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Viking statue model for public art, no strings attached

April 1st, 2013 at Mon, 1st, 2013 at 5:00 pm by Michelle Beahm

I have a Google Alert for the word “Poulsbo,” and while my daily email usually only shows me news about Poulsbo from local sources, occasionally someone, somewhere else in the country is talking about Poulsbo.

This morning, I came across a column in the San Diego Union-Tribune’s website about Poulsbo’s Viking statue. While the column was actually a call for a unifying statue to represent local history in San Diego’s county, the author, Jim Rothgeb, made some digs at the Norseman.

First describing the Viking as a “bold-looking Viking, complete with armor and sword,” Rothgeb then writes “The city did it on the cheap,” because the statue cost $25,000. No mention of the artist’s nearly pro-bono work on the statue. While he notes the Viking shows how proud Poulsbo is of its Nordic heritage, he calls the Norseman “crude.” Rothgeb also admits he has not seen the Viking, only making these judgements from pictures.

I became a little defensive when I read Rothgeb’s column. Why pick on a piece of public art when he wishes his area had the same kind of symbol? I think Poulsbo is unique because of the different types of public art: fish made of wood, stone and steel “swimming” in our parks and on our streets; a mural of a Viking ship that sails off the brick wall across Front Street, always a favorite visitor photo; and a new friendly face in front of the aquarium, Poulsbo’s permanent resident octopus.

Although his impression seemed mediocre, Rothgeb did demonstrate that folks are taking notice of Poulsbo’s community ideas. And I think we should be proud of that.

Read Rothgeb’s column here.

Michelle Beahm covers the Poulsbo and North Kitsap beat for the North Kitsap Herald. Check the Poulsbo Beat for information about events around the city. Have a news tip, email

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