Vision for Public Art Seattle Public Utilities

Vaughn Bell was the artist-in-residence at Seattle Public Utilities’ Drainage and Wasterwater division for two years starting in 2016. She worked closely with SPU staff to develop an art master plan to guide future public art commissions integrated into SPU Drainage and Wastewater projects.

SPU’s Plan to Protect Seattle’s Waterways is a strategy to control combined sewage overflows and reduce stormwater-related pollution in Seattle’s waterways. Bell created a two-part art master plan that guides 1% for art investments for SPU’s drainage and wastewater work. Book 1, The Vision for Public Art in Drainage and Wastewater, provides a unified conceptual framework for art projects. Book 2 is a catalog of potential public art projects that can be implemented over many years.

Throughout the plan Bell’s Guiding values are:

  • Engage people across generations and cultures
  • Promote environmental justice and equity
  • Commission diverse artistic approaches, media, scale and forms
  • Support and empower artists to create work that is rich, rigorous, deeply considered, relevant and specific to site and context
  • Promote art experiences that are meaningful, inspiring, thought-provoking and accessible

Book 1 unifies the vision for public art around a number of key aspects including:

Equity, Accessibility, Relevance and Engagement: artworks should be accessible to a diverse audience while maintaining rigor, relevance, depth of meaning, and esthetic value. The Drainage and Wastewater public art program seeks to address fundamental issues of equity and environmental justice by applying an equity lens to all aspects of the public art process, and by actively seeking out opportunities to engage communities in these issues through public art.

The vital work of drainage and wastewater in Seattle: Seattle is a city of water, by zooming out to see the connection of clouds, pipes, streets, swales and Sound, we begin to grasp the scale and importance of the work that drainage plays.

What art can do: witnessing the work of SPU drainage and wastewater, and seeing the flow of water through our environment, offers us the chance to experience our place as a complex ecology. Likewise, art can make the connection to science through acts of translation and creative communication.

The projects underway from Bell’s plan are the following Ship Canal Water Quality Project activities:

Tunnel Effluent Pump Station (Ballard) artist Jeffrey Veregge, of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, will work with the design team to create site-integrated art at this facility

24th Ave Northwest Pier (Ballard), artist Christian French was selected to design inlays to be integrated into the concrete surface for the public pier at the street end of 24th Ave NW and NW 54th St.

Wallingford East Shaft Site, RYAN! Fedderson, Confederated Tribes of the Colville will work to create artwork at this facility.

Fremont Site of the Ship Canal Water Quality Facility (also at Queen Anne) Project– the team of artist Preston Singletary, Tlingit, and David Franklin, will work on two sites on either side of the Ship Canal.

Vaughn Bell herself will create a series of artworks, called Connective Thread, that will link the various projects and bring above-ground attention to the underground connectivity of these projects.

Downtown Summer Sounds: noon concert series at City Hall

New Name, New Venue as DSA’s Concert Series Turns 40
Downtown Summer Sounds – formerly Out to Lunch

For the 40th consecutive year, the Downtown Seattle Association is producing Downtown Summer Sounds, a free outdoor concert series featuring shows across eight venues including City Hall throughout the summer.

The City Hall concerts will take place from 12-1 p.m. every Thursday, July 12 through August 30th at 600 4th Ave., Seattle

City Hall Concert Schedule:

Thursday, July 12, 2018 City Hall 12:00-1:00 Sassy Black
Thursday, July 19, 2018 City Hall 12:00-1:00 ZAHARA
Thursday, July 26, 2018 City Hall 12:00-1:00 The Blacktones
Thursday, August 02, 2018 City Hall 12:00-1:00 Sundae Crush
Thursday, August 09, 2018 City Hall 12:00-1:00 SWOJO
Thursday, August 16, 2018 City Hall 12:00-1:00 Honcho Poncho
Thursday, August 23, 2018 City Hall 12:00-1:00 Special Explosion
Thursday, August 30, 2018 City Hall 12:00-1:00 Katie Kuffel

For more information and a full schedule visit Downtown Summer Sounds

Bloomberg Philanthropies Announces 14 U.S. Cities in the Running to Receive Up to $1 Million in Funding for Public Art Projects that Address Civic Issues

Proposals Address a Range of Issues from Sustainability to Immigration Selected Cities Span from Anchorage to Honolulu

NEW YORK July 18, 2018 – Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced 14 finalists who could receive up to $1 million each as part of the 2018 Public Art Challenge, a program that aims to foster creative collaboration, address civic issues, and support local economies through public art. More than 200 cities applied with proposals addressing a range of pressing issues and social themes such as community development, environmental sustainability, and cultural identity. Many proposals also address issues like displacement, immigration, natural disaster recovery, and public health and safety. Additionally, the proposals reflect a diverse use of artistic mediums including augmented reality, light installations, murals, and performances.

