If you’ve been keeping track of the progress of Thoughtbarn on the public art plan for the Prairie Line Trail, you’ll be excited to learn more about the other temporary installations along the trail. Don’t forget about your chance to see them in person and hear from the artists! This Saturday, we’ll be holding a free public art walking tour that will explore all eight installations – collectively known as Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line.
In 1873, the Northern Pacific Railroad fulfilled Abraham Lincoln’s dream that the transcontinental railroad reach saltwater. This historic achievement occurred right here in Tacoma, where water would have first been spotted by railroad workers at about 17th and Pacific Avenue. Trains were still running on the tracks through the University of Washington campus and downtown Tacoma up until 2003.
Now the historic line is undergoing a new transformation. The proposed $5.83 million walking, biking and interpretive trail follows the historic rail corridor linking the University of Washington-Tacoma campus, the Brewery District, the Museum District, Thea Foss Waterway and eventually will connect with the Water Ditch Trail and South Tacoma.
Come celebrate this transformation of the Trail from railway to linear park. Along with Thoughtbarn, seven artist teams created from our PA:ID program have created site-responsive works, and they’ll be in attendance on Saturday to explain more about their installations. But for now, here are some interesting tidbits about each piece! You can also view the CommunityWalk map, which will show the location of each piece.
SITE 1: Dock Street Grassy Area
Title: Zero Down
Artists: Chris Jordan, Chandler O’Leary, Claudia Riedener
From a series of ‘footprints’ that occupy the grassy area, colorful shadows extend. The images are rendered in temporary paint and continued in chalk, the forms span the grass and onto the concrete morphing into forms human and imagined. Each brightly colored shadow represents the diversity and complexities of humans’ personalities.
SITE 2: 15th Street Overpass
Artists: Kyle Dillehay, Lisa Kinoshita, Oliver Doriss
The curve of this overpass is the inspiration for TACOMABALL, a monumental, temporarily interactive pinball-style game will come to life during the Prairie Line Trail tour. Balls will be bowled down the curve interacting with various obstacles depicting various national and local icons. Racing stripes and imagery reminiscent of the game will remain on the ramp (assuming nature cooperates) through the course of the exhibit making every pedestrian a player in the game.
SITE 3: Under I-705
Title: Wild Wilderness
Artists: Jennifer Adams, Kristin Giordano, Kenji Stoll
This work comments on the diminishing open spaces in our world and the impact on animal habitat. In addition, it calls attention to the wild spaces that exist within our urban midst. A variety of animals that would be hard pressed to co-exist inhabit this newly created environment.
SITE 4: Hood Street
Title: Rogue Rhizomes
Artists: Chris Sharp, Lance Kagey, James Sinding
This section of the Prairie Line Trail is a ragged remnant of an industrial heritage that has witnessed dynamic transformation all around, while remaining itself, virtually unchanged over the last 100 years. The fringes of this space are a competition between structured plantings and wildness trying to reinsert itself into the landscape. This installation explores the rogue elements of organic invasiveness, between city and wildness. Using brightly colored markers and a three-dimensional letterform the eye is drawn from a distance and evoke ideas of giant flora. Organic patterns around the base of each light pole emanate outwards over time making use of positive and negative space and ‘invade’ the surrounding area.
SITE 5: Tollefson Plaza
Artists: Bret Lyon, Janet Marcavage, Holly Senn
Link makes visible the connection between the rail lines and highlights how the Prairie Line Trail linked Tacoma to the communities of Tenino, McIntosh, Wetico, Rainier, Yelm, Roy, Hillhurst, Lakeview, and South Tacoma. Floating yellow orbs, iconic of the yellow and black railroad signs will re-enact the stops along the line that connected with these communities.
SITE 6: UW-T Campus
Title: Ghost Prairie
Artists: Thoughtbarn (Lucy Begg & Robert Gay)
Thoughtbarn’s installation speaks to the railroad line’s namesake. Inspired by the mysterious Mima mounds in Thurston County, and the plight of the diminishing prairie, this public art installation introduces a piece of ‘artificial prairie’ along the rails of the Prairie Line Trail in downtown Tacoma. It is a playful referral to both the railroad’s history and its new landscape-driven future as a bike and pedestrian path through the city. For its duration the colorful, intriguing object(s) will catch the eye of local pedestrians and drivers. They will draw attention to the oft-overlooked railroad which nonetheless defines Tacoma’s history. Those most curious can get up close to run their hands along the ‘grasses’, which will also glow at night.
SITE 7: UW-T Pedestrian Bridge
Artists: Jeremy Gregory, Diane Hansen, Ed Kroupa
Gigantic eyes look down on the campus from the pedestrian bridge. Are they benevolent? Visionary? Judging? That depends. The eyes are those of Abraham Lincoln, the visionary whose dream it was to complete a transcontinental rail that would meet the Pacific. Is he overlooking his accomplishment or wondering about this particular route’s demise and our crazy modern lives? Walking over the ped bridge, one experiences a different viewpoint and inspiration for the endurance of vision.
SITE 8: Grassy area by UW-T
Title: Manifest Destiny
Artists: Maria Meneses, Nicholas Nyland, Elise Richman
Manifest Destiny was a phrase that justified the territorial expansion of the United States as if it were a divine sanction. A series of markers reminiscent of the Northern Pacific Railroad signs act as a historical timeline of Tacoma, starting in 1870, three years before Tacoma was designated as the western terminus for the transcontinental railroad. A stepping stone begins the journey and the subsequent signs track the growing population of the city over 140 years at intervals that represent the largest jumps in population.
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Dress for the weather and wear comfy shoes – the total walking distance is under two miles. Afterwards, warm up with some hot tea and other treats while you get to know the artists a little better. Can’t make it on Saturday? Not to worry – Temporal Terminus will be on display through the end of November (but you’ll miss out on the tea and cookies).
This project is funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and is done in partnership with the University of Washington-Tacoma.