North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Local artist Mike Nordine is Kiwanis Citizen of the Year


Christopher Andersson

Mike Nordine at his business, Arlington Muffler and Brakes, with one of his sculptures on Oct. 16.

Local business owner and metal artist Mike Nordine was awarded the Kiwanis Citizen of the Year award for helping bring his art to the community and local kids.

Nordine received the award earlier this month for his contributions to the city, the Arlington Arts Council, his contributions to downtown Arlington activities and his work with the Arlington Boys & Girls Club to teach kids about art.

He is the owner of Arlington Muffler and Brakes in downtown Arlington, but for about 15 years now Nordine has been creating metal animals from mufflers and other car parts.

"Mike has been very creative with his muffler art," said Jean Olson, a board member with the Arlington Arts Council.

Nordine said he got into making the art mostly because of a request from his daughter.

"When my daughter was about 10-years-old she wanted me to make a penguin out of a muffler and I said 'well princess, you can't make a penguin out of a muffler.' But I went to sleep that night and I figured out how to do it in my sleep so I came back and I made a penguin," he said.

Since then it has become a Christmas and birthday tradition for Nordine to make a new animal each year for her, he said.

Nordine now helps kids express themselves with art as well, like with a class at the Arlington Boys & Girls Club.

"He hadn't ever worked with kids before but we brought him in last year and he had so much fun he wanted to do it again this year," said Andrea Govett, a member of the Arlington Arts Council who helped coordinate with the Arlington Boys & Girls Club.

Nordine brought in 20 metal butterfly sculptures for the kids to paint and take home.

"It's kind of an unusual thing for kids to get to do, to paint these metal butterflies and take them home. We have a variety of activities we offer but there's nothing like that so I think the kids really respond to that," said Govett.

She also said Nordine is "very encouraging to the kids" and that they "really respond to his kindness."

Nordine himself said he enjoys watching the happiness of the kids and ushering in a new generation of artists.

"When I was a little boy if there had been the mentors that we have now, how far would I have gotten, how much more advanced would I be?" he said.

At other events like the Arlington Street Fair he helps kids with other activities.

"At the Street Fair we help kids paint rocks. It seems so simple, but some of these kids have got some very good ideas," he said.

On the side of his business Nordine has a mural painted by teens in the Snohomish County Justice system, part of a program between Arlington Arts Council and Reclaiming Futures.

Arlington Arts Council president and North County Outlook writer Sarah Arney said that Nordine took good care of the kids there, gave them lunch and helped with the painting.

Nordine's sculptures also are frequently donated to local organizations.

"He's very generous with his donations to our auction," said Olson, who mentioned last year's rebar sculpture of the Eiffel Tower that ended up being seven to eight feet tall.

Other sculptures like a spider/bike rack were made for the city of Arlington.

Nordine said he likes giving back to his community.

"I've been in this town almost my whole life with my own business, and this town has been very good to me and you have to give back," he said.

He was also honored to receive the award from the Arlington Kiwanis.

"I was very, very touched by what I received and I was flabbergasted. I take it very serious and I hope I can still continue to do good things," he said.


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