Coming Home

Amber Annie Startup GymA story of friendship, art and community.

Told by Amber Sallee

The story begins with faint memories of the Startup gym; summers spent playing soccer, Easter egg hunts and flirting with boys by the bathroom water fountain.

Fast forward 30 years and we are back at the gym partnering with the Sky Valley Arts Council as they take on the task of resurrecting the Startup gym property.  Their goal is to preserve the historic structure and put it back into community service.

AA3The Startup gym is a building that has been lost but far from forgotten and much like the story that Andrea Walker and have to share.  We called the Sky Valley home for many AA4years and stumbled upon our forgotten friendship at the class of ’93 high school reunion. Both artists and adventurists, we found common ground in our love of art and home. As we rekindled our  friendship, it seemed that 20 years had not really passed at all.  We quickly decided to collaborate on a project benefiting a small village in rural Kenya that I had photographed a few years previously. Not only did we realize that working for a cause we believe in is awesome, we also discovered how well we work together, as we balanced each other’s gifts and weaknesses.

One underling conversation that we always seemed to land back on was the Sky Valley, Sultan and childhood memories of our home town. I’m sure many of you also remember the same icons on the valley… the Candy Cane restaurant, “oral eef”, Dutch Cup, the Hoot Owl where we spent hours on the pay phone and of course the Startup gym.

Our goal is to bring to life on canvas our childhood memories and to resurrect the images we hold in our hearts of this valley we called home. Together with the Arts Council, AA2Andrea and I are endeavoring to create a body of work to present back to the community, for exhibition and financial support for the gym renovation.

We are excited. Quickly, we have discovered this community’s lost love of the Startup gym.  People want to tell us their stories. Its feels good to see faces light up, one older gentlemen remarked,  “I was married ‘once‘ in this gym!”.

IMG_3880We hope you join us as we take a trip down memory lane to help raise awareness and raise funds to awaken this lost sleeping beauty. Donations are accepted here online or in person at the Sky Valley Visitor Information Center.  Learn more about the Save the Startup Gym project.

NOTE: Share your story with Amber and Andrea…they will be at the Sky Valley Arts Council General Meeting/Show/Social on Tuesday March 17th, 7 pm, 403 Main St, Sultan WA