Gene Gentry McMahon
A series of mixed-media portraits honor significant personalities in King County history.
Gene Gentry McMahon’s 13 Visionaries honors the work of individuals who have contributed to the history King County—activists, artists, politicians, spiritual leaders, and educators that shaped the region with their tireless community service. These extraordinary figures were chosen by the King County Council and the County Executive.To create the mixed-media portraits installed in each of the Chinook Building’s elevator lobbies, McMahon conducted extensive research and interviews. She distilled this information into images that collage painterly likenesses with printed graphic elements, providing a figurative setting for each portrait. Some of the region’s notable historic structures are depicted, such as Mt. Zion Baptist Church and the Kingdome. Steel reliquary boxes house all of the works and fit the scale of the designated sites between the elevators. Etched into their frames are the names of the honorees and brief biographies.
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McMahon, a painter and muralist based in Seattle, worked closely with several collaborators to make this artwork: fabricators Shane Lowe and Kelly Lowe (aka flyLo), who crafted the steel cases, and graphic designer Leslie Hoge.
The 13 Visionaries
- Ivan Doig, celebrated Pacific Northwest fiction and nonfiction author
- Tyree Scott, grassroots organizer for social justice and workers’ rights
- City of Tolt, one of the earliest towns settled in King County and a fertile farmland where the Snoqualmie people lived for centuries
- Bernice Stern, a civil rights activist and the first woman elected to the King County Council
- Jean Hueston, public school teacher and South King County activist
- John Spellman, the first King County Executive, historic preservationist, and the 18th Governor of Washington State
- Father Peter Francis Hylebos, advocate for Native people and other oppressed populations, facilitator of peaceful settlement in the region
- Ruby Chow, restaurateur, community activist, and the first Asian American elected to the King County Council
- Abe Morris, coal worker, union leader, and two-term state representative
- Barry Bianchi, HIV/AIDS activist
- Bernie Whitebear, Native American activist and leader who unified Northwest tribes to fight for the return of their land
- Anna Herr Clise, founder of Children’s Orthopedic Hospital, which later became Seattle Children’s Hospital
- Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney, 40-year pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, human rights activist, and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Pacific Northwest lieutenant
About the Location
Chinook Building King County’s Chinook Building houses a number of county services and workspace for more than 1,400 employees. The 13-story structure opened in 2007 and was rated LEED Gold for its sustainable building technologies, including a green roof, efficient water and energy use, and indoor environmental quality. Wright Runstad & Company developed the Chinook Building for…
Read more about the art and artists at Chinook Building. More >