Perched at the apex of Highland Park Drive a larger-than-life Steller’s Jay will soon watch over the neighborhood. This new artwork concept, tentatively titled “Where’s the Party” by artist Matthew Mazzotta was selected by a community selection panel to be part of the upcoming Seattle Department of Transportation Highland/Holden Intersection Improvement project. This 1% for Art project is managed by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS).
A community panel, including a junior from Chief Sealth High School, selected three artists from ARTS’ Public Art Roster to develop proposals for the site location. All three artists participated in a series of meetings and conversations to learn more about the area and the character of the neighborhood. Matthew Mazzotta’s artwork was selected for his exciting proposal of a large-scale Steller’s Jay overlooking the intersection of Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden Street.
Matthew Mazzotta’s proposal will create an iconic entrance to the neighborhood and bring a spot of color and fun to this heavily trafficked intersection.
“Involving community in the Public Art process is at the heart of what we do, centering community and using art to placekeep, honoring the people, history, and environment that makes each neighborhood unique. Highland Park chose an artwork that symbolizes bold, inquisitive connections to birds that make their presence known.”royal alley-barnes, Interim Director Office of Arts & Culture.
Inspired by the heavily wooded green landscape of Highland Park and the crest of the hill where the forest gives way to the built environment, this realistic but oversized Steller’s Jay will be perched upon a branch as a reminder that we share this location with all the rich wildlife that also calls this area “home”. When leaving Highland Park, the Steller’s Jay remains the guardian of the changing neighborhood and the connection between how we travel through space in cars, buses, bikes, and by foot. It also reminds us of how animals make daily migrations of their own. The tentative title for this artwork “Where’s the Party” comes from the fact that a group of jays is known as a “band,” “cast,” and a “party” of jays.
Construction on this intersection improvement project includes new permanent signal lights and roadway improvements which will begin in January 2023. The new artwork will be installed in the summer of 2023.
Matthew Mazzotta works at the intersection of art, activism, and urbanism, focusing on the power of the built environment to shape our relationships and experiences. His community-specific public projects integrate new forms of civic participation and social engagement into the built environment and reveal how the spaces we travel through and spend our time living within have the potential to become distinct sites for intimate, radical, and meaningful exchanges. Matthew Mazzotta received his BFA degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Master of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Program in Art, Culture, and Technology. He is TED Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, as well as a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University. Additional information about the artist can be found on his website.