Inside the equipment yard at Boss Construction, Marblemount sculptor Andre Pomeroy is putting the finishing touches on a massive stone sea lion family that will soon form a focal point of a unique park under construction on Bainbridge Island.
That park is Owen’s Playground, a living memorial to Owen Marshall, a Bainbridge boy who died from complications of cerebral palsy in 2013. He was 6.
Not long after Owen’s passing, parents Stacy and Kelsey Marshall launched plans for a park that would be designed with children like Owen in mind. The Bainbridge Island Parks Department and a local Rotary club soon signed on. A two-year fundraising effort generated about $350,000.
“This park is designed for people of all abilities,” said Stacy Marshall, Owen’s mother. “If one person is not able to access a public space, then we need to change that public space.”
A series of seemingly random events brought the Marshalls and Pomeroy together, and led to the sculpture’s creation in Ferndale.
Stacy Marshall said Pomeroy had been recommended to her as a vendor of picturesque boulders that could be used as landscape features at the park. In talking with Pomeroy, she learned that he was also a sculptor, and he was interested in creating something for Owen’s Playground.
Then, with the sculpture project about to get underway, Pomeroy encountered water supply problems at his remote home at his quarry outside Marblemount, because of freezing weather followed by flooding. His gasoline-powered, diamond-edged stone-cutting saw can’t operate without a steady flow of water for cooling and lubrication.
While he was still wondering what to do about that, he made a seemingly unrelated phone call to Boss Construction, trying to track down a lost phone number for another business contact. In chatting with company owner Tim Hart, he mentioned his water supply issue. In short order, Pomeroy had set up shop in Boss Construction’s yard in Ferndale, after the company had hauled the 3-ton listwanite boulder from Pomeroy’s property. Listwanite is a bluish-green rock related to serpentine.
“This is by far the largest piece I’ve ever done,” Pomeroy said.
The sculpture measures 7.5 by 5.5 feet and is about 4 feet tall. It depicts a mother and father sea lion sheltering two pups. Pomeroy said it evokes the Marshall family, including Owen’s brother, Elliot. He calls it “Love’s Safe Harbor.”
The work of cutting stone — still ongoing — consumed about 70 hours, but Pomeroy estimated he spent at least three times that in preparations, before any stone was cut.
“I wake up thinking about it,” Pomeroy said.
He studied both Steller sea lion images, “letting them talk to me,” as well as the massive boulder he had chosen to depict the big sea mammals.
“I let the stone talk to me, too,” Pomeroy said.
Stacy Marshall said the park on Bainbridge is under construction but should be finished in the spring, and the sculpture will be hauled there from Ferndale for installation.
Since the sculpture is inside a working construction equipment yard, it is not accessible for public viewing.