The fruits of one man’s 15-year artistic spree, a colorful collection of sculptures and other artwork, have stood largely unnoticed in a corner of the Pierce College campus for decades.
SPACES, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the preservation of art, is looking to breathe new life into the artistic timecapsule, dubbed Old Trapper’s Lodge, and wants to involve the Pierce community in the process.
An animal trapper by trade, John Ehn rededicated his life to creating the sculptures in 1951. The Sun Valley motel he opened, Old Trapper’s Lodge, served as his workspace, according to SPACES’ website.
The site was declared a historic landmark after Ehn’s passing in 1981, and the largest of his creations were transferred to the northwest part of Pierce’s campus shortly thereafter.
In order preserve the time-worn statues, Peter Tokofsky, a SPACES board member, said the organization is planning a renovation of Cleveland Park, the area where the works are kept.
“Our goal is to combine conservation of the sculptures with a complete renovation of Cleveland Park,” Tokofsky said. “At the heart of the renovation is conservation and preservation of the sculptures and other artworks.”
Being a community-oriented organization, Tokofsky said that SPACES wants the Pierce community to be a part of the renovation.
“We definitely plan on and hope to involve the Pierce community in the process,” Tokofsky said. “Everything from neighbors with an interest in the campus to courses in art, landscape architecture, and other related topics that would have a natural interest in getting involved.”
Though they have had a few touch-ups over the years, the sculptures have mostly been at the whim of the elements, and not all of them are entirely intact.
“Much of the damage to them is coming from issues in the landscaping, like erosion, and trees and birds dropping things,” Tokofsky said.
If SPACES can raise enough money for their plans, the renovation will involve removing plants that can damage the sculptures and replacing them with ones positioned to protect them, and a few measures to attract more people to the site.
“We hope there will be an entrance way that provides information about the Old Trapper’s Lodge, as well as new benches and picnic tables,” Tokofsky said.
Not many students or professors have heard of Old Trapper’s Lodge. But even some who have not, like Computer Science major Alisha Magder, 19, appreciate the potential investment in the community’s local piece of history.
“I think anything having to do with the arts can use some renovation,” Magder said.
Tokofsky feels that Ehn’s efforts, what he calls “a significant act of creativity,” deserve to be preserved.
“Using his own hands, [Ehn] created a fantasy land before Disneyland even existed,” Tokofsky said.
For more information on Ehn’s Old Trapper’s Lodge and the planned renovation, visit SPACES’ website at www.spacesarchives.org.