Guest Post: A Plan for the SODO Track Takes Shape

© Josh Keyes, Stampede, 2011.

If you’ve been following our blog, you know that we’ve been working to make the long-time dream of transforming the SODO Busway into an exciting art experience a reality. Artist and curator Gage Hamilton began crafting a plan for this urban corridor in the fall, and continues to make exciting progress, including selecting a theme and a name for what will eventually be an interconnected series of riveting art works. See what he’s come up with and what’s ahead:

Themes can be tough. A theme can help pull things together, tell a story, and guide a project’s curatorial process. But it’s important for a meaningful art project to give artists the freedom to do what they do best. If a theme is too specific, it can limit creativity and turn off artists’ thinking and interest. For me, the practice of curating, including coming up with a theme, is about trust rather than micromanaging—the way a coach or creative director finds the right talent to fit into a smart structure, and then stands back and tries not to get in the way.

With this in mind, I’m excited to share the theme we’ve chosen for this project. It echoes the experience of the 43,000 transit riders that travel through the SODO busway each weekday: motion, progression, speed. Moving forward. The vision is to transform the corridor into an imaginative raceway, in which transit riders race alongside the artwork. In reference to this theme, as well as to the railroad and light rail tracks lining the busway, we have come up with a name for the art corridor: The SODO Track.

The future SODO Track will enliven 2 miles of 5th Avenue South, between South Royal Brougham Way and South Spokane Street.
The future SODO Track will enliven 2 miles of 5th Avenue South, between South Royal Brougham Way and South Spokane Street.

Identifying a need, assembling a team, and managing a project is not new to 4Culture—seeding funds and then embarking with an artist on an ambitious partnership, as we are doing now, is. We are now beginning the fundraising, curatorial and coordination phase that can lead to implementation. I’m happy to share that we have strong support from the SODO Business Improvement Association and Urban Artworks. More partnerships like these will be key in ensuring that this project vision is realized.

We have a plan for wall prep and maintenance, and for making youth and community involvement an integral part of this project. Local, national and international artists—selected through curation and an open call process—will work alongside one another and invite the public in. We are seeking partners and sponsors to join us in transforming the “welcome mat” to Downtown Seattle for many years to come.

If things go as planned, we will hit the ground—err, walls—running this Summer! Keep an eye out for more info in the months to come.