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Friday, April 4, 2008

Sound Transit Station Design Meeting: Nothing Says “Capitol Hill” Like Fighter Jets

posted by on April 4 at 11:25 AM

The meeting last night started amicably enough. A band of Sound Transit representatives laid out the most recent plans for a light-rail line that will connect the University of Washington to downtown (and the other light rail lines) to about 150 people nodding their heads. Architect David Hewitt showed slides, taking the group down through the layers of the Capitol Hill station, beginning at the street and down to the mezzanine and on to the trains. But when an artist revealed plans for a central sculpture, the mood turned ugly.

Before we get to that, some context about the light rail and station.

The University link, as it’s called, will run just over three miles. Underground. Like a real subway! (Haven’t we always been told that the soil was too smooshy or something for underground transit in Seattle?) Trips from downtown to the Capitol Hill station will take 6 minutes, and from the Hill to the University of Washington, three more minutes. The design phase is 60 percent complete and reaches a 90 percent milestone this fall. The first trains will run in 2016, carry 70,000 people a day by 2030, with 14,000 of them using the Capitol Hill station, and cost approximately $1.6 billion. Demolition will begin in 2009.


That’s Broadway running horizontally. In the lower-left is an entrance near Cal Anderson Park. A second entrance is a block north on the right, on East John Street, and the west entrance is across Broadway in the top-left.


The west entrance. Sorry these pictures aren’t so hot.

Razed will be the entire block on the east side of Broadway between Denny and John Streets, the two stately brick buildings on the southeast corner of Denny and Broadway, and the building that held the Mongolian grill. Although the entrances on the street level are fairly small, the blocks will be used for construction staging over those six years. After the station opens, Sound Transit will likely maintain ownership of the blocks, according to the agency’s Ron Endlich, and lease the lots for mixed-use development. Design review process accounted for, I wouldn’t expect the south end of Broadway (which will become coveted for it’s proximity to the station) to be redeveloped until 2019.

Station architect David Hewitt, who also designed the Harbor Steps, is the most endearing presenter to ever hold a laser pointer. Bald and wearing chunky black framed glasses and dark coat, he is Capitol Hill. Hewitt’s essential design is standard for a underground rail station, with modern entrances and massive smoke and air vents at the street level, escalators leading down to a mezzanine, and then to train platform, which he called “the main event.” Unusually, the platform room of the station is braced with a network of thick steel beams to support the walls. This allows the space to vault upward (rather than the traditional semi-circular shape of many subway stations). “We created a shape we think is provocative,” he says.


The platform

But the steel beams also obstruct views inside the station, presenting a challenge for San Francisco Brooklyn-based artist Mike Ross, who was chosen from a pool of 120 applicants to design the station’s central sculpture. His presentation was rocky from the start.

“The first time I came to Seattle was to work on this project,” Ross told the group.

“I did a Google search on ‘I love Seattle because’ and found people mentioned clouds and rain,” he said, noting that many mentions of the weather were gripes. “It’s [an area] at the leading edge of technology,” he said, noting Boeing and Microsoft. “It is an area with an important relationship with the natural world,” he said, noting a picture a Blue Heron (Seattle’s official bird) on the screen.

“This bird is here to represent the natural world.”

Oh, artists.

He said he wanted to “get at some of the qualities of strength and fragility of the natural world—of how fragile this world can be.” Not to be snarky, but in an underground enclosure with a huge fire vent and braces holding back tons of dirt, does anyone want to be remind us of the fragility of our natural world? Seriously?

To capture the regional qualities, Ross wanted to build on themes of clouds and rain and planes. To capture the strength, he chose military fighter jets.


Audience lynch mob after the jump.

Real military aircraft, severed and painted in blushes of pink and orange, and suspended in an organic flow—like the heron—the sculpture represents transformation to more gentle forms, he explained. “We’re taking the aggressive images and use them in a non-aggressive way,” he said. “They’re not attacking each other. These two tips are kissing each other.”


The platform and the planes.

The crowd wasn’t buying it. “I really liked your presentation until it became a fighter plane,” said one man. The crowd cheered. “It’s sad to think Capitol Hill would use the image of a war plane.” The mob cheered again.

“You have strong reaction; I also have a strong reaction…” said Ross, who go cut off by hecklers.

“You’re not from Seattle,” and “Yeah, you’re not from here.”

