Mural brings Vashon history to light

Descendants of people depicted on the mural pull the cord on Saturday, unveiling Will Forrester’s work of art.  - Leslie Brown/staff photo
Descendants of people depicted on the mural pull the cord on Saturday, unveiling Will Forrester’s work of art.
— image credit: Leslie Brown/staff photo

Many Islanders will see something special in the larger-than-life mural that now adorns the north side of the U.S. Bank building.

Famed author Betty MacDonald, perhaps, strawberry grower B.D. Mukai, or the boy who placed the bicycle in the tree in 1953.

Islander Faith Sohl will see her father.

There he is, in the far left corner, a white-bearded man in an old red truck, driving into the massive mural, it seems, just as he entered Vashon a few decades ago.

Marshall Sohl, a beloved Islander who captured Island history with his burned-into-wood storyboards, is now a part of Island history himself — one of a dozen or so Islanders who grace the mural painted by Island artist William Forrester.

Faith Sohl, who attended the mural’s unveiling Saturday in a white fringed dress and purple boa, said her father would have loved the piece; many of his friends — Fred Eernisse and Marjorie Stanley, for instance — are also depicted.

“It’s very nostalgic for me to see his art and his face and his friends,” she said. “It’s so touching. He’d be so happy to see this.”

The mural, commissioned by U.S. Bank, commemorates 100 years of banking on Vashon. But even more, it captures a century or more of Island life — from Native American Lucy Gerand, who provided some of the earliest history of Island life, to banker Terkel Hansen, who kept the bank open during the stock market crash of 1929.

A skier is there, representing K2; a bolt of lightening, for when the first bank got struck; and fields of beautiful, even crops, depicting Vashon’s agrarian history.

Forrester, an accomplished artist and himself a farmer, told a large crowd assembled for the unveiling, that it was the work of a lifetime for him.

“I’m so thrilled and honored to have been given this opportunity to ... publicly share the blessings and talents God has poured into me,” Forrester said, adding to laughter, “No children were hurt in the making of this mural.”

But children did play a role. Elementary-aged kids painted the birds that adorn the painting’s border, and one by one on Saturday they claimed a certificate for their part in capturing Island history.

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