Just when the rainy season starts to get you down, along comes Art at Work month: the annual celebration organized by the City of Tacoma of everything arty in town. This year’s AAW includes the usual AMOCAT art awards, artist studio tour and a reworking of the symposium, but the kick-off party also kicks off something quite new – Tacoma’s first “love locks” bridge. Only it’s an underpass.
The romantic tradition of attaching a padlock – often inscribed – to a public bridge and throwing away the key as a symbol of love has been growing in recent years around the world. The most famous are in Paris, but there are many others from Rome to Tokyo to Seattle. Even University Place has a fledgling collection at the Chambers Bay Golf Course.
And now, so will Tacoma, thanks to Sound Transit, the City of Tacoma and artist Diane Hansen.
“I had been to see the locks at the Pont des Arts in Paris,” says Hansen, a glass and metal artist who is creating public art for the A Street underpass section of the new Sound Transit rail line, managed by the City of Tacoma arts commission. “It’s about expressing love and loyalty. It inspired me to create an artwork in Tacoma that would allow ownership, pride and loyalty to this city.”
The locks-based art will cover the large supporting pillars underneath