Three artists selected to create solar-based art projects

The Office of Arts & Culture in partnership with Seattle City Light has selected Seattle artists —  Britta Johnson and Tivon Rice — and the interdisciplinary team SuttonBeresCuller to create semi-permanent, site-specific, solar-based artworks.

These projects are undertaken in conjunction with City Light’s Green Up program, which enables customers to invest in new, renewable energy sources and educate others about renewable energy through public demonstration projects.  The artworks will highlight renewable energy resources and provide educational, interactive demonstrations of solar energy.

SuttonBeres Culler will create a free standing installation activated by solar energy on Capitol Hill that will serve as a gateway to the Capitol Hill Arts District. The artwork will also assist in cultural way finding for the district.

Britta Johnson and Tivon Rice will each create a solar-based artwork for installation on city-owned property in a neighborhood. Locations are yet to be determined.

Johnson, Rice and SuttonBeresCuller were selected through an open call by a panel of arts professionals advised by community members and Seattle City staff. The artwork is funded by Seattle City Light 1% for Art and Green Up public demonstration funds.  The projects will be administered by the Office of Arts & Culture. Funds from Capitol Hill Arts District program will supplement the installation on Capitol Hill.

Britta Johnson is a Seattle-based stop-motion animator. She makes video installations, short films, and music videos. Her projects and collaborations have shown in venues including Seattle’s Lawrimore Project, Bumbershoot, the Henry Art Gallery, PICA’s TBA festival, the Walker Art Center, Mass MoCA and the Boston MFA. Recently, her Homeostasis video installation was on display in a group show at Greg Kucera Gallery. Johnson received a bachelor of arts from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Tivon Rice’s work explores representation and communication in the context of digital technologies.  He creates systems that pair immediate materials such as light, space and tangible forms with live and recorded sound and video.  Rice’s work has been exhibited at a number of venues including Suyama Space, On the Boards, Lawrimore Project and Nanji Residency Gallery at the Seoul Museum of Art in South Korea. His artwork is also in the collection of the Henry Art Gallery and the Portland Art Museum. Rice is a 2011-12 Fulbright Scholar and teaches courses in Video Art and Installation at the University of Washington. Rice received PhD candidacy from the University of Washington Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS).

SuttonBeresCuller are a trio of artists (John Sutton, Ben Beres, and Zac Culler) who have been working together with a unified vision since 1999. Site-specific installations, portable public art environments, performance, photography and sculpture have all played a part of their highly conceptual work designed to engage and invite participation from viewers. They attract (sometimes unsuspecting) audiences to new readings of and approaches to political, social, cultural, and aesthetic issues.  All three team members received their bachelor of fine arts from Cornish College of the Arts. They have exhibited at The Henry Art Gallery and Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle, Planthouse in New York City and Gusford in Los Angeles.

Photo credits:

SuttonBeresCuller; Big Top Grand Stand; 2014
Alupanel, steel, enamel, scissor lift and trailer
40’ x 9’ x 16’
Commissioned by Scotiabank for Nuit Blanche 2014, Toronto, Canada
Photo by Sam Javanrouh

Individual artists:
Tivon Rice photo by Tivon Rice
SuttonBeresCuller photo by SuttonBeresCuller
Britta Johnson photo by Regan MacStravic

Seattle Fire Stations art tour

Public artwork has been a mainstay in Seattle since the 1% for public art ordinance was passed in 1973. Seattle is home to more than 400 artworks whose locations span public buildings, and public spaces including parks, neighborhoods and community centers. With so much art to see in Seattle it can be overwhelming so today we will focus our tour and look at a few of the artworks integrated in our city’s fire stations.

There are 33 fire stations in the city and each has its own unique character. In 2003 the public approved the Fire Facilities and Emergency Response Levy. This program, which started in 2004, has been using levy proceeds and other funding to upgrade, renovate or replace 32 neighborhood fire stations, in addition to other necessary improvements to the Fire department. Included in the station upgrades are site specific artworks that reflect the character of the neighborhood and the important service the fire department provides to the city. Commissioned artists immersed themselves in the neighborhoods and the stations they were selected to create an artwork for. Here is a smattering of artworks we hope you enjoy and visit if you can.  To schedule a Fire station tour visit:

Central District Neighborhood Fire Station 6
The Call, 2012
Steve Gardner; Photo credit: Kelly Pajek
405 Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, Seattle, WA 98144

Description: The Call is a mural of aluminum and cast glass on the façade of Fire Station 6. The artwork is inspired by the energy of the firefighters’ response to an emergency. Images of water and fire surge out of the mural alongside bolts of lightning – an early icon of the original Fire Station 6.



