In 2010 the city restored the Salmon Bay Natural Area near the Ballard Locks in order to improve water and upland habitat for salmon and other species. In certain seasons, you can watch salmon swimming in the tides. Welcoming all to the site is Martin Oliver’s A Salish Welcome (2010), a 16-foot bronze sculpture of a local tribal figure clad in ceremonial robe and hat, holding a disk made out of aluminum and glass high above his head.
Upon closer inspection, you’ll find two laser-cut, powder-coated adult salmon circling four glass salmon eggs on this four-foot diameter aluminum disk, which shines beautifully when the sun is out. The sculpture’s steel base features imagery of mature salmon facing upstream from Salmon Bay, ensuring that, at the very least, you’ll see a salmon engraved in steel if you visit during the off-season.
Oliver created this sculpture representing the life cycle of Pacific salmon to honor the local Salish people and celebrate the abundant and vital life on this ecological waterway. The figure also memorializes the first salmon of the year, one of the most important annual events for the Salish people.
Oliver hopes that A Salish Welcome reminds all viewers “to preserve, protect and promote this evolving, living landscape for new generations and man alike,” and “to respect the landscape and all who dwell within it.”
The sculpture was funded by the Public Utilities 1% for Art funds and Department of Neighborhoods Neighborhood Matching Funds.
Seattle Public Utilities stewards local waterways and built and constructed the Salmon Bay Natural Area. Images by Marvin Oliver