Amazon, South Lake Union: Tech, Business and Art, Too

  • "There Is Another Sky,” 2014, by Spencer Finch
"There Is Another Sky,” 2014, by Spencer Finch

The transformation of Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood from a quiet area of light industry and wholesale florists to a neighborhood of high-rise office buildings housing Amazon’s global empire has not been all business. Set among its many walkways and plazas are 20 site-specific public artworks by some of Seattle’s leading artists, commissioned by developer Vulcan Real Estate. While some loom large, others announce themselves more discreetly to the blue-badge-wearing workers venturing out for lunch or another meeting. Although privately funded, the pieces are available for all to experience. These are a few of our favorites.

Image by Benjamin Benschneider

1. “There Is Another Sky,” 2014, by Spencer Finch 515 Westlake Ave. N (in the public plaza at Westlake Avenue and Ninth Avenue N) » This glass canopy, positioned above stairs and lush plantings, is printed with abstract patterns in yellow and green that filter light like the leaves of tall trees. Finch augments the understory with LED lights whose sequences mimic the flights of fireflies.

Image by Benjamin Benschneider

2. “Woodpile,” 2012, by Jenny Heishman 207 Boren Ave. N (at Boren Avenue N and Thomas St.) » A stack of logs and a blue tarp draped haphazardly over a plank, rendered in painted steel and bronze, appears at first glance to be a pile of forgotten construction debris. Its permanence reflects the continuous rebuilding of Seattle, from pioneer days to the present.

Image by Vulcan Real Estate

3. “The Laundry Strike,” 2014, by Whiting Tennis Stack House, 1280 Harrison St. » This painted bronze colossus suggests the wicker hampers that once held clothes cleaned by female laundry workers, and is near the site where 700 of them went on strike in 1917.

Image by Vulcan Real Estate

4. “Re-Stack,” 2015, by Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo of Lead Pencil Studios 325 Ninth Ave. N (in the public plaza at Ninth Avenue N and Thomas Street) » This tall, stainless steel triumphant arch of horizontal and vertical panels resembles stacked shipping containers or cardboard boxes awaiting delivery. The sketch-like sculpture also suggests the half-built structures that appear throughout this and many other Seattle neighborhoods.

Image by Vulcan Real Estate

5. “Ping Pong Plaza,” 2004, by Buster Simpson ISB Building, 401 Terry Ave. N (in the public plaza off Harrison Street) » A metal ping pong table surrounded by bamboo and fitted with wide, diagonal legs that reveal the profiles of famed scientists. Players mix sport and creative endeavor by hitting the ball back and forth, just as the great minds of those scientists once bounced ideas between one another. 


We also like:

Image by Vulcan Real Estate
"Cabin Corners," by Jenny Heishman

Image by Vulcan Real Estate
"Nebulous," 2015, by Dan Corson

Image by Vulcan Real Estate
"Placeholders," by Claudia Fitch

Womxn's March: Signs, Outtakes and Observations

Womxn's March: Signs, Outtakes and Observations

How could a bunch of people wearing handmade hats be wrong?
| Posted
A widely photographed sign from the Seattle's Womxn's March

A number of Seattle magazine editorial staff attended Saturday's historic Womxn's March. These are their reflections of the event. 

I was about 9 or 10 the first time I was thrown from a horse. Horses can be skittish, especially when they hear something but can’t see it. That was what happened on the trail that day, something moving in the brush. Before I knew it, I was on the ground and my horse was bolting towards the barn. It was the first time I had the wind knocked out of me, too.

When Donald Trump nabbed his electoral college win (not to be confused with the popular vote), it was as if my comfortable ride, cruising along in Seattle’s progressive bubble, jolted to a stop, knocking my wind out with it. 

But Saturday’s march, which some estimates say drew nearly 175,000 people, restored my wind, and my voice too, as I chanted and whooped along with groups of sign-toting old women and young women dressed as suffragettes, little boys in Batman costumes, men in “pussy” hats, familes spanning generations, folks in wheelchairs. The collective display of resistance—to the bigotry, facism and xenophobia that has bubbled to the surface alongside Trump's rise—was really something to see. This is what makes America great: All of its people, people of all ages, races, orientations and abilities, coming together. That the demonstration went off without a hitch or altercation, that voices were raised in solidarity and not rage, gave further creedence to the issues that gathered us together. I mean, I have never seen such a mass assembly of homemade knitwear in my life; how could a bunch of people wearing handmade hats be wrong?

Saturday I was reminded there can be an upside to getting your wind knocked out: in the moment it takes you to catch your breath, have a good look around. That day on the trail as I sat stunned and gasping, I spotted a doe and her fawns—that noise in the brush—trepidly coming out of the woods. Last Saturday, in Seattle alone, the scene was over a hundred thousand peaceful protesters, holding hands, trading high fives and united in a common hope. GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT


Kindness: it's a quality that is far too underappreciated in this day and age, seems particularly fleeting and, therefore, precious. Many of us have experienced complicated feelings of grief in the wake of the election results. My own grief has taken many twists and turns, but has held steadfast to an undercurrent of raw anger; an anger at others and at myself that I don’t think will ever fully go away. Anger, specifically when expressed by women and people of color, is often seen as a negative. But in our current times, I don’t see anger as a sign of being out of control. I see it as a form of passion, a way of caring so much that it lights a fire inside that cannot be held within the body any longer.



On Saturday, I was prepared to see anger, but I was disarmed to find something else: a transfiguration of pent up, sharp emotion into calm passion. Typical Seattle, where else could spirit appear so serene? The thing about kindness is that it’s not ostentatious, but gentle. The quietest gestures have some of the deepest resonance. And that’s what I saw: people being kind to one another, simply, quietly, gently. Strangers reached out to each other with conversation, humor, comfort and even snacks! Policemen, window washers, firemen, bus drivers and others at work smiled and waved. Marchers contributed to local businesses and those businesses supported them right back (thanks Phở Bắc for letting us charge our dying phones while we gratefully dined on your phenomenal pho and iced coffees). There is no one magical march that can singlehandedly change the course of things to come, and there’s a tremendous amount of work to be done, but I needed to see people being kind to each otherbecause seeing is believingand I think our country needed it, too. Stay angry, but above all else, stay kind. NIA MARTIN

The sheer numbers of marchers were amazing, and the camaraderie among them infectious. I really loved the signs, though—so many of them creative expressions of the fears and frustrations of the marchers. Wouldn't it be great if someone collected and exhibited them? It would be an inspiring tribute to this event. VIRGINIA SMYTH

I was blown away with the peacefulness and positivity of the march. It felt more like a cathartic victory rally than a protest with everyone coming together for the same reasons. Really empowering and just the shot in the arm we all needed to continue fighting the good fight.

A friend did, however, note an important point, as she observed police in soft gear and on bicycles, whereas at the Black Lives Matter march two months ago, they were outfitted in riot gear. "Why police lining the route and following every move of the BLM marchers but not this day?" she asked. "We know why. It's not okay."

For every small step forward made on Saturday (and there were millions of them around the world), perhaps our boldest leaps are still ahead. RACHEL HART

Seattle magazine reader Jenni Kane knitted 29 hats for the event; she gave her last one to Tom Douglas, pictured here with her