MYNORTHWEST BLOG

There be dragons in Renton … no, seriously

Apr 8, 2019, 5:02 AM | Updated: 3:12 pm

There be dragons in Renton. Well, one dragon at least. The newest public art installation sits atop a nearly 100 year old building in downtown — an imposing, giant, silver dragon peeking over the top of the structure.

“I love dragons,” said Marsha Rollinger, a member of Renton’s Municipal Arts Commission. “I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons, so mythology and dragons are endearing to me. Renton is pretty diverse, so we have dragons in almost every culture. And Wizards of the Coast is headquartered in Renton, so a dragon just made the most sense.”

RELATED: Dungeons & Dragons experiencing massive revival
RELATED: Seattle’s Phoenix Jones retires from superhero life

Art generally comes through moments of insight and inspiration. Such is the tale of downtown Renton’s rooftop dragon. It was 2016. The Renton Municipal Arts Commission had a fairly small budget to work with, so commissioners were brainstorming for any ideas that would convince city leaders to provide more funding.

That’s when Rollinger, and a few others from the local arts community, were hanging around Common Ground Coffee & Cupcakes at Third Street and Wells Avenue.

“We looked across the street, and the building there has settling from seismic damage … there’s old scars, there was a crack that has been repaired at the top,” she said. “We thought, ‘How can we play off of that?’ Because it looked like something hit the building from the top pretty hard.”

The building is 109 years old, and pretty quirky to begin with — different sections are painted different shades of green, blue, purple, red, and yellow. Rollinger took a photo of the brick building. She planned to present it to council as an example.

“When I was Photoshopping images for our presentation to council, I decided on a dragon,” she said. “…So I Photoshopped it in, not really thinking it would become an actually project; it was just supposed to be a demonstration,” “But at the end of our presentation, Councilmember Randy Corman was like, ‘Hey, we need to make this dragon happen.”

That kicked off a three-year journey to make Renton’s downtown rooftop dragon a reality — working with artists at Seattle’s Western Neon; and also working with the building’s owner (luckily, they thought it was a great idea). The result is an aluminum dragon weighing just 710 pounds, that lights up in two different colors.

RELATED: Why RenCon left Renton in 2018

I have long-argued that Renton is the nerdiest downtown in Washington. Perhaps even the Northwest. A walk down the city’s main drag — 3rd Street — is evident of this. There’s an independent comic book shop, two retro video game stores, and an 8-bit arcade. Then there’s a sci-fi inspired pizza shop. Renton also has it’s own comic con — RenCon. And as Rollinger pointed out, Renton is also home to Wizards of the Coast, the company behind Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering.

“The whole downtown core right now, is pretty nerd-centric as far as the Comic Hut, Game Explosion, D-Pad Gaming, there’s a lot of geek oriented things,” Rollinger said.

“I think it was more that I love dragons, than anything,” she laughed.

The dragon has slowly been installed over the past week and can be seen atop the building at Third Street and Wells Avenue. But the grand lighting event will be from 4-9 p.m. Saturday, April 13. The event will include glass dragon eggs hidden throughout downtown (blown by a local glass artist); live music; a naming contest for the dragon; and Wizards of the Coast will be handing out Dungeons & Dragons starter packs. And rumor has it, a cluster of medieval cosplayers will descend upon the event, too.

MyNorthwest Blog

Mayor Bruce Harrell, Sonics...
Nick Bowman

Mayor Harrell latest to pick up the torch on years-long effort to bring back the Sonics

Mayor Bruce Harrell is the latest city leader to take the baton on a years-long push to bring the Seattle Sonics back to their home city.
2 months ago
Bruce Harrell...
Nick Bowman

Harrell aims to ‘hit reset’ on strained relationship between Seattle mayor, city council

In his State of the City address, Mayor Bruce Harrell highlighted his hope to repair the strained relationship between his office and Seattle City Council.
3 months ago
ktth, bryan suits...
KTTH staff

KTTH debuts ‘Bryan Suits Show’ weekday mornings

Bryan Suits returns to Seattle airwaves as part of a new lineup on AM 770 KTTH. 'The Bryan Suits Show' airs weekday mornings from 6–9 a.m.
3 months ago
pet names...
Stephanie Klein

Top dog and cat names in King County last year

King County released its 2021 list of most popular pet names and 'Bella' and 'Luna' came out on top.
5 months ago
Seattle election results, Seattle City Hall...
Nick Bowman

What Seattle can expect in new year with shakeups at city hall on the horizon

Seattle City Hall is in for a shakeup at the start of the new year, with a new mayor, councilmember, and city attorney all taking office in January.
5 months ago
unvaccinated officers Seattle...
Nick Bowman

Durkan, Seattle council engage in one final clash in closing days of mayoral term

With Jenny Durkan set to leave office in a matter of days, she and the council appear to have engaged in one final feud, this time over trees. 
5 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
There be dragons in Renton … no, seriously