“This year’s proposals focus on critical issues facing our country in exciting and creative ways,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Mayor of New York City 2002-2013. “The Public Art Challenge helps to highlight the role that public art plays in provoking conversation, supporting collaboration, and building strong communities, and we’re looking forward to announcing the winners.”

In February, Bloomberg Philanthropies invited mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit proposals for temporary public art projects that address important civic issues, and demonstrate an ability to generate public-private collaborations, celebrate creativity and urban identity, and strengthen local economies. Bloomberg Philanthropies has selected the following 14 cities to advance to the next round for consideration by submitting more detailed plans on their projects.

Anchorage, AK – Addressing Energy Policy and Economic Development: “SEED Community”

The City of Anchorage proposes a partnership with the Anchorage Museum to address climate change. The partnership creates “SEED Lab,” a center bringing together artists, designers, engineers, and community members to embed energy efficient solutions into city planning. The partnership will turn a neglected downtown building in the city’s nascent design district into a vibrant and vital civic center.

Austin, TX – Promoting Cultural Equity: “Right to the City”

The City of Austin proposes filling public parks in underserved communities with artwork to shine a light on cultural equity. The city seeks to encourage collaboration with artists by creating works that reflect the city’s unique cultural heritage and identities. The installations will come together through a partnership with the city, the Contemporary Austin Museum, and artist collective SUPERFLEX.

Baltimore, MD – Enhancing Public Safety by Reducing Violence: “The Baltimore Resurgence Project”

The City of Baltimore proposes creating a series of murals and sustainable landscape projects to address public safety in connection with Baltimore’s Violence Reduction Initiative. The proposed project will be a multi-sector collaboration between the Arts & Parks organization, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, and Baltimore’s Mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice.

Camden, NJ – Transforming Illegal Dumping Lots into Arts Spaces: “A New View”

The City of Camden proposes transforming lots currently used for illegal dumping along major transportation highways into spaces with arts programming. Spaces located along the city’s downtown transit hub will be converted into multi-purpose community forums to host art installations and provide a visual narrative to the more than 65,000 people who travel through Camden daily.

Coral Springs, FL – Inspiring Community Healing After Gun Violence: “The Power of Art”

The City of Coral Springs in partnership with the City of Parkland proposes developing five temporary installations to bring the community together in collective healing and reflection following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February of 2018. The artworks will serve as the community’s vision of change and hope for the future. The project will draw on and support Coral Springs Museum of Art’s “Healing with Art,” an art therapy program which began as an immediate response to the shooting.

El Paso, TX – Strengthening Cross-Border Relations between the U.S. and Mexico: “Border Tuner”

The City of El Paso proposes the development of a large-scale light and sound installation that highlights connections between El Paso in the U.S. and Ciudad Juárez in Mexico. The piece will provide a platform for a wide range of local voices and will be an opportunity to draw international attention to the complexity and interdependence between the sister-cities which create the largest bi-national metropolitan area in the western hemisphere.

Holyoke, MA – Celebrating Diverse Cultural Identities: “El Corazón de Holyoke/The Heart of Holyoke”

The City of Holyoke proposes developing visual art, performances, and cultural programming that celebrates the cultural identities of Latinx neighborhoods surrounding the city’s main street. This project aims to use the arts to improve neighborhood perceptions, support cultural pride, and catalyze economic opportunity.

Honolulu, HI – Shedding Light on Historical Narratives through Public Art: “Layers of Honolulu”

The City of Honolulu proposes creating augmented reality art experiences layered on ten bronze statues to tell the stories of Hawaiian communities that have been displaced due to colonialism and urban development. The city will also create and add augmented reality to two new temporary statues that honor underrepresented communities.

Jackson, MS – Inspiring Dialogue about Food Access: “Fertile Ground”

The City of Jackson proposes a city-wide exhibition with installations and performances to promote dialogue and inform policy related to food access. Installations and performances that explore food sovereignty, nutrition, domestic hunger, and the agrarian landscape will be deployed across areas of the city experiencing food access issues.

