Capitol Hill’s ‘big red wall’ gets a surreal landscape from Sam Trout

If you were taking an afternoon walk by the light rail construction this week, chances are you passed a blond man. He was wearing a salmon jacket and wide legged pants, both of which are covered in paint. This man is Sam Trout, and as of Wednesday, he was parked in front of the Sound Transit Capitol Hill Art Wall for six days.

“People walk by and say things like ‘hey that looks cool,'” Trout said. “It’s a lot of fun—I couldn’t ask for a better job.” 

That job was given to Trout through an arts grant from Sound Transit, which enlisted him as the newest artist to lend his talents to the Capitol Hill Art Wall project. Trout’s piece, “Landscape of the Vanities,” is a complex, flowing mural, with a contrasting mix of hard lines and organic shapes. 

“Someone walked by once and told me it looks very Seattle, which made a lot of sense when they said it,” Trout said, a Capitol Hill resident himself. “Through the more organic shapes, you can see these metropolis looking lines that look like the monorail or the Space Needle over in the corner. I didn’t do that on purpose, but living here does have a big influence.”

The piece does look like Seattle—a mesh of clean, metropolitan lines that harken back to the stylish futurism of the ’62 World’s Fair, mixed with curvy, pulsing figures wouldn’t look out of place wiggling around on a slide under a microscope. It’s a portrait of a surreal, biologically thriving city.

“This is a big departure for me style wise,” Trout said. “I’m used to doing simpler, more iconic pieces. But this piece called for complexity, so I’m seeing where I can take it and how I can make everything flow.” 

Trout has been in Seattle since 2000, starting out as a painter with frequent gallery shows in the city. Trout shifted his focus to selling his own shirt designs, but later realized he wanted to move away from the more sales oriented work. The mural is one of Trout’s larger re-entries back into the world of painting, after having started a number of commissions for friends and clients. 

“Next year I’m working on a collection for a gallery show I’m calling ‘Sam Trout Sold Out’ that will feature all my commissioned work,” Trout said. “It’s fun doing work that way because you get to have the person as your muse.”

Trout hopes to finish his piece for the Art Wall by the end of week.

“It feels like I did a lot already. It’s hard because I keep wondering, ‘is there too much going?’ or ‘Is this flowing right?’ I’ve just got to keep going at it.”  

“Landscape of the Vanities” (Image: CHS)

  • In other art news, Freeway Park was recently overtaken by 230 kites. Bryan Ohno, art director of Urban Art Concept created “The Flying Freeway” by getting professional artists, kids, and adults to paint kites to be strung up along the park. 

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)


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4 thoughts on “Capitol Hill’s ‘big red wall’ gets a surreal landscape from Sam Trout

  1. It’s really great to see more local artists like Sam getting a chance to do their thing. And, keeping the construction walls fresh and interesting makes a huge difference for our neighborhood. Thanks to Sound Transit for promoting a great arts program!