Seattle Courant Archive

Artist again defends proposed sculpture

Artist again defends proposed sculpture

By Kery Murakami
June 12, 2008

The sculpture would "take a plane, cut them out, separate out the pieces and put them together in a new form," he told nearly 100 people gathered at the Capitol Hill Arts Center.

In the proposal depicted on a screen, the individual sections of two nearly touching fighter planes would be hung in the station and painted pink and orange. Light rail passengers would pass them as they rode up and down long escalators from the street to the platform.

Like another public meeting in April, many still said it was the wrong time and the wrong place to use instruments of war, in the midst of war, in the decidedly anti-war neighborhood.

But some in the audience called the sculpture -- which is awaiting final approval from Sound Transit -- playful. Two found it appropriate in the traditionally gay neighborhood to take two masculine industrial pieces, dress them in pink and have them kissing.

George Bakan, publisher of the Seattle Gay News and a former U.S. Navy veteran, however, said, "I just can't get past the reality" that fighter planes are being used in wars around the world.

"We're intellectualizing it," he said of Ross and others' argument that the sculpture redefines instruments of war.

Ross, best known for his "Big Rig Jig" sculpture made of tanker trucks and displayed at the 2007 Burning Man festival, tried to explain that the sculpture needed to be thought about to be understood.

"That's the political environment we're living in -- black and white," he said.

Rivka McCormack, who said she was an Army wife who hated the war, supported the sculpture.

"Whoever looks at this will see what they are thinking about. If they feel troubled, they will be troubled by it. If they feel inspired, they will be inspired by it."

Capitol Hill resident Kyle Gulke, though, was troubled by the jets for reasons other than the war: They represented the worst few days of living in the neighborhood -- when the Blue Angels start flying overhead before Seafair.

The forum was co-sponsored by Sound Transit and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce.

Jack Mackey, who was asked to speak by the agency, noted that his now-popular dance steps embedded into the sidewalks on Broadway were unpopular when he proposed them in 1978.

"Controversy swirling around public art is a given for a working artist," he said.
P-I reporter Kery Murakami can be reached at 206-448-8131 or