WEST SEATTLE ART: Desmond Hansen’s new Arbor Heights signal-box portrait

Thanks for the tips! After word that artist Desmond Hansen was working on yet another signal box – this time at 35th SW and SW Roxbury on the north edge of Arbor Heights – we went over for a look. We found the artist packing up to take a break for some errands; he says this is a portrait of karate legend Chojun Miyagi (who is quoted on the website for West Seattle Karate, just steps away from the box). He’ll be back to finish it later today. This is his 10th signal box – here’s a montage of the first 9.

36 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE ART: Desmond Hansen's new Arbor Heights signal-box portrait"

  • Ari February 7, 2019 (4:29 pm)

    I love it!

  • wesi February 7, 2019 (4:51 pm)

    so cool!

  • anonyme February 7, 2019 (5:28 pm)

    I like these, but the exclusion of any female representation is getting a bit bizarre – especially given the spectrum of races displayed, and the fact that this decision denies the existence of more than half the human race.  There is a difference between private and public art, and IMO public art should not show this amount of bias.  Marie Curie?  Camille Claudel?  Virginia Woolf?  Rosa Parks?  Janis Joplin?  Hatshepsut?  Joan of Arc?  Billie Holiday?  All of these women (and many more) have contributed to both modern and ancient history in at least as significant a way as the male personages already presented.

    • ACG February 7, 2019 (6:41 pm)

      I think Sue Bird would be awesome- and having a tie to the city of Seattle. Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart would also be cool, tying in with his Seattle music theme. I love these boxes and am grateful that he takes the time to do them!!

      • B.W. February 8, 2019 (12:24 am)

        Yes, Sue Bird please!

  • I’mcoveredinbees February 7, 2019 (6:14 pm)

    Love these! Such a great addition to WS! Why did I think the artist’s name was Graves and not Desmond?

    • WSB February 7, 2019 (6:16 pm)

      That’s his nickname/alternate name.

  • Greg Kerton February 7, 2019 (6:51 pm)

    Using Men as subject isn’t an exclusion of Women for an artist, it is simply an expression of focus.  I am glad for expression in any non threatening form.

  • Anne February 7, 2019 (7:11 pm)

    Greg -agree- getting tired of complaints about lack of females. Let the artist do his work- I also am just glad for this positive expression of art. 

  • Stp February 7, 2019 (7:21 pm)

    Agree it’s getting strange not to have any women. It’s half or more of humans! Plenty to choose from… be tired of it if you want but it’s a valid complaint and he’ll keep getting it! It’s kinda weird

  • Lowmanbeachdrive February 7, 2019 (7:38 pm)

    Love this artwork!  

  • Abyk February 7, 2019 (8:13 pm)

    Very much appreciate the art to liven up our community! But even my teenage daughter who does amazing sketches wondered why there are no “strong and cool girls” represented. I agree if it’s private do what you want, but public – and that there are so many around west Seattle. One or two, whatever, but what are there now, 10? Throw an epic girl in the mix!

    • Abyk February 7, 2019 (9:41 pm)

      And if this artist isn’t inspired by women, that’s fine too, everyone to their own and art should be free flowing But the city should find another artist who is inspired by women to help inspire and represent the girls of the community as well. 

  • PigeonRidgeBen February 7, 2019 (8:28 pm)

    The absence of females is conspicuous and has me down on the whole project. I assume the person executing these paintings is doing so with the permission or even encouragement of City Light or SDOT or? I will only speak for my experience in saying that I am conditioned to expect males and their perspective and interests to dominate this society and culture and that this project serves as further confirmation of that experience and propagation of that conditioning. 

  • WestCoastNomad February 7, 2019 (9:10 pm)

    Nice work! They instill local pride and it’s fun to point them out to friends visiting West Seattle. But yes, I hadn’t seen all of these together until now and once  I did, the lack of women immediately struck me. It does seem odd, especially for this kind of public art. It’s also odd that people think this fact shouldn’t be mentioned. 

  • Canton February 7, 2019 (9:23 pm)

    You can’t tell an artist what should inspire them. You should let them create as they will. That’s the point of creating. If you want something in particular painted, go paint it yourself. 

    • Winnie February 7, 2019 (9:36 pm)

      If he’s painting on public property with public funds, we are his client. And you bet we get a say. He can paint whatever he wants on his own dime. 

      • WSB February 7, 2019 (9:57 pm)

        No, he is not painting with public $. He has donated materials and time and also been crowdfunding for months. Link is on his Instagram page, which is linked above.

  • WestCoastNomad February 7, 2019 (10:36 pm)

    If an artist is creating work in his personal space, it definitely isn’t our business. Even though this artist is using his own and / or donated funds and his own time (which is admirable), he is painting in community spaces. So the public has a right to provide constructive feedback. If a female artist had painted 10 female-only murals around West Seattle, I’m sure people would also start questioning  the lack of gender diversity.  While this artist may not be  inspired to paint females as part of this project, perhaps other artists are interested in doing so. 

    • Marietta February 9, 2019 (12:03 am)

      @westcoastnomad if a female artist painted 10 female murals in west Seattle, people would question..if a female artist painted female murals- everyone would rightfully rave about how wonderful it is! I think it’s perverted to disparage this artist for giving of his art to the community. Whether he paints fish, or martial artists, or landscapes- we should be appreciative. Who thinks there are a bunch of talented artists trying to paint power boxes?  There is not. This is a gift. Have some class. If you don’t like his artistic choices, paint something you like. Create your own art. All this misdirected moral outrage is just poison. You’re welcome. 

