Sculptor envisions colorful steel birds for Capitol Hill subway station
Take a pair of used fighter jets. Slice each fuselage and the wings into cross-sections. Paint the segments a soothing pinkish-orange. Rearrange the slices so...
Seattle Times transportation reporter
Take a pair of used fighter jets. Slice each fuselage and the wings into cross-sections. Paint the segments a soothing pinkish-orange. Rearrange the slices so that each plane curves, like a heron taking flight.
That's the vision of Mike Ross, the public-art sculptor for Sound Transit's future underground station at Capitol Hill. His steel birds, one facing north and one facing south, would appear to kiss each other. They would lurk among huge crossbeams, over the train platforms.
"Because I started with such aggressive symbols, I arranged them in a nonaggressive way," he said Thursday. A New Yorker, he was inspired by Seattle's natural setting and aviation history, but wanted bright colors to offset the region's perpetually gray skies.
The concept recalls his famed "Big Rig Jig," a curvy duet of sliced semi trucks that Ross built in the Nevada desert last year for the Burning Man festival.
The Seattle sculpture would explore the relationship between nature and technology, war and peace, strength and fragility. "It asks a lot of people," he said. Ross said he hopes children will enjoy the playful shape.
Riders would see multiple perspectives when they descend the station escalators. Near the surface only a few fragments appear, but the whole piece would be visible from the boarding area, 65 feet deep.
Many people at a Capitol Hill meeting Thursday night were shocked that Ross would use fighter planes, in an area where citizens often march for peace.
"To put a fighter pilot, in a place we have to go to every day, is totally out of character in this neighborhood," said Elizabeth Fawthrop, among 130 people who heard the artist unveil his concept at Seattle Central Community College.
Another neighbor called the jets repulsive, and asked if Ross would include guns. Ross answered he would not.
"My feeling is, this piece is not a celebration of destruction but a celebration of transformations, and moving in another direction," Ross said.
The $550,000 sculpture at the station, near Broadway at John Street, would be part of a three-mile, $1.8 billion subway from downtown to Husky Stadium, to open in late 2016.
Sound Transit staffers say they are pleased with the design; the final decision to fund the sculpture rests with the agency's board of directors.
Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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