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July 2013
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Weekly Art Hit: ‘Ballard Sculpture Garden’ by Jeffry Mitchell

Mitchell CL95.019.01.03Weekly Art Hit heads into the ‘90s with Seattle artist Jeffry Mitchell’s Ballard Sculpture Garden from 1995. Mitchell created the two-part artwork consisting of a concrete frieze and a sculpture garden for Seattle City Light’s System Control Center in Ballard. The cast concrete frieze follows the upper portion of the center’s curving façade with a repeating pattern of plant and animal forms based on the intricate designs of Arabic rugs. Nearby, Mitchell designed a formal European-style garden with wooden benches on top of mock-Delft, blue-and-white legs and ceramic columns topped by what the artist called “prosaic garden sculptures.” The sculptures in the forms of rabbits, bears, squirrels, an elephant, Dutch children and a gnome, all painted with elaborate decorative motifs.

Mitchell’s artwork provides an intriguingly fanciful counterpoint to the functional nature of the facility. Referencing whimsical Old World traditions, Mitchell creates a whimisical tableau using “identifiable, modest, cheery” artwork enjoyed by the surrounding community.

Mitchell CL95.019.01.01Mitchell CL95.019.01.05The artist also has three portable artworks in the Seattle City Light 1% for Art Portable Works Collection, including Petit Nature Morte (Bunnies) (1989-90). In 2009, he was awarded the Stranger Genius Award for Visual Arts. In 2012, the Henry Art Gallery hosted the retrospective Like a Valentine: The Art of Jeffry Mitchell. You can watch the artist share his thoughts Mitchell CL95.019.01.04about the experience on Seattle Channel’s video.

Ballard Sculpture Garden was funded by Seattle City Light 1% for Art funds.


IMAGES:  Jeffry Mitchell, Ballard Sculpture Garden (1995); cast concrete files and ceramic sculptures.  Located at Northwest 46th Street and Sixth Avenue Northwest.






ArtsCulture_40yrs_Med[BlackBlue]Weekly Art Hit is featuring artworks every week from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and 2000s to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the city’s public art program.

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