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‘Sculpture for the Landscape': Edmonds woman selling Northwest artist Carl Kishida’s artwork


Kristine Kishida stands next to a tree in her yard featuring wire-and-rope birds.

As he faced his mortality with a second colon cancer surgery, Carl Kishida asked his partner to assure him that his art would continue to be seen and enjoyed by others.

He drafted a will, naming his partner, Kristine Kishida, the executor of his will because he trusted that she would do the right thing with his art.

She did, indeed, distributing it to his friends, art collaborators and, soon, through donations Kristine plans to offer Bellevue Arts Museum, Museum of Northwest Art, Henry Art Gallery and the Hallie Ford Museum of Art on the campus of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

But it’s Kristine (she took Carl’s last name even though they weren’t married, with his blessing) who maintains the bulk of his ceramics and sculptures, particularly his whimsical wire-and-rope sculptures of fish, birds, cats, dogs and other creatures of the Pacific Northwest, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Now, Kristine – who has boxes stuffed with Kishida’s artwork – is having a show and sale this weekend and next of his art, “Sculpture for the Landscape,” at her home in Edmonds. Proving that you don’t have to be rich to own original art, prices will range from $25 to $1,200.

Kishida was prolific, and Kristine says she has more of his work than she needs, as she scouts other museums that might be interested in his work. But Kristine said Kishida told her she could sell some of her pieces if she ever felt she needed extra money.

“Carl knew that his art trove may be a burden or a blessing to me,” Kristine said. “He didn't tell me anything about what I should do with it. He gave me carte blanche. Knowing him as well as I did, I knew my mission was to protect and preserve it and sell so his work could be enjoyed by others. He was aware of the financial impact on me while caring for him.”

Being in his presence was an amazing experience, she said.

“He was impish, wild, kind of a Peter Pan. He’d hang out with guys who were naturalists; sometimes they’d get together and watch nature films. I just respected all of that.”

Kristine met Kishida 15 years before they became a couple. Kishida was a longtime resident of West Seattle, where his yard offered a riot of birds, dogs, cats, fish, gateways, fences, and a host of animal architectural forms, lovingly and painstakingly twisted into shape from wire, twine, rope and found objects.

“We had mutual friends,” she said. “I was always fascinated when he showed up on one of his seven motorcycles. When I got closer to him, he had just had his first surgery for colon cancer, and I lived in Shoreline. I was single and had been married. I went down to Harborview to visit him, and we just connected.”

As they talked about art and life, Kishida would snack on sushi and poi Kristine picked up from Uwajimaya. “That was his favorite,” said Kristine, a landscaper, home organizer and caterer, “anything that can hurt my body.”

Art consumes her days and her family’s. Her brother and sister are artists, and her son, Benjamin Britton (not the composer), is an artist who also teaches painting and drawing at the University of Georgia in Athens.

“My own artwork is more experiential,” Kristine said. “It’s about creating spaces.”

At her home, Kristine has numerous articles and information about Kishida she’s collected over the years. He was born in Hawaii and graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and master’s degrees in sculpture and ceramics.

Over the years, he had his work displayed at the Seattle Aquarium, Frye Art Museum, Wing Luke Asian Museum, Henry Art Gallery and Bellevue Arts Museum, among others.

He was a founding member of the Salty Dog Pottery Studio in Ballard.

Many of Carl Kishida’s birds will be for sale this weekend and next in Edmonds, including these two.

“Though he was influenced by a handful of artists, Carl drew his greatest inspiration from Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead,” Kristine wrote for a piece announcing sales of his work.

“Carl did not believe that success hinged on acceptance, but no matter what one’s first impression of Carl might have been, he insinuated himself into other lives, into all life, by combining his many contradictory qualities with dignity and grace, with his smile – just being there.”

Kashida’s art lives on in the homes, yards and landscapes of the Pacific Northwest.

“Sculpture for the Landscape” Where: 919 Sixth Ave. S, Edmonds When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. June 16-17 and June 23-24 Price range: $25-$1,200 Information: kfkishida@gmail.com


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