Artwork in Public Places

For clients developing artwork in the public realm we offer skilled project facilitation and collection management services for public art agencies and private developers. Our goal is to design programs and projects that delight our clients, challenge artists to create significant work that are important additions to the built environment  and relevant to community audiences. In recent years we have had the pleasure to work as management consultants to the Washington State Arts Commission, the University of Washington and the Sound Transit Art Program.

Stadium Art Program (Seahawks Stadium and Exhibition Center, now CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington)

Wishing to add elements of diversity and culture to Seahawks Stadium and Exhibition Center and its neighborhood, First & Goal Inc., the project’s private partner, contributed $1.75 million to create the Stadium Art Program.

In 1998, a request for qualifications yielded a total of 254 responses from around the United States and Canada. After reviewing the full range of submissions, the 11-member Art Selection Committee chose 12 artists and projects for commissions. The committee, approved by the Public Stadium Authority Board, included artists, arts professionals, representatives of the project’s surrounding neighborhoods, a representative from eastern Washington, the vice-chair of the Public Stadium Authority board, and a representative from First and Goal Inc.

The guiding mission of the art program was to:

  • engage both regional and national artists to create artworks that capture the public’s interest and imagination;
  • develop a collection that would serve as a destination for visitors from around the world;
  • represent a diverse range of cultural and artistic perspectives; and to
  • create a collection that would be a source of pride for the entire region

Source: Stadium Art Program Guide, Seahawks Stadium and Exhibition Center (download here).

CenturyLink Stadium maintains a page describing the program at STADIUM PUBLIC ART



Bob Haozous,  Earth Dialogue  (2002)

Bob Haozous, Earth Dialogue (2002)

Claudia Fitch, Colossal Heads (2002)

South Lake Union Art Program, Vulcan Real Estate, Seattle, Washington

Akio Takamori, Three Women (2006), 2002 Westlake Avenue

Leo Berk, Threshold (2006), Rollin Street Flats entrance lobby

Jenny Heishman, Woodpile (2012), corner of Boren and Thomas Streets

META ARTE was hired by Vulcan Real Estate to create an art program as part of the redevelopment of South Lake Union, one of the oldest industrial neighborhoods in Seattle. Vulcan Real Estate amassed a large amount of property in the area and has now created a mixed-use neighborhood of research facilities, corporate offices, street-level retail, restaurants and housing. Because of the scope and scale of Vulcan’s holdings, they were very interested in re-imagining not only buildings, but also the streetscapes, transit offerings and other amenities that would make South Lake Union a model for a dense, livable and sustainable contemporary city neighborhood.

We collectively thought of the art placement as contributing to creating character of place, and considered many opportunities to punctuate the experience of the neighborhood and add meaning to it. Our goal was to contribute to the experiences of people moving through the neighborhood at different times of the day and to add depth to the ongoing story of South Lake Union. We asked Vulcan Real Estate to take calculated risks, trusting artists to do their work and be ambitious, not just embellishing a site, and asked artists to be ambitious and thoughtful of the context where their works would be placed.

Because individual building developments affected the course of the whole redevelopment of the neighborhood, our outline for the program took the form of a handbook to be used by Vulcan, its partners and META ARTE as those projects came on line. The handbook served to remind all those involved of the guiding principles of the program and the importance of approaching the development of the program with consistency and cohesiveness.

The most important characteristics of the plan were to: support the redevelopment goals for the neighborhood; support the work of strong regional artists; engage artists with a wide-variety of approaches and experience; contribute significant opportunities for the careers of the selected artists; and create project that would have long lives, both in the public imagination and as durable, maintainable objects.

The South Lake Union Program Guide is available here.

Barkley Village Projects, Bellingham, Washington

Jacob Dahlgren, Constructing a New World (2015)

The Barkley Company in Bellingham, Washington decided to add more art to the experience of Barkley Village. We met and discussed the current feeling of place, conditions, and opportunities to try out a different art vocabulary. META ARTE presented artists for consideration, which resulted in a decision to commission a new work by Jacob Dahlgren for the corner of Barkley Boulevard and Newmarket Street, a busy intersection where the new Cornerstone Building stands.

Jacob Dahlgren, Demonstration (Bellingham, 2015)

Coinciding with the installation of the sculpture, the Barkley Company invited Dahlgren to conduct his performance, DEMONSTRATION, in downtown Bellingham.  The artist conducted workshops at Allied Arts of Whatcom County, the Whatcom County Museum of Art, and Make.Shift with the local community to prepare the paintings / placards based on the work of Swedish painter Olle Baertling (1911-1981) that were later used in the performance.

At 11 AM on Saturday, June 27 2015, DEMONSTRATION took place, starting and ending at the Whatcom County Museum of Art's Lightcatcher Building. Over 40 people participated in the performance.

Drawing both from abstraction and from a form of protest, the artwork represents the art medium of social practice, which invites collaboration with individuals, communities and institutions.

The social interaction completes the work, which afterwards resides in the participants and passersby memories and in documentation. The placards become mobile paintings and each participant brings his or her reason for carrying it around the city. This is not a political manifestation. It is (more) about making a public artwork together. It is about rehumanizing the public sphere. The placards carry no explicit message, but can be read as something collective. A collective past in the modernist ideas they represent, and in a collective future that encourages us all to take part in creating our collective landscape.

The work has been performed in several places since 2009: Mexico City (Mexico), Stockholm (Sweden), Frankfurt (Germany), Swansea (Wales), San Francisco (USA), Bergen and Moss (both Norway) in a variety of rural and urban settings.