Above/featured: On the Art Walk trail.
In northeast Seattle, the NOAA Art Walk is contained fully within the campus of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Western Regional Center (NOAA WRC), located at Sand Point next to Magnuson Park. Initially, I’d intended only to visit one sculpture from which a “fairly successful” local band got its name. I explored the entirety of the Art Walk on a breezy sunny early-spring morning for an easy peaceful walk on a trail hugging Lake Washington’s shoreline. Over a two- to three-hour period, I encountered only a handful of other visitors, some of whom may have been NOAA staff.
NOAA Art Walk: art works
The Art Walk on the grounds of the NOAA WRC opened to the public in 1982-1983.
Knoll for NOAA
Scott Burton’s piece adjacent to Lake Washington is a terraced-garden viewpoint with chairs and benches cut from granite boulders. Is the sculpture decorative, functional, or both?
With his interest in environmental sculptures, George Traka’s piece almost invites boaters to tie their vessels to the wooden berth and invite park visitors to sit on the dock-like structure. The cedar and steel deck lies on top of foundations of the site’s former navy airfield.
A Sound Garden
Known as a “sculptor of/with sound”, Douglas Hollis’ sculpture with organ pipes and steel towers draws the most attention. In my piece about looking for traces of Chris Cornell, I wrote:
The 1982-1983 sculpture by Douglas Hollis consists of hollow pipes and multiple steel towers with weathervanes. In the 85-second video below, you can pick up what I describe as “high-pitched hollow whistles and wails,” as moving air rotates each piece of the overall sculpture and pushes through the central vertical pipe and transverse gaps of an individual tower. Extraneous sounds include gusts picked up by the microphone; yaps and chirps from birds; barks from happy dogs at the no-leash park nearby; and the drone of float-planes overhead. There’s something transcendent about the experience, grounded to the earth like the towers while listening to music generated by moving air … In 1984, Chris Cornell, Hiro Yamamoto, and Kim Thayil formed the band “Soundgarden,” named after Hollis’ sculptural installation.
Siah Armajani has been interested in creating public art which “bridges” use with site location and encourages further thinking and communication about public interactions with his art. For his piece, he created two terracotta concrete bridges embedded with
quotes from Herman Melvin’s “Moby Dick.”
The NOAA Art Walk is accessible weekdays (except holidays) from 9am to 4pm, with last entry into the Art Walk ending about 3pm; there is no admission charge. The primary entrance is at the NOAA Guard House on NE NOAA Drive just east of 63rd Ave NE; see the map below. The NOAA WRC campus is open to employees and sponsored guests, but all other visitors must present photo-identification and register their presence at the guard station. I arrive from downtown Seattle on public transport with bus 62. As non-NOAA visitor, I disembark the bus at the guard house, although the bus continues its route within the NOAA campus. I’m fairly certain U.S. citizens can simply show their state driver’s license, but as non-U.S. citizen, I brought my passport. I register my name with the guards and after being presented with an outline of the Art Walk and with instructions to stay on the trail, I’m off on my own to explore. There’s another guarded entrance at the southeast corner of the NOAA campus next to Magnuson Park’s no-leash dog park, but this secondary entrance was closed during my visit. There are no public washrooms on the trail; washrooms can be found in neighbouring Magnuson Park. Check online for updates on (temporary) site closure and changes to public transport.
I made all images above on 4 Mar 2020 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-hbO.