Miami-Dade County, FL – Raising Awareness about Climate Change through Public Art: “Climate Sync Miami”

Miami-Dade County’s proposal explores the urgent issue of rising seas and its impact on Miami through a series of site-specific temporary public art interventions. The Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, through its Art in Public Places Program, will commission 8-12 art works. The pieces, by internationally renowned artists and outstanding Miami-based artists, will be placed in 10 neighborhoods throughout Miami and Miami Beach at parks, libraries, and transportation locations.

Santa Rosa, CA – Exploring Resiliency and Natural Disaster Recovery: “Home”

The City of Santa Rosa proposes an artist residency program to explore concepts of home and resiliency in the aftermath of the recent and unprecedented wildfire disaster. Artists will be “residents” in active city agencies and have access to historical archives, community programs, and gallery space through a partnership with the Museums of Sonoma County. The residency will conclude with a public art exhibition and installations.

Seattle, WA – Illuminating Gentrification and Celebrating Identity: “Growing Home”

The City of Seattle proposes a series of public art installations that celebrate the cultural identities of the city’s Africatown to spark conversation about gentrification. Each structure would represent familiar places that together create a community – a barbershop, a library, a church, a café, and a restaurant. Each site will be formed in partnership with existing or displaced businesses and institutions. To amplify each physical installation, the Young Geniuses, Africatown’s youth tech group, will develop a digital platform to crowdsource ideas about the future development on each site.

St. Louis, MO – Exploring the Legacy of Displacement: “Facing Mill Creek Valley”

The City of St. Louis proposes a public art exhibition to address displacement. The project will explore the legacy of Mill Creek Valley, a predominantly African-American neighborhood established in the late 19th Century and razed in the 1950s and 60s to make way for the construction of a freeway. Artists will engage with local historians, community leaders, and historical materials to create artworks along a newly developed pedestrian corridor under the freeway.

Tulsa, OK – Reclaiming History through Public Art: “Greenwood Art Project”

The City of Tulsa proposes a public art project that celebrates a vibrant community in the Historic Greenwood District known as Black Wall Street. Comprised of black-owned businesses that emerged in the early 20th century, in 1921, Black Wall Street was subject to both racially motivated attacks and destructive urban renewal projects in the 1950s. A team of artists will develop artwork that deepens the collective understanding of the Greenwood story.

“This year’s applications reflect a diversity of creativity and exciting experimentation for the public to experience, and the willingness of civic leaders to embrace artists in addressing complex urban challenges.” said Kate D. Levin, head of Bloomberg Philanthropies arts team. “We are grateful to the cities that applied to this year’s Public Art Challenge, and look forward to learning more about our finalist projects.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies will select at least three winners from among these 14 finalists in the fall to execute their projects over a maximum of 24 months. The grant is intended to provide catalytic funds as part of a strong, committed consortium of supporters. As such, the Bloomberg Philanthropies grants will cover project-related expenditures including development, execution, and marketing, but will not fund 100 percent of the total project costs.

The Public Art Challenge is a part of Mike Bloomberg’s American Cities Initiative, an effort to help U.S. cities generate innovation and advance policy. The Public Art Challenge allows mayors and artists to join forces to elevate the value of including the creative sector when developing solutions to significant urban issues.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has a proven track record of supporting creative and innovative public art. Over 400 cities have submitted proposals for consideration in the Public Art Challenge since 2014. The foundation’s inaugural Public Art Challenge catalyzed $13 million for local economies across the four winning regions and illuminated civic issues including economic decline, vacancy, water conservation and police-community relations.

More information about the Public Art Challenge can be found on


About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in 480 cities in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $702 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagramSnapchat, and Twitter.

Seattle AIDS Memorial Selects Lead Artist

Community leaders, in partnership with the City of Seattle, are poised to move forward on a plan to create an AIDS memorial on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

In March 2018, The AMP: AIDS Memorial Pathway and Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture issued a call for artists to submit qualifications for the project, which will be a physical place for remembrance and reflection, utilizing technology to share stories about the epidemic and the diverse community responses to the crisis and providing a call to action to end HIV/AIDS, stigma, and discrimination.

