West Seattle artwork you won’t see unless you’re at sea

(UPDATED WEDNESDAY NIGHT with more photos – scroll down)

ORIGINAL REPORT, 3:33 PM: That photo is from the last item in acting Seattle Parks Superintendent Christopher Williamsscheduled briefing at tomorrow morning’s Seattle City Council Parks and Neighborhoods Committee meeting. It’s a sculpture that was privately funded but now stands on Parks-owned land in West Seattle, accessible and visible only from the water. It’s called “Illusion Dweller” and is a stainless-steel work by Gerry Tsutakawa (whose website shows a better view – choose “commissions”). Late last year, Williams’ briefing explains, it was dedicated on the shoreline of the Arroyos Green Space. It was commissioned by Tina Bullitt, widow of Seattle business mogul and philanthropist Stimson Bullitt, who, Williams notes, “donated the 5.7-acre Arroyos Greenspace on which it is situated” and so far is the largest single donor to Seattle Parks and Rec in its history, having also made donations including a 1.6-acre property on Capitol Hill.

Footnote: The writeup in the superintendent’s briefing also mentions the guest list for the sculpture’s private dedication last November. We just noticed, upon a second readthrough – that guest list included the West Seattleite who is making headlines for other reasons today, Sally Jewell.

ADDED 9:31 PM: After seeing this story, Bob Weeks shared photos of the sculpture from a kayaking trip:

And here’s the inscription – a quote from Mr. Bullitt – at its base:

If you check out the artist’s website, you’ll probably recognize more than a few of the commissioned artworks – including the big mitt outside the gates of Safeco Field.

12 Replies to "West Seattle artwork you won't see unless you're at sea"

  • JayDee February 6, 2013 (6:59 pm)

    cool sculpture. Too bad you need to see from the sea.

    • WSB February 6, 2013 (8:04 pm)

      I’ve talked with Parks about this a couple times – it originally hit the radar as a land-use permit application (fully funded by the Seattle Parks Foundation, I am told, NOT public money) some months back but I didn’t find out enough about it to report till now – my understanding is that someday they hope to come up with a way to access by land.

  • shed22 February 6, 2013 (9:41 pm)

    Great sculpture. (Looks like the photo was taken from land, no?)

    Many years ago, when I first moved here, a longtime West Seattle friend told me there had been plans to install a mermaid sculpture in the waters off of beach drive. Always thought that a great idea.

    My friend lived in a fantasy world so I am not sure the veracity of the story. Always thought it a cool idea.

    • WSB February 6, 2013 (9:43 pm)

      It’s the Parks Dept.’s photo – not quite sure about the circumstances. But I have *just* added two photos taken by someone who saw it during a kayaking trip. – TR

  • DiverLaura February 6, 2013 (10:28 pm)

    I think it is beautiful that is has to be seen “from the sea”. To me that reinforces the connection we have. Imagine Puget Sound 200 years ago, when the only way people got to many of the beautiful beaches was by canoe (thinking of ones at the base of steep unstable bluffs, or the igneous basalt at the base of cliffs out in the straits that harbor amazing tide pools…)

    What this sculpture means to me is that we actually have to be present to win. We have to be out there, on the water, connecting with our environment to get the prize. Maybe wanting to see this bit of art will be the kick in the seat for someone waffling on the fence about trying out kayaking or stand up paddle boarding… Maybe they find a new lifelong love in and on the water where one did not exist before.. Maybe due to that love they find it is now something they want to protect…

    I remember seeing Stimson at the indoor rock climbing gym, and being impressed by him just being an older gentleman and hittin’ it hard on the vertical. Then as I learned more about his love of nature and the environment, that being a bit impressed turned into a deep and profound respect…

    Maybe we should have a series of art installments in similar places an art trail visible only by boat/kayak/paddleboard/etc…

    “People Protect what they love” —Cousteau

  • Ken February 6, 2013 (10:33 pm)

    Stimson Bullitt was a good human being and a hardcore Democrat. I only got to talk to him a few times before his death in 2009. He lived in WS.

    He was on Nixon’s “enemies list”

    From wilipedia:

    In 1966, Stimson Bullitt himself made the only televised appearance of his career when he delivered an impassioned and controversial editorial against the Vietnam War, long before the American public as a whole began to turn against the conflict’s prosecution.

    his obit:

  • shed22 February 6, 2013 (10:56 pm)

    Art wins for Laura! It can be inspirational.

  • wetone February 7, 2013 (9:36 am)

    Just curious WSB, do you know when they say fully funded does that mean the art work itself or does that include all cost associated, such as Seattle parks involvement as in planing, permits, labor, ground work, access, equipment ? As when you look up permits for these type of projects they are pulled by Seattle Parks . Just curious when the term (fully funded) is used what that really means. Thanks

    • WSB February 7, 2013 (9:39 am)

      From Parks when I corresponded with them again about this before publishing: “There were no costs to the City – the Seattle Parks Foundation paid for the permit and the artist oversaw the installation.” AND the artwork itself was commissioned (aka paid for) by the Bullitt family.

  • soupcha February 7, 2013 (12:11 pm)

    Nice…goes with the curves of the sea…very Zen

  • elizabeth February 7, 2013 (6:10 pm)

    Illusion Dweller is also the name of a rock climbing route in Joshua Tree National Park which Stim climbed. We got to know him a bit at the Vertical World climbing gym, where he was still climbing at age 90 or so. He was a true gentleman and was very proud to have been on that list of Nixon’s.
    He also helped to secure the Index Town Walls as a climbing area. Great person.

  • Robin Adams February 10, 2013 (4:52 pm)

    I live close to this site and walked down. yes I got there by land that is because I know the back ways that probably are not too proper.

    Put some pictures up on my blog & a short video. Plus added some info on the Bullitts. They lived close to here for years and the house is still there today.


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