Across the street from Rapunzel, Seattle artist Kristen Ramirez has turned the northeast tower of the historic Fremont Bridge into her own personal artist studio. She's got paints, sketchbooks, and a box of art history and other books (Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art edited by Suzanne Lacy, The Lure of the Local by Lucy Lippard, Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit, Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees by Lawrence Weschler).
It's a cramped little space, it doesn't have a web connection, and the nearest bathroom is all the way across the bridge—so it's not exactly a convenient place to work. But Ramirez is not there for convenience, or even to do her own private musing. She has been commissioned by the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs to spend the summer in the tower (which until last week, when the kindly SDOT guys brought her an A/C unit without her even asking, was sweltering) in order to make some temporary public art.
According to the project specifications set forth by the city, Ramirez is not supposed to know what she's going to make until after she spends the first four weeks up there. The rationale for this is that the project is not just plopped down in the place, but results from the experience of having spent 20 hours a week on the site for a month straight.
This is week three. At this point what she's considering is a sound piece that people might be able to call while they're waiting to cross the bridge, when it's up. (It would also be accessible online.) You'd be able to hear the loud bells and honks of the bridge and the boats, as well as the quiet sounds of the moving bridge itself. And you'd hear stories people have called in to tell Ramirez.
The best story so far was about a 70-year-old woman who for years wanted to ride the bridge as it was going up. She staked it out, figured out the operator's blind spot, and hid herself behind one of the enormous painted-blue steel girders, and then up she went. You might hear that story.
Or you might hear your own story about Fremont Bridge. The number to call to leave a message for the project is 206-455-9983.
Ramirez also has a blog about the project, where you can see her Fremont Bridge Quiz and hear more about her plans as they develop, here.
UPDATE: I almost forgot two of the best parts. One is Patty, the veteran bridge operator, who can be seen roaming around her tower days, and who calls out to people over the PA system when she feels like it (voice-of-god-like); and two, is that Ramirez is giving out free buttons that say "PONTIST," which means bridge enthusiast.