Brightwater Public Art: Grandfather’s Wisdom

A Brightwater mystery: where is Grandfather’s Wisdom?

If you’ve visited the Brightwater Trails area or driven by on Highway 9 past Woodinville recently, you may have noticed that something is missing. A bare metal framework stands where once an iconic longhouse art installation was nestled among flowering trees.

Grandfather’s Wisdom brings the history, perspectives, and culture of the First Peoples of Puget Sound to Brightwater.

Andrea Wilbur-Sigo. Grandfather’s Wisdom, 2012/2020. Carved and painted cedar. Brightwater, Woodinville, WA. King County Public Art Collection. Photo: Ned Ahrens

The carved and painted cedar sculpture, originally constructed in 2012, has been a centerpiece at the site for the last decade. Now, trail users and people traveling along Highway 9 will notice bare, metal beams standing among the trees.

So where did Grandfather’s Wisdom go?

The good news is that this art installation is in the hands of its creator being refreshed and rejuvenated. Artist Andrea Wilbur-Sigo is continuing her work to restore the large-scale sculptural installation at her studio.

In 2020, Wilbur-Sigo restored the paddles that stand in front of the longhouse component. 4Culture describes this series of paddles as “an homage to the practice of ‘paddles up’,” which signals a desire to land and visit when approaching a community by canoe.”

A carved paddle standing upright.

Now, she is re-carving and re-painting the longhouse to increase the sculpture’s longevity for years to come. The new longhouse is expected to return to the site in late 2022.

For more information about Grandfather’s Wisdom and the restoration process, check out 4Culture’s blog post from earlier this year.

4Culture serves as stewards of the King County public art collection and is managing the restoration process. This ongoing care and investment in our public art collection ensures pieces like Grandfather’s Wisdom will be part of our communities for many years to come.

Grandfather’s Wisdom is in the hands of its creator being refreshed and rejuvenated.

In the meantime, there’s lots of additional public art to discover at Brightwater! Learn more about the Brightwater collection on 4Culture’s website. Art at Brightwater highlights wastewater treatment, history, and the lifecycle of water. There’s something for everyone!

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