Sculpture heroics: <em>Save the Animals fund </em> two-thirds the way to goal; deadline extended

Chances look good that sculptures of two affectionate bunny rabbits, a couple of alert bears and a pair of exuberant deer will continued to make Kirkland their home, according to those involved with the "Save the Animals" fundraising effort.

The total of the fund was $137,439.05 as of March 22, which is roughly 65 percent of the $212,160 needed to buy the three Dan Ostermiller pieces, said Assistant City Manager Lynn Stokesbary.

"I think Mr. (Bill) Ballantine is pleased with the progress," Stokesbary said of the owner of the three sculptures: Close Quarters, Mountain Comrades and Bounding Mule Deer. Indeed, Ballantine has extended the deadline for fund-raising efforts from April 11 to July 31, Stokesbary said.

"We're going to save them," Deputy Mayor Joan McBride said of an effort cheered on by the Kirkland City Council and the Kirkland Cultural Council. No city money is involved, but literally hundreds of local residents and even a few people from out of town have donated anything from $2.50 to $48,000, she said.

"It's just amazing," McBride enthused. "I don't even think the centennial (celebration) has had that kind of contributions." A few donors have given money for specific sculptures, but that's unusual, she said. "The overwhelming majority are not designating their funds at all."

This is the third round of efforts to buy Kirkland public art owned by Ballantine, who previously had to sell Cow and Coyote, Puddle Jumpers and Water Bearers because of financial difficulties.

McBride concedes there was some worry about donor fatigue this time around. "I think that some people thought there would be, but that's not the case," she said.

Many of those who donated money to save the earlier pieces are donating again to keep the last of Ballantine's sculptures in Kirkland, McBride added. "But they seem to have brought their friends this time."

Public art is an intrinsic part of Kirkland's cityscape, noted Stokesbary. "Kirkland is known for having an outstanding collection of public art," he said, adding that generous Kirklanders clearly value public art in the community.

Kathy Page Feek, immediate past chair of the Kirkland Cultural Council, goes even further. The community has a strong sense of identity with the last three Ostermiller sculptures, she said. "We absolutely want to be a city that doesn't lose sculptures."

Even some local children feel that way, Feek said of Kennedy Nicholson and Allison Blair in particular. "They came to us and asked us if they could help," she said.

Blair played violin during Kirkland's Art Walk to raise money for the Save the Animals fund, and she and Nicholson sold Krispy Kreme doughnuts during the Kirkland Little League parade in March, Feek said.

"It went really good," said Nicholson of the doughnut sale. "We raised $550." She added that she and Blair wanted to save the deer statue, but Nicholson hasn't limited her affections to just that one. "Well, I liked all of them for awhile - since I was 4," said the 10-year-old fifth-grader.

The Cultural Council is also doing its own bit to save the three sculptures by selling gold and silver bracelet charms of Cow and Coyote and the Peter Kirk building, Feek said. The gold ones go for $295, while the silver versions cost $65, she said.

The charms, some of which are free-standing, are made by Warren Jewelers, and selling them is part of an ongoing program to support public art in Kirkland, Feek said.

"We want to grow the collection in different directions," she said of a long-term goal. "For now, the money will go to the three sculptures we're trying to save."

Sales of the gold and silver charms only began after the Christmas holidays, and Feek wasn't sure when she was interviewed how much money had been made yet. But she said all of the money raised by the Cultural Council will be turned over to the Save the Animals fund at the end of July.

Stokesbary said the individual costs plus tax for the sculpture are: $92,480 for the bear statue, $48,960 for the rabbits and $70,720 for the deer.

Asked about the possibility that the amount of money raised would be enough to pay for only two of the three pieces, none of the people interviewed for this story thought that would happen.

"Our goal is to secure all three," Stokesbary said. Feek also doesn't think the fund-raising effort will come up short. "The cost of one latté from each person in Kirkland would do it," she said.

Young Nicholson is also confident Kirkland residents will come through again and keep the three sculptures in the city - especially since the deadline has been extended. "We think we can raise the money," she said.

McBride is equally upbeat, noting that the community feels very invested in the last of Ballantine's sculptures. "These are some of Kirkland's wildest animals," she said.

Staff reporter Russ Zabel can be reached at or (206)461-1309.[[In-content Ad]]