favor of sculpture placement, urging the Park Board to be “courageous” while recollecting efforts by Sherman Alexie to seek artistic support from the City of Spokane. Council President Ben Stuckart also testified in favor, urging the board not to delay their vote for what has been an over two-year negotiation with the City of Spokane.

*Please note the use of nomenclature for Native American, Indigenous People, Original People or American Indian is tribal specific.


Conditions of Placement in Sunset Park

The Park Board reached agreement over the site after adding to the resolution a stipulation requiring a Park Board approved artist statement be included with installation of the sculpture. Ildikó Kalapács, who was raised under socialist dictatorship in Hungary and was impacted as a youth by governmental, cultural, and social restrictions to the expression of emotive storytelling states; “The sculpture celebrates the strength and resilience of the human spirit as it carries the burdens of the physical and emotional aftermath of war. It is a humanitarian gesture, intended to elicit compassion with special reference to veterans, refugees and others affected by conflict.” This year, Spokane was designated a “Compassionate City” by the Spokane City Council in partnership with the Charter for Compassion International’s partnership agreement (an agreement based on the moral maxim of the Golden Rule focusing on altruism).


Next Steps

The Bearing Project board of directors has completed the location phase of a three-phase strategy for placement of the Bearing sculpture in Spokane. Subsequent phases are fundraising and placement/dedication. The Spokane Tribe of Indians will be formally invited to offer a blessing during the placement and dedication of the sculpture.


Bearing Project Mission and Board of Directors

Founded in 2012, The Bearing Public Sculpture Project 501(c)(3) is a nonprofit charity. The purpose of the project is: “To fund, construct, and place permanent life-size bronze sculpture, modeled from “Bearing” by Ildikó Kalapács at appropriate locations in the United States, to fund, construct, and place other works for art at locations around the United States reflecting sentiments compatible with ideals and principles expressed by the “Bearing” work, and to exercise all general powers enumerated in the Act in furtherance of such purposes.”

Board of Directors:

Patricia Kienholz, president, nonprofit professional

Karen Boone, vice president, nonprofit professional

Liz Peterson, secretary, treasurer; economist, professor

Kathy Thamm, community volunteer, Community Minded Enterprises, executive director

Cat Garrett, community volunteer

Ildikó Kalapács, visual artist, assists the board as executive director

The Bearing Project is in communications with Mukogawa University President Naosuke Itoigawa for possible future placement of the Bearing sculpture in Spokane’s sister city, Nishinomiya Japan.


The Bearing sculpture is copyrighted material in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.


For more information, press only:
Patricia Kienholz

(509) 847-3073