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“Skateable art” inspires questions, concerns

July 18th, 2013 at 4:20 am | Posted by Andrew Hamlin

Jefferson Park neighbors and local skaters had plenty of questions and concerns at a meeting Monday night sponsored by Seattle Parks and Recreation regarding the proposed “skateable art” installation at the Park. Discussion, after the presentation of the project, became intense and occasionally heated. The seats at the Jefferson Community Center were not packed, but most attendees to the meeting had something to say.

Pam Kliment, a planner from Parks and Recreation, opened the meeting by stating that three sites for the skate sculpture had been tentatively chosen in Jefferson Park. Red Bull energy drinks, the sponsor of the project, hope to “have the project in the ground” no
later than August. Kliment added, “Red Bull has dealt honorably with the Parks Department.”

Ryan Barth, identifying himself as a “cheerperson” for local skateboarding activities and by the Parks Department as a representative of the Seattle Sports Advisory Council, praised the city’s “great skateboarding culture.” He mentioned that Red Bull had decided on Jefferson Park after an inquiry into putting the sculpture at Myrtle Edwards Park “didn’t work out,” in large part because of the park’s neighbors.

Bob Snyder, Marketing Manager for Red Bull in Seattle, took the floor. He gave his word that Red Bull was “not here just to advertise our brand,” and the purpose of his company is “to give people and ideas wings.” He said Seattle has been chosen for the skate sculpture out of seven cities originally considered.

Metal artist C.J. Rench showed a short presentation of his previous projects, giving an idea of what the completed sculpture will look like. He mentioned that he’s working in collaboration with Torey Pudwill, a prominent professional street skater, to work on the artistic and skateable aspects of the sculpture at once.

After a short announcement from a man who entered the meeting to say a Pontiac in the parking lot had had its window smashed, Kliment opened the floor to questions and comments.

Frederica Merrell of the Jefferson Park Alliance spoke out against the three proposed sites, saying all three are in heavily-trafficked areas and might also interfere with irrigation. She proposed placing the skate sculpture at Lafayette Avenue South or on the west side of the reservoir at 16th Avenue South. She encouraged Red Bull and the Parks Department to “go back to the site discussion.” She also mentioned that the existing art pieces in the park are attracting graffiti and tagging, so that would be a concern for any new art piece.

Mira Latoszek, also of the Jefferson Park Alliance, wanted to make sure that the skate sculpture would not interfere with the general layout and “flow” of the park: “We worked in the spirit of the Olmsteds [when designing the Park].”

Other discussions involved the level or levels of skating ability the sculpture would require, and whether the piece would attract crime or graffiti/tagging issues. Ryan Barth spoke in favor of installing a graffiti wall that would allow graffiti artists and taggers to express themselves within the limits of the wall, although Merrell seemed skeptical of this idea.

The parties present agreed to meet later in the week to review a map of the park and discuss alternate sites to the three proposed so far.

See the 24-page presentation for the project, including information on the artist and the planned schedule, here.

This map shows the possible locations selected by Red Bull and Seattle Parks for a skateable art piece in Jefferson Park.

This map shows the possible locations selected by Red Bull and Seattle Parks for a skateable art piece in Jefferson Park.

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