When John and Betty Gray opened Salishan Lodge in 1965, they created not only a 5-star resort, but a renowned showcase for Northwest artists. One of those artists was Leroy Setziol. He wasn’t yet known as the widely acclaimed wood sculptor he would become, but he was well on his way.
“It was the break he was hoping for,” said Monica Setziol-Phillips. She would know, of course. Leroy Setziol was her dad. Setziol-Phillips, herself a wood and fiber artist, will share other memories of the wood sculptor Saturday, June 17, in a never-before-offered tour of his work (along with one of hers) at Salishan Coastal Lodge. The tour, which starts at 11 a.m., is part of the Art on the Edge Studio Tour of the Central Oregon Coast.
Setziol-Phillips had considered doing a tour of the art before, but the idea never quite took root, so when Krista Eddy, director of the PJ Chessman Gallery at the Lincoln City Cultural Center, broached the idea, Setziol-Phillips was ready.
“I want to talk about the importance of art in public places,” Setziol-Phillips said. “I’ll talk about what inspired him, how the commission at the Salishan came about. He was hugely prolific. I think people would be surprised how quickly he did the panels.”
Setziol originally sculpted 16 panels for the lodge. The Grays sold Salishan in 1996, and the property subsequently was resold multiple times. Along the way, much of the artwork it was once known for was lost – literally sent to the dumpster. About a dozen of Setziol’s panels remain at Salishan, though not necessarily in the original locations, which Setziol-Phillips will cover on the tour.
Setziol died in 2005, and his work remains highly sought after.
“I was just contacted by someone who found one of the big panels in a garage sale,” Setziol-Phillips said. “He didn’t know if it was my dad’s work and I looked at the photo and I said ‘Oh yes, that’s my dad’s work.’ It isn’t in great shape compared to all the other panels. But, you know, you can’t really tell from a photograph what kind of shape it’s in. I want to go see it. It’s really interesting, sometimes people email and show me a photograph, and I have to say ‘I’m sorry, it’s not my father’s work.’”
Setziol didn’t sign his earlier works, but there are certain tell-tale signs of his carving, Setziol-Phillips said. One, is the “organizational quality” to it. “If that’s not there, that’s the first sign. There are some works out there that people think are my father’s. Someone was pretty good at copying him. This person, whoever it is, has a kind of design element that is always on the panels I’ve seen. That really tells you that it’s this guy’s work and not my dad’s.”
The Art on the Edge Studio Tour also will feature another one-day-only new event: an open house at Taft High School’s Siletz Studio. The art class studio was created by teacher Noah Lambie and will be open to the public from 2 to 5 p.m. Friday, June 16. The open house is an opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the art happening in the local high school. Art by students will also be available to buy, with proceeds going to fund the program.
The Setziol and Taft High tours are one-day events, but the rest of the self-guided tour, featuring more than 70 artists at 28 locations, takes place over three days, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 16-18. Pieces by the participating artists also are featured through July 2 in the Chessman Gallery.
This year’s tour includes a variety of mediums: oil painting, acrylic painting, watercolor, mixed media, encaustic, metal sculpture and casting, driftwood furniture, handmade jewelry, fused glass, glass blowing, clay and ceramic art, photography, weaving, mosaic, colored pencil art, reclaimed assemblage art and printmaking, felting, fabric arts, and more.
The tour is free and described as a “visual treasure hunt” in the press release, which continues, “See the private creative spaces of coastal artists, meet them and learn about their processes and what inspires them and maybe take home a very special treasure that will mean even more after getting to know the person that made it.”