"The Art Trail and All That" Washougal Off The Beaten Path Tip by glabah
Washougal Off The Beaten Path: 4 reviews and 18 photos
When the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge opened its trail to the public in June of 2009, it was announced that as time, funding and energy became available artwork would be installed along the trail, designed to remind people that this was the home of wildlife, the delicate balance of life here, and that essentially visitors are guests in the home of fellow creatures.
However, it would be late 2010 before funding, time and energy allowed work to begin on the art installations. Others were installed in 2011.
In the meantime, Washougal completed its Tunnel under Highway 14, which features artworks in itself.
To me, I find the various thoughts and quotes etched in the rocks scattered around the refuge as the most thought provoking part of the art trail in the refuge. The section of the trail that is closed in winter now features a door and doorway with a "Do Not Disturb during Winter" sign on it. Unfortunately I'm not sure even that is obvious enough artwork to get through to many who visit here that this is actually a home (for the wildlife) and not an area specifically for tourists.
The record sculptures are subtle enough that people actually find them confusing. These are giant 33 LP record-like sculptures attached to the side of a bridge near the refuge parking area, and in my opinion are designed to show that the music of the location is already provided by the wildlife found here. If you listen to your own record collection you will miss part of the value of the location. Unfortunately, people born after about 1980 probably have no idea what the giant black disk is supposed to represent, and indeed I have heard one member of the younger generation ask about a local music distribution, "What's with these giant black CDs?" I've seen people go up to the records and push on them, hoping they would play a sound. The fact is, the record is apparently there to show that there is music in the air (at least part of the year) and give a general impression of what the sound may be, by showing marks on a sound graph. It is only visual art, not anything that actually does anything for you when you hit it.
I'm not convinced that the artwork found along this trail is something that is interesting enough to be worthy of a trip here, unless you are also interested in visiting the refuge to see the wildlife - as that is where the real beauty in the place lies. The artwork is only to compliment that which is already here, and has been for many years, which is as it should be in a wildlife refuge.
To get here, please find my Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge tip. The trail is the only trail in the refuge. Essentially you just turn into the parking lot from highway 14, though parking is limited and on nice weekends will be fully occupied. It is also possible to get here from Captian William Clark Park by using the Columbia River Dike Trail, or for that matter it is possible to get here from downtown Washougal (17th south of A street by the Pendleton Woolen Mill Factory Store) or Steamboat Landing Park by using the trail along the dike as well.
The Native American inspired artwork in the pedestrian tunnel under Highway 14, which connects downtown Washougal to the Columbia River Dike Trail is probably of more interest to art fans, and may be worth a stop if you are heading through town. To better appreciate the art on the Wildlife Refuge, it is better to also have an appreciation for the wildlife that lives, there, which not all people have.
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