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Originally published May 14, 2014 at 8:22 PM | Page modified May 15, 2014 at 1:27 AM

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Head-turning Echo sculpture in Seattle raises eyebrows

The 46-foot-tall sculpture of a face looming above the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park is drawing mixed reviews from everyday folk.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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@Appleton Drinker It probably won't be long before Sawant wants sculptures of Marx and Lenin added to the sculpture... MORE
This should have been a Marxist sculpture of stern-looking fast food workers raising spatulas with big $15 at the base.... MORE
At least it will draw people's attention away from the nearby, pedophilic man-boy fountain sculpture. MORE


We know what art critics think of that 46-foot-tall head, the sculpture that is nearly installed at the Olympic Sculpture Park: Magnifique.

Jaume Plensa, the Spanish artist who made it, has a slew of awards, such as France’s Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.

But what about the everyday folks who work, walk, bicycle and jog by the giant head, located by a waterfront path just a short distance from Broad Street and Alaskan Way?

The reviews are, well, what you’d call mixed:

Lana Khuramshina, 77, retired, of Seattle. “Do I like it? No. It’s not really a piece of art. It’s something odd.”

Ryan Crace, 22, who works at a nearby espresso cafe. “I think it’s really cool. It’s supposed to represent a Greek goddess, right? I don’t know, to be honest.” (The sculpture is called Echo after the mountain nymph from Greek mythology.)

Brian O’Brien, in his 40s, who works at Starbucks in financing. “It’s OK. It is a sculpture park. It is a little bland. It could use a touch of paint.” (The sculpture is a bright white, made of polyester resin, with marble dust on top, around steel framework.)

Mike Stenberg, 29, who also works in financing at Starbucks. “I don’t get it. It sticks out like a sore thumb. All the other sculptures fit in, they’re a similar size. With this size, it sticks out.” (Besides the 46-foot height, the sculpture is 15 feet wide at the nose.)

Istara Freedom, 43, Seattle artist. “It’s like a stretched-out Buddhist head. It has sort of a peaceful feeling.”

Maxie Jamal, 31, Seattle choreographer. “It’s very weird, but it’s intense. We can appreciate that in Seattle.”

Mike Cowden, 46, of Seattle, general manager of a consulting firm. “It’s awesome. People coming in on the Victoria Clipper will see it. It’s not smiling, but it’s still happy. It fits in perfectly with Seattle. It has a more modern vibe to it.”

Ursula Toole, 30, of Seattle, nurse. “I don’t dislike it, but I don’t know what it represents. I like it better than that fountain (a short distance away) of a father and son with exposed genitalia.”

Samson Andebrhan, of Seattle, a parking-garage attendant at Pier 70 whose booth faces the sculpture. He shrugs.

“It’s nice. I wouldn’t want it in front of where I live. It’s a little too weird. I live in an apartment, fourth floor. I wouldn’t want it blocking my view. I look to the Northgate Mall.”

Allen Olesen, 53, a Seattle chef. “It’s interesting. It’s a waste of money. It’s Seattle. Even though they’ve got security here, I was telling my wife that the taggers are going to tag it quick.”

Finally, here is Denise Bisio, project manager for Artech in Seattle, which is installing the sculpture. “Some people will love it, some will hate it. It’s growing on me. It’s very dramatic against the blue sky.”

Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or Twitter @ErikLacitis

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