As many Seattleites know, one of Seattle’s public beachfront treasures is the shoreline between Alki Point and Duwamish Head. From there, one can look out to the city’s shimmering downtown across Elliott Bay, and also catch views of the islands, beaches and coves of Puget Sound that surround our city in natural beauty.
With the repaving of the Alki Beach trail in the ’90s, the artist team of Joe Fedderson, Donald Fels and Juane Quick-To-See Smith created the West Seattle Cultural Trail project (1998) to highlight the multi-layered history of the area. The trail spans Alki beach and extends onwards up the Duwamish River.
The project consists of four basic elements along the trail: etched and inlaid stone pavers, bronze plaques, viewing devices that merge the view of actual scenery with ghost images, and sculptural arches that serve as gateways to the trail. These elements combine with stories and poems from the community to celebrate not only the human history of the area, but the plant and animal life, the geology and the geography of the site. As such, this project is an example of how public art can create a meaningful sense of place for residents and visitors alike.
The artist states, “The relationship of memories as they are attached to place is the primary focus of this project. Collaborating with the three artists, a whole community has engaged in remembering the history of this place. The act of sharing memories has imbued this artwork with a pluralist view that will allow generations of viewers to share in the collective memory of the West Seattle community.
The West Seattle Cultural Trail was funded by Seattle Department of Transportation 1% for Art funds, Washington State Aquatic Land Enhancement Grant and the Port of Seattle.
IMAGE: Joe Fedderson, Donald Fels, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, West Seattle Cultural Trail, 1998, concrete, bronze, brass, steel. Located at Alki Beach.
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.