'Seahawk Spirit' thriving

Local artist Marilee Schiff was inspired to paint after Seattle's win over New Orleans Saturday.

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Marilee Schiff stands beside her watercolor painting 'Seahawk Spirit,' which is on display at the YMCA.

By AMELIA VENEZIANO

of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

WALLA WALLA - The spirit of the Seahawks isn't just a Seattle thing.

And the awe-inspiring win over defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans last weekend didn't just jazz up the die-hard football fans.

One Walla Walla fan - told once, by her son, not to cheer at games because she cheered at the wrong times - was so thrilled with the victory Saturday that she turned to her watercolors.

Soon, what emerged on Marilee Schiff's canvas was ‘Seahawk Spirit,' a rendering of the feathered Seahawk from which the team derives its name.

"You look at all those sporting events in action, you can see the team on the field and Pete Carroll on the sidelines, and you cheer them on, but it's not just them," Schiff said of her inspiration. "There are lots of people involved and I was painting for them."

And lots of people in Walla Walla can see the work, which is on display at the entrance to the weight room at the Walla Walla YMCA.

Schiff, who has been painting for almost 10 years, saw a flyer for the YMCA's new ‘Artist Corner' event, which displays local artists' work. She contacted YMCA fitness center director Susan Anfinson, who was thrilled to put ‘Seahawk Spirit' on the wall.

"I'm so glad she approached me," Anfinson said. "People tell me it's really cool. It's getting a lot of attention."

The eye is popular.

Surrounding the eye is a dark streak, which includes every color Schiff had available.

"That's an important element," she said of the dark streak. "I wanted all of the colors in my palette in the picture. Like the team, the fans, the players - I wanted to recognize everybody."

Schiff has a personal connection to that "everybody." Her son, Sam Town, works for Qwest Field and was on the overnight crew that worked to keep the field clear and dry for last Saturday's game.

"He wasn't even grousing that he had to stay out there all night," Schiff said. "He was so excited to be out there."

Town was on the front page of the Seattle Times last week, painting the wild-card logo on the field. He's worked for Qwest Field for about three years.

It was her son's job that led her to the stands during the San Diego Chargers-Seahawks game earlier this year.

From the stands, Schiff watched as a live Seahawk was released to fly around the stadium.

She kept her eye and camera on the trained bird as it flew around the stadium.

"I asked the fellows up in front of me to take a picture," Schiff said. "They looked at me like I was crazy."

But she got the shot, and it was from those photos that she painted the watercolor.

While playing on the Wa-Hi football team, Town was voted Most Inspirational his senior season.

And this year, as the Seahawk players prepare to play at Chicago Sunday morning, his mother is the one inspired.

"Oh yeah!" she said of her hopes for the game. "I want there to be another game in Seattle."

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