In 2007, Seattle City Council called for the creation of a new Seattle Center Skatepark after the former skatepark at the Center was closed. Early in the skatepark’s design process, Seattle artist Perri (Lynch) Howard collaborated with the design team and the skateboarding community to develop artwork for the new park.
Howard created Focus, an artwork inspired by and reflective of skateboards themselves – a series of laminated, safety glass panels that display imagery drawn from skateboard decks. The artist collected images for the artwork from digital scans of the marks and patterns found on the underside of used skateboards and placed this digital imagery throughout the park— on the Thomas Street fence, the vent shaft at the northern end of the park, and the skate ramp on the park’s southern wall. Howard also worked with the design team to select concrete colors that mimic the browns and blacks of laminated wood and grip tape, integral aspects of every skateboard.
In collaboration with Seattle Center and the skateboard community, Howard created a memorial to James Crabtree, a Seattle Center staff member who loved skateboarding and had a deep commitment to the first Seattle Center skatepark.
Howard says of Focus: “The chips, scrapes and gauges stand as a record of the determination it takes to master tricks and make the sport look easy. Images of broken skateboard decks draw attention to the wear and tear it takes to hone one’s movements into the high-velocity grace of skateboarding.”
Seattle Center worked closely with the skateboarding community on the design of the skatepark, which has a surface area of 10,000 square feet and features a street plaza with ledges, stairs and transitions for all skill levels and abilities.
The artwork Focus was funded with Seattle Center 1% for Art and Seattle Center capital funds.
IMAGES: Perri Howard, Focus, 2009, laminated safety glass and digital imagery. Located at Seattle Center Skatepark at Thomas Street and Second Avenue North. Photos by Matthew Lee Johnston.
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.