On Aug. 2 at 7 p.m., the University Place History Museum and University Place Historical Society will be holding a dedication ceremony for a new painting donated to them.
The 20” x 24” acrylic painting depicts a moonlit landscape, a gauzy vision of how the region must have looked in the mid 1800s to shepherds who were grazing flocks of sheep in the verdant grasslands of what would one day be the City of University Place. Mount Rainier and the Cascade Range are in the distance. In the middle ground, a flock of black-headed sheep are bedded down for the night.
In the foreground are four figures at a campfire. “You have two Hawaiians, a Native American and a French Canadian — the clothing is standard for all of that period — there was little difference in laborers clothing at that time, middle 1840s,” stated Anderson.
The heightened colors give the picture a dreamy, velvety quality. The bucolic scene takes the viewer on an imaginary journey to have a look at our place in the world when it was wild and free. It is something to contemplate next time you’re stuck in I-5 traffic that’s moving like cold molasses.
The painting makes the point that Hawaiians were among the first non-native settlers in our region. Locally, Hawaiians were part of the Fort Nisqually settlement and seem to have given the name “Sohalie Palailah” to an area along Chambers Creek that is now part of University Place. Hawaiian shepherds may have encountered an abundance of goldfinches in the area and named the place by using their word for a Hawaiian bird, the palila, that looks similar to the goldfinch.
Incidentally, an exhibit called “From the Islands to the Inland Sea,” on the Hawaiian presence at Fort Nisqually, is running through Sept. 17 at the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum in Point Defiance Park.
The public is invited to the painting dedication ceremony on Aug. 2 at 7 p.m. at University Place History Museum, 3715 Bridgeport Way W., (Windmill Village) Suite D3. A reception follows the dedication ceremony. For more information visit http://www.facebook.com/University-Place-Historical-Society-217481491637110 or uphistoricalsociety.org.