Two Seattle artists are adding new light to the collection of heartfelt art and plywood murals that have covered the windows of many restaurants and shops of Capitol Hill and Pike/Pine during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and through months of protest and unrest.
Heliogram.01, “a surreal, kinetic light installation and glowing beacon of hope” installation, now cycles every four minutes along 10th Ave in the window of a closed-down retailer. It activates nightly at sundown at 5:30 PM and loops until the morning.
“The installation took a few days, but even while we were testing and debugging the installation, I was able to see its potential impact,” artist Ben Chaykin tells CHS. “A bike messenger rode by and was stopped in his tracks. He stood there, still on his bike, for the entire 4 min loop. I thanked him for watching, and he told me I had made his evening, explaining that it was nice to see some light on this block again.”
Chaykin and Sky Iraheta’s collaboration has filled the former Totokaelo storefront in the Odd Fellows Building at 10th and Pine with the “3-layer, 3-dimensional composition” that “creates a large-scale, surreal diorama” —
A stark, glowing sphere between layers of shining, otherworldly landscape reflects and glimmers light off of ambient rippling water. Representing the sun and moon, the sphere physically raises and lowers inside the piece. As it does, the color temperatures of the sphere change from dusk to daytime, daytime to dawn, dawn to twilight, and back again, influencing the lighting of the landscape.
Artists: Benjamin Chaykin, Sky Iraheta. Contributors: Ross Monroe, Canh Nguyen, Felipe Marmolejo, Raphael Gaultier. Contributions: Very Suspicious Projects, Overall Management Co, Trinity Real Estate, Hunters Capital.
“The physical items are seamlessly integrated with the digital projections,” the project team writes.
The work sponsored by area property companies Hunters Capital and Trinity Real Estate joins the bittersweet gallery of plywood murals and art that has grown across the neighborhood with many businesses closing or operating at reduced hours.
Its location is intentional, the artists say, in “an epicenter of hardships for the Seattle community in 2020.”
“It’s central to the retail, restaurant, and venue establishments that define the district, which are now boarded up, dark, and quiet. Inhabitants of the neighborhood clashed with the Seattle Police Department just one block from the installation during the George Floyd protest demonstrations,” they write.
“After 2020, it was really important for me to finally take a moment to clear my mind and take a couple of deep breaths. I wanted to give that to others. Heliogram01 is a visual representation of that,” Iraheta said about the project.
There are other glimmers of hope. Around the corner on 11th Ave, longtime Capitol Hill vintage and fashion shop Throwbacks NW has moved in to a new, larger location in need of a fresh start. Throwbacks is now open in the new location.
In addition to becoming a temporary part of Capitol Hill, the new art work echoes with past efforts to help heal damaged stretches of the neighborhood’s landscape. Some might recall a similar series of installations in businesses cleared out along Broadway — including the old Jack In the Box — to make way for Sound Transit’s light rail construction.
Heliogram.01 will be on display at 1523 10th Ave next to Elliott Bay Book Co. until March 7th. Learn more at heliogram.io.
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