In remembrance: Rolon Bert Garner

Sadly, Seattle lost another  art icon this week with the death of Rolon Bert Garner; he was 75. Garner attended the Museum Art School in Portland and was founder and visual arts director for the Seattle Bumbershoot summer arts festival and for many years was arts director of the historic Two Bells Tavern in Seattle. He was also a former curator with the Seattle Art Museum and co-founder of Art Tech. Garner served as a commissioner on the Washington State Arts Commission and worked with the Seattle Arts Commission. He also taught in western Washington and Oregon.

While Garner has passed, his legacy and artwork lives on. In Seattle, located along a trail in Sturgus Park on Beacon Hill, the artwork Equality was created by Garner and Ken Leback in 1996. The granite, bronze and poured concrete Equality features 35 granite houses, sitting in a grid on dark gray, polished granite pavers. Facing the 35 houses is a circular path encompassing a grass berm on which sits a concrete pillar topped by one more house. Among the houses in the grid, where a 36th house would stand, there is a space with a plaque bearing a quotation from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America:

Providence has not created mankind entirely free. It is true that around every man a fatal circle is traced beyond which he cannot pass, but within the wide verge of that circle he is powerful and free; as it is with man, so with communities. The nations of our time cannot prevent the conditions of men from becoming equal, but it depends upon themselves whether the principle of equality is to lead them to servitude or to freedom, to knowledge or barbarism, to prosperity or wretchedness.

Equality was funded by Seattle Public Utilities 1% for Art (formerly Water Department 1% for Art) funds.

IMAGES: Rolon Bert Garner and Ken Leback, Equality, 1996, granite, bronze, poured concrete. Located at Sturgus Avenue South, east of the 12th Ave South bridge and Pacific Health Hospital, northeastern edge of Beacon Hill.