Public artwork has been a mainstay in Seattle since the 1% for public art ordinance was passed in 1973. Seattle is home to more than 400 artworks whose locations span public buildings, and public spaces including parks, neighborhoods and community centers. With so much art to see in Seattle it can be overwhelming so today we will focus our tour and look at a few of the artworks integrated in our city’s fire stations.
There are 33 fire stations in the city and each has its own unique character. In 2003 the public approved the Fire Facilities and Emergency Response Levy. This program, which started in 2004, has been using levy proceeds and other funding to upgrade, renovate or replace 32 neighborhood fire stations, in addition to other necessary improvements to the Fire department. Included in the station upgrades are site specific artworks that reflect the character of the neighborhood and the important service the fire department provides to the city. Commissioned artists immersed themselves in the neighborhoods and the stations they were selected to create an artwork for. Here is a smattering of artworks we hope you enjoy and visit if you can. To schedule a Fire station tour visit: http://www.seattle.gov/fire/deptInfo/stationTours.htm
Central District Neighborhood Fire Station 6
The Call, 2012
Steve Gardner; Photo credit: Kelly Pajek
405 Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, Seattle, WA 98144
Description: The Call is a mural of aluminum and cast glass on the façade of Fire Station 6. The artwork is inspired by the energy of the firefighters’ response to an emergency. Images of water and fire surge out of the mural alongside bolts of lightning – an early icon of the original Fire Station 6.
Lake City Neighborhood Fire Station 39
Thornton Creek, 2010
Stephen Glassman; Photo credit: Stephen Glassman
2806 NE 127th St., Seattle, WA 98125
Description: Glassman’s Thornton Creek is a 28-foot-tall free standing sculpture, located within the rain garden of Fire Station 39. The artwork serves as a rainwater delivery system, moving runoff from the building’s roof to an underground cistern. The sculpture includes two raised planting beds that feature and support native Northwest grasses. The sculpture creatively reveals the sustainable efforts of the building to harvest and use rainwater for some of the station’s functions.
Ballard/Crown Hill Neighborhood Fire Station 35
Kay Kirkpatrick; Photo credit: Peter de Lory
8729 15th Ave. NW, Seattle, WA 98117
Artist statement: :Rescue marks and shelters the entrance to Fire Station 35 symbolizing the balance between water and fire and the role firefighters play in that balance. An abstracted ladder juts upward toward the sky referencing the rescues firefighters perform daily. Floating near the top of the ladder is the firefighter’s adversary, the flame. Adorned with a neon crown and the number 35, the sculpture plays off the neighborhood’s 1950s architecture.”
West Seattle Neighborhood Fire Station 37
Pete Beeman; Photo credit: Pete Beeman
7700 35th Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98126
Description: Pete Beeman’s Lifter is a 26–foot-tall sculpture with a kinetic feature that allows passersby to interact with the artwork. Lifter draws its forms from firefighting equipment, trees, umbrellas, and birds. The sculpture features two sets of arms that are activated at the base. As the user turns the crank, the arms of the sculpture rise and fall slowly, fanning out as they reach for the sky and gathering together as they swing down toward the ground.
Rainier Valley Neighborhood Fire Station 28
Fire Tower, 2008
Wayne Chabre; Photo credit: Jeanne McMenemy
9000 8th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106
Artist statement: “Fire Tower is reminiscent of the original towers that kept watch on Seattle’s neighborhoods. It celebrates the history and heroism of the fire department in four bronze bas-relief panels: downtown, the Great Fire, the waterfront and the history of the Fire Station 28 neighborhood.”
Mt. Baker Neighborhood Fire Station 30
Piller of the Community, 2013
Brian Goldbloom; Photo credit: Spike Mafford Photography
2931 South Mt. Baker Blvd., Seattle, WA 98144
Artist statement: “Sited along a legacy Olmsted-designed boulevard, and inspired by equipment used in firefighting, a classical column is presented as a 14’ granite fire hose with fittings, calling to mind the architecture of nearby Franklin High School. A carved cityscape based on the Mt. Baker residential neighborhood surrounds the foot of the column. Together, the work forms a symbol of firefighters’ indispensable service to, and partnership with, the community.”
Queen Anne Neighborhood Fire Station 20
Wind and Water, 2014
Rob Ley; Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist
2800 15th Ave. W., Seattle, WA 98119
Description: Rob Ley’s Wind and Water, (2014) marks the pedestrian entry sequence to Fire Station 20. The artwork is created with more than 100 one-inch stainless steel tubes, stands over 14 feet tall, and can bring to mind the flow of water, or the movement of the wind. The sculpture engages passing pedestrians, and frames the entrance to the building.
Greenwood Neighborhood Fire Station 21
Moment to Moment, 2011
Perri Howard; Photo credit: Spike Mafford Photography
7304 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103
Description: Moment to Moment is a 12-foot-tall, free-standing stone and glass sculpture located outside the public entrance of the fire station. LEDs illuminate the glass sections with blue/green lights that change to red/orange when triggered by the station’s fire alarm.
Downtown Neighborhood Fire Station 10
Bamboo, Luminous, 2008; Jacqueline Metz and Nancy Chew; Photo credit: Spike Mafford Photography
Call and Response, 2008; Stuart Nakamura; Photo credit: Stuart Nakamura
Sentinels, 2008; Gloria Bornstein; Photo credit: Michael Burns
400 S. Washington St., Seattle WA 98104
In 2004, Gloria Bornstein was selected as the design team artist for the Fire Station 10 project. To develop her art plan for the new facility, Bornstein studied the operations of Fire Station 10, the surrounding Pioneer Square and Chinatown-International District communities, and the neighborhoods’ history.
Graceful and powerful, bamboo symbolizes the qualities of enlightenment – resilience and adaptiveness. bamboo, luminous is a metaphor for the strength and endurance of the immigrants to the International District and the service personnel of Fire Station 10, the Emergency Operations Center and the Fire Alarm Center.
Artist Stuart Nakamura says of his artwork: “Call and Response pays tribute to the service and valor of the firefighters of Fire Station 10 with these three elements: a stainless steel arc of water containing the imagery of smoke and a firefighter; a rough-hewn, moss-covered granite boulder; and inlaid arcs of natural stone. Known in the Seattle Fire Department as ‘The Rock,’ Fire Station 10 continues the historic tradition of protecting the Downtown and International District communities with its response to emergency calls.”
Gloria Bornstein’s artwork (Sentinels) playfully explores shifting perspectives through the placement of eight sculptures, diminishing in scale along the upgrade of the Fire Station 10 sidewalk. The sculptures are inspired by my explorations of protective gear of different cultures and the beauty of Asian architecture and folk craft, reflecting the cultural diversity of the Chinatown-International District and Pioneer Square neighborhoods.