Americans for the Arts has recognized 4Culture, its project partners and collaborating artists, for 4 of the 49 outstanding public art projects created in 2017. The Public Art Network (PAN) Year in Review program is the only national program specifically for recognizing the most compelling public art in the U.S.
The awards illustrate how public art makes a difference in King County—it brings meaningful art experiences into residents’ everyday lives and it supports local business and drives tourism. The Public Art management team at 4Culture creates cultural experiences that transform public spaces. The following projects were implemented under the leadership of Cath Brunner, founding Director of the 4Culture Public Art program, and 3 were spearheaded by Tamar Benzikry, Senior Public Art Manager.
“Public art is woven into the fabric of King County, expressed through transit systems, resource infrastructure, business entrepreneurship, and communities striving for equity and social justice. By putting artists at the center of civic life, we create a regional identity that reflects our hearts, minds and history.” – Dow Constantine, King County Executive
The 2017 PAN Year In Review Award Winners
Poetry on Buses
Poetry on Buses: Your Body of Water Streetcar, 2017. Seattle, WA. Produced by 4Culture with design by Somelab and photography by Timothy Aguero Photography.
Poetry on Buses invites King County residents to create, share, and experience poetry on public transit, online and in community. Founded in 1992 to publish poems in place of bus advertisements, Benzikry re-imagined the program in 2014 to create a more inclusive record of northwest voices today. Together with colleague Heidi Jackson, she developed a community liaison program to foster relationships with multiple language populations, including immigrants and underserved communities.
The 2017 program, curated by poet and environmental educator Jourdan Keith, featured poems on the theme “Your Body of Water” in nine languages: Amharic, Chinese, English, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tlingit and Vietnamese. The multilingual poetic response was the result of 11 community poetry workshops produced by City of Seattle Public Art Manager Elisheba Johnson. 4Culture received 1,600 poems for consideration and 365 were selected for display in transit and online. View the selected poems at www.poetryonbuses.org/poems-2017.
Historically a collaboration with King County Metro Transit, Benzikry innovated a partnership model to foster inter-agency collaboration with Sound Transit, the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, Intersection, and the Amazon Literary Partnership to bring poetry on the bus, light rail and street car.
City of Seattle Public Art Director Ruri Yampolsky inspired the 2017 project theme and enabled the coalition to grow and include the King County Department of Natural Resources & Parks and Seattle Public Utilities.
Low Bros, The Wire, 2016. The SODO Track, Seattle, WA. Produced by 4Culture with photography by wiseknave.
The SODO Track is a 3-year street art project transforming the portal to Downtown Seattle—a two-mile transit corridor traveled by over 50,000 daily—into an imaginative raceway of art in motion. Local, national, and international artists paint artworks that stream through bus and train windows as a continuous line of sight. Forty artists have painted so far, with another 20 to paint this July to complete this unique open-air urban art gallery. See the full list of contributing artists at www.SODOTrack.com.
Produced by 4Culture in collaboration with Lead Artist Gage Hamilton, local non-profit Urban ArtWorks, and with presenting sponsor support from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Benzikry brought together the SODO BIA, King County Metro, Sound Transit, private property owners, and many private donors to welcome transit riders to Seattle with an iconic street art experience.
Industrial history, dramatic views, and an ever-changing cityscape are all at play at the Troy Block, in Seattle’s South Lake Union. Troy Block integrates two historic structures, the Boren Investment Building and the Troy Laundry Building, with 12-story towers that serve the growing tech industry. The development features a generous system of open space, blending the public and private realms with seating, lighting, landscaping and art. Artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo (Lead Pencil Studio) drew upon the site’s history for inspiration to create City Fragment, a mutable sculpture that speaks to the ongoing transformation of an industrial neighborhood into the epicenter of Seattle’s tech boom.
Brunner provided consultant services to developers Touchstone and USAA Real Estate, and with design team collaborators, Swift Company and Perkins + Will. The open call for artists solicited 150 applicants. Inspired by the quality of the proposals, the building developers commissioned two works instead of the original one planned.
Factoria Recycling & Transfer Station
The recently rebuilt and expanded Factoria Recycling & Transfer Station in Bellevue features public art by sculptor Al Price. Still Spinning sets an expansive 4,200 square-foot retaining wall into suggested motion, as more than 400 recycled-content stainless steel bicycle wheels catch and reflect the ever-changing light of our Pacific Northwest weather.
Benzikry stewarded this project for 8 years and the work of art was commissioned in partnership with the King County Solid Waste Division. Projected to achieve LEED Gold status, the new station surpasses national sustainability standards. It is expected to save 1.3 million gallons of water each year through rainwater harvesting, and high efficiency LED lighting has been installed throughout the facility. It is the recipient of the “Green Project of the Year” award.