King County Metro’s Northgate Transit Center opened to the public on June 6, 1992. Artist Cris Bruch was a member of the original design team. He worked closely with architects Zimmer Gunsul Frasca of Portland and Barbara Oakrock of Seattle to influence the overall look and feel of the site. In addition, he created fifteen free-standing Corten steel sculptures for the urban landscape – eight larger animal silhouettes and seven smaller animal cutouts. These Silhouettes and Cutups represent his first-ever public commission.
Now, almost 30 years later, the site is home to Sound Transit’s newest light rail station and another permanent artwork by Bruch. Due to this redevelopment and expanded use, 4Culture was asked to find alternative placement for the sculptures. Artwork in the King County Public Art Collection often needs to be moved to accommodate growth, but not all situations result in such generous partnership and resource sharing. STart (the Sound Transit art program), King County Parks, King County Metro, ArtSite Ltd., and numerous community stakeholders contributed to the successful transfer of Bruch’s work from Northgate to King County’s Island Center Forest (ICF) Westside Trailhead on Vashon Island.
An ideal location for the spirited art, the ICF natural area is bit wild and untamed but already manipulated by human interventions such as fencing, signage, and the clearing and excavation that created a borrow pit for the neighboring Vashon Island Recycling and Transfer Station. The soft-surface trail sees regular pedestrian and equestrian traffic and is easily accessed via a maintenance road.
I think this new location is so much better than the original site. There is space to see the work clearly, there’s enough space between the sculptures to create anticipation and surprise. Island Center Forest is a treasure, and I hope Silhouettes and Cutups are well received, and that they inspire affection for the whole forest. – Cris Bruch