Embedded in Transportation

Posted by Vaughn Bell On April - 12 - 2011

Vaughn Bell

For the last couple years I have been the “staff artist” in the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), working on arts planning and as liaison for the 1% for art program and integrating design enhancements on SDOT projects.

I connect with a wide range of projects, from multi-modal trails and sidewalks to large bridges, and seek opportunities to incorporate art into the right-of-way.

I am embedded in the DOT offices, with a desk alongside the project managers in the Capital Projects and Roadway Structures Division.

In my art practice outside of the SDOT art role, I create immersive environments and installations, often involving living plants, which touch on our often paradoxical relationship to land and environment. How people relate to the urban spaces they inhabit and move through is always of interest to me.

In one project, I created a portable version of Mt. Rainier on a leash, available for walks in the city and accompanied by its own mountain soundtrack.   Read the rest of this entry »

Bridges, Archaeology, & Public Art

Posted by Leo Berk On April - 12 - 2011

In King County, WA, building roads and bridges gets us closer to understanding our region’s prehistoric time.

I found this out by taking a drive with Tom Minichillo who is the archaeologist for King County Road Services Division (which insiders just call “Roads”.)

As we were driving out to the active “dig” that Tom needed to check in on, he explained that whenever the county does road work in an area that could be an archaeological site, they dig a scattering of holes and sift through the dirt to see if anything comes up.

If they do find something, typically it’s little shards of rock that are the remnants of tool making.

These pieces can be very small, so they sift lots of dirt through ¼” screens to see what they can find. If they find enough of these shards in the test holes, then they dig a larger hole where they think they’ll find the most objects.   Read the rest of this entry »

Leo Berk

From Leo’s journal as mentioned in a previous post:

If you’ve driven around King County, WA, in the last five months, there’s a good chance you drove right over me.

I’m in the research phase of my project and have been underneath, as well as above and beside, many of the county’s inventory of bridges with a variety of Bridge Unit personnel.

I’ve been soaking up all the different perspectives—environmental, design, engineering, historical, maintenance—that I can about the many different kinds of bridges in the many different settings that we have here.

Last week, for example, King County Bridge Unit Engineer Jesse Jose took me out into the remote forest in eastern King County to visit the site where the Sunday Creek Bridge is being rebuilt, using funding from a federal grant.

Environmental Engineer Ron Melnikoff also joined us on the trip so that he could observe all of the environmental codes are being met concerning the creek during construction.   Read the rest of this entry »

The Power of Embedded Artists

Posted by Tina Hoggat On April - 11 - 2011

In 2009, Public Art 4culture commissioned artist Leo Berk to develop a public art ‘kit of parts’ for short span bridges in King County, WA.

Berk worked collaboratively with the King County Bridge Unit to understand the function of short span bridges and explore design possibilities for bridge elements.

His residency included an extended period of learning the culture of the Bridge Unit, work methods and safety conventions as well as time spent in the field with engineers, ecologists, and archeologists.

In design phase, Berk worked with Bridge Unit staff to identify materials and bridge elements that would be feasible to use and easy to install.   Read the rest of this entry »