Friday, September 13, 2013


When we attended the Orcas concert a few weeks ago (see blog  8/26 )  we passed one of our favorite places on the island, the Lambiel Museum (a blog on this later.)  We were entranced by the new fence in front of the museum and I decided to do a little check on the artist.

The artist is TODD SPALTI  of Orcas Island who originally hails from Pleasantville, Iowa. As long as he can remember, he has been drawing, carving, or painting. He entered design school at Iowa State in 1977, but not finding much inspiration there, left school and hit the road with his brother, driving west until they landed on  the Oregon coast. They settled in Corvallis, where they worked as carpenters and on a wildlife refuge.

In 1981, Todd got a job as a counselor at Camp Four Winds (Orcas). There he encountered the carvings of Ernest Norling and other Northwest influences, such as artist Bill Holm, carver and scholar Steve Brown, and artist/iron-worker Richard Serra.

In addition to being a woodworker, cabinetmaker, and metal smith, Todd is also an accomplished painter. But lately he has gravitated toward larger works such as 'Tribute' a 14 feet tall, 2,000-plus pounds sculpture in front of the Orcas Island Historical Museum.


The massive piece was inspired by a Salish carving he saw and a little-known creation myth. He was determined to combine Native and non-Native, ancient and modern, and the final work is truly unique. It's a tribute to Native American art and culture, to the beauty of our area, and to the many artists who inspired him.

Most of his work has been commissioned, which is reflected in a diversity of styles shown in his portfolio. Todd has works in collections from Orcas Island to Paris, France.

“My work has become more minimal over the years while it has also grown in scale," he said. "There is a power in old growth trees or in a dry canyon at dusk; in my work, I try to capture a small bit of the essence of this power.”

 The fence at the Lambiel Museum is titled “Tree”. It is made of stainless steel, mild steel, aluminum, copper, bronze, chrome.  The picture above (top) speaks of its beauty.  Like many metal pieces it comes alive as the light changes and the figures seem to dance.

"Whale" (another fence at Lambiel Museum)

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