More. “It would be really repulsive to me. I’d hate to see that when I go to work. Are there any visible guns pointing up or down?” No, said Ross. “Whatever you do, take it away from being fighting planes.” And. “When you shine a light on a turd, it’s still a turd,” said an unrelenting yet smiling woman. “Where are you buying the planes?” she asked. “I don’t want my tax dollars going to the Department of Defense.” For that line, the crowd practically did “the wave.” Calmly, Ross explained that the sculpture represents ttransorming tools of war into works of art, and that they are dismantled to reflect the method used in a disarmament treaty between the U.S. and Russia.

After his presentation, I asked Ross whether the reaction, if also reflected by the public at large, would prompt him to reconsider the plans. “At some point,” Ross said. “It’s a democratic process.”

Sound Transit’s Endlich stood up for the piece, telling me that people who liked it “may be less likely to speak up in an environment like this.” And Hewitt, who said he’s enjoyed working with Ross, said, “I think it’s very exciting.” He compared the transformation of war machines into art as “swords into plowshares.”

This is a tricky issue. At first, the piece is offensive to anti-war liberals. Even if it is an attempt to meld gentleness with strength, war planes and pastel seem the worst of both worlds. Dismembering the machines does little to assuage the connection to the brutality of war. And to bring the military to one of the most anti-war regions in the country is to invoke what many Capitol Hill denizens detest.

But to its credit, the pink sculpture is an emasculating gender fuck, provocative, ironic, co-opting, cynical—you know, Capitol Hill.

One of the reasons the sculpture was poorly received, I think, is that Ross used dippy clichés throughout his presentation. After thinking about it, it’s not the concept that irks me—my initial shock at the fighter jets has transformed, as he promised the crowd it would—but rather how the shapes interact with the rest of the station. An animation of the escalator trip shows the hanging components of the sculpture blocked and then revealed in pieces. The bits of metal end up looking like space junk.

As a side note: Sound Transit reps touted this light-rail line as linking the three highest population districts of the city (downtown, the Hill, and the U-District), but that’s slightly disingenuous. The north end of the line terminates on the southeast corner of the UW campus, next to Husky stadium—1.2 miles from NE 45th Street and The Ave, which is the residential and economic center of the neighborhood.

RSS icon Comments


Is the design a done deal?

Posted by Patrick McGrath | April 4, 2008 11:42 AM

I thought Ellen Forney was doing the art for this station.

Posted by DOUG. | April 4, 2008 11:42 AM

Sorry, I skimmed over the part about the "democratic process." Never mind.

Posted by Patrick McGrath | April 4, 2008 11:45 AM

I had exactly the same reaction: I was loving it, and loving it more and more and more, until I got to the freaking jet.

First of all, as you point out, it's uglier than shit. Even (especially?) the hardest-core military jet aficionado is going to hate the hell out of it.

But more importantly, it's STOOPID. Jets, military or otherwise, DO NOT REPRESENT CAPITOL HILL.

This asshole, and asshole is the perfect word for him, with the way he puts his name on there in giant letters, and the way he fucking GOOGLED "I love Seattle because", whatever his merits as an artist are, is fundamentally unequipped to perform the task he has been assigned. He's like a dog trying to build a clock; he's just out of it.

Represent Seattle? Why? The station is in Seattle, but so are several others. What's different about them? Why is a jet on Capitol Hill, and not the U District? He has no clue, because he doesn't know ANYTHING about any of the neighborhoods here and it hasn't even occurred to him to find out.

Couldn't it at least have been a commercial jet, which is at least the kind of plane they actually build in the region? Boeing makes military stuff, sure -- but mostly not around here. And Boeing is a Chicago company, not Seattle. Military jets represent "Seattle" in about the same way that "Barbecue" represents Brainerd, Massachusetts.

As for the other stuff: rain? Are you fucking serious, dude? You came up with RAIN? That is INCREDIBLY LAME.

God damn it. I'd rather see a bunch of representational statues of old white men with beards than this crap. If it gets built, I hope it gets vandalized beyond recognition within hours of opening.

Posted by Fnarf | April 4, 2008 11:47 AM

Wow - talk about completely misreading your audience. That design is terrible, and I do hope that the fighter jet is removed. It's a big stretch to ask for an ironic reading of the art to say that it's got a Capitol Hill vibe.

OTOH, by 2016 Cap Hill will be completely different and it wouldn't surprise me if the future residents of this neighborhood would enjoy that kind of dreck.

Posted by genevieve | April 4, 2008 11:54 AM

I have always had a big problem with the 2030 date. I will be really old in 2030 and you want me to put up with major shit on Broadway for something that will reach its prime in 2030?

Posted by Gay Seattle | April 4, 2008 11:55 AM

Why wasn't an artist from capitol hill chosen in the first place? That seems fucking stupid to begin with.

