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Memorial Pathway will honor fight against HIV/AIDS, connect Cal Anderson to Capitol Hill Station

This mural of Cal Anderson was part of the park in 2012 on the “Big Red Wall” surrounding Capitol Hill Station construction (Image: CHS)

The search has begun for artists to create the AIDS Memorial Pathway, a Seattle AIDS memorial planned for Cal Anderson Park and the plaza at the heart of the development set to arise around Capitol Hill Station.

Artists have until the end of May to submit their proposals for the project “honoring the impact of the AIDS epidemic on Seattle and King County” —

Each part of the AIDS Memorial Pathway can and should evoke different responses and provide varied experiences, while also acknowledging that they are part of a larger memorial. Art along the pathway will be experienced primarily by pedestrians and cyclists. The works will communicate with and engage diverse members of the public – from school children to healthcare workers, from park visitors to area residents, from the LGBTQ community to those outside of it, artists, AIDS survivors, and those whose lives were affected by the crisis. Participants will find themselves in an atmosphere conducive to remembrance and reflection and be led to gain awareness of the varied communities’ responses to AIDS. Through these direct experiences, the art will address social and cultural concerns in which humans face the hardships of fear, discrimination, and the bewildering loss of loved ones. AIDS was and is a crisis that affects all people, and it is a priority that this project be accessible to the widest possible range of communities.

“The memorial artworks will be integrated into the Capitol Hill Transit-Oriented Development, a series of residential and commercial buildings, open spaces, and access to Cal Anderson Park,” the call for artists reads.

The $40,000 budget project will be accompanied by a separate project to “construct an integral Augmented/Extended Reality (A/XR) component” for the pathway.

The call for artists includes three goals for the pathway component of the project:

  1. Create a place of reflection and remembrance honoring those who died, those who fought, and those who continue the fight against HIV/AIDS;
  2. Tell the history of Seattle/King County’s AIDS crisis and our diverse communities’ responses to it through sharing stories, oral histories, photographs, artifacts, and technology; and
  3. Provide a call to action to end HIV/AIDS, as well as discrimination and stigma, using lessons gained from the crisis to address other social injustices.

The pathway could include the buildings surrounding the plaza, the plaza and its planned bench seating, the north edge of Cal Anderson, and the large north wall of the plaza. Artists can also propose including additional areas including “East Denny Way, an SDOT-designated Festival street which runs between the private development and Cal Anderson Park, and the community room’s mural wall facing E. John Street.”

CHS reported on the early planning for the memorial late last year amid growing community interest in adding public art to the station development’s plaza amid four new buildings creating more than 400 affordable and market-rate apartment units and 59,000 square feet of commercial and community space.

In 2015, meanwhile, Seattle City Council member Tom RasmussenLeonard Garfield, executive director of the Museum of History & Industry, and Michele Hasson, a community volunteer, convened a group of stakeholders to assess interest in creating a memorial to recognize those lost during the AIDS crisis. The Seattle City Council provided funding to MOHAI to identify sites for a memorial and begin early planning.

In addition to meeting a community priority for the station development and the push for a project to mark the AIDS crisis in Seattle, the memorial will also help satisfy a longtime hope to add more recognition for Cal Anderson, Washington’s first openly gay legislator who died from AIDS in 1995 at the age of 47, to his namesake park. While Cal Anderson Park honors the late politician by name, there is no permanent marker in the area acknowledging his history. In 2012, a temporary portrait of Anderson was unveiled on the giant wall that surrounded the Capitol Hill Station construction site.

Construction of the development and its plaza is expected to begin this spring. The work is expected to take about 21 months putting the opening of the development and the memorial pathway on track for sometime in early 2020.

You can learn more about the AIDS Memorial Pathway and how to support the effort here.

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