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Weekly Art Hit: Dendrites, snaking & rain drums, oh my!

Imagine walking through a forest when you notice glowing snakes up in the trees, gnarled roots at your feet, and the syncopated beats of rain as water hits the ground around you – I’d say that’s a great start to a very spooky Halloween story!

Corson SPU03.018.03If you visit the Cedar River Watershed Education Center, it might not be as scary as described above (it’s not in a spooky forest for one thing), but you will be met with a Dendritic Root Floor, a Snaking Root Ceiling, and Rain Drum Court providing the soundtrack.

All three pieces are by artist Dan Corson, local artist and former Seattle Arts Commissioner, who worked with the design team of Jones and Jones on this project.

The Cedar River Watershed Education Center is located on Rattlesnake Lake about an hour east of Seattle and the watershed provides the drinking water for 70 percent of people living in the Greater Seattle area.

Snaking Root Ceiling (2001) suspends four local tree roots intertwined with blue krypton and green argon light tubes, representing the flow of water and energy within the Cedar River water system. Snaking Root Ceiling greets you on your way into the main building, and when you look down, you’ll notice Dendritic Root Floor (2001), a sandblasted and stained echo of the ceiling’s twisting shapes on the floor.util_07_01L







You may start to hear music coming from outside – no singing or guitars, just simple, beautiful drums played by the skies. You’re hearing Rain Drum Court (2001) which collects rainwater on leaves and drips that water onto drums, creating music. If you’re visiting on a rare dry day, don’t worry, you’ll still hear the drums. When there’s no rainfall, computer-programmed water drips create rhythms based on Native American, African American and Balinese cultures.

While there’s great art to experience at the Cedar River Watershed Education Center, there’s also a lot to learn! The facility educates visitors on the function, ecology and importance of the Cedar River Watershed, which is managed by Seattle Public Utilities. –When you’re there, take some time interacting with the creative displays that explain the water cycle and the precious resource that this amazing watershed, just a short drive from the city, provides our local ecosystem.

Funded by Seattle Public Utilities 1% for Art funds. Photos courtesy of Dan Corson.

– Annie Holden