The Art Inventory

Fremont Public Art Inventory, Part VII: On The Hunt

by Kirby Lindsay, posted 20 February 2012

One of the 'Parade of the Species' series of bollards created by Jean Whitesavage Photo by K. Lindsay, Feb '12

Fremont has all of its public art distributed randomly about the area.  A few of these pieces, however, are parts of larger collections deliberately distributed hither and yon about the community – as well as one sculpture that stands in Fremont in unity with others around the world.

Parade Of The Species,’ ‘Ranunculus Gates’ and View Frames

The four bollards, pictured here along N. Northlake Way, were created by Jean Whitesavage Photo by K. Lindsay, Feb 2012

Installed:  1998  Artists:  Jean Whitesavage & Nick Lyle  Between the Fremont Bridge and the George Washington Memorial (a.k.a. Aurora) Bridge, three buildings, divided by a modest roadway, form a rough campus.  The two most westerly buildings were constructed at roughly the same time, and had art incorporated into the development.

A reverse view through one of the two view frames created by Jean Whitesavage Photo by K. Lindsay

These works include a series of bollards along North 34th Street (behind the ‘People Waiting For The Interurban’ statue) called ‘Parade of the Species’.  Four more stand along below on North Northlake Way.  All were created by Jean Whitesavage.

Whitesavage also created two free standing, interactive view frames.  One stands near North 34th Street, alongside Blue Moon Burgers.  The other, located beneath the Aurora Bridge, has its own brick clearing.  Both frame views of Lake Union, and allow visitors to create their own picture – of the lake or loved ones that pose in the frame.

One of the two 'Ranunuculus Gates' created by Nick Lyle, with the roof of the gazebo (created by Lyle with Jean Whitesavage) visible behind it. Photo by K. Lindsay, May '11

On the south side of the campus, along the Burke-Gilman Trail, a fenced green space used by Adobe Systems employees has two ‘Ranunculus Gates,’ created by Nick Lyle.

Inside the area – inaccessible to the public – is a gazebo created through a collaboration by Lyle and Whitesavage.  Locations:  Throughout the campus at 801 N. 34th Street.

‘Reality Relics’

Installed:  1981  Artist:  Anita Fisk  These works require the most searching, although a lot less since their number diminished a few years after their installations. 

The ‘Reality Relics’ originally numbered six, and one missing item is a bronze lunch bag, ‘installed’ in Ship Canal Park.  At the time, many visitors expressed dismay at the discarded lunch bag sitting on a seat in the park.  Neighbors expressed more dismay – and alarm – when the lunch bag went missing soon thereafter.  The sixth item, according to the Smithsonian Institute, in this collection was a (bronze) beer bottle.

The newspaper, in bronze, one of the 'Reality Relics' created by Anita Fisk Photo by K. Lindsay, Nov '09

The four ‘Reality Relics’ that officially remain are:

  • Two bronze books, left out and open to the elements, on the steps of the Fremont Branch of the Seattle Public Library.
  • A workman’s glove apparently dropped and discarded in the cement of the sidewalk in front of Peet’s Coffee & Tea on Fremont Avenue near North 34th Street.
  • A newspaper (the long defunct ‘Fremont Forum’) also apparently dropped and discarded in the cement of the traffic island at North 35th Street, Fremont Avenue North and Fremont Place.
  • Two ‘space cards’ embedded in the cement along the sidewalk on North 35th Street, in front of Ernst (a.k.a. Slippery Slope) Park.

The books, in bronze, one of the 'Reality Relics' created by Anita Fisk Photo by K. Lindsay, Nov '09

Fisk created all six original pieces with almost prophetic accuracy as to items belonging to a by-gone era – an era not entirely gone by when the pieces were originally installed.  (The Fremont Forum had long folded, but newspapers still reigned.)  The pieces reflect the blue collar history of Fremont.

Three of the remaining pieces (the books, glove and newspaper) have survived reinstallation following large construction projects at their sites, due in part to nearly rabid community support for their preservation.  Locations: Various.  Go find ‘em!

‘Rapunzel’ and ‘The Elephant’s Child’

The neon 'Rapunzel' created by Rodman Miller, sits inside her tower on the Fremont Bridge Photo by K. Lindsay, Feb '12

Installed:  1994/95  Artist:  Rodman Miller  Like many older art works in Fremont, the neon on the Fremont Bridge could use some care.  In 2011, the Fremont Chamber funded the original artist to complete some needed repairs.  More money is required, however, for a complete restoration.

Miller, a local, Fremont artist, saw the potential for neon on Fremont’s iconic blue-and-orange bridge – when the City of Seattle did not.  He fought, with support from Fremont business people and the Fremont Arts Council, to be allowed this ‘temporary’ installation.  Fortunately, Fremont’s definition of ‘temporary’ has yet to be defined (see the Lenin statue.)

In plain sight, in the Northwest tower, facing North 34th Street, Rapunzel, in neon, lets down her hair.  In the Northeast tower, facing inside the Bridge and Fremont Avenue, a blue elephant has his trunk stretched by a tenacious green crocodile (from the Rudyard Kipling ‘Just So Stories’.)

The neon 'Elephant's Child' created by Rodman Miller, is under repair. The Elephant is not currently lit. Photo by K. Lindsay, Feb '12

While Rapunzel enjoys great visibility (and fame as an iconic image,) the ‘Elephant’ sculpture can be better enjoyed by locals who can show him off to the unaware.  Locations: The North towers of the Fremont Bridge.

‘Dreamer Of World Peace’

Installed:  November 7, 2010  Artist:  Kaivalya Torpy  This work stands alone in Fremont’s collection of art – and in its gorgeous, quiet location along the Lake Washington Ship Canal and the Burke-Gilman Trail, between the Aurora & Fremont Bridges.  This sculpture of the life-long ambassador for peace Sri Chinmoy, stands as a symbol for peace as part of a collection of similar sculptures (all created by the London based artist) installed around the world.

One of the newest - and least known - pieces of public art in Fremont occupies a spot of peace along the Burke-Gilman Trail Photo by K. Lindsay, May '11

When installed, this solemn and stately statue was the seventh world-wide, and the first to arrive in the United States (Rhode Island has the second.)  Each installation stands near water, and marks locations of peace and harmony.  As of November 2011, the now twelve sculptures occupy locations in Oslo, Norway (2008,) Indonesia (2009,) Prague (2009,) Mazatlan (2009,) Puerto Rico (2010,) Finland (2010,) Nepal (2011,) Perth, Australia (2011,) Providence, Rhode Island (2011,) Slovenia (2011,) and Vienna (2011.)

A spiritual leader and ‘student of peace,’ Sri Chinmoy led the peace meditation at the United Nations for 37 years.  He passed away in 2007, after creating thousands of works of art including paintings and poetry (some can be seen at Fremont’s Silence-Heart-Nest restaurant.  Location:  (in Fremont) At the meeting of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and Lake Union.

A tour of all of Fremont’s public art could occupy most of a day, but a quick tour of one of these collections could be a great excuse for getting out on even a moderately sunny day for 20 minutes or so.  The chance to hunt, and discover previously hidden or rarely seen art works, often enhances pieces that can otherwise become barely noticed backgrounds in the hustle and bustle of life at the Center of the Universe.

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©2012 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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