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Mt. Rainier art mightn’t work for Olympia, but it’s perfect for Tacoma veterans’ clinic

Kim Merriman's Mt. Rainier glass triptych at the new VA Puget Sound health clinic. Courtesy photo.Olympia artist Kim Merriman has turned a rejection from Olympia’s new City Hall into a gift for herself and the new VA Puget Sound health clinic on American Lake in Tacoma: a triptych painting a light-infused scene of Mt. Rainier and Puget Sound in fused glass and brushed aluminum.Merriman, who worked for 20 years as a portrait photographer and has recently begun working in glass and metal, created the triptych as a submission to the juried selection of art for Olympia’s new City Hall building. The glass piece shows a soaring blue-and-white Mt. Rainier, with sunset background and green foothills, and a swirling Sound in the foreground, all depicted with curvy layered lines of iridescent glass.It didn’t make the cut.“I believe the Sound, mountain and foothills are really indicative of the culture of this area, but obviously it didn’t fit their requirement to represent the city and culture of Olympia,” explains Merriman.No-one was available this week at the City of Olympia to speak on the art selection.But two days later the artist got a call from an art consultancy firm in San Diego asking for a triptych for the new Veterans Affairs health clinic building on American Lake, Tacoma. They loved Merriman’s piece, and she installed it in the front reception area this week.“The residents came to see me installing and touched it – I could hear them gasp,” Merriman says.Merriman makes her work by layering colored glass over and over, fusing it at different temperatures to achieve different textures, and mounting the whole thing a few inches out from an aluminum plate she brush-grinds herself to merge with the swirling lines of the glass. Being iridescent, she says, the glass changes color as you walk around it, as well as being highly tangible.“One of the doctors thanked me for the art; he said it changes the way the residents feel about their space,” says Merriman. “I’m honored to be part of a healing space.”Merriman’s triptych is viewable at the VA Puget Sound ALCLC, 9600 Veterans Drive, Tacoma. More information: 253-582-8440, pugetsound.va.gov, kimmerrimanart.com 

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