Public Art: Link Light Rail

lightrail_ArtIt’s possible for a distracted traveler to ride the spiffy new Link light rail line from Seattle’s downtown to the airport without noticing much in the way of art. The vast majority of the works are best seen by people off, rather than on the trains, and perhaps that’s inevitable, given how quickly the rail cars move and the multiple directions passengers might look. Blink, and you certainly might miss the giant phantom playing cards, created by vivid electronic bursts of light intermittently visible in the tunnel just south of Beacon Hill. If you do notice them, and you happen to be like the kids sitting across from me, you let out the sort of whoop that certifies something as truly cool, not to mention unexpected and mysterious.

The bulk of the public art that Sound Transit commissioned for its route isn’t about being elusive and dreamlike. Many of the works are designed to appeal to the ethnic and cultural sensibilities of the communities they are sited in, particularly in the diverse stretch of the Rainier Valley where street level tracks (rather than buried or elevated) proved especially controversial. The three stops in the Valley have not only platform art, but also art installed in newly-created plazas nearby. The plaza sculptures include some of the most striking pieces in the system, civic landmarks for emerging neighborhoods with little strong physical identity of their own.

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Source: Seattle PI


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