Clallam Bay artists create sculpture to honor rocker Cobain in his hometown [***GALLERY***]
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Lora Malakoff shapes the wet concrete to become the form of the legendary Fender guitar that Kurt Cobain played. The sculpture, which was made in her Clallam Bay garage, will be placed at a park in Aberdeen that was frequented by the music legend as a memorial to him 17 years after his death. -- Photo by Kim Malakoff
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Kim and Lora Malakoff at Ruby Beach.

By Paige Dickerson
Peninsula Daily News

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CLALLAM BAY — For Clallam Bay artists Lora and Kim Malakoff, the 8-foot steel-and-concrete guitar that went to Aberdeen this weekend was a journey into a new medium of art.

The sculpture will be unveiled at a special ceremony near the Young Street Bridge in honor of Kurt Cobain, frontman for the band Nirvana, on Tuesday — 17 years after the grunge rock musician's death.

The ceremony will be at 1 p.m. at the park next to the Young Street Bridge in North Aberdeen. Aberdeen was Cobain's birthplace and his hometown.

Deadline delivery

The sculptural addition to Aberdeen has been in the works off and on for 10 years, said Lora Malakoff, who moved to Clallam Bay from Aberdeen.

When friends spotted a sculpture she did for Westport Winery, she was asked to join the project last year.

“The city told us that they needed someone who would deliver a good piece on deadline because they had been working on this memorial for over a decade,” she said.

With a budget of only $1,500 — allocated by the city of Aberdeen from lodging tax funds — Lora Malakoff couldn't use the stone or clay she was accustomed to working with — and that might have worked out for the better, she added.

“We decided to work with steel and concrete, and that works really well along with the industrial look of the grunge age,” she said.

“It fits him much better than a polished, fancy marble that we really couldn't afford anyway.”

Lora Malakoff formed the left-handed Fender guitar, which is modeled on Cobain's, in her 
Clallam Bay garage.

Artist since a child

An artist since she was a child, she and her husband, Kim, have been partners in marriage and in art for the past five years.

He welded the steel while she smoothed the concrete into shape.

“We work very well together,” she said. “That is a real blessing because sometimes people who you get along with in life, you can't always work with in art. That can be a very sad thing when someone you care about a lot is throwing things because you disagree about the art — but we get along very well, and he is very easygoing.”

Other projects

After the guitar is installed, she and her husband will set their sights on a handful of other sculpture projects.

At least two more have been commissioned by Westport Winery, and others have called on the couple to create pieces for yards and gardens.

“Sculpture is interesting,” she said. “I haven't done it as much as painting because I've been something of a nomad for so long. When you're living in an apartment, you might like a 500-pound sculpture, but your landlord sure won't.”

Lora Malakoff began painting seriously at the age of 8 and had a gallery spot by the age of 12 while living in Alaska.

When she was 17, more than 200 of her paintings were lost through a mix-up at a gallery, and she gave up art for a decade or so before starting back to oil painting while living in Seattle, she said.

Before moving to Clallam Bay to be with Kim, Lora Malakoff lived in Aberdeen and worked at the newspaper there — The Daily World.

Cobain was found dead at his Seattle home April 8, 1994. He was 28. He is remembered throughout Aberdeen, from a memorial park bench to the welcome sign that bears his lyrics — “Come as you are.”

“It was such a weird era,” Lora Malakoff said. “He had problems in his personal life, and his health was a mess. But he did something amazing for an entire generation — not just in Aberdeen or Seattle or Washington [state] or the United States, but all over the world.

“His poetry spoke for an entire generation. Not many people can do that.”

Besides the concrete guitar, there will be a steel ribbon dangling in the air with the lyrics, “One more special message to go, and then I'm done and I can go home.”

The lyrics come from the Nirvana song “On a Plain.”

Lora Malakoff said she spent many hours reading through Cobain's writing and lyrics for the perfect phrase.

“I read almost everything he wrote, and that phrase just kept coming back to me,” she said.


Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at

Last modified: April 03. 2011 10:17PM
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