But fighter jets? Really? I don't care how deconstructed the end result is... it's just a pointless and weak concept in the first place.

Posted by Dan | April 4, 2008 11:57 AM

That's hefty design research right there, googling "I love Seattle because."

Posted by Katelyn | April 4, 2008 11:59 AM

Dominick, you did a good job of presenting the artist's point of view and I get it but even in pink broken jet fighters will tend to remind me of exploded jet fighters and thus: dead pilots, dead soldiers, dead civilians and bombed cities, not to mention those icons of divisiveness, The Blue Angels. I'm not sure I want to go through all that every morning on my way to work. I would use the train twice daily to get to my job at UW. I wonder if he considered dismembering a heron, that would go over just as well here in Seattle. I think there needs to be some rethinking. Public art is always problematic and some pieces really end up driving the public mad, Richard Serra's Leaning Wall at the jacob Javits building became one of the most hated pieces of public art ever simply due to its placement. In itelf it was a tremendous work but it irritated every harried worker who had to get around it to get to work. Thanks for bring this up, it will be an interesting discussion.

Posted by inkweary | April 4, 2008 12:00 PM

The image of a plane breaking up in mid air would most freak me out in an airport, but it doesn't take too much imagination to transfer the thought of the exploding tube shapes of the plane to the though of the train I'm about to ride into a tunnel exploding down there. Subway trips aren't that scary, but who wants to think about the destruction of machines when you're about to trust your life to a machine?

What about flying pink and blue dildos? Everyone likes the penis shape, and in Seattle we can be honest about that.

Posted by elenchos | April 4, 2008 12:05 PM

fnarf, boeing moved to chicago, but boeing is fucking seattle to the core.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | April 4, 2008 12:05 PM

Nothing says "welcome to capitol hill" like one of the blue angels exploding on impact with Seattle's official bird.

Posted by monkey | April 4, 2008 12:07 PM

if he would have talked with any three people from capitol hill first, he wouldn't have made this mistake.

Posted by infrequent | April 4, 2008 12:10 PM

Not buying the hype. In fact, if you see an architect wearing chunky black eyeglassses I would say run far away very quickly.

Big huge beams looming overhead are claustrophobic and obscure that upper space anyway. This defeats the whole purpose of having an innovative space shape up there. Which is a worthless goal anyway, who gives a shit. It's a train station, something we go through, we don't wait there half an hour we get in and out in minutes. The standard semi cricular vaulted-ceiling subway stations (without huge beams looming over our heads) all over the world work just fine and I have never, ever heard someone say "gee that metro station in DC/PAris/London sucked -- it didn't have huge beams loooming over my head and I wasn't PROVOKED at all!"

Much less, "hey that Montreal system sucks -- did you know the architect 40 years ago didn't wear black?"

The fighter jet ugliness cost $550,000. How much is the station cost increased thru one-off design? Another $5 million? $10 million? $1.5 billion to add two stations is quite a lot normally you would get a whole rail line with multiple stations for that much. I'd rather see the money going toward putting in another station or another train or towards more trackage, or something of value.

Posted by unPC | April 4, 2008 12:10 PM

You could make a giant dildo jammed into the Space Needle and title it "Boeing fucking Seattle to the core."

Posted by elenchos | April 4, 2008 12:13 PM

I agree with Fnarf, this smacks of a first-year art student who doesn't know the first thing about conceptualizing a piece.

For instance, if he wanted to show transformation from aggressive to gentle forms, how about actually transforming the form of the jet? Rather than just cutting it up and separating the pieces. That says more explosion/dismemberment/entropy than gentle transformation to me. Instead transform the jet wings into bird wings, and dur, you've got it. (But then, I am exceedingly literal in my artistic tastes.)

I do disagree with Fnarf that Boeing is a Chicago company. Visit the Museum of Flight sometime and learn about the local history, man.

Posted by Emily | April 4, 2008 12:15 PM

BA - yes, but with several large caveats.

Boeing is not, and never has been, "Capitol Hill to the core". If anything, Capitol Hill is best traditionally associated with the automobile, not the jet, what with the Pike/Pine corridor being Seattle's first Auto Row. Not that I'm suggesting a car-themed artwork -- though a dismembered car would more substantially reflect the ethos of the Hill and of the subway itself.

In addition, as I mentioned before, the planes that Boeing builds in the Seattle area are commercial jets, not military ones, and have been since WWII ended. Is this artist trying to represent "Seattle" or "Wichita"?

Posted by Fnarf | April 4, 2008 12:16 PM

wow...Mike Ross is an assmunch.

