Public Art

Art empowers people to better to understand their communities and their lives. It increases the liveliness and vitality of a city, and even improves property value. In the more than 40 years since the signing of the public art ordinance, the Office of Arts & Culture has invested in creating vibrant public areas through public art. Seattle was one of the first cities in the United States to adopt a percent-for-art ordinance in 1973. Our public art program integrates artworks and the ideas of artists into a variety of public settings, advancing Seattle's reputation as a cultural center for innovation and creativity.

The program specifies that 1% of eligible city capital improvement project funds be set aside for the commission, purchase and installation of artworks in a variety of settings. By providing opportunities for individuals to encounter art in parks, libraries, community centers, on roadways, bridges and other public venues, we enrich residents’ daily lives while giving voice to artists.

Two public art projects received national recognition from Americans for the Arts Public Art Network’s 2016 Year in Review. Year in Review highlights the most successful, innovative, and exciting public art projects and programs in the United States. The two award-winning projects are Public Art Boot Camp, a training program for emerging public artists; and ALL RISE, an 18 month-long temporary art program.

Public Art
The King and Queen of Rainier Beach: by Peter Reiquam

Permanently Sited Artwork, Temporary Projects & Activations

The City’s public art collection includes more than 450 permanently sited and integrated works and nearly 3,000 portable works. Artworks are commissioned through a public process, with artists selected by panels comprised of professional visual artists along with community and city representatives evaluate the artist applicants. The city stewards and maintains its artworks through an ongoing program of coordinated conservation activities, which include inspections, major restorative work and routine maintenance.

Public Art
Union: by Martha Jackson Jarvis

This year, the Office of Arts & Culture made several portable works purchases to add to the City’s collection of art that is displayed in municipal buildings. Portable Works purchases included a Seattle Public Utilities Native American Artwork purchase comprised of 25 works by 13 artists; a Seattle Public Utilities Cultural Perspectives artwork purchase comprised of 66 artworks by 45 artists including 40 artists of color; and a Seattle City Light Portable works purchase comprised of 56 artworks by 36 artists.

Public Art
Fittings: by Rebecca Cummins


Public Art
David Prunell: by Laura Stokes

The City maintains five galleries on the City’s municipal campus. These galleries showcase the City’s collection, display new and developing works and promote the work of emerging artists. Each gallery presented multiple exhibitions and residencies over the course of 2016. City Hall and Anne Focke Gallery:

The Ethnic Gallery featured exhibitions by Sharon Egretta Sutton, Naoko Morisawa, Jazz Brown and Susan Emery.

Seattle Municipal Tower Gallery featured the exhibitions from Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light portable works purchase.

Seattle Presents Gallery presented Dialogues in Art: Exhibitions on Racial Injustice, a yearlong series of exhibitions that explored artists' and curators' interpretations of racial injustice and systemic racism impacting Black and African-American people throughout America. The exhibitions showcased and uplifted the voices of underinvested and marginalized communities while creating a safe space for dialogue. The series of six exhibitions featured residencies, installations and curatorial projects by Jasmine Brown, Barry Johnson, Mark Mitchell, Shaun Scott, Elizabeth Spavento and Xenobia Bailey.

Conservation and Maintenance of a Public Art Collection

The city of Seattle public art collection includes over 450 permanently-sited artworks comprised of a broad range of media and conservation requirements. Working closely with artists and consultants, conservation staff fulfill both preventive and vital restorative treatments each year, concentrating on best practices and sustainability.

Public Art

In 2016, staff and consultants completed essential conservation treatments on 28 works of art, including electrical and lighting restoration projects for artist Perri Howard’s Moment to Moment at Fire Station #21 in Greenwood, George Tsutakawa’s Heaven, Man, Earth in the International District, Daniel Lee Laskarin’s Highpoint in the High Point neighborhood and Franklin Joyce’s South Park Lights at the South Park branch library.

Public Art

Additional projects involved working with arborists to protect and maintain visibility for Chuck Greening’s Meridian Archway in Wallingford and Kurt Kiefer’s Belltown artwork Street Treatment. On South Lake Union, staff completed conservation of Maggie Smith’s Spurline installation, and on Patrick Marold’s Confluence Project in the Maple Leaf neighborhood.

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