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Originally published March 31, 2014 at 1:33 PM | Page modified April 1, 2014 at 8:43 PM

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46-foot-tall face to soon loom over Olympic Sculpture Park

Later this spring, a 46-foot-tall face of a young girl, called “Echo,” by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa, will take its place near the waterfront at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. Preliminary digging started Monday.


Seattle Times arts writer

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Keep an eye on that hole in the ground that’s opening up beside the bike path in the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park.

A pale, spectacular sight will be rising from it by late spring.

Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s 46-foot-tall “Echo” (2011) is going to change the look of Seattle’s northern waterfront in a major way.

The piece, modeled on a young girl who lived in the sculptor’s Barcelona neighborhood, is made of polyester resin, marble dust and steel. Ground was broken on Monday to prepare the way for the colossal statue.

“Echo” is a gift from Seattle collector Barney Ebsworth, and was installed for five months in New York City’s Madison Square Park in 2011.

Its title refers to the Greek myth about a mountain nymph who distracted the goddess Hera from spying on the trysts of Zeus, her husband/brother. When Hera found out about the ruse, she took away Echo’s speech except for an ability to repeat what others said to her.

The girl’s head is elongated, giving it a very curious look from certain angles. Though she’ll be placed on the shoreline, facing out toward Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, her eyes will be closed, in a state of meditation, Plensa has said. The Seattle Art Museum notes that she’ll be “luminous” both day and night.

Born in 1955 and based in Barcelona, Plensa has built similar towering heads — some temporarily installed, some permanently situated — in other cities, including Rio de Janeiro, Yorkshire and Liverpool, England, and Salzburg, Austria. He also has celebrated public, site-specific artworks of notably different design; one of the better-known ones is “Crown Fountain” in Chicago’s Millennium Park, which combines water, light, sound and video. Other works are in London, Chicago, Jerusalem and Dubai.

While “Echo” is being installed, section by section, a small stretch of Olympic Sculpture Park’s bike path will be closed. The sidewalk for pedestrians will stay open.

Michael Upchurch: mupchurch@seattletimes.com



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