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Don Haggerty    Fike's Legend


In September of 2013, I was invited along with ten other Seattle artists to participate in an exhibition titled, "Visual Biographies".  For this exhibition, each of the artists was paired with a resident of Aljoya Thornton Place--a beautiful senior residence located in Seattle's Northgate neighborhood. The mission given us was to interview our subject, then to interpret their life story into a visual work of art.  Below is just a tiny piece of the story that inspired my painting of Dick and Marilyn Fike (shown at the right, titled, "Fike's Legend"):

Dick and Marilyn had built a cabin on Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands, located about 60 miles north of Seattle.  And on the island, they had a “beater” Chevy sedan for getting around.  They also had an airplane which Dick and Marilyn both learned to fly. In order to locate Marilyn from the air when he was flying “back from the city” (which he often found himself doing), Dick painted a big black circle on the roof of the old sedan.  Then, when he arrived over the island, he would first fly over the house to see whether the car was home, and if not, he would cruise the island until he spotted it.  He would then circle and rev the airplane engine to get Marilyn’s attention.  Once Dick knew Marilyn had spotted him flying overhead, he would head to the island airstrip, knowing that Marilyn would soon be there to give him a ride to the house.

The color of the Fikes' beater Chevy sedan was “robin’s egg blue”.  It was in this car that all the Fike kids learned how to drive.  And it was Dick's tale of that black circle that he painted on the roof of their car that kick-started the flow of my design ideas for "Fike's Legend".  The rest is visual history.

For the full story, please scroll to the right and locate the keyed version of the painting--with letters corresponding to the descriptive text yet further to the right.  I hope you'll be as inspired as I was by a life lived in a spirit of full embrace--of each other, of family, of friends, and of life
 

   

                  

 

                 

 

 

 

A.  It was at the budding age of 7 that Dick experienced his first stirrings of love. Her name was Marilyn, and she was Dick’s very first girlfriend.

B.  At age 10, off they went on their very first date.

C.  And it was at age 20 that Dick and Marilyn began their happy marriage.

D.  They’ve now been married for 60 adventure-filled years!

E.  Dick and Marilyn have four remarkable children. The first-born son, with his wonderful wife, has produced two grandsons. And as the other three children are gay, there are no more grandchildren in sight, but this has only brought about other joys. The second son is a Seattle restaurateur and the older daughter lives in California with her partner. The younger daughter lives in Seattle and is a shining example of the fully embracing nature of the Fike family. Living in the Seattle home vacated by Dick and Marilyn when they moved to Aljoya Thornton Place, she shares the home with her partner, her partner's son, her ex-husband, his girlfriend and numerous animals. The Fikes are truly an all-embracing family.

         

   

F.  Serving as a symbol of their close family ties, Dick and Marilyn have created 56 unique Christmas cards over the years which they’ve joyfully sent to family and friends.

G.  A particularly momentous event in Dick and Marilyn’s life was the purchase of a piece of property on Lopez Island, located in the San Juan Islands. The property overlooks Aleck Bay and has a sunrise view of Whidbey Island to the east. (The squiggly line defines a map of Lopez Island.)

H.  The Lopez Island cabin's address is 104 Finch Lane.

I.  The cabin that Dick and Marilyn built started out simple, but it grew over time until the roofline included not one peak, but three (depicted here by the red-orange line which represents the current cabin’s roofline as seen from the water). The entire family and friends use the cabin throughout the year and it is a favorite gathering place, particularly during holidays. Thanksgiving attracts as many as forty for dinner.

         

   

J.  Dick had once promised Marilyn he was going to buy her a new station wagon. But after having lunch with a friend one day, Dick came away as part owner of an airplane. When Marilyn found out that her new station wagon was an airplane, she decided she had better learn how to fly it…so she did! The airplane’s number was 2984U, a four-seater Cessna 172 that took them on adventures as far away as Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico where they watched turtles swim below them as their airplane skimmed the water, and where they shooed grazing cattle from local airstrips in order to land their plane.

K.  Dick and Marilyn had a “beater” Chevy sedan for driving on the island. In order to locate Marilyn from the air when he was flying “back from the city”, Dick painted a big black circle on the roof of the sedan. When he arrived over the island, he would first fly over the house (note the yellow circle in the center panel) to see whether the car was home, and if not, he would cruise the island until he spotted it. He would then circle and rev the airplane engine to get Marilyn’s attention.



 

   

L.  Once Dick knew Marilyn had spotted him flying overhead, he would head to the island airstrip, knowing that Marilyn would soon be there to give him a ride to the house. The dotted-yellow lines show the landing approach to the runway, and the numbers 34 and 16 indicate the runway numbers, depending on whether a pilot was landing from the south or from the north. Also note the zig-zag line symbolizing the route from the airstrip to the house.

M.  The color of the Fikes’ beater Chevy sedan was “robin’s egg blue”, and it was in this car that all the Fike kids learned how to drive.

N.  It should be noted that the large circles depicted here also pay tribute to the overarching spirit in which Dick and Marilyn have lived their lives—a spirit of full embrace. Of each other, of family, of friends, and of life.

Note of Omission: Though not depicted here, the Fikes had a cocker spaniel who loved to ride in the airplane. His name was Tiger!

FIKE’S LEGEND
Starring Dick and Marilyn Fike
Artist: Don Haggerty

 

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Fike's Legend
Oil on wood panels     48" x 79" (triptych)
Dick and Marilyn Fike -- the "stars of the show" posing in front of "Fike's Legend"