Thursday, January 24, 2013

Art in the Open

Our group focused on the topic of art and nature in the city, and for two different views, we looked at Gas Works Park and Olympic Sculpture Park. The concept of the shared city applies to these two sites in multiple ways. As open public spaces, they provide dedicated spaces for enjoying the outdoors, and they are both situated on waterfront locations that allow for picturesque views of the surrounding city. Unlike traditional parks that cater to recreational or sports activities, these parks give free access to art and seem more like outdoor museums that encourage contemplation, inspiring or challenging the visitor to reconsider how we interact with art and what counts as art. Both parks exemplify a generous ideal for public spaces, whether allowing a public space for the Seattle Art Museum to share some of their sculptural holdings with the public or transforming what was once a utilitarian space into an open space, redefining the idea of the public park in the process. While the newer, dynamically designed Olympic Sculpture Park displays its various sponsors and patronage in several locations throughout the park, as well as warning signs for restricted actions, Gas Works Park evokes a more natural and historical image.

Gas Works Park has blurry boundaries in terms of nature and art, combining characteristics of man-made and natural entities. As we entered the park, we saw a colorful playground, decayed pipes, sculpture and huge mound. Since Gas Works Park is surrounded by dense conifers, grass and other plants, we felt like we were in nature. That huge mound, though natural-looking, is artificial, with a constructed pathway and decorative sundial on the top. Looking at the whole view from the top of the mound, we noticed that the pipes act as a symbol of the park, sharing its identity and history. The colorful building offers a recreation space for children while providing shelter for the homeless and behind the building are picnic tables. Gas Works Park is a good place for families, couples, students, bicyclers, photographers, dogs, birds, and plants since it provides beautiful views and connects both artwork and visitors to nature.

By: Eyun Jennifer Kim & Michelle Kang

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