  • Bradly A Burzynski February 8, 2019 (4:45 am)

    I can almost guarantee that the very best way to get anyone to stop donating their valuable time and energy toward helping to beautify the city is to start complaining about how they are going about it.  Some folks would rather look at an ugly metal box.  I agree though, it is highly suspicious, he hasn’t painted any orcas.  What does he have against orcas?  Why only people?  Pretty nefarious if you ask me.

  • Huck February 8, 2019 (5:24 am)

    This is so typical of the residents of seattle. Bitch and complain and look for the negative.  This guy is improving the look and feel of our community, leave him be. Get over it. Ugh.

    • KM February 8, 2019 (12:10 pm)

      Does it count as complaining if we complain about the complainers? Am I complaining right now?

  • J February 8, 2019 (7:38 am)

    He replied to a comment on instagram saying he is preparing to add some women to the lineup.he’s only painted, what, 10 so far? I dont think that’s enough to say he’s deliberately leaving women out. Some seattleites are too quick to raise their pitchforks. The art is beautiful. 

  • anonyme February 8, 2019 (8:39 am)

    Or perhaps women will now be included as a direct result of the comments regarding their exclusion.  Silence is complicity and I, for one, will be silent no more.  Zero for ten is not a reassuring ratio.   Can’t wait to see who the artist chooses as a female subject, as these paintings are indeed beautiful – and an asset to our community as a whole.  Our entire community, not just half of it.

  • WestCoastNomad February 8, 2019 (8:49 am)

    Community support for signal box designs is a must, in SDOT’s words, so anyone can share feedback: publicspace@seattle.gov. You can learn more about the signal box program here: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/permits-and-services/permits/public-space-management-permits#streetfurnitureanddecorations (scroll down to “Signal Box Artwork”). The application is here: http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/SDOT/CAMs/cam2505.pdf

  • West Seattle Hipster February 8, 2019 (8:55 am)

    Thank you Desmond Hansen for making our community a nicer place to live.  Please do not allow intolerance to discourage you and your art. 

  • The Truth February 8, 2019 (10:22 am)

    I am so disappointed by people making assumptions about this artist.  I met him a few weeks back and can tell you he is a gentle and artistic soul.  On top of that he had mentioned several females he was getting ready to paint and his project is about to go all  over the city.  How dare people accuse someone donating their time and energy to beautify our city but making negative assumptions.  If I could draw, paint, whatever and was asked to paint 10 people that most inspired me or my soul wanted to pay tribute to, I don’t think a woman would make the list  (maybe RBG, close to top 10).  It’s not because I am sexist but because I was inspired by musicians and sports stars that I related to.  Even though I loved many female leads bands,  they rarely spoke to me because so many of their aspects were theres and not mine.  Don’t go pat yourselves on the back when he puts up art that involves a female.  It wasn’t your public backlash or out cry.  It was part of the plan all along.  maybe he should have thought “I should toss a women in here so people on the blog don’t call me sexist” or maybe we should all shut up and let an artist do his work.  Or better yet, reach out to him and offer suggestions….

  • momosmom February 8, 2019 (11:12 am)

    I agree with HUCK…. don’t you know it takes more energy to bitch and complain than it does to be happy?! If you complainers would be more positive than negative the world would be a better place.

  • Sunuva February 8, 2019 (11:22 am)

    This art is awesome! So glad to see this new one, as it is an intersection I use multiple times a day that needed a lift. That said, I too have noticed the lack of females represented, and understand why people are speaking up about that since these art pieces are in conspicuous public places.My first thought was, he just might not be as confident in representing female figures artistically, but he is clearly very skilled. I do hope he expands his focus.I’m not upset that his art so far has not had female subjects, but I do agree with all those who are hoping for female subjects in future work. I would love to be able to point out a female role model in his artwork to my daughter.

  • I’mcoveredInbees February 8, 2019 (5:32 pm)

    Just read all the comments and felt the posts pointing out a lack of women were not at all whiny. Randomly labeling the posters as “whiners” is pretty lame. His work is beautiful and I have had the priveledge of watching him paint a few. Bruce and Jimi are my faves! That said, and this has already been pointed out, I would also have liked to have seen some women by now, considering these are public spaces. One can be grateful for the beauty and also wish for some female representation. It’s great that he’s personally inspired by all these heros and he did raise his own funds though. Respect his dedication a lot.

  • WS Artist February 8, 2019 (7:25 pm)

    It’s absolutely shameful the negative tilt these comments have taken. The same people who are complaining that this artist is not painting people that they like are undoubtedly the same people who won’t spend a time to support an artist, buy original art, or do anything else to uplift the artist community. Shame on you all. Let this man share HIS art and HIS vision with the world. You don’t know WHY he chooses his subjects, but you are ready to jump on him because he’s not spending his time painting things that YOU like. Put your money where your mouth is and hire someone to paint the things you like around the city.  What?  Crickets…?  That’s what I thought. Shame on you.

  • Huck February 8, 2019 (10:50 pm)

    @WS ARTIST: Well said.

  • Bill February 9, 2019 (3:21 am)

    I suggest: Gypsy Rose Lee!

  • Stuart February 17, 2019 (6:44 pm)

    The Wilson’s -HEART/ are being painted now! Just drove by the drive thru Starbucks and DH was working on it! Looks great

    • WSB February 17, 2019 (6:55 pm)

      I am just about to hit publish on a post about that; had to go verify the signature first!

Sorry, comment time is over.