New Heights for Seattle's Public Art

Going beyond traditional approaches to public art, Washington's transit authority has launched a program that provides the city with art that expresses Seattle's "core identity."
October 3, 2008, 7am PDT | Judy Chang
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"[Public] art tends to be intimate, part of the fabric of daily life. Design team art connects people with the particular place in which they live. To this day, the best way to get a sense of what artists have brought to the city is to walk through the neighborhoods with a sharp eye. There's art in the sidewalks, on light fixtures, in bus shelters and park benches, playgrounds, libraries, police and fire stations, everywhere you might encounter it by surprise.

This approach has limitations. It tends to lack the wow factor. And if administrators of public art programs chose artists who are better at selling a committee than delivering the product, art tends to recede into civic decoration. It isn't going to upset anybody, but it won't change lives, either.

Enter Sound Transit's STart program, administered by Barbara Luecke. There are design team artists involved in creation of the rails, stations and miniparks, but there are also artists anchoring central stops with major works of art."

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Published on Monday, September 29, 2008 in Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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