Thursday, January 24, 2013

Public Art/Public Claim

Team: Mickala Loeffelbein, Kathryn Christensen, Chris Morris
Location: Seattle, WA

Our group chose to investigate numerous examples of formal and informal
pieces of public art found throughout Seattle. Artists take claim of urban spaces in a way that
many people usually do not. Because of this, public art is not only a way that Seattleites share
the city, but also a way for artists to add new interest to Seattle. We define formal art as work
that the City of Seattle was a part of, and informal art as purely citizen-driven creations. The
formal pieces pictured are The Blue Trees and Children’s Art Tiles in Westlake Center, and The
View from the Canoe images near the Justice Center. Although all three are successful at
transforming the spaces they are in, they tend to look like “art-bandaids” applied to ugly or
uninteresting areas of the city. Our informal pieces, however, exemplify how organic,
spontaneous artwork enhances the urban setting. The Gum Wall in Post Alley, Ghost Bike in
the U District, and graffiti found around Seattle reflect the creativity of people who inhabit the
city. When Seattleites take a claim over public space like this, they add their stories and
experiences to the urban fabric. The Ghost Bike, a bike painted white, chained to a post on the
intersection of NE Campus Parkway and University Way, is a memorial to a rider who was hit by
a car at that spot. By installing the Ghost Bike, the artist transformed the intersection into a
memorial for the rider. The Gum Wall and graffiti are unique pieces with varying contributors,
but both achieve the same goal of beautifying blank city walls. After observing all these sites,
we conclude that informal installations are more successful than formal ones when it comes to
city sharing. Government-issued art is not always reflective of Seattle.

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