A homecoming of sorts for artist

POULSBO — She may reside in California, but Elaine Odlam Cain’s heart, and her artwork, will always be in Poulsbo.

This week, the North Kitsap Friends of the Library hosted an artist reception for Odlam Cain, whose tile painting of the legend of the five swans holds a special place in the city’s recent history. Commissioned in 1987 by Marion Sluys to hang on the wall of a gift shop he once operated downtown, it depicts five swans in flight, each bearing the flag and name of one of the Scandinavian countries.

When the gift shop closed in 1996, Friends of the Library president Barbara Monks said the painting came dangerously close to being lost.

“One day I went in there and there was a price tag on it and I thought, ‘This can’t leave Poulsbo,’” she recalled.

The group sponsored a fund-raiser and in a short period of time the library had its first art acquisition.

During a break from her second exhibit at the Norwegian Heritage Museum in Seattle, Odlam Cain stopped in to visit the artwork, which hangs downstairs in the Poulsbo Library. The La Habra, Calif. resident said she still remembers receiving the commission from Sluys and thinking it would be a challenging endeavor. However, she said the subject matter really interested her because of her own Norwegian ancestry.

Odlam Cain added that every time she comes to the Puget Sound she feels a strong need to come to Poulsbo, and one of her stops while in the region is always to see her five swans.

“I’m so honored and I’m so flattered. I feel privileged,” she said of seeing her

artwork preserved by the Poulsbo


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