Mobilizing a Collective, Street Art Dream: Phase 1


Public Art 4Culture is working to mobilize a collective dream: transform the SODO Busway of building backs into a vibrant street art corridor.

The Corridor, dedicated to bus and light rail, spans 2-miles of 5th Avenue South, between South Royal Brougham Way and South Spokane Street in Seattle’s SODO (South of Downtown) neighborhood. Lined on both sides by building backs, it’s like an uncovered tunnel and the visual point of entry to Downtown for bus riders from South King County, and visitors traveling from SeaTac Airport by light rail. In fact, over 43,000 Metro and Sound Transit riders come into the city with eyes on these walls each weekday!

The potential for street art to transform the SODO Corridor into a vibrant and coherent experience, one that unfolds as one travels through, has been a topic of conversation for some time. A dream shared by local artists, arts administrators, property and business owners, and more. Public Art 4Culture, working in a new way, is providing seed money and project management for what we see as the first phase of building this collective dream: developing a plan.

Enter Gage Hamilton. Hamilton is an artist, art director and curator and co-founder of Forest for the Trees, a Portland, OR-based project now in its third year of spotlighting local talent and bringing in national and international street artists to work in a collaborative setting to produce new work on walls freely accessible to the Portland community. Hamilton was selected from a pool of 7 invited artists (thanks panel of artists and SODO business reps!) for the role of Planning Artist.

Over the coming months, he will survey and inventory the Corridor and work closely with 4Culture staff and a stakeholder group to develop a set of recommendations related to scale, motifs, phasing, community engagement and budget allocations.

I’m excited about the opportunity to extend the work I’ve been doing in Portland, but in a Seattle-specific way, Hamilton explains.

This Corridor offers a truly unique, in-motion viewing experience, and I’m looking forward to working with 4Culture and the many people already involved in this project to create a framework that is specific enough to give guidelines for artwork development and broad enough to empower artists to generate ideas.

We’re excited to launch this first phase of the project, acknowledging that we don’t yet know what the outcome will be. How many walls, how many artists, when, financially backed by whom? All things Gage and team will tackle in the coming months. The coalition-building is in motion and evolving, and we’ll keep you posted.

© Cyrcle & Gage Hamilton, Chase Dreams, 2014. Zipper Buliding, Portland, OR. Photos by Gage Hamilton.
© Cyrcle & Gage Hamilton, Chase Dreams, 2014. Zipper Buliding, Portland, OR. Photos by Gage Hamilton.