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Public art rises in Northgate

Those three, tall, wiggly posts standing at a busy Northgate intersection are the work of artist Benson Shaw. He recently installed the public artwork as part of the Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel project. The poles, called Wiggle Posts, are at the corner of Northeast 103rd Street and 5th Avenue Northeast. They are part a three-part artwork by Shaw, titled Surge, which references the ebb and flow of water on the site.

According to Shaw, Wiggle Posts signify several things. The posts represent flora and fauna, such as underwater grasses, eels or snakes. They also echo the channel’s flow patterns and resemble a sine curve – a graphic measurement that can be used to chart flowing water.

Shaw created two other artworks for the site. Falling Water features blue glass encased in metal mesh — which mimics water flowing down the embankment — flanked by a collection of light posts topped with blue lit globes. Bad Buoys, a series of floats with glittering discs activated by water moving through the channel, has yet to be installed.

Shaw worked with Seattle Public Utilities; SvR, a design services firm; and community members to develop the artworks. The channel project uses natural drainage system technology to clean the water and control water flow through the channel year-round. The channel winds through a new development at Northgate, which features pedestrian pathways and native landscaping. Seattle Public Utilities 1% for Art funds supported the artwork.

Image: Benson Shaw’s Wiggle Posts being installed at the corner of Northeast 103rd Street and 5th Avenue Northeast.