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Monday, November 5, 2007

Where Would Our Pedestal Be?

posted by on November 5 at 11:42 AM

Richard Lacayo, Time’s critic and blogger, recounts a recent walk through London’s Trafalgar Square in which he admired the unusual public art venue of the Fourth Plinth—a pedestal made to support a statue in 1841. The other three plinths in the square were topped, but money ran out for this one, so it remained empty. Now it’s a site for changing contemporary works.

Why can’t every American city have a spot such as this, just one little place “that was the focus of so much public attention and curiousity? It might even be worth all the political squabbling and artworld intrigue you would have to put up with to have it happen.”

In Seattle, where would it be?

On top of one of the arms that holds up 99? In that weird amphitheater of Greekish columns where Pike and Pine start to slope downtown? It has to be prominent. Do we have to resort to in front of the doors to Nordstrom?

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there should be a round a bout at first and pike with rotating sculptures awarded through the arts counsel, each to be installed in the Olympic Sculpture park along the water after their limited exhibit at pike and first. The works should be dontated by the artist and purchased by SAM for a nominal fee. What an honor for the artist, what an inexpensive way for art to be acquired by SAM.

Posted by morgan | November 5, 2007 11:50 AM

westlake would be fine too.

Posted by morgan | November 5, 2007 11:51 AM

the pigs are contemporary works. they were everywhere. that's more our speed - there's no need for quality in seattle public art.

Posted by max solomon | November 5, 2007 11:57 AM

Interesting use of linking.

Posted by Amelia | November 5, 2007 12:02 PM


That 'weird amphitheater' is comprised of the old entrance columns from a black church that was razed to build I-5. It's a memory of the entire neighborhood(s) that was destroyed to allow the freeway, and it warrants some pause when you see it, IMHO.

Posted by Juris | November 5, 2007 1:25 PM

Already done!

"The proposed site for the life-size statue is the southwest corner of Fremont Ave. N. and N. 34th Street, approximately 50 feet west of the "Waiting for the Interurban" sculpture in downtown Fremont. Seattle businesswoman Suzie Burke graciously donated the land for the statue, which will depict J.P., Gertrude and the famous ICU2TV, from which J.P. issued personalized on-air birthday greetings to his puzzled but delighted young fans."

Getcher bricks here

Posted by Zed | November 5, 2007 1:28 PM

I was a bit surprised that no place has been apparently designated as a site for temporary exhibits in the Olympic Sculpture Park, although maybe one of those works is on loan and it's just not clearly marked. It looks like they intend for all of those to remain in place permanently, which strikes me as unnecessarily limiting.

The space at the pointy end of Westlake Park would be my actual vote, in the spot where those metal blocks are today. It's a prominent space, visible to lots of foot/bus/vehicle traffic, which is wasted on what's there now. Does anybody notice that they're even there anymore?

Posted by five toed sloth | November 5, 2007 1:29 PM

That "weird ampitheater" is the original columns of the building that would become the University of Washington, on (pretty close) to its original site.

The columns are also replicated down on the UW campus, just south of Drumheller Fountain.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | November 5, 2007 1:44 PM


No they aren't. The original columns are at UofW in the little area called Sullivan Theater, which you mention.

It might help if there were a plaque or explanation of some sort at the "weird amphitheater" to explain WTF they are

Posted by Lake | November 5, 2007 1:53 PM

(from 9)

Correction: Slylvan Theater

Posted by Lake | November 5, 2007 1:57 PM

How about that weird glass box at city hall on 4th with the hanging glass circles? That's been empty for ages and is just begging for something.

Ikea ball pit, anyone?

Posted by tamara | November 5, 2007 2:02 PM

Ack! I'm shamefaced. Shamefaced and corrected!

Posted by NapoleonXIV | November 5, 2007 3:24 PM

give seattle 150 years. maybe it will find its fourth plinth by then. maybe in the sculpture garden, maybe in occidental park.

Posted by josh | November 5, 2007 8:37 PM

Around here, transportation initiatives serve as the fourth plinth.

Posted by tell me another one | November 5, 2007 10:54 PM

What about where the black sun is at up in V.Park...or a series of small ones along Broadway...

Posted by DookieFace | November 5, 2007 11:07 PM


Really? The southwest corner of 34th & Fremont is currently the site of a Baja Fresh outlet, across 34th from Peet's Coffee (where the Red Door was, before it moved the second time). I wasn't aware Suzie had enough land there to donate...there's a four or five story building (containing the Baja Fresh) there.

Posted by John | November 6, 2007 11:07 AM

@1, what is so great about the Fourth Plinth, and what is so great about the Public Art Fund and Creative Time in New York, is that the art is *not* permanent. If someone wants to buy it at the end of the run, great.

In the meantime, the artist has been paid to create the work, and no space in the city is forced to permanently host the work, which means the work itself can be much bolder.

I would love to see more temporary installations of public art in Seattle. Or, imagine that traffic island near Powell's in Portland with a big three-legged spider/typewriter eraser sculpture on it. Imagine that as the site of new sculptures on, say, an annual basis. How great would that be compared to the current state?

In Seattle, all sorts of sites could work. Victor Steinbrueck Park, Westlake Park, the plaza in front of City Hall, Cal Anderson Park, the little niches in the older part of the Henry Art Gallery, Red Square on the UW campus, the plaza in front of SCCC, Occidental Park, Pioneer Square....

@11, the circles are the art. Beliz Brother, perhaps? So that space is "full."

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Posted by kopur iqzeb | November 9, 2007 6:14 PM

The plinth is awesome. If you travel to the UK and are in London on the way to the ICA, you come upon this over crowded, touristy and pidgen infested, polluted hell square in front of the National Gallery. You just want to escape the snarl. Then you either get a taste of the non-statement (Beuys, Klein) and enjoy the presence/absence thing or you're treated to something that was controversial and much discussed (Marc Quinn) placement.

Seattle has an amazing public arts program. Many new projects have been available for bid. More so than most urban areas. There's funding!

One way artists can market is through art consultants and dealers. If you meet them at openings and present / represent (!), you could have any amazing show in a lobby of a high rise in the down town areas and receive more exposure.

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22 >student airline flights

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Posted by Xavier | November 19, 2007 5:23 AM

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