Monday, February 02, 2009

Seattle's Dialectic Art

One of the things that I enjoy about Seattle is its parks.  Almost all cities have parks, but Seattle has a ton of them by design.  Some of them are very manicured.  Some are not.  Some are really only parks because they're useless (or at least unwanted) pieces of land for building and rather than admitting this the city has said, "No, it's a park."  Very much like Microsoft's "It's not a bug, it's a feature" strategy.  This repurposing of public space also extends to Seattle's approach to public art.

This is the Fremont Troll.  He lives at the intersection of Troll Ave. and N. 36th St.  Troll Avenue runs directly under Aurora from the ship canal to 36th, where it ends because the hillside rises up to meet the bridge that Aurora takes over the canal.  In most cities, this would be allowed to remain unused, and Seattle actually has a lot of similar locations that do.  But it also has things like this.  There are some concrete barriers below the field of view of the picture, separating the concrete apron around the troll from the traffic along 36th.  So he's actually got his own little park.

There's a ton of public art scattered around the city, which is lots of fun.  A lot of it is clean and people leave it alone.  As you can see, the troll has pink finger nails and someone has colored in his eye.  I also enjoy that he has long hair that has been allowed to fall over his other eye.  I think that the styling of the hair and the pink fingernails suggest a feminine aspect, even as his long, thick facial hair, lean face and big hands mark him as masculine.  That's also a real VW Beetle that he has in his left hand.  I think it looks like he's going to eat it, and I enjoy that the car the artist chose should be such an icon of the 50's and 60's.

I'm sure these folks have a name, but I don't know what it is.  They're standing on an island at the intersection between the Fremont Bridge, Fremont Ave. N, and N. 34th St.  It's kind of a funky intersection - it's possible to make some turns in one direction but not the other.  In any case, it takes two stages to cross N. 34th, and one stands on the island in between stages.  The statues may be waiting to cross.

They're almost always decorated to some degree.  Today's decoration is actually pretty tame.

I think it's interested that the people who decorated the statues decided to give them all mustaches.  Mustaches are actually back in style lately, for whatever reason.  I think that the presence of the mustaches on the statues is probably either self-referential or referring to those who are wearing them again.

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