April 28, 2023

Tim Johnson
Children of the Setting Sun Productions

Jason LaClair Story Pole Carving

Coast Salish artist Jason LaClair will put the finishing work on a ceremonial story pole carving on public display this spring at the Hotel Leo as part of Downtown Bellingham Art Walk. The carving will showcase LaClair’s craft, and forms the centerpiece of QwotQwem—meaning “noisy waters” in Xwlemi Chosen—an ad-hoc gallery dedicated to honoring local Native and Indigenous artists. The event is presented by Children of the Setting Sun Productions and hosted by the Hotel Leo and Daylight Properties.

LaClair will finish a ceremonial (totem) pole originally begun by carver Samuel Cagey, Jr., a beloved Lummi tribal elder whose health was poorly impacted by COVID-19. LaClair’s work is intended to complete and honor and benefit the work of Cagey’s carving, and complete his story.

The pole will be on public display through May and June at the Hotel Leo, with dedicated carving demonstrations on the first Friday of each month as part of Downtown Bellingham Art Walk. All are welcome.

A soft opening of the gallery will accompany a benefit for from 5-7pm on Thurs., May 4 at the Hotel Leo Crystal Ballroom. The May 4 event will feature violinist Swil Kanim and the Choir of the Salish Sea. The event is open to the public, and intended to focus attention on the return and release of the orca Tokitae to the Salish Sea. No tickets are required for this public event, but space is limited.

The Hotel Leo is located at 1224 Cornwall Ave. in Bellingham.

Soft Opening:

                          5-7pm Thurs., May 4                       

May Art Walk:

6-10pm Fri., May 5


Spring Wine Walk:

5:30-9pm Fri., May 12


June Art Walk:

6-10pm Fri., June 2

About Jason LaClair:

Jason LaClair is a 38-year-old Coast Salish artist from the Lummi and Nooksack communities. Mr. LaClair has been practicing Northern Formline Art and Coast Salish Styles for more than 25 years.

In 2021, he collaborated with local artist Gretchen Leggitt to create the public installation of the “Salmon Run” mural for the City of Bellingham. In addition, he was the artist of the “One from the Heart” mural in Ferndale. Other murals decorate the Boardmill Building in the Port of Bellingham’s central waterfront redevelopment.

Jason's drive comes from the need to share the art of his ancestors with his People and the Whatcom Community as a whole. He says he loves what he does and that his career is the best way to express himself.


About Children of the Setting Sun Productions:

Children of the Setting Sun Productions creates and shares Indigenous stories of gratitude, generosity and respect. We seek to empower the minds and hearts of future generations. Darrell Hillaire is executive director of CSSP, leading projects based upon relationships with elders and community leaders regionally and nationally.




        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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