Cityworks: Seattle Public Utilities Revealed is a series of 66 artworks comprised of 170 black and white photographs by Peter deLory, who was the artist-in-residence for Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) from 1998 to 1999. He explored SPU facilities and operations including Water, Drainage and Wastewater and Solid Waste, talking with staff and observing their work, and created diptychs, triptychs and individual artworks that cover a wide range of subject matter. According to de Lory, the body of work served as a mirror that reflects the “the various activities and work places, individual and team efforts” that make up SPU, and as a window into “the workings of a large city utility” and a “behind-the-scenes viewpoint for the public.”
The series takes the viewer through all SPU’s various lines of business and projects: Urban Creek Restoration and Salmon Recovery; sewer and drainage; maintenance and repairs; the processing of recycled paper, glass, metal and yard waste following the solid waste of Seattle from its curb-side collection into containers that are shipped by rail to a landfill. De Lory’s photographs show us how SPU employees balance competing demands and bring their own professional creativity to bear in preserving and maximizing resources. Some photographs commemorate the amazing natural resources the utility manages, including forested watersheds and bodies of water.
According to former Seattle Arts Commission Director Susan B. Trapnell, “de Lory’s residency…brought an artist’s eye to the utility’s work, reflected it back to the people who work there and to a far wider audience: the citizens of Seattle who use Seattle Public Utilities every day.”
Portable artworks – paintings, drawings, small sculptures and glass works, as well as a large number of black and white and color photographs- make up a large portion of the city of Seattle’s art collection. In addition to the public artworks that are found in Seattle’s public spaces, the city maintains a collection of portable artworks that are displayed throughout city offices and facilities.
The artworks are in the Seattle Public Utilities 1% for Art Portable Works Collection.
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.
IMAGES (top to bottom): Peter de Lory, Salmon Egg Hatchery, #3, 1999, black and white silver gelatin, 30”H x 29”W; Waste Water Pump Station #10, Servicing, #19, 1999, black and white silver gelatin, 24”H x 56”W; Harbor Island Bridge, Deck D, #10, 1999, black and white silver gelatin, 24”H x 56”W; Tolt Pipeline 2, #9, 1999, black and white silver gelatin, 24”H x 56”W.