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Weekly Art Hit: ‘Seattle Mural’ by Paul Horiuchi

As The Next Fifty – the anniversary celebration of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair – draws to a close on Oct. 21, we’d like to feature a few artworks on the old fair grounds at Seattle Center.

We bet you’ve seen the 60-foot-long, landmark glass mosaic Seattle Mural at the Mural Amphitheater. Designed by acclaimed Northwest artist Paul Horiuchi for the 1962 fair, the mural has led a colorful life. It set the stage for early performances by Seattle bands including Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. Today, the Mural Amphitheater remains a venue for events from rock shows to Shakespeare plays to outdoor movies.

Horiuchi was born in Japan, where he learned calligraphy and sumi techniques, and then moved to Seattle in 1946. In the mid-1950s, Horiuchi began working in collage, a technique that would become his signature. Horiuchi’s design for the mural began as a collage of multicolored torn paper before it was enlarged and reworked into 54 brightly colored panels of Venetian glass fabricated in Italy. Using 160 color variations of glass, Horiuchi intended the mural to evoke the natural beauty and colors of the Northwest. The mural acted then and now as a sound-reflecting acoustic backdrop for the amphitheatre stage.

The Seattle Mural is part of the city’s permanent public art collection. The artwork was restored in 2011 as a joint project of the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs and Seattle Center, with grant support from 4Culture and National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Image: Paul Horiuchi, Seattle Mural,1962, glass mosaic. Photo by Spike Mafford.

-Tamara Gill, Community Development & Outreach