The Future looks like an outdoor sauna. Sorta cloudy, sorta sunny.
  • Courtesy of the City of Seattle
  • The Future looks like an outdoor sauna. Sorta cloudy, sorta sunny.

Thanks to Seattle's public art law, part of the construction budget to rebuild the massive Elliott Bay Seawall will pay for a million-dollar art commission.

This is the biggest-budget public art commission ever in Seattle, by several hundred thousand dollars, according to city spokeswoman Calandra Childers (she thinks this was second-biggest).

"The re-building of Seattle’s waterfront is the biggest physical transformation Seattle will undergo in my lifetime,” said Office of Arts & Culture director Randy Engstrom in a press release. “We have the opportunity to make the waterfront into a space that’s beloved by all Seattle residents and visitors—and art will play a major role in creating that kind of space.”

This is also the first time the city has ever put out an international call for artists.

"The work needs to be a work of global significance," Childers said in a phone interview. "The fact that we are talking about the waterfront: this is an international connection point. We want to be really clear that we're certainly not excluding local or regional artists, and it would be super-awesome if a local artist ends up being the selected artist, but we didn't want to limit it that way because it was such a large-scale call."

The deadline is December 19 for applications. (All details.) The art will be located on the public piers of the renewed waterfront—either Pier 62/63 or the Union Street Pier.

First, a committee convened by project manager Eric Fredericksen—including an artist, an arts professional, and representatives from the city and the waterfront—will review applications and determine top candidates, who'll then be interviewed in person. Artists will be selected based on the strength of past works, experience, and they'll also write a letter describing why they're interested.

There are no restrictions on the type or medium of art, except that it shouldn't be something that will corrode in saltwatery air.

I can't wait to see how this goes. So far the artists selected to do large-scale, permanent projects along Seattle's future waterfront are Buster Simpson and Stephen Vitiello. They're great, and this artist will have to be great, too, obviously. Maybe it will even not be a white dude, and not somebody who already has trillions of dollars from being an art star. I'm excited and hopeful.