Dedication next week for artwork under Spokane Street Viaduct

If you have driven the newly reopened lower Spokane Street, westbound under the newly widened Spokane Street Viaduct, you have seen the designs painted on the columns – city-commissioned art that’s part of the project. The city has just announced plans for a formal dedication:

After three years of construction, the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project is nearly complete. At a public dedication scheduled for 9 a.m, Friday, Nov. 16, a unique set of artworks will be unveiled, along with new sidewalks and landscaping in the lower roadway reconstruction. Santa Monica, Calif. artist team merge conceptual design’s (Claudia Reisenberger and Franka Diehnelt) artwork, SODO, is a vast visual narrative that catalogues more than 200 years of SoDo’s history. Created in partnership with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), the artwork consists of stenciled and barcode designs painted on the concrete columns that hold up the existing and new portions of the Spokane Street Viaduct between Sixth Avenue South and East Marginal Way South. Nine different color and image schemes create separate zones that recollect the natural and cultural history of the area, the industries that flourished there, and wildlife that inhabited the site. In total, more than 500 column faces were painted.

As a way to distinguish and identify each theme within the artwork, the artists created their own unique barcodes encrypted with the name of each field (e.g., Another Man’s Treasure) for the project. The striped barcodes on the columns (viewed from westbound South Spokane Street) visually play with the corridor’s perspective beneath the viaduct and line up to create a whole barcode pattern when viewed from specific points along the roadway. The nine themes in SODO include (east to west): Another Man’s Treasure, Forest of Stilts, Duck-Duck-Goose, Heavy Metal, Moved Mountain, Slowheel, Cuts and Hides and Liquid Land.

(The city quotes the artists as saying:) “In the last 200 years SoDo has experienced a dramatic transformation from tidal flats to industrial area to a center of warehousing, packaging and distribution of goods.

“In our artwork we are using the over-arching image of barcodes to “label” the many layers that constitute SoDo’s history. The use of barcodes points to SoDo’s present reality, while the information encoded in the barcodes refers to a much deeper identity hidden beneath the surface: rather than just naming a product, the encoded words evoke stories/history related to the site.

Graphically, the barcodes serve as the medium to weave together the several layers of the site’s identity into one narrative. In addition to the barcodes, each of the stories is represented in an image/product, condensed into a simple icon. These icons are used to create patterns that visually interact with the barcodes. A simple text layer is added to loosely hint at the stories behind the patterns.”

We’re checking with the city to see exactly where along the lower roadway the ceremony will be held, and will add that information here and in our calendar listing when we get it.

ADDED 8:41 AM: The answer – “under the Spokane St Viaduct just east of 1st Ave. S.”

14 Replies to "Dedication next week for artwork under Spokane Street Viaduct"

  • CMP November 8, 2012 (5:38 am)

    Are the barrels that were left at First Ave and Spokane ever going to be removed by SDOT?? It’s like the construction crew just packed up and didn’t bother to finish with the eastbound left turn lane to get on Spokane St. from southbound First Ave. Sloppy. Also, what’s with the new signal timing at the First Ave offramp from the West Seattle Bridge? It used to be that traffic from the offramp and Spokane would get a green light at the same time, now it just seems to turn green for either the Spokane traffic, or the offramp traffic, but there’s been no pattern to it that I can detect. Quite the oddball project so hopefully it will all come to an end with this art dedication ceremony!

  • CC November 8, 2012 (5:56 am)

    While I appreciate SDOT included art as an element of the project; and as someone who drove thru the wretched construction every morning for 2 yrs and thought “hey, they should put some art under all this concrete”; I’m bummed to learn they did not use a local artist! With all the talent here? They sub contracted to sunny Santa Monica?

  • LongTimer WS November 8, 2012 (7:40 am)

    Agree with CC. Should have used local talent.

  • Neighbor November 8, 2012 (8:10 am)

    How sad for all the local artists. How sad for all the drivers. Perhaps a local would have understood the project better.

  • jw November 8, 2012 (8:11 am)

    The first piece of art they need to finish is that half-painted firehose connection just to the left of the Hwy 99 north onramp coming off the WS Bridge. I see it every morning and want to step out and finish painting it, but I don’t have any orange paint and I’d probably get hit by RapidRide.

  • SillyGoose November 8, 2012 (8:20 am)

    I certainly hope they have a crew that will come and retouch it weekely after the graffiti loosers tag it.

  • MB November 8, 2012 (8:40 am)

    So there was time and money spent on art underneath, but we can’t even get rid of all the left over lane line changes, etc. that create a confusing series on random lines all over on the upper part (particularly westbound)?? I don’t get it and I’m an artist, so not usually one to complain about such a thing. I think the art is cool, but I wish the same amount of effort was spent on the actual workmanship of the surface above. Anyone know if there are plans to “cleanup” the left over lane line mess?

  • MB November 8, 2012 (8:48 am)

    Also, maybe the wrong thread, but why on earth is Exit Only NOT painted on the lane exiting to 1st ave from the Spokane street viaduct (westbound)?? I can see how someone who doesn’t drive it regularly could accidentally not realize its an exit only lane until the last minute and potentially cause an accident trying to all of a sudden get over. The whole upper part just seems unfinished to me. Maybe I missed a memo about a final resurfacing…I hope?

  • Robert November 8, 2012 (8:52 am)

    As you go eastbound on WSB, at/on the 99 overpass there is a partially covered up road sign – SDOT shoudld uncover it perhaps?

    • WSB November 8, 2012 (8:57 am)

      I got the answer on that the other day. Do not have a photo so I didn’t run anything but have been waiting for someone to ask again. Paul Elliott of SDOT replied to me last week, “We’ve also been asked the same question a few times. The covered sign says “exit only” but the lane is no longer exit-only, which is why it’s covered. The sign will be pulled and a new advance sign for the 1st Ave Off ramp added, probably by SDOT crews.”

  • Robert November 8, 2012 (9:12 am)

    Thanks WSB. Are they are planning a 2 day closure of SSV and 99 to remove the sign? /Snark.

  • wetone November 8, 2012 (12:09 pm)

    Sad they can’t find local people to do the work on local projects. I think the real art work will start showing up soon. The money spent on this art project could have been better spent I believe as it will be short lived.

  • joan bateman November 8, 2012 (8:06 pm)

    Two POints:
    1) The space under the viaduct would make a perfect spot for disabled parking since there is none around SafeCo and Century Link Fields. Very hard for the disabled to participate, especially for those on a limited income.
    2) The surface of the viaduct needs to be redone in spots because it causes vehicle tire to not track properly. Future law suit in the making. I am personally dissappointed with the surface workmanship and the ingress of west bound traffic from I-5. Again another law suit in the making. These should be fixed before we celebrate. It has been a long arduous haul for West Seattle folks and we should make sure that a proper job is completed.

    Many thanks.


  • wetone November 9, 2012 (9:42 am)

    Joanie, your second point is dead on !!! It is the worst road work I have ever seen done anywhere. How and why the city and state accepts this kind of work really scares me. Look at the new floating bridge pontoon problems. They should be scrapped and started over. With the same company doing the south park bridge project with some serious issues also. With the heavy use of the viaduct I don’t give it 5yrs before it needs repaved. The people overseeing these projects should be fired if they accept this type of work. Tax payers are getting screwed when they allow this type of work to go on. Hope the tunnel goes better and now the new seawall downtown.

Sorry, comment time is over.