Capitol Hill is the LAST fucking place that would be represented by a motherfucking MILITARY jet.

Aviation/Boeing is the OLD Seattle. If you want something to represent CURRENT Seattle, it would be wiser to go the computer/ecommerce/coffee route or something watery or at least reference grunge music; it's dated but more relevant to Capitol Hill.

I'd take a stupid "Fraser" hommage over this tired shit.

The pictures aren't great, but the design for this thing isn't very good either. Cold and white and sterile. This is Seattle; it needs to be warm and have texture.

God, I hate idiotic design/architecture, (meaning design that refuses to take into consideration it's surroundings or place in a community) and the dumbass developers who commission it.

Posted by michael strangeways | April 4, 2008 12:18 PM

well, i'm not even fond of the way the parts are balanced. the breaks and the pillars do not work well together. not only that, but the angle of the rear compromises the strong image of the plane too much, making it look more like separate, unrelated pieces.

then again, i don't even like the cars suspended at sam.

Posted by infrequent | April 4, 2008 12:20 PM

I agree, Michael. Don't laugh, but I think they should go take a look at the flagship REI store for design ideas.

Posted by Fnarf | April 4, 2008 12:21 PM

hahahaha! I really want to see a Frasier homage down there now.

Posted by one block away | April 4, 2008 12:21 PM

Excellent recap - I was in the back and we were heckling the guy, artiste, because it became obvious he knew nothing about Seattle from his first few phrases.

Fighter jets are killing people all over the world as we post - not abstract, not artsy fartsy - only death and misery. Iraq, Darfur, Turkey vs. the Kurds, Palestine to name just a we post in comfort and luxe... safe and academic.

Fighter Jets are simply gut twisting, the modern massive death machines of warfare. They are the high priced killing tools of the generals and political/corporate war mongers. Go away, oh go away with this concept.

Sound Transit needs to pay attention to the community/neighborhood.

By the way, no public bathrooms are planned in the giant station, teeming with people most hours of the day. "Expensive to maintain" - I was told after.

Does reality ever intrude among bureaucrats? Oh, I forgot, the pissoirs might be used for a random horn dog blow job - but killing machine are fine.

Posted by John | April 4, 2008 12:22 PM

That is fucking hilarious. I don't think this guy could have come up with a more fucked up submission if he'd tried in purpose.

Maybe he's actually doubly clever and the piece isn't the sculpture at all--the piece is actually the presentation to the board--in which case he's hit a home run.

On a technical note, the model he's used is of a Northrup F-5. If he really wants a local angle, he needs to cut up a mutherfuckin B-52 (which WOULD be pretty cool!)

Posted by Westside forever | April 4, 2008 12:25 PM

If he want's to reflect Capital Hill,

It needs to be a 100 foot long cock with a jizz fountain at the end, some lame AIDS memorial, and two dried up vaginas rubbing up against a rusted out subaru Forester.

Of course, you need a needle exchange, methadone dispensory, and a ventilation system that fills the air with the odor of piss, shit, and smugness.

Posted by ecce homo | April 4, 2008 12:32 PM

Katlyn @9 got the other perspective.

Given Seafair and the Blue Angels that appear here every year, the installation of fighter jets broken into pieces is really very morbid and ominous. I hate the Blue Angels with a passion but don't wish them a firey, flesh dismembering, demise.

Posted by cracked | April 4, 2008 12:32 PM

First time ever I've agreed with ecce. The meeting and people's reactions here are the worst liberal stereotypes I've ever heard. And here I thought I had sane neighbors.

People: The objection should be that it's fucking ugly, not that it has anything to do with war. Not everything fits one of your pet causes.

Posted by F | April 4, 2008 12:38 PM

Dude’s from San Francisco. To give him an idea of his folly of his research method, I googled “I love San Francisco because.”

Hit #3 was: “A hooker for every Senator.”

Posted by BB | April 4, 2008 12:39 PM

#26, death is a pet cause?

I do agree that ecco homo has a great idea though. Can we fire Mike Ross and have ecco homo design his project instead?

Posted by one block away | April 4, 2008 12:45 PM

This would be a more appropriate instillation at a train station next to the museum of flight. I guess the artist thought painting them pink would make the display easier to swallow on the Hill.

Posted by elswinger | April 4, 2008 12:52 PM

@2 - Did anyone up above answer your question/comment? I don't think so.

I believe Ellen is doing the art for the "west entrance by SCCC under Broadway, to the station."

She put a mock-up on her site:

Too bad she's not doing the main stuff mentioned above.

Posted by stinkbug | April 4, 2008 1:07 PM

That artist sounds awful, I send my apologies from SF.

