press release

Press Contact: Christina DePaolo, (206) 263-1588

Cath Brunner to leave 4Culture

27 years of visionary leadership in Public Art for King County


Cath Brunner, architect of one of the most innovative public art programs in the country will leave 4Culture to pursue independent consulting work. 4Culture is King County’s cultural funding and services agency supported by Lodging Taxes and the 1% for Art ordinance.

Full Release

As the founding director of 4Culture’s Public Art program, Cath has dedicated over 27 years to creating meaningful opportunities for artists and arts professionals to affect public policy, stimulate dialogue and shape the world we live in. She pioneered some of the first design team collaborations in the U.S., integrating artists, their ideas and vision into public projects from the very start.

Cath Brunner and Buster Simpson at the Brightwater Opening (Sept 24, 2011). © Photo by Rachael Dillman.
Cath Brunner and Buster Simpson at the Brightwater Opening (Sept 24, 2011). © Photo by Rachael Dillman.

Known for remarkable stewardship of large scale, multi-year, high profile, integrated public art projects and compelling public speaking engagements, Cath has been a strong advocate for public art and its economic, social, and environmental benefits. Career highlights include: consulting for the Port of Seattle to commission a series of 15 artworks at Sea-Tac International Airport; a master plan and integration of artwork into Harborview Medical Center and; a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant with mission-driven artworks and community gathering space at Brightwater; and the installation of John Grade’s Wawona sculpture in the new Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI).

Originally called Artist-Made Building PartsTM, Cath developed a print and online registry to stimulate economic opportunities for artists and promote the integration of art and architecture. This award-winning program generated over $8 million in creative employment opportunities during its lifespan. Cath established an innovative consulting practice for 4Culture that has expanded and sustained King County’s Public Art program through partnership with local, national, and international private developers and public entities.

A true visionary, Cath has built a culture that centers artists, ideas, and strategic risk-taking. Her forward-looking approach and assembly of an outstanding 4Culture Public Art team has resulted in groundbreaking projects such as Creative Justice, an arts-based alternative to incarceration for young people in King County, and Poetry on Buses, which celebrates local voices through multilingual poetry on bus, light rail, and streetcar lines.

During her tenure, 4Culture received 24 prestigious Public Art Network-Year in Review awards from Americans for the Arts.

In preparation for her departure, Cath stepped into a Project Manager role in April, and our own Kelly Pajek—formerly Senior Project Manager—took the lead as Public Art Director. Cath is currently wrapping up consulting projects for 4Culture.

The 4Culture staff, Board of Directors and Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC) would like to thank Cath for her visionary leadership and contributions to elevate the role of art and artists in society over so many years of service to the agency and the field of public art.

Related Links

“Be an Advocate:” An interview with Cath Brunner


“Cath has been an outstanding visionary at 4Culture for over 27 years. Under her leadership, the Public Art program has been lauded for its professionalism, innovation and creativity. We are going to miss her very much.”
– Brian J. Carter, 4Culture Executive Director

“I’ve worked with Cath for over 20 years, what she has contributed to the field of public art and design cannot be understated and will be very difficult to replace. She’s been a forceful champion and inspiration for those of us involved with building public places and strengthening our cultural landscape.”
– Kevin M. Carl, Principal at MAGNET design

“Cath has profoundly influenced and elevated the field of public art and has consistently created career-defining opportunities for artists. In her time at 4Culture, she has cultivated remarkable relationships with our King County partners and consulting clients, inspiring belief in the power of artists and the experiences they craft. The balance of these two gifts – civic vision and respect for artists’ voice – make for an exceptional leader. Cath is also not afraid of risk – for in the risk, is the reward. For those of us working in the field, she has been a steady guide in an often-complex landscape. I and the entire public art team will miss Cath dearly but will continue to champion the groundbreaking work that has defined Public Art at 4Culture.”
– Kelly Pajek, 4Culture Public Art Director

“Quite simply, Cath Brunner has made King County a better place to live. Her vision, her high level of accountability to the public good, and her respect and advocacy for artists has resulted in one of the best public art programs in the nation.”
– Tracey Wickersham, Director of Cultural Tourism for Visit Seattle, 4Culture Board of Directors Vice-President, Public Art Advisory Committee Board Representative