A five-member, community-based selection panel reviewed the submissions and interviewed three finalists in June. The committee assisted by advisers, also community based, selected social practice artist Horatio Hung-Yan Law to lead a team of artists to complete the project. Law pursued at MFA at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. The impetus for his arts degree was his first-hand experience during the early years of the AIDS crisis in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

“Much of my work stems from my identity and experience as a gay US citizen of Asian heritage,” says Law. “Social interaction and community participation are important aspects in my installation work and public art projects. I create work for regular people that examines issues of identity, memory, history and the meaning of community. As a public artist who is interested in socially engaged work, I value collaboration and partnership with community members through collecting ideas, cultural materials, and engaging residents in planning and production of public art.”

“Horatio has created wonderful works of public art in Seattle and other communities,” according to Tom Rasmussen, The AMP’s Chair. “We’re thrilled to work with this talented and sensitive artist. There will be many opportunities for public involvement as he begins to develop the art plan for the AMP.”

Horatio Law’s public art portfolio includes works created for the City of Tacoma, the Housing Authority of Portland, City of Seattle, Oregon State Hospital, Sisters of the Road, Tri-Met’s Portland-Milwaukee Light-Rail Line, Portland Parks & Recreation, and Seattle’s Asian Counseling and Referral Service.

The AMP: AIDS Memorial Pathway is part of the Seattle Capitol Hill Light Rail Station Development, a long-awaited and transformational project for the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Slated to open in mid-2020, The AMP will be located on the north edge of Cal Anderson Park and on the public plaza of the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station. The Station will include four buildings and will provide 428 apartments, including 178 affordable apartments, and ground floor retail. The development will also include a community room available to the public and a public plaza that will serve as the home of Capitol Hill Neighborhood Farmers Market as well as a venue for other community events.

Information about Horatio Law and the project’s history, site selection, and current status is available at

The AMP: AIDS Memorial Pathway is supported by the City of Seattle, the Seattle Parks Foundation, Pride Foundation, Lucky 7 Foundation, and individual donors.

Image: Lost & Found
10′ x 30′ x 30′
Screen size: 8′ x 8′
Mixed-media installation.
Single-Channel Video Projection on Silk Rose Petals and Red Thread. Image Gallery, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, Oregon
An installation with projection and sound on a screen made of silk rose-petal and red silk thread. The projection is a series of portraits of Portland parents and their adopted Chinese children projected on an 8’x8′ screen; a soundtrack of a Buddhist chant plays softly in the background. The installation is a meditation on conflicting issues raised by trans-cultural adoptions: individuals and the collective, uniqueness and commonality, longing and belonging, loss and gain. The screen symbolically and literally stitched the family together, as the screen itself was communally constructed by families and friends over several weeks.


Arts in Parks returns to Seattle Parks this summer

Events and art installations June through November 2018

Now in its third year, Arts in Parks, a partnership between Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Office of Arts & Culture, is offering a number of free events and temporary art projects that will activate community parks this summer. From June through November 2018 Seattleites and visitors will be treated to events for the whole family, from Shakespeare In The Park to Paint and Smoothies. There is something for everyone this summer! For more information and a calendar guide about the events visit here. Check out the Arts in Parks 2018 brochure for events and art installations at a park near you.

Arts in Parks supports 38 events through $205,000 invested in the community through grants and temporary public art projects. The Arts in Parks program invests in new and established community festivals, art happenings and music concerts that enliven Seattle parks by promoting arts and culture, celebrating our diversity, building community connections and energizing parks while connecting with underserved communities.

Programs include events, series, public art installations, and family-friendly kid centered activities in neighborhood parks throughout the northeast, northwest, central, southeast and southwest regions.

Highlights include: 

Six Walls at Pritchard Park: An art installation at Pritchard Island Beach made of six freestanding gallery walls that will display the work of local Black artists. Participants are asked to bring one piece of their own artwork to drop-off points across the city; the first 25 artists will have their work shown. This project hopes to provide a welcoming space for Black artists to show their work. Created by artist Khadija Tarver. 

TUFFEST: This annual festival presented by TUF is a celebration of visual art and music with the addition of educational workshops. The event centers marginalized communities, including people of color, women, and trans and gender-nonconforming folks. 

ANiMA: a cultural event celebrating ancestry and heritage through interactive, multimedia performances and storytelling. Artists perform original music with live projected animation, shadow dancing and puppetry with an invocation led by Korean drumming group Olleam, community activist group Sahngnoksoo and LQ Lion Dance. This event will occur during the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival, a time of paying homage to ancestors that are believed to visit the living during this time.

Theater for Young Children: Performances and music from Latin America, written for ages 3-9 and fun for all.