Dismantle the Fun Forest. Present your favorite chunks of it at each station as art. Bronze some of the animatrons from Flight to Mars, put them on a granite base outside the station... viola. Better yet, paint the inside of the station to look like a human vein where we can imagine the car plunging itself deeply - an euphorically - into the side of The Hill, time and time again.

Not sure what else there is to say about letting design happen democratically - I suppose that NEEDS to be the way, but it rarely results in inspired design. Regardless, I'll add this: make sure those bike racks don't encourage cross traffic with the turnstiles, but keep them at least within a sight line of the booth attendant.

Posted by Dougsf | April 4, 2008 1:08 PM

It should at least have been a Transformer jet ...

That said, your comment on the soil is true of much of Seattle, except there is an actual ridge of harder rock from the cut thru Capitol Hill - which makes this one of the few places where tunneling is a Good Choice.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 4, 2008 1:09 PM

@32: God, just shut up. Seriously. Shut. The fuck. Up. About. Shit. You don't. Understand.

Posted by Greg | April 4, 2008 1:22 PM

Nothing says "Fremont" like a decommissioned nuclear missile.

This art is a classic swords-into-plowshares statement. Remember the Guess Who: "i don't need your war machines.". Right. Turn 'em into art instead.

Posted by c'mon people | April 4, 2008 1:24 PM

Who would have thought that among everything else, Will is an expert in Geology and underground engineering?

You sir, are simply amazing.

Can you also perform a four way around the world AND make a lobster nuburg at the same time?

Posted by ecce homo | April 4, 2008 1:25 PM

Good God. You people really ARE uptight! Whatever happened to being pro-art?

Posted by Jason Josephes | April 4, 2008 1:26 PM

I agree with unPC. Let's question the entire budget for the art installation, not just what this would represent to people.

The 1% rule when the prices of these transit projects keep soaring is becoming a huge amount of coin that we could put to other more needy uses. If the point is to seed artists with public funds, then they should be local artists who will further contribute to the communities in other ways, but to blow huge sums of public money on questionable, political statements is obscene.

Whatever happened to commissioning something for these public spaces that was simply geometrically aesthetically pleasing to the eye? These ego trip pieces in public spaces are getting old and more often than not, insulting.

Posted by Daniel K | April 4, 2008 1:28 PM

@18 - "This is Seattle; it needs to be warm and have texture."

Well, it is being built next to Broadway, so give it a few years and I'm sure it will accumulate plenty of "texture" in the form of shitty graffiti and discarded drug parapanelia.

Posted by Hernandez | April 4, 2008 1:31 PM

Since when does pro-ANYTHING mean that you have to like ALL aspects of that thing?


Posted by michael strangeways | April 4, 2008 1:39 PM

F @26: none of my criticisms had anything to do with being anti-war.

Posted by Fnarf | April 4, 2008 1:46 PM


It's not always about you.

Not everyone spends all of their waking life absorbed by your sparklingly annoying prolific posts.

Posted by ecce homo | April 4, 2008 2:02 PM

Not everything is about you Fnarf...

Posted by ecce homo | April 4, 2008 2:03 PM

I'm kinda surprised more people aren't showing support for the sculpture. To me it's more of an anti-war message about transforming the world from a place of war into a place of art and peace. That message is totally spot-on for Capitol Hill. Plus, I just like it because it looks cool.

Posted by newsaholic | April 4, 2008 2:07 PM

I like the sculpture concept only because it pisses so many people off.

That said, 2016? That's dissapointing. 7 years from light rail starting service to add the next station. That suck.

Posted by Trouble | April 4, 2008 2:13 PM

Trouble @ 44, one way to speed up these projects is to eliminate bloat and excess, such as this public art project, and put those resources to work on the basics.

One day we might actually realize these things are expensive, resource and time consuming, and could be addressed after the station has been created and people can actually contemplate an art installation from the perspective of a finished, existing structure, rather than one that won't be completed for another 8 years.

Posted by Daniel K | April 4, 2008 2:26 PM

#45 spending the art money now - when you can grab it

you would not make a good bureaucrat - they watch money and shuffle papers and pretend to work - all for bloated pay checks

of course - at the point you might need some art work - it is not like the Gates fortune will have dried up - or all the other private art billions in this town

Posted by John | April 4, 2008 2:32 PM

@2 - Thanks for remembering me. I got an apology from Barbara Luecke, Sound Transit's (awesome) public art manager, for forgetting to mention at the meeting that I'm slated to do the artwork for tunnel from the west entrance (by SCCC) to the station.

