Monday, November 16, 2009

The Cultural Landscape of South King County

Welcome to SoCoCulture's new blog -- a chance for us to highlight the richness and diversity of cultural activities throughout South King County, from Burien to Maple Valley, Enumclaw to Federal Way, and all points in between!

Our South County communities have long, proud traditions of sustaining arts and heritage endeavors. Earlier this autumn, for example, the Auburn Arts Commission celebrated its 25th anniversary by hosting an event that welcomed back the artists who had been commissioned to create public art for Auburn over the last quarter century. It was a wonderful evening -- a small crowd strolled around the downtown core to view some of the art that has made the area distinctive and welcoming, then 4Culture's Heather Dwyer moderated a panel in which several of the artists talked about what it was like to return to Auburn to see not only that their art had endured, but also to witness how people were interacting with it and enjoying it to this day.

This got me thinking about the public art I like in South King County -- particularly the sculpture. In Auburn, I am always tickled when I come across Garth Edwards' rustic silhouette-people who populate the downtown. And when it comes to whimsy, I like Richard Breyer's "Big Catch" in Des Moines, too. The fisherman and his big fish are a beloved focal point now -- but oh, the controversy that flared when that piece was first installed!

I love the massive scale of Dan Snider's "Logging Legacy" sculpture in Enumclaw, and of Peter Reiquam's "Big Corn" in Kent.

And I am really going to miss "The Passage," the looming but tender mother and child duo that has resided at the Burien/Interim Art Space for the past year. Originally the piece was created out of scrap metal parts by Dan Das Mann and Karen Cusolito for the 2005 Burning Man Festival in Nevada. But the sculpture seemed right at home here as it anchored the B/IAS, which is now shutting down as planned after its glorious year-long experiment as an "artists' pea patch." Here's a photo of the mom:

My newest favorite is "Turtle Island - Puget Sound," the sculpture that was installed just a few weeks ago at the Des Moines Library. Created by Mark Twain Stevenson (his mother was a librarian, hence the middle name), the turtle carries a map of Puget Sound on its back. The map is in relief, and rainwater captured on the turtle's back fills the major lakes and the basin of Puget Sound, while the islands and mountains rise above it all. It's a challenging piece -- I've seen adults scratch their heads as they try to determine the location of their own hometown -- but it's enticing, too -- kids love it!

I don't really have any idea as to how many public sculptures there are around South King County -- but they certainly enliven our cultural landscape. If you have a favorite you'd like to mention, we'd like to hear about it!

Warmly, Barbara McMichael/SoCoCulture Administrator

1 comment:

  1. One of the favorite public sculptures in Renton "Donkey Run Away to the Mines" (otherwise known as the Tonkin Park Donkey) in downtown Renton. The scuplture is a simple but angular recreation of a coal minign beat of burden that reminds us of Renton's first industry. In an interesting cross-pollination of arts, the donkey even had a significant cameo role in the 2008 Renton FilmFrenzy winner, 'Finger of God'!

    I agree with you about 'The Passage'--the mother was even more striking with fire coming out of her fingertips!

    -- Liz Stewart