‘Walking on Logs’ sculptor Phillip Levine dies at 90

If you used the west end of the West Seattle Bridge – technically the Fauntleroy Expressway – before the bridge closed, you know about the “Walking on Logs” sculptures on the slope along the southwestbound lanes. The award-winning sculptor who created “Walking on Logs,” Phillip Levine, has died at 90. Mr. Levine’s obituary, published Friday by The Seattle Times, was called to our attention by West Seattle historian/journalist Clay Eals, who interviewed Mr. Levine by the installation in 2014:

Later that year, we featured that video in coverage of the theft of one of the four sculptures (which to date has never been recovered). “Walking on Logs,” installed in 1996, was one of more than 30 public-art pieces Mr. Levine created. He was a resident of Burien.

7 Replies to "'Walking on Logs' sculptor Phillip Levine dies at 90"

  • Rara October 16, 2021 (10:49 pm)

    I’m so sad. What an amazing gift he left our community. Bless him and his loved ones. He has definitely left an imprint on me. My hope is more will follow in his footsteps and do impressionable things for our community. There are definitely others doing the same I know. And I certainly love the art they have contributed. Desmond? That’s his name? Beautiful art. When everything has gone to crap these last couple years I hang on to these artists who have made our little part of the world more beautiful. To them I say thank you. 

  • My two cents … October 16, 2021 (11:34 pm)

    Sad to hear, condolences to his family and friends.

  • 22blades October 17, 2021 (7:31 am)

    It’s rare that one person can leave such an identifiable mark for everyone passing through, as well as living in West Seattle. I especially like it when a public piece like his brings people out to “participate” with (accessorize) it. His work will be there for other generations to enjoy; quite a lasting feat. I hope we’ll able to take care of his art. Thank you, Phillip Levine.

  • Sillygoose October 17, 2021 (10:52 am)

    Has any checked to see if the others are still there?

  • Marie McKinsey October 17, 2021 (2:14 pm)

    I was a student at South Seattle College, studying landscape design, when Phillip created these sculptures. Someone asked if students would be interested in doing a planting plan for the site. A few of us, including Susan Rafanelli and I, volunteered. I remember meeting with Phillip and hearing about various public works he had done in his career. A comment he made during that conversation that stayed with me was, “80% of public art is solving problems.” Every project involves raising money, convincing people that the work is worthwhile, getting the work physically moved to the site, installing it properly, etc.  The process of creating the actual piece of art takes a fraction of that time. One of the challenges for this project was figuring out the best spacing for the sculptures on the site. He asked for volunteers to stand on the slope and move around until he was happy with the arrangement. I took this photo of them, while Phillip did the choreography. That’s Susan Rafanelli in front, John Vraspir, one of our classmates, upper right. One of the men on the left was Earl Cruzen,  father of the Murals of West Seattle project and a big supporter of the Walking on Logs sculptures. I’m sorry I don’t remember the name of the other man. The planting plan we students created was installed after the sculptures were in place. 

    • Marie McKinsey October 17, 2021 (4:39 pm)

      Actually, now that I think about it, Phillip might have been the other man on the left. It has been a long time since I shot this, so my memory is a bit hazy. 

  • 4thGenWestSide October 18, 2021 (10:50 am)

    So sad. What  a wonderful life lived & legacy he left to all of us in West Seattle. Safe travels. 

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