Lots of people are upset about Mike Ross’s deconstructed fighter planes, which makes sense: Capitol Hill = liberals and pacifists, history of peace marches, etc., and how do military planes fit in here? I frankly haven't figured out my opinion of his proposal either, which means his piece is thought-provoking, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I went out for beers with him (and his girlfriend and a pack of Sound Transit people) after the meeting and we talked about the project, and what he was thinking in putting that sculpture together.

FYI, there's some precedent for deconstructed war machinery in Seattle - Magnuson Park has those half-buried nuclear submarines that are arranged to suggest orcas (though yeah, in a different neighborhood).

His intention in breaking the planes into pieces, arranging them into a curvy shape, and painting them pink was described as “emasculating” and “transformative,” both by him and by David Hewitt, Sound Transit’s (also awesome) station architect. Mike hopes to suggest the fragility in strength, also an interesting concept. I asked him later about the color choice and he said it’s not new - he got the idea from a friend who paints military equipment in pink bubbles, and a group in London who painted a tank pink:

Mike explained his thought process more eloquently over beers, I think. For his presentation at SCCC, he started with the organic and more touchy-feely aspects of the design (clouds, birds, brushstrokes) and so the finale - “They’ll be fighter planes!” – was kind of a shock. It probably would’ve gone over better (for me, at least) if he’d started out the other way around: “They’re fighter planes! Think Boeing and the Blue Angels. But I’m dismembering them and changing their form and meaning.”

I think he did a great job with the limitations of the space – it’s so full of crossbeams and metal mesh that it’d be pretty impossible to see the whole sculpture regardless of what he came up with. That it is intended to be seen in pieces was an interesting solution (one that hopefully will work in real life).

I haven’t come to a conclusion about what I think about his proposal, and I told him that and he was cool about it. I could go on about all we discussed (why there are two jets facing each other: aggression and non-aggression both entail more than one entity; how doing public art is a difficult task; about the documentary he saw recently about Eisenhower coining the term “military-industrial complex” in a speech in 1961, and how horrifying it is that that's what our country has become; how awesome Capitol Hill is) but it’d take way more space than this lo-o-ong comment.

So: fighter planes… dunno… but at the very least, he came up with something that’s not “safe” and totally public art-y, and it's worth thinking about beyond a knee-jerk reaction. Plus he seems like a good guy, for the record.

Posted by Ellen Forney | April 4, 2008 2:32 PM

why don't they just make the wall one big led screen tied a web site where anyone under the sun can send a screed that will decorate the wall with their self-involved screeds?

imagine slog flame wars fading in and out on the wall while you wait for the train downtown.

not only would it cost less than 500k, it would be very capitol hill: narcissistic, smug, connected to the intarwebs, and ultimately totally a waste of time :p

Posted by some dude | April 4, 2008 2:33 PM

...rather than one that won't be completed for another 8 years.

And I would add, so far in advance. Like genevieve @5 said, who knows what the Capitol Hill neighborhood will be like, or even whether the artist will still be alive by then to complete the work.

Posted by Daniel K | April 4, 2008 2:33 PM

(ps - he's from Brooklyn.)

Posted by Ellen Forney | April 4, 2008 2:37 PM

PS - nice guy or not, the idea sucks

and plenty of time to do better

Posted by John | April 4, 2008 2:57 PM

Well, Ms Forney's further information on the artist was interesting but I still don't think this piece makes any sense for the space it's to occupy. What does a vague, hippy-dippy artsy political statement
have to do with Capitol Hill?

oh, wait, I get it...

never mind.

(I still vote for a waxworks montage involving Eddie Vedder, Eddie the Dog from Frasier and the poof from Greys Anatomy, whose name is unfortunately not Eddie or any derivative of it.)

Posted by michael strangeways | April 4, 2008 3:01 PM

#47, but most of the people looking at his art will see it twice a day, five times a week. I sure don't want to see war machinery (deconstructed or not) 10+ times a week. I'd rather take the bus.

PS your design is awesome! I was really impressed.

Posted by poppy | April 4, 2008 3:01 PM

Ellen, love your giant prints, wish I had a bit more money - take charge here - tell them what C. Hill is all about, and it ain't war.

As I remember the ones I like the most, they were nicely suggestive of sexual themes ... talk to the guy from Brooklyn, Mr. Ross. It is OK in Seattle to talk about "potent" in direct sexual context art. No metaphors needed which intersect with war machines.

Posted by Adam | April 4, 2008 3:04 PM
Whatever happened to being pro-art?

