Broadway’s Red Wall art coming down in preparation for opening of Capitol Hill Station

“Tim Marsden hands a section of Stefan Gruber’s artwork “Both Worlds” to an assistant. De-installation of artwork and dismantling of the red wall next to Cal Anderson Park continues over the next several weeks.” — (Images: Jennifer Babuca)

UPDATE 4/6/2015: See?!? :)

Piece by piece, Broadway’s Red Wall is finally coming down, we wrote last October. The comedown continues — and is picking up pace.

The giant wall surrounding the five-acre Capitol Hill Station site home to a well-regarded collection of public art projects is starting to be prepared for removal as construction on the light rail facility wraps up in preparation for a start of service in early 2016. Here is an update on one section of art recently removed from STart on Broadway’s Jennifer Babuca:

It’s a beautiful spring Thursday on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Tim Marsden of Sound Transit stands in the basket of a scissor lift, efficiently working an electrical screwdriver as artist Stefan Gruber looks on.  Starting on this sunny Thursday, the attached pieces of artwork and signage are being removed from the section of wall that faces Cal Anderson Park.

As the twittersphere contemplates their #tbt posts, I’m having a bit of a Throwback Thursday moment myself.  Looking at the last works of art to grace the wall, I can’t help but think back on the many projects that this site has hosted, even before the wall existed.  Lead Artist and Curator D.K. Pan created an overarching theme of examining love, loss and the nature of change that he summed up with the words “time is memory.”  My memory is certainly teaming: here stood the beloved Café Vivace, dressed in Webster Crowell’s parasols; over here was our very first art intervention, at those row of houses where Kay Rood’s home stood; and what was in that restaurant over there again? Oh, that’s right – neon signs by Ingrid Lahti!  So much has changed, and yet part of me feels like it’s always been this way.  Once the wall comes down and the station is open, I’m sure it will feel even more so, and our collective memories of this place will give way to the new normal.

Sound Transit says the construction wall will be totally removed by late summer. Meanwhile, the agency has said it now expects to announce housing and commercial developers for the property surrounding Capitol Hill Station in April.

(Image: Sound Transit)

(Image: Sound Transit)

While some of the Red Wall works have already found new homes, the highlight of the collection will never be the same again after removal:

The 24-foot by 120-foot self-portrait-with-owls mural that has dominated most of the East John street stretch of the red wall since 2010 — designed by local street artist Baso Fibonacci and painted by Zach Rochstad and Japhy Witte — will have to come down with the removal of the wall.

“I have no idea what I would do with 100 pieces of plywood,” said Fibonacci after CHS asked him what he was going to do with his work. According to the artist, the paneling wasn’t primed before the mural was painted and is “falling apart.” He did say that he will try and snag a few panels for himself before they disappear from the premises.

Though the art-covered wall will be gone, Capitol Hill Station will have plenty of interesting things to look at as the subway station integrates works by Capitol Hill artist Ellen Forney and a massive “Jet Kiss” sculpture by artist Mike Ross.

The project to construct Capitol Hill Station and the $1.8 billion U-Link extension remains on track to come in about 15% below budget, a pace Sound Transit has been touting since last year. Long term ridership projections are strong — by 2030, the station on Broadway between Denny and John is expected to serve 14,000 daily boardings.

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8 thoughts on “Broadway’s Red Wall art coming down in preparation for opening of Capitol Hill Station

  1. Sad to see the wall coming down even though I’m really looking forward to light rail expansion. Do you have any more details with what will happen to all of the art? I think it would be really cool if some of it went to local community orgs, cafes, bars, etc., but I would also love some of it for my own home! Please reply if you know what will happen to the art–I would love to know! Also, I’m curious if there are birds that are nesting in the birdhouses and what might happen to them…

    • This is what we reported on the ownership of the pieces

      Here’s a note a ST spokesperson just sent to CHS that pretty much sums up what we reported earlier:
      The art on the wall belongs to the artists who produced it. We’ve essentially been renting their work. They have first dibs on it and we do what we can to help find a home for the pieces where applicable, such as the Slats piece that ended up at the Comet. Otherwise, this project has always been considered temporary. We encourage folks to contact the artists directly if they’re interested in the work – their contact info is in the hand-painted title cards next to each piece. Having said that, we are actively working with Baso and NKO to try to identify a few panels for salvage but as he pointed out, it’s a huge piece of plywood that has been outside in the elements for the past several years.

  2. It would be great if the artists and Sound Transit agree to donate the art for an auction or sale, the proceeds of which would go to human services by private CH charities.

  3. Seriously, I would love to make a bid on the slatted Seattle skyline piece on the Broadway wall, although I imagine it would very quickly escalate beyond my price-point.

  4. Can’t wait until this is all done. It feels like living in a prison sometimes with Cal Anderson being the sole route to Broadway. Not doing that late at night.

  5. Pingback: The big Red Wall may be gone but Baso’s mural lives on (piece by piece) | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle