Here come the ’80s! Weekly Art Hit has featured artworks from the ’70s to celebrate our public art program’s 40th anniversary, and now we move on to the next decade with Black Lightning, created by Ronald Bladen in 1981. The artwork was a collaborative project of the Seattle Arts Commission and Seattle Center, resulting from an art plan that called for a major sculpture for Seattle Center. With spring in full bloom, take some time to explore this commanding sculpture when you next visit the Seattle Center.
The striking monumental sculpture stands in the shadow of the Space Needle, its simple z-shape outlining the iconic form of lightning. Sharp edges formed from the juncture of acute angles animate the black steel bolt with alternating planes of light and shadow. Two polygonal bases reminiscent of blacksmith’s anvils support the sculpture.
Bladen began as an abstract painter. He later dedicated himself to sculpture and began exhibiting monumental sculptures in the early ‘60s. His sculptures are represented in a number of public and private collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art, the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston, King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and the State Office Building in Albany, N.Y.
The artwork was funded by Seattle Center Bond Issue 1% for Art funds and the National Endowment for the Arts.
-Joan Peterson, Public Art
IMAGES: Ronald Bladen, Black Lightning,1981, painted steel, 20’H x 56’Wx 36.75″D. Located at Seattle Center. Photos (top) courtesy of Seattle Center; (below) by Amy Louise Herndon.
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.