The public process to approve the design of the Midtown Square development was stuck until developers incorporated a plan for large installations of art panels hoped to help the project better reflect the culture and the history of the Central District. With the old strip mall torn down and the construction underway at 23rd and Union, details of the artists who will create those works have been announced.
A panel representing “several Central District based organizations and African American artists,” has selected eight artists for “a commitment of more than $225,000 in dedicated local artwork for the new project,” developer Lake Union Partners announced this week.
“As artists responded to the theme, Reverence and Discovery, which was how the community feedback was interpreted, it became more and more clear just how dynamic the arts program at the location could be,” Vivian Phillips, Midtown Square arts plan consultant, said in the announcement. “The selected artists represent a range from seasoned to emerging, a diversity of ages, all with some level of connection to the Central Area, and a range of concepts that work together to illustrate a proud history and an inspired future.”
Here are the eight artists selected:
- Myron Curry. As a self-taught artist whose spirit comes through in his art, Curry will incorporate art that pays reverence to past leaders while using young images to spark imagination at the Midtown Square’s 23rd & Union Plaza.
- Adam Jabari Jefferson. Designed to incorporate a high level of community involvement, Jefferson will focus on creating the building’s “face” with a series of photographic images in a panelized 2D triptych on the upper building facades of Midtown Square’s Northeast Building.
- Henry Jackson-Spieker (collaborating with KT Hancock). As a former student at youth arts center Coyote Central, Jackson-Spieker will create an exterior overhead lighting installation featuring imagery of significant community members on the 2nd floor brick spandrel of Midtown Square’s 23rd Ave. portal.
- Barry Johnson. As a multi-media artist known for playing with varying imagery and patterns, Johnson will create a large, textural abstract multi-panel 2-D composition meant to evoke a sense of imagination and artistry to be placed at the Midtown Square’s northwest building.
- Yegizaw Michael. With a focus on using wood materials to create a Central District timeline encompassing the entirety of the corner at the Midtown Square’s 23rd & Union Plaza, Michael will create a volumetric installation utilizing the high undercut space.
- Perri Rhoden. As an emerging young artist, Rhoden will paint a mural at the 24th Avenue portal as her first major commission, with imagery focusing on the theme of welcome that will complement the entire space.
- Juan Alonso Rodriguez. With an approach focused on honoring the neighborhood’s natural elements Rodriguez will install at the 24th Avenue and Union Plaza, a 2D street-level wall-mounted piece representing the native hollyhock plants that are deeply rooted and resilient.
- Takiyah Ward. Incorporating the location name, “Central District,” in her piece, Ward will create an approximately 120-foot long mural and imagery-based timeline providing a colorful backdrop for events at Midtown’s Central Square.
The Midtown Square arts panel included Angela Brown of Pratt Fine Arts Center, Brace Evans, Performing Artist, Leilani Lewis, Independent Cultural Curator, Stephanie Johnson-Toliver, Black Heritage Society of Washington State President, Margo Jones, AfricaTown Community Land Trust Board Chair and Owner of A Personal Point of View, Eve Sanford, Pratt Fine Arts Programs Director and HCAACD Member, Claudia Stelle, Coyote Central Executive Director, Earnest Thomas, Onyx Fine Arts Collective President, Tim Lennon, Kathy Fowells, and Benote Hill.
Midtown Square will fill the site of the former Midtown Center shopping strip with a three-piece, seven-story mixed-use apartment development with 428 market-rate and affordable apartment units, a quasi-public central plaza, and a huge underground parking garage. Regional pharmacy chain Bartell Drugs is planned to occupy the large retail space on the corner of 23rd and Union with a mix of smaller, more neighborhood focused retail and restaurant spaces surrounding the inner square, — “with a goal of renting to local, minority-owned businesses,” Lake Union Partners says.
With Midtown Square slated to open in the fall of 2021, the selected artists will begin meeting with site contractors at the beginning of 2020 to start exploring fabrication needs and timing for their artworks,” the developers said.
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