The Fremocentrist.com Art Inventory

Fremont Public Art Inventory, Part IX: Practical Pieces

by Kirby Lindsay, posted 7 May 2014

 

The Stairway In Fremont Project, as seen from Evanston Ave N, looking down towards Fremont Avenue.  Photo by K. Lindsay, May '14

The Stairway In Fremont Project, as seen from Evanston Ave N, looking down towards Fremont Avenue. Photo by K. Lindsay, May ’14

This ninth installment of the Fremocentrist.com on-going inventory of Fremont’s public art focuses on the practical applications of art in our community.  Beauty and creativity can be turned to functional purpose, to dually enhance and serve the needs of Fremont’s visitors and locals.

The Stairway in Fremont Project

Installed: 1980 Artists:  Ann Gardner, David Ostler, Steven Roth, and Michael Sweeney  This installation includes different elements, although most are tile.  The two main plazas between stair cases include images drawn in the concrete floor.  The art decorates an extended stair corridor that connects Fremont Avenue to Evanston Avenue, with an informative plaque at the Fremont Avenue terminus, and many seating areas established throughout the installation.  This is also one of the few (The Pergola being another) art installations administered by the Seattle Arts Commission.  It was commissioned by the Seattle Engineering Department, according to the plaque.  Location:  In the staircase at N 40th Street, between Evanston and Fremont Avenues North – across from B.F. Day Elementary School

One of the Ship Canal Benches, designed by Steve Badanes and students at U.W.  Photo by Barb Luecke

One of the Ship Canal Benches, designed by Steve Badanes and students at U.W. Photo by Barb Luecke

Canal Benches & Fire Circle

Installed: (possibly) 1991  Initial Artists: Steve Badanes, University of Washington (UW) students and the Fremont Arts Council (FAC)  According to Barb Luecke, of the FAC, the benches through Fremont Canal Park were designed by students of Steve Badanes, a design artist (and lead artist on the Fremont Troll,) at U.W.  They include seating areas that have (or had) tables for chess/checkers, landscaping and/or used natural stone.

Rocks were also installed as seating in the embankment between the park and the canal.  In addition, the FAC installed two basalt rocks to frame and mark a fire circle once installed at the far west end of the park.  The community used the fire circle for gatherings, but with no oversight or management, some abuses occurred and City leaders saw the area as a safety hazard.  Finally, the City of Seattle Parks Department ‘removed’ the fire circle, although ashes and burnt wood still appear periodically in this area.  King County Wastewater Treatment Division will stage construction of the replacement Fremont Siphon near here in 2015, and that could further obliterate the fire circle.  The FAC members have discussed removing the two stones that mark this area in advance of the upheaval to come.

A recent photo of the two rocks that still stand, marking the former Fremont fire circle.  Photo provided by Barb Luecke

A recent photo of the two rocks that still stand, marking the former Fremont fire circle. Photo provided by Barb Luecke

Location:  Along the Lake Washington Ship Canal, in Fremont Canal Park, between NW 2nd Avenue and Phinney Ave N

Within Reach (bike rack)

Installed: May 2013  Artist:  Troy Pillow  This colorful, visually whimsical yet practical bike rack came after Kilroy Realty purchased the Lake Union Center and took over management of the properties.  The piece also, in 2013, became the site of a Groundspeak geocache for their annual celebration in August.  The rack can be used for bike parking day or night as the leaf-like overhang has lights in it. Location: At northeast corner of the Fremont Bridge, near 703 N 34th St

The whimsical new bike rack in Fremont, an art installation by Troy Pillow called 'Within Reach'  Photo by K. Lindsay, Oct '13

The whimsical new bike rack in Fremont, an art installation by Troy Pillow called ‘Within Reach’ Photo by K. Lindsay, Oct ’13

The Water Mover (guard rail)

Installed: 2008  Lead Artist: Jenny Heishman  The Water Mover serves as a guardrail, keeping visitors from falling down the natural embankment just past the man-made amphitheater space.  This piece generated controversy when installed.  Neighborhood lobbyists found funding for this work within the City of Seattle, and expected a Fremont artist to be given the commission.  Instead, a public process – and a jury with neighborhood representatives on it – selected this piece.  Many see the piece as cold and too industrial, while others enjoy the solid look and kinetic esthetic of the piece.  Location:  In A. B. Ernst (Slippery Slope) Park

 

'The Water Mover' by Jenny Heishman, in A.B. Ernst Park.  Photo by K. Lindsay, Oct '13

‘The Water Mover’ by Jenny Heishman, in A.B. Ernst Park. Photo by K. Lindsay, Oct ’13

Fremont art comes in all shapes and sizes, and for a variety of reasons.  Practicality may not have inspired our art, but it is clear that even practical items can be art.  In Fremont, creativity need not be restricted to decorating our world.

 

 


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©2014 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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