press release

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

Artist Leo Berk Ties the Past to the Present for Water Taxi Passengers

4Culture and King County Marine Division’s First Public Art collaboration


Tuesday, September 17, 2019 marks the celebration of the new King County Passenger Ferry Terminal at Colman Dock in Seattle. Public art is an essential new part of the visitor experience, as passengers will now come and go through artist Leo Berk’s Claim Stakes, a series of redwood stanchions and nautical rope placed throughout the terminal.

This is a photograph of people walking through the new Colman Dock passenger ferry. They are walking through the stanchions designed by artist Leo Berk.
Leo Saul Berk, Claim Stakes, 2019. Stained redwood and polyester rope. Photo by Joe Freeman.

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The art provides a welcoming gateway and a visual indication of a uniquely Northwest journey. Berk’s design reminds us of how our working waterfront developed where tidal flats once existed. Tied together with blue nautical rope, the stanchions reflect the pilings that underpin the waterfront underneath the terminal. The stanchions are stained to reference tidal marks and the rope gently curves to mimic the waves of Puget Sound.

Berk’s installation is the result of a successful first-time collaboration between 4Culture and the King County Department of Transportation Marine Division, which is responsible for managing Water Taxi service.

The new passenger-only ferry terminal opened in August featuring a new covered facility, ADA improvements, expanded space, and incredible views. Construction required the removal of over 7,000 tons of creosote-treated timber piles, capping of contaminated sediments, while minimizing impact to marine mammals. The new facility has earned a Platinum certification under the King County Green Building Program. The opening of the new terminal also marks the 10 year anniversary of passenger ferry service in King County.

This is Leo Berk’s second transit-based public art commission: his work can also be seen at the Sound Transit University Link Light Rail Station. In addition to many public art commissions, Berks has had solo exhibitions at the Frye Art Museum, and the Seattle Art Museum.

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“The artwork is integrated in a functional way that adds aesthetic beauty to the facility. What a fun project with a great outcome for the travelling ferry rider.”
–Paul H. Brodeur, Division Director, King County Metro Transit Department Marine Division