On Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, Seattle City Light, in collaboration with City of Seattle Arts & Culture, dedicated two new pieces to the artistic landscape surrounding the utility’s North Service Center. The two pieces “Undulating Currents” and “Licton Flow” were created by renowned artist W. Scott Trimble and commissioned with the City Light 1% for Art funds administered by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.
Members of both city departments along with members of the Licton Springs community and the artist himself provided remarks at the unveiling event, lauding the collaborative spirit of the entire process.
“When Scott developed this project, it was to celebrate the work that City Light and its employees do for the city providing energy,” said Jason Huff, Project Manager, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. “But a lot of that work (outside of power lines) is relatively invisible to people. The source of our electricity is hydropower. Scott wanted to reveal that and make the invisible visible to people. And, with that concept, we had great support from City Light.”
“Undulating Currents” is a striking representation of the fluidity of water, a vital source for generating power for Seattle. The ribbon-like waves converge at the corner of 98th Street and Stone Way, forming a loop near the intersection. “Licton Flow,” a smaller piece in size but not in impact, is staged as if it is emerging out of the ground. Not unlike its namesake, Licton Springs, located a few blocks away. Trimble hopes that visitors will create their own interpretations of what the pieces symbolize and mean for themselves.
“I want people to create their personal narrative of what the pieces mean to them,” Scott explained. “Whether it’s the fluidity of the work or even the color. There are many ways to interpret it so I hope that will create a dialogue.”
The flowing and converging themes of both pieces are symbolic of their own process. Unlike most pieces installed through the 1% Art Fund, City Light was heavily involved in the manufacturing of the pieces. Scott worked with City Light’s Shop crews to build the pieces, using materials like conduits that the utility uses every day to protect and route electrical wiring. Crews bent and painted the conduits and installed the pieces outside of the North Service Center to meet Scott’s expectations.
While the project was unique to the utility, its crews treated it as if it was their project, giving them the time and attention needed to meet their own expectations.
“There are nearly 200 years of experience between our teams,” City Light’s Dan McKinnon explained. “Scott had a rendering and a vision, so it was our job to make it a reality. It’s what we do.”
“J.D. Ross, the father of City Light, had the vision to build hydroelectric dams on the Skagit…Those were built largely through City Light shops,”
said former City Light Utility Support Services Director Bernie O’Donnell and current vice president at Vanir Construction Management during the unveiling event. “That vision is now hydroelectric power, being delivered via conduits. It really comes full circle.”
“Undulating Currents” and “Licton Flow” are located around the North Service Center and are open to the public. These newest additions continue the tradition of City Light’s inclusion of art throughout its facilities.