Thursday, March 5, 2015

Evergreen Washelli Doughboy

3/5/15 various inks, Caran d'Ache Museum water-
soluble colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
Isn’t it strange how you can pass the same place regularly, yet never really see it? I drive by Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park on Aurora Avenue North several times a week, yet I had never noticed the huge columbarium at the top of its eastside slope. When it caught my eye early this morning, I decided to return this afternoon when it would be warmer and finally explore the grounds.

Not only did I find the columbarium that I’d spotted from the street; I also discovered several more statues and a large area of military markers. Although my intention had been to sketch the columbarium, I was more captivated by the Doughboy statue.

Designed by Seattle sculptor Alonzo Victor Lewis in 1921, the bronze statue has a colorful and somewhat controversial history. For example, the soldier was originally carrying German helmets presumably taken from dead Germans, which raised protests. It’s been moved several times and even modified a couple times, finally landing at its current Washelli location in 1998. Until I Googled its background after sketching it, I didn’t realize that the base of the statue is a columbarium itself for the cremated remains of veterans and their spouses. 

Here’s a bit of the artist’s intention: “Working mainly from his modest studio on Eastlake Avenue, Lewis used three soldiers from Fort Lawton as models and cast his plaster soldier to portray American patriotism, later stating that he envisioned the young soldier as ‘just returning from a victory — mud-covered and with a grim smile on his face.’”

I briefly considered waiting until Memorial Day to sketch this, but that holiday weekend is notoriously rainy and cold in Seattle. Sketch while the sun shines, I say. (And shining, it is! And 59 degrees!)


  1. I like the shadow and light on the statue, Tina. Well done!

  2. Love this and your tree remnants sketch. Statues are everywhere here in Quebec City and I've sketched only a couple of them. I need to do something about that when things warm up. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Dear Tina--I thought you might like to see the doughboy in my hometown. The statue was there as long as I can remember but has been moved due to bridge repairs. Until I read the article, I did not know the statue itself needed repairs.

    1. Thanks for sharing the article, Sandra! You'll have to go sketch him when he's back on his feet!


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