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Watch your step!

Sidewalk design on Rainier Avenue S in Hillman City - "the Heart of the Rainier Valley."

Art is finding its way to more and more locations throughout the city and in many surprising places – even spicing up sidewalks in several neighborhood business districts.

Many SDOT projects do not have a “1% for Art” public art project associated with them, but can still benefit from some aesthetic enhancement.  That’s where SDOT’s staff artist, Vaughn Bell, adds her special touch.  Bell, who serves as a planner and designer, strives to incorporate a variety of art and enhancement projects in the right-of-way. Given the lack of funding and the size limitations of two foot by two foot sidewalk squares, Bell created the artwork for the several sidewalk projects using a creative yet minimal cost approach – designs stamped into wet concrete.  To tailor the artwork to fit within the character of the neighborhoods, the designs carry out themes decided upon by the members of the immediate communities.

In Hillman City, the residents felt a heart design was apropos because the area is considered the “Heart of the Rainier Valley.”  Bell took that idea and added rings to the heart to emulate the life rings found in a tree trunk.  The ringed hearts are stamped in the sidewalk on Rainier Avenue S at Othello and Orcas streets.

The residents of Columbia City came up with the idea of garlic bulbs as an homage to the previously predominant Italian population and for which the area was nicknamed “Garlic Gulch.”  The design can be seen repeated in the sidewalk squares on the west side of Rainier Avenue S near S Genesee Street (across from Tully’s Coffee).

Garlic bulb design repeated in every other square of Rainier Avenue S near Genesee Street in Columbia City.

For the sidewalk at 12th Avenue S and S Jackson Street – in the center of what is often called  “Little Saigon,” because of its  large Vietnamese community, the residents selected the lotus blossom in reference to their Asian heritage.   The International District Review Board assisted with the design selection process.  

Lotus design chosen by community for bus stop waiting area at 12th Ave S and S Jackson.

If you would like to learn more about SDOT’s Art Plan, please visit our website .  More information on the city’s Public Art Program can be found here.