Lake City Neighborhood Fire Station 39
Thornton Creek, 2010
Stephen Glassman; Photo credit: Stephen Glassman
2806 NE 127th St., Seattle, WA 98125

Description: Glassman’s Thornton Creek is a 28-foot-tall free standing sculpture, located within the rain garden of Fire Station 39. The artwork serves as a rainwater delivery system, moving runoff from the building’s roof to an underground cistern. The sculpture includes two raised planting beds that feature and support native Northwest grasses. The sculpture creatively reveals the sustainable efforts of the building to harvest and use rainwater for some of the station’s functions.

Ballard/Crown Hill Neighborhood Fire Station 35
Rescue, 2010
Kay Kirkpatrick; Photo credit: Peter de Lory
8729 15th Ave. NW, Seattle, WA 98117

Artist statement: :Rescue marks and shelters the entrance to Fire Station 35 symbolizing the balance between water and fire and the role firefighters play in that balance. An abstracted ladder juts upward toward the sky referencing the rescues firefighters perform daily. Floating near the top of the ladder is the firefighter’s adversary, the flame. Adorned with a neon crown and the number 35, the sculpture plays off the neighborhood’s 1950s architecture.”





West Seattle Neighborhood Fire Station 37
Lifter, 2010
Pete Beeman; Photo credit: Pete Beeman
7700 35th Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98126

Description: Pete Beeman’s Lifter is a 26–foot-tall sculpture with a kinetic feature that allows passersby to interact with the artwork. Lifter draws its forms from firefighting equipment, trees, umbrellas, and birds. The sculpture features two sets of arms that are activated at the base. As the user turns the crank, the arms of the sculpture rise and fall slowly, fanning out as they reach for the sky and gathering together as they swing down toward the ground.





Rainier Valley Neighborhood Fire Station 28
Fire Tower, 2008
Wayne Chabre; Photo credit: Jeanne McMenemy
9000 8th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106

Artist statement: “Fire Tower is reminiscent of the original towers that kept watch on Seattle’s neighborhoods. It celebrates the history and heroism of the fire department in four bronze bas-relief panels: downtown, the Great Fire, the waterfront and the history of the Fire Station 28 neighborhood.”







Mt. Baker Neighborhood Fire Station 30
Piller of the Community, 2013
Brian Goldbloom; Photo credit: Spike Mafford Photography
2931 South Mt. Baker Blvd., Seattle, WA 98144

Artist statement: “Sited along a legacy Olmsted-designed boulevard, and inspired by equipment used in firefighting, a classical column is presented as a 14’ granite fire hose with fittings, calling to mind the architecture of nearby Franklin High School.  A carved cityscape based on the Mt. Baker residential neighborhood surrounds the foot of the column.  Together, the work forms a symbol of firefighters’ indispensable service to, and partnership with, the community.”

Queen Anne Neighborhood Fire Station 20
Wind and Water, 2014
Rob Ley; Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist
2800 15th Ave. W., Seattle, WA 98119

Description: Rob Ley’s Wind and Water, (2014) marks the pedestrian entry sequence to Fire Station 20. The artwork is created with more than 100 one-inch stainless steel tubes, stands over 14 feet tall, and can bring to mind the flow of water, or the movement of the wind. The sculpture engages passing pedestrians, and frames the entrance to the building.






Greenwood Neighborhood Fire Station 21
Moment to Moment, 2011
Perri Howard; Photo credit: Spike Mafford Photography
7304 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103

Description: Moment to Moment is a 12-foot-tall, free-standing stone and glass sculpture located outside the public entrance of the fire station. LEDs illuminate the glass sections with blue/green lights that change to red/orange when triggered by the station’s fire alarm.




 Downtown Neighborhood Fire Station 10
Bamboo, Luminous, 2008; Jacqueline Metz and Nancy Chew; Photo credit: Spike Mafford Photography
Call and Response, 2008; Stuart Nakamura; Photo credit: Stuart Nakamura
Sentinels, 2008; Gloria Bornstein; Photo credit: Michael Burns
400 S. Washington St., Seattle WA 98104

In 2004, Gloria Bornstein was selected as the design team artist for the Fire Station 10 project.  To develop her art plan for the new facility, Bornstein studied the operations of Fire Station 10, the surrounding Pioneer Square and Chinatown-International District communities, and the neighborhoods’ history.

Graceful and powerful, bamboo symbolizes the qualities of enlightenment – resilience and adaptiveness.  bamboo, luminous is a metaphor for the strength and endurance of the immigrants to the International District and the service personnel of Fire Station 10, the Emergency Operations Center and the Fire Alarm Center.




Artist Stuart Nakamura says of his artwork: “Call and Response pays tribute to the service and valor of the firefighters of Fire Station 10 with these three elements:  a stainless steel arc of water containing the imagery of smoke and a firefighter; a rough-hewn, moss-covered granite boulder; and inlaid arcs of natural stone.  Known in the Seattle Fire Department as ‘The Rock,’ Fire Station 10 continues the historic tradition of protecting the Downtown and International District communities with its response to emergency calls.”

