Jeremy Furnish, founder of the Clatskanie Artists Network, whose most recent project includes the musical bench that sits outside the Clatskanie Cultural Center, has a few new projects under his belt.
Furnish was awarded the Coastal Oregon Artist Residency (COAR), which began June 1, and he will present his work at a show on Oct. 12. He was also recently awarded a commission to build the Regatta Monument on the Astoria waterfront next to the Columbia River Maritime Museum in honor of the boat race’s 125th year. Furnish will build and unveil the monument before showing it sometime next year before Astoria’s annual Regatta in August.
COAR, which is completing its fourth year in Astoria, is a partnership between Astoria Visual Arts and Recology Western Oregon and involves creating art from materials found in Recology’s Astoria Recycling Depot and Transfer Station, according to Recology’s website. Furnish was given salvage rights at the transfer station and has four months to create pieces from materials found at the station. So far, Furnish has created close to 15 medium-sized sculptures as well as a few wall hangs, all created from items ranging from glass bottles to metal to other products.
The purpose of the project, according to Furnish, is to draw attention to overconsumption and waste.
“[The purpose] is to give a visual understanding of our waste as consumers, an educational experience to help us not be as irresponsible with our planet,” Furnish said.
A lot of Furnish’s sculptures include a strong metal background, and subjects include people fishing or birds.
“Some of it’s abstract, some of it’s more literal and there’s a little bit of surrealism in there,” Furnish said.
Furnish has been interested in participating in the residency for a while but had never found it realistic to participate due to a few different factors, but particularly the stipend, which increased from approximately $500 a month to $1,000 a month this year. Additionally, COAR added another month to their residency program.
The studio space for the project is in Warrenton, Oregon and is a space that Furnish really likes.
“The gallery space is really fantastic,” Furnish said. “I want to fill it up and do it justice.”
While both projects are an honor to Furnish, the Regatta Monument is especially important, because Furnish has a personal connection to the boat race.
“My great-great grandfather emigrated from Denmark to Astoria the same year the regatta began,” Furnish said.
Furnish’s great-great grandfather worked as a fish packer in one of the canneries in Astoria in 1894. Sailing ships would arrive in Astoria, bringing back fish from Alaska. The competition between the ships would turn into a big boat race, a tradition which has stuck for the city, making it one of the oldest festivals west of the Rocky Mountains, according to the Astoria Regatta’s website.
The tentative placement for the monument right now is on the pier just to the left of the Columbia River Maritime Museum on the waterfront, although the exact location is still to be determined.
Once completed, the sculpture will be 10 feet tall, and will appear as a tall rolling wave from a distance, with the sea in the eye of the rolling wave, which will be an 18-inch diameter cast glass disk. Inside the glass will be the sailing ship to represent the return of the Alaskan fishing fleet. The wave will become the river and the shore. Layered on top of the wave will be details of the Regatta as it appears over time.
“It will be a historical timeline, hand forged out of stainless steel and bronze,” Furnish said.
Working on the Regatta monument will take more than artistic skill. Furnish plans on doing a lot of historical research through the Clatsop County Historical Society.
“I’m going to be as accurate as I can with important events happening over the last 100 years and lay those out with a visual story board as it travels down the river,” Furnish said.
To promote his artwork and to encourage more people in Clatskanie to support creative work, Furnish plans to invite as many people as he can to the opening in Astoria on Oct. 12, and the unveiling of the artwork for the maritime museum next year.
“They can come see what I’ve been making and hopefully that inspires them to be creative themselves,” Furnish said.
Furnish said he hopes people will be inspired to follow their own passions as well.
“I want people to know that you can do that, you can dream and you can achieve your dreams,” he said.