This month, Second Use’s field crew lead and resident artist, Seth D’Ambrosia, got a call for a salvage job at the Undre Arms Apartments building in Capitol Hill. Checking out the basement before the building would get demolished, he discovered some items that shouldn’t belong to Second Use showroom but instead should belong to the Washington State Historical Society.

It was art supplies by famous local sculptor James Wehn. Wehn is most known for designing the Seattle city seal, his Chief Seattle sculptures, and his leadership at the University of Washington’s sculpture department. The crew found two milk crates with reference materials, two wire armatures on bases, one easel mount, four sculpture tables, and one table-top sculpture stand.

“We’re a young area, so we tend to overlook the importance of preserving these kinds of things,” said Seth D’Ambrosia, Second Use field crew leader. “We’re not sure what they’re going to mean 100 years from now. Seeing history connects you to where you came from.”

The Washington State Historical Society was very appreciative to get the materials to add to its 1,000-piece James Wehn collection.

“We deeply appreciate the efforts of businesses like Second Use and members of the community in helping us preserve our state’s history,” said Lynette Miller, head of collections. “The donated materials are a great complement to the Society’s existing Wehn collection.”

The Society was able to verify the materials belonged to Wehn by comparing them to its extensive collection of Wehn’s work. One of the salvaged pedestals appears in a photograph of Wehn with his sculpted bust of Chief Seattle. Among the reference materials are articles and notes about sundials that Wehn used to design a sundial that is now located at the Evergreen Washelli cemetery in Seattle.

The story was also picked up by KING 5 News.
Posted 8/24/2011