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June 24, 2014 at 4:17 PM

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Northwest Wanderings | Dude becomes an artist, no longer clowning around


Ernie Street is only 6 months old, but he looks 80.

For a street performer, he's a little stiff.

He was accidentally knocked to the sidewalk by a youngster dribbling a basketball on South First Street in downtown Mount Vernon. The fall broke Ernie's arm and gashed his skull.

Skagit Valley artist Mike Coslor easily patched Ernie's papier-mâché head. His clay face wasn't damaged.

"That a kid broke his arm doesn't matter. His jacket holds him together," says Coslor.

Ernie is one of four life-size figures in Coslor's first solo show in the Lincoln Theatre's Art Bar this month.

"My dream is to finally make my livelihood as an artist," Coslor says. "I've been a cabdriver, cook, dishwasher, bus driver, (casino) slot attendant and a valet."

When not making art he has a hauling service, Doc Hollaway's Junk Rangers.

In the late 1970s and early '80s, Coslor was a street clown in Seattle's University District and at Pike Place Market. "I was Snafoo the Clown. Played the concertina and juggled, and did a little magic."

Because he couldn't afford real clown shoes, he made a pair out of papier-mâché "but they came apart in the rain."

He started making people.

The other large figures in the Lincoln Theatre show include a clown and two from the Coen brothers' movie "The Big Lebowski." They're the Dude, the main character, and friend Walter Sobchak.

Ernie is the fourth full-size figure. He'll be standing outside the theater, blending in with the crowd for this year's Dudestock and showing of the movie on Saturday.

Inside, Coslor will have an artist's reception from 5 until 7 p.m. (Film at 8 p.m.) His exhibit runs until the end of June.



ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Artist Mike Coslor gives Ernie Street a lift while moving him from the sidewalk into the Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon. Ernie, a life-size figure Coslor made, is street tough. "That a kid broke his arm doesn't matter. His jacket holds him together," Coslor says.

ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Mike Coslor, right, sits with Walter Sobchak, one of four life-size figures in an exhibition at the Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon. Sobchak is a character in the 1998 classic "The Big Lebowski."

For more photos, visit the gallery.

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