Gloria Bornstein’s artwork (Sentinels) playfully explores shifting perspectives through the placement of eight sculptures, diminishing in scale along the upgrade of the Fire Station 10 sidewalk.  The sculptures are inspired by my explorations of protective gear of different cultures and the beauty of Asian architecture and folk craft, reflecting the cultural diversity of the Chinatown-International District and Pioneer Square neighborhoods.

Waterfront call for artist series presents Stephen Vitiello

Stephen Vitiello has been commissioned for an integrated, sound-based artwork on the Elliott Bay waterfront.

Working with the sound-filled setting of the Seattle Waterfront, Vitiello will use sound as a major component in a new work that will expand visitors’ experience.

“The Seattle waterfront is beautiful and ever-changing—misty, then sunny, then rainy. It inspired the idea of a piece that would be environmentally played, that would change with the weather and tides,” says Vitiello.

Born in New York City, Vitiello lives and works in Richmond, Virginia, where he is Associate Professor in the department of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University. He began his career as a punk guitarist and composer, and moved into sound as an artistic medium around 1990. In 1999 he was artist-in-residence in the World Trade Center, resulting in a widely presented field-recorded installation. Recent solo exhibitions include All Those Vanished Engines, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (2011-2016) and A Bell For Every Minute, The High Line, NYC (2010-2011). Vitiello’s work was featured in the 2013 MoMA exhibition Soundings, the first major US museum survey of sound art. Working with the sound-filled setting of the Seattle waterfront, Vitiello will use sound as a major component in a new work that will expand visitors’ experience of the place.

Spring 2015 Exhibitions at Seattle City Public Galleries

Seattle Municipal Tower Gallery, City Hall Gallery, Ethnic Heritage Gallery and Seattle Presents Gallery

Seattle Downtown Historic Theater District
City Hall Lobby and Anne Focke Gallery
March 3 – April 30, 2015

The exhibition includes over 60 images, text and objects from the Seattle Downtown Historic Theater District, comprised of ACT – A Contemporary Theatre, The 5th Avenue Theatre, the Moore Theatre, the Paramount theatre, and Town Hall. This exhibition illustrates the history of our performing arts venues from their beginnings in the early 1900’s up to the present day.


Woven Woods
Naoko Morisawa
Ethnic Heritage Gallery
April 30 – July 14, 2015

Artist’s Reception May 7th Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Woven Woods features artwork from Naoko Morisawa. Her pieces are made of hundreds of very small slices of natural/oil-dyed woodchips on board. She received a BA in Design from Tama Art University, Tokyo.

Artist Statement: My artwork is hand-made of thousands of very small slices of oil-dyed wood chips on board. I like to incorporate the patterns in the wood and enhance them with oil-stain. The variety of wood grain is very beautiful and the pattern is never the same. The combinations of natural and oil-stained grains create interesting shadows and impressions. My imagery comes from common items: a cupcake, shoes, a wave, and waterfalls etc. This mosaic wood art-form innovation comes from a traditional Japanese style of art, though here I have improvised the shaped cuts (both lined and curved) into a woven arrangement and have added more color elements.

Image caption: Naoko Morisawa, Jellyfish in Treasure Island EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone), 2014, Handcrafted oil-stained wood mosaic, acrylic, oil, Japanese paper and sumi. 36” x 24”, Photo credit: Ken Morisawa

Seattle Municipal Tower Gallery
April 2 – June 30, 2015

Play features a number of works that inspire and delight visitors with images featuring play and recreation. In an ode to the transition from spring to summer, the gallery will remind its audience of the joys of summer in the great Pacific Northwest.

Image caption: Jacob Lawrence, Play, 1999, Silk screen on Rising Two Ply Rag paper, 23” x 32”, Photo credit: Spike Mafford

Seattle Presents: Low Res
Seattle Presents Gallery
March 23 – May 15, 2015

Waterfront Seattle and the Office of Arts & Culture present work from Low Res: artists respond to the waterfront. As part of the Waterfront Art Program, artists working in various art forms, media and genres have been asked to conduct short residencies on the waterfront, producing works that will be digitally archived and distributed through the city as posters, performances, or other ephemeral forms. The first Low Res program features photographers Eirik Johnson, Canh Nguyen, and Alice Wheeler. Each photographer produced a portfolio of digital images and a single print for the City of Seattle’s portable works collection. Their full portfolios will be presented alongside the individual prints.

Image caption: Alice Wheeler, Low Res Photo 2, 2014, Archival inkjet print, Photo courtesy of the artist