February 19

On View in SLU

A public art walk featuring 21 different commissioned works makes South Lake Union one of the city’s best bets for art lovers.

Take a walk in South Lake Union and two things are immediately clear — there’s a buzz of innovation in the air amongst the office spaces and research institutions, and it feels like there is art everywhere you look. The public art in this neighborhood connects residents, employees, and visitors through conversation and community.

Installations like Mirall near Westlake Avenue North and Mercer, Three Women in front of Whole Foods Market, and Nebulous at Ninth and Harrison Street are larger than life and easy to spot in high traffic areas, but there is more art to see if you know where to look.

Public art, Mirall, along Mercer Street in SLU.
Crowds entering and exiting Whole Foods Market mingling among public art installation 'Three Women.'

Thankfully, Vulcan Real Estate has put out a handy guide to its commissioned public art works in the city. It includes the 21 pieces in South Lake Union, plus additional works in Yesler and the Central area.

“Public art is designed to connect the community to the built environment and promote engagement with public spaces,” said Greg Bell, chief curator at Vulcan, Inc. “To achieve this goal, Vulcan Real Estate works with diverse artists using a myriad of mediums to source artworks that are site-specific, integrate into the surrounding built environment and engage the viewer.”

While each piece has something unique and interesting to offer, viewing the art as a collection is an experience in itself. Aside from descriptions of each piece, the guide includes a useful map that features each of the 21 installations. Check it out to find more subtle pieces like Dangos located along the Eighth Avenue woonerf, or more hidden works like Island Treehouse in the courtyard at the Sitka Apartments (1255 Harrison Street).

Public art 'Island Treehouse' in the courtyard of the Sitka Apartments.

“Every artwork displayed in South Lake Union has a connection to its location, each is site-specific and designed to elevate the public use of the space,” Bell notes. “When you begin to explore the collection as a whole, the meaning of each piece in the context of its setting in SLU becomes even more clear,” Bell said.

Read more about Vulcan Real Estate’s public art walk here, or download the guide and get out and enjoy public art in SLU.

Story by Ethan Chung and photographs courtesy of Vulcan Real Estate.


Bluebill

Boeing’s first plane flies from Lake Union in 1916