September 13, 2007 - Tile Totem
A phoenix is a bird that is reborn from the ashes of its death. Dumbledore had one in his office. It was prominent in the second book of Harry Potter - saving Harry's life after the basilisk put him on death's doorstep. In Santa Barbara there is a phoenix totem pole on Micheltorena Street just east of Anacapa Street. It's in front of an old Victorian building that is home to Phoenix House, part of Phoenix of Santa Barbara, a local non-profit that provides services to adults diagnosed with mental disorders like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Some patients have substance abuse problems.
Local tile artist Dan Chrynko created the pole in front of the house. Chrynko is the artist behind Harry and Ethel - the mosaic-tiled lizards by Rocky Nook Park, the mosaic-tiled rock in front of Borders, and the mosaic-tiled bar at the Sevilla Restaurant, among others.
In 2003, Phoenix of Santa Barbara purchased the "Mountain House" where Harry and Ethel reside.
It was there by the shores of Mission Creek that Phoenix of Santa Barbara Executive Director J.T. Turner met Chrynko. On a subsequent trip in Canada, Turner took a liking to the Native American totem poles he saw there. When he returned home to Santa Barbara he polled Chrynko about creating a phoenix totem pole for his foundation. The artist said yes, Lillan & Jon Lovelace provided the funding, and the phoenix was born.
The phoenix represented in the totem is not your typical household phoenix. Unlike the bird in Harry Potter and popular mythology, it does not rise out of flame and ash. While the Phoenix House does in fact help troubled adults rise up and re-enter society, they don't do it with fire or in a fiery manner. Instead, Turner told the dedicated staff of edhat.com, their phoenix (and the one in the pole) emerges from leaves and other organic material by gentle gradual nurturing.
Ed and the gang aren't experts at psychology by any means (nor are we experts at political correctness,
you will see), we enjoy Chrynko's work very much, and think that Phoenix of Santa Barbara does great work, but we can't be true to this story unless we say that we thought that this particular phoenix also might - well here goes - have a phallic element to it as well.
The phoenix totem was installed on the grounds of Phoenix House last November. It was dedicated in June. Other Chrynko tile creations are also present on the grounds. There is a bear, a frog, a reptile, and a night and day mirror piece. These pieces were placed on loan as part of the Phoenix of Santa Barbara's 35th anniversary celebration.
Yesterday, Tommy Noodleman, CheriDiane, Hotheidik, Ukulele Girl, Granny Franny, Cutrightliz, Tigerboo, Jbryan, LB7997, Greengeoff, Osum, and SteveS were able to rise to the occasion and locate the totem pole. The Edhat dog was presented with a twelve pack of BowserWeiser dog treats each marked with the name of one of the contestants. Hotheidik's treat was the first one eaten - he/she wins an Edhat t-shirt!