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Discover the Art All Around Us!

Part I

Since all the venues for art are closed, I invite you to walk or bike through our neighborhoods and discover the amazing public art everywhere.

Scott Murase with Murase Associates Shadow Wall photo by Susan Platt

My most exciting “discovery” was the recently completed Shadow Wall sculpture in the Jimi Hendrix Park. Designed by Scott Murase, who also beautifully designed the whole park to suggest a guitar, the Shadow Wall evokes the rhythms of music.

From the entrance at 2400 S Massachusetts Ave, the Hendrix signature on the wall leads us on a purple (now faded to blue) swirling path inscribed with the words of Hendrix famous songs “Angel” and “Little Wing” and as well as horizontal strips with a succinct biography of Hendrix’s amazing life from humble beginnings in the Central District of Seattle to world-wide fame and acknowledgment of his brilliant innovations in music. The path leads to the large red butterfly that hangs over the seating area, intended for performance and community gatherings.

From there, we approach the newly installed Shadow Wall. From a portrait of Hendrix, it swirls out with a perforated steel curtain that creates vibrant shadows, including silhouette cut outs of the musician. Appropriate to the innovative Hendrix, it takes a conventional sculpture into a new level of movement.

Part II

There is more to enjoy just across Martin Luther King Jr, Way.

Have you seen the Philosophical Promenade by Keith Beckley and Dennis Evans on the way into the I 90 lid pedestrian and bike tunnel with its imagery and cairns and as well as texts embedded in the sidewalk? The carefully chosen quotes from people like Plato and Jung will expand your day. Not far away is the Urban Peace Circle dedicated to children killed by gun violence. It was designed by Gerard Tsutakawa, son of George, in 1994!

Everyone in Leschi is familiar with the stupendous Dream Catcher at Yesler and 32nd St. Designed by Lawney L. Reyes in 2003 in honor of his brother Bernie Whitebear and sister Luana Reyes, The Dream Catcher wards off evil. Take another look! Inside the dreamcatcher are images that seem to refer to animals, nature and humans, all being protected. That is what we need right now.

The salmon sculpture Homecoming created in 1999 by Tom Jay, in Nora’s Woods on the corner of 29th and Columbia refers to the homecoming of Coho Salmon, now so threatened. In this period of staying close to home, Nora’s Woods is a wonderful respite, the result of one woman’s vision and determination with the collaboration of many people in the community.

Dion Henderson The Peoples Wall 1970 detail

Do you know about The People’s Wall designed and painted by Dion Henderson in 1970 at 20th and Spruce? Its sequence of potent images is still easy to interpret as a reference to the history of the Panthers. It is dedicated to nine fallen Panthers: Sydney Miller, Welton Butch Armstead, Albert Postel, Larry War, Lewis Jackson, Maud Allen, Carolyn Downs, Jim Graves and Henry Boyer.

Seek out the subtle stone sculptures by James W. Washington, Jr, throughout our neighborhood. Mt Zion Baptist Church has the largest work, The Oracle of Truth 1987 outside their entrance; Meany Middle School moved V Obelisk 1970 to near its new front door, Odessa Brown Clinic’s My Testimony in Stone 1981 at 2101Yesler almost hides under a bush, and Children’s Touchstone with Eagles 1991 is outside Bailey-Gatzert Elementary at 1301 Yesler.

James W Washington, V Obelisk, 1970, outside Meany Middle School, photo by Henry Matthews

You can walk past James Washington’s home at 1816 26th Ave, preserved as an historic landmark by the incredible foresight of the artist. Through the fence you see the wrapped-up Fountain of Triumph 1995, a sculpture about salmon migration that used to be on 23rd near Union. Hopefully, it will return nearby soon. On the corner of 26th and Howell is the home of Tim Fowler, our own local Gaudi. You can’t miss his mosaic wall, animals and people as well as his collection of old parts and cars. Speaking of Union Street, revisit the Liberty Bank Building that this paper has already discussed. It has a lot of public art visible from the street, including the seats by Esther Ervin and poetry by Minnie Collins.

Tim Fowler home at 26th and Howell

On Madison St, just West of the arboretum entrance, look at the simple 3-part stone memorial to Kate Fleming, the talented audio artist who drowned near that location in a flash flood in 2006.

In Volunteer Park take another look at Isamu Noguchi’s Black Sun, 1969. Its circular form with unusual indentations and an empty center was carved from a single piece of Brazilian granite. It creates a focal point for the park and its view. But if you look at Black Sun itself, it can feel like a celebration or a warning according to the lighting and our mood.

Finally, a new, anonymous piece just appeared at the Galer entrance to Interlaken Park, with its stunning old growth grove of cedar trees. Someone placed there two chairs separated by a six-foot-long bar suggesting “Communicate, Connect.” You can read the amazing quotes painstakingly written on the chairs. Here is one of them

A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. They experience themselves, their thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of their consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. ~Albert Einstein.

~Susan Platt

Art & Politics Now

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