What happened is that supporting art in and of itself all too often means supporting incompetent artists and installing garbage in public places.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 4, 2008 3:12 PM


Do you actually live in Seattle?

Or do you enjoy just shooting your mouth off where it doesn't belong or is appreciated.

Posted by ecce homo | April 4, 2008 3:19 PM

It's so depressing to see how SQUARE seattle has become. This is an opportunity to get a really really interesting piece of world-class super cool unique public art. With the construction of the horrible new SAM, you'd think that we would be desperate to get some cutting edge contemporary art in our public space. Regrettably, it would appear that Seattle is not yet world-class enough to understand world-class art. I think you're right about it not representing the neighborhood enough, it's much too cool for Capitol Hill.

Posted by Nicksy | April 4, 2008 3:19 PM

"By the way, no public bathrooms are planned in the giant station, teeming with people most hours of the day. "Expensive to maintain" - I was told after."

Maybe the tops of the beams will serve as public bathrooms for pigeons that find their way into the station.

Posted by tedcom | April 4, 2008 3:20 PM

Wow. When I came up to Seattle, I was always wondering how a region that makes up the majority of the States population, and purports to be the most politically active could get bullied around by the conservative minority, but now that I'm here, I can see why.

There's an interesting overlap between the majority of conservatives and liberals, and that is that they're both prone to knee jerk reactions without thinking any further. They both seem prone to think only within the protocols of their "ideology" and never any further. Stop thinking off the cuff, and look at the sculpture for what it represents.

Yes, it WAS a fighter plane, but what is it now? It's going to be turned into a pink wave, broken apart below the feet of Seattle, going from flying in the sky as a gigantic symbol of American military might and force, and emasculated into a worm, living below the earth out of sight of most, no longer able to project american "dominance." I understand people are worried about the money going to the DoD, but I have to ask, do you pay income taxes? If you answered yes, you support the DoD. If you TRULY cared about not supporting the DoD, you wouldn't pay taxes. Anything else is just a cop-out.

It seems that if liberals in Seattle are good at one thing, it's being holier than each other. Honestly, so what if it was a fighter jet? We're tearing it apart, making it something benign, thought-provoking and in an odd way, optimistic. When, and if, the day comes that peace reigns upon this Earth, the weapons will be turned into plowshares, and what are we going to do? Not take those plowshares because they used to be weapons? If anything, we should support more efforts to tear apart and break these archaic symbols of war into art.

Honestly Seattle, you're disgusting at times. I can see why the conservatives beat you down every chance they get. They are concerned with getting things done while at the same time following their ideology. On the other hand, all you do is sit their and debate what's more "holy" and "PC" and lose sight of the fact that you are losing when you should be winning.

Look, maybe I'm just ranting because after seeing other cities, there's NO good reason that Seattle should be as it is. Our lack of vision, our obsession with being holier than thou has ultimately tied our feet and prevented us from being all we could be. This art sculpture is ultimately proof of this, as it's this debate from those who are reacting off the cuff (OMG ITS A TOOL OF WAR!!!!) and those who think further and see how neat this sculpture is.

Posted by Confused Anthony | April 4, 2008 3:26 PM

"But to its credit, the pink sculpture is an emasculating gender fuck, provocative, ironic, co-opting, cynical—you know, Capitol Hill."

God that's one boring and limited interpretation.

Posted by mikeisgod | April 4, 2008 3:29 PM


Yes, I live in Seattle.

You are the one no one wants to hear from. You are the one shooting your mouth off where you don't belong and where it's not appreciated. You are a fucking maggot. Eat shit and die.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 4, 2008 3:37 PM

Here's an idea for art for the station: paint every beam with a scene of Seattle citizens attending a different Capitol Hill Station Sound Transit meeting over the history of the agency. Very Seattle. Ross's piece would appear in one.

Posted by the vice president of nebraska | April 4, 2008 3:59 PM

"what we can become" - give me a break. I have traveled all over the world - lived in a half dozen world centers, London, Paris, Geneva, Moscow ...

Seattle is the Best. This idea of art is juvenile and shallow, and a cliche above all. It stinks and we need to start over. Let Mr. Ross go back to the Nevada desert for another ten years or so. Someone can install it in the Down Town Library which really lacks inside drama.

Posted by Kenneth | April 4, 2008 4:53 PM

Dude, keshmeshi, it's going to be OK.

Posted by w7ngman | April 4, 2008 5:16 PM

@47: that's the whole problem. The Blue Angels AREN'T SEATTLE, and they certainly aren't Capitol Hill. They fly here once a year, but they are based in FUCKING FLORIDA.

Likewise, Boeing's military jets are not made here, so the "Boeing connection" is similarly illiterate and wrong.

Maybe the art doesn't have to evoke Capitol Hill or even Seattle. But, since that's what he SAYS HE SET OUT TO DO, it's disenheartening that he came up with such trite representations.

Anti-war? Pish. Pink tanks in London? Well, gee, London's a NATIONAL CAPITAL, now isn't it? And wouldn't it be more interesting to do something original?

Gah. You might as well paint leaping salmon on the wall. I'm still rooting for devastating vandalism if this gets approved.

Your stuff, on the other hand, is both local and awesome. I would make special trips just to see Big Fucking Hands there (it's one of my all-time favorite images).

Posted by Fnarf | April 4, 2008 5:34 PM

Maybe she could borrow some of Roy's extra dots until she gets famous.

Posted by ben day | April 4, 2008 5:45 PM

Really people, even Seattle isn't going to create a monument to fighter jets and pilots being destroyed in flight.

One person's '“emasculating” and “transformative,”' is another person's glorification of US military personnel being shot out of the sky. Can the SLOG get more disassociated from the society around it? Might as well talk about having an S&M themed soft core porn exhibit as the center piece.

Plus, it looks fucking stupid.

Why not just put the fighter jet on the platform and have the cockpit be a planter? At least the DFHs had a sense of humanity.

Posted by cracked | April 4, 2008 9:26 PM


Who are YOU again? A little fly trying desperately to be relevant.

The only time you post is to call me names.

At least Fnarf is funny about it. You just act like a child.

Posted by ecce homo | April 4, 2008 9:53 PM

Shorter ecce:

I'm a pathetic, little bitch who accuses others of my own shortcomings. I don't know how to do anything but contradict myself and display my stupidity. I act like a child because I'm unlovable and unfuckable and I'm determined to make everyone suffer for it.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 4, 2008 10:04 PM

#61 Ease up a bit on your need for approval and conformity - life is a bit easier

You are up tight about nothing - opinions not like yours, framed as you would not frame them

Differences and a bit of wit are the only reasons to read most of these posts

the homo guy is a classic contrarian, a fairly rare species

you are an up tight anxiety queen, too common at the end of the week

lighten up - and just what do you think of the art, that is the issue isn't it?

Posted by Fred | April 4, 2008 10:11 PM

I'm with you, kesh (can I call you kesh?). All the way.

Posted by Fnarf | April 4, 2008 10:31 PM


I thought you would have taken your geritol and your sids bath already.

Oh, and Keshmeshi doesn't like me. I don't know how I will sleep tonight.

It looks like I have my own little internet stalker.

Posted by ecce homo | April 4, 2008 10:46 PM

Oh and Kesh,

I just figured out why you got so much sand in your vagina:

You have a crush on Erica Barnett. But you have two huge problems. She isn't a lesbian, and you are too fat.

Posted by ecce homo | April 4, 2008 10:51 PM

derailed! derailed! refocus on incredibly important topic at hand, people!

Posted by helix | April 4, 2008 11:05 PM

Shorter ecce at 73:

I'm a fat motherfucking bastard crouching in my mother's basement. Of course I sleep well at night after I pass out. A steady diet of Cheetos and Ding Dongs isn't good for the stamina you know.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 4, 2008 11:24 PM


Yes, of course you may.

And, on that note, I bid everyone, including ecce hobo, good night.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 4, 2008 11:31 PM

Please delete #75

It's offensive and off topic.

Posted by ecce homo | April 4, 2008 11:37 PM

DOMINIC - Hewitt also designed the dog at the old Tower Records site. Don't let smooth talk mess up your sharp eye for meaningful architecture.

Posted by steve | April 5, 2008 1:13 AM

Why was he picked?

Posted by nauseated QFC shopper | April 6, 2008 10:19 AM

@ 14: "How much is the station cost increased thru one-off design?"

Only 1% is spent on art. Boring underground tunnels is expensive. You really want Montreal's dated Quebecois crap, DC's dimly lit prefab concrete (essence of existential angst), or NY's 100 year old 'skeleton could fall on you at any second' design?

I like it. It's colorful, it's wavy like our water and the logos that recall it (e.g. Sound Transit), and it kind of looks like a Chinese dragon which fits Seattle. This is based on the photos here; I came to the meeting too late to see the art part of the presentation. Alternatively, we could have a CapHill version of Hammering Man--the strapping lad jerking off on a Broadway sidewalk. The fountain idea is just icing on the cake.

LOL @ 24!

Posted by Jon Morgan | April 6, 2008 10:12 PM

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