There’s an enormous new open space in the heart of the city that might take you by surprise the next time you stroll by Denny and Stewart in the Cascade neighborhood. Where Greyhound Line’s bus maintenance facilities once stood is now a gravel lot − but the space is far from desolate.
It’s now a community space on the verge of becoming a stage for dance, sculpture, and the unexpected. It’s part of ALL RISE, an 18-month series of art and performance in the space that will ultimately become the Denny substation erected by City Light. ALL RISE is a collaboration between Portland, Ore. curators Meagan Atiyeh and Elizabeth Spavento, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and Seattle City Light.
Art and Engagement
Art is not new to this location. In 2013, young artists from Urban Artworks and neighborhood volunteers created a colorful mural encircling the fence around the site, now installed on nearby Minor Avenue. ALL RISE’s take on the mural is different – a poem by artist/poet Arne Pihl called “Here.” that delineates the history and future of the neighborhood in large black signs around the space and monuments that front Denny Way.
Next up: The community is invited to engage in an April 12 workshop called "Exercises for Rebel Artists," facilitated by Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Michele Ceballos-Michot of La Pocha Nostra.
And that’s just the beginning. When dancers, visual artists and writers focus their energies and gifts in this fleeting time and space, you can expect something you've never seen before.
Randy Engstrom, director of the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, said, “The Office of Arts & Culture is pleased to present ALL RISE. We are very interested in presenting temporary artworks that are intriguing and engaging for the neighborhood and allow us to experiment in ways we are unable to with more permanent projects.”
After the flurry of art and performance passes from the site in 2015, the underlying reason for all this change will come to fruition: The Denny Substation. It will be the first such construction for City Light in 30 years, fitting into a dense, largely residential neighborhood on the former Greyhound site. The utility has never had to build a substation in such close quarters before, but electrical transmission and distribution is a vital piece of the pie in terms of helping SLU − and Seattle − thrive.
“We understood many years ago that for the city to attract the business sectors it wanted in South Lake Union − high tech, biotech, health care − the power infrastructure there had to be expanded,” said Michael Clark, program manager for the City Light project.
Clark said that redevelopment of the SLU area succeeded more dramatically and swiftly than ever imagined. “The importance of the Denny substation and network now is supporting the explosion of growth there, so that power and reliability needs in the rest of the city are not negatively impacted,” he said. “We’re building a reliable power infrastructure to support customers into the future.”
City Light has actively sought engagement with Cascade, SLU and downtown residents on the substation’s design, and Seattle artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo and California artist Ned Kahn will develop permanent artwork that connects the facility to the surrounding neighborhood. But Clark said City Light also wanted to bring something positive to the neighborhood while they wait for construction to begin − which is how the ALL RISE project launched.
“We worked with the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture on ALL RISE to bring a unique art experience to the space. People are curious about it, contacting us, commenting on it. It will be exciting to watch it unfold,” Clark said.
“The series of events planned for ALL RISE is intriguing,” said the Office of Art & Culture’s Engstrom. “We’re encouraging the neighborhood to keep their eyes on the lot for new revelations over the next year.”
All exhibitions and events are free. For more information, contact ALL RISE at allriseseattlegmail.com.