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City of Seattle to spend $1 million on waterfront public art

"Adjacent, Against, Upon" is a concrete and granite sculpture Michael Heizer created in 1976. Installed in Myrtle Edwards Park, its one of Seattle's earlier public art projects. (Photo courtesy City of Seattle)

Seattle is putting out a call for the creation of public art along the Elliott Bay Seawall, and there is a $1 million budget to work with.

The city’s public art ordinance goes back to 1973 when Seattle leaders decided they had a “responsibility for expanding public experience with visual art” because “art has enabled people to better understand their communities.”

King County leaders passed a similar public art ordinance, also in 1973.

You might drive by public art and not realize you paid for it. The Ballard bridge, for example, has eight sculptures attached that represent fish nets, propellers and other aspects of the neighborhood’s history.

Large-scale art projects dot other city neighborhoods, too.

All public construction projects in Seattle need to include art that is equal to one percent of the estimated cost of the project.

The Elliott Bay Seawall in downtown Seattle is part of a larger project of redeveloping the city’s central waterfront. One step in the process is requesting artist submissions for what will be the biggest public art commission in Seattle’s history.

They’re calling for international artists to create concepts for the piers that are being rebuilt, not to mention the 26 acres of new public space that will become available when the Alaskan Way Viaduct comes down.

“We have the opportunity to make the waterfront into a space that’s beloved by all Seattle residents and visitors-and art will play a major role in creating that kind of space,” states Randy Engstrom, director of the Office of Arts and Cultures.

The application deadline is December 19, 2013.


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