By Puyallup Tribal News staff
Editor’s note: This is the second in the series, showcasing the newly installed Coast Salish artwork at the new Emerald Queen Casino. This month’s profile is on Puyallup Tribal member Anthony Duenas.
“I have been doing artwork since I can remember,” said Anthony Duenas, Puyallup Tribal member.
He attributes some of his early interest in art from drawing cartoons such as “The Jetsons” and “The Flintstones,” which allowed him to hone his skills, which can be seen throughout the new Emerald Queen Casino.
Duenas hopes his story will help encourage youth to try artwork.
“Don’t be scared to draw – there is no right or wrong way to do art,” he said.
Duenas has been working with the Coast Salish art form since the early 2000s. He has several notable pieces inside and outside of the casino.
A massive mural
Near the main entrance, you can see Duenas’s biggest mural, measuring 174.5 feet long by 30 feet high. Duenas had to grid the lines of the entire project, which allowed him to scale the artwork to the appropriate size.
Once that was finished, he proceeded to do the whole mural entirely free hand with spray paint. “I have never done anything this big before,” Duenas said.
Doing the artwork at such a great height required the use of a lift to get him there, which caused a lot of movement while he painted. “The lift was moving and swaying around,” Duenas recalled.
The mural’s design elements represent the ancestors and history of the tribe. It’s a depiction of bone games.
Bones games have been part of the Puyallup Tribe’s rich culture since time immemorial. The game would be played for fun, ceremonially, to settle arguments, and would often include a form of gambling.
Duenas had a rare opportunity to create the outdoor piece along with his brothers Chris and Daniel.
The moon along with the salmon designs can be seen while driving into Tacoma, from I-5 South. This design was done on vinyl and was laid out according to the vectored work done from Duenas’s sketches. Having an opportunity to work with his brothers on such a massive project was “very cool,” said Duenas.
Other featured artwork at the casino
Duenas rendered a butterfly and salmon, which can be seen on vinyl stickers throughout the glass on the casino floor. The designs look like etched glass.
In addition, Duenas also has three prints in the Waterway Deli, which are of an eagle, salmon and bear. It is hung in a way to symbolize who would get to eat the salmon first.
The animals are “essentially fighting over dinner,” he said.
Duenas said it feels great to have his artwork featured in the new casino.
“My kids will see it, their kids will see it, my nieces and nephews will see it – family three generations from now will say, ‘My family did that,’” said Duenas. “It’s great. It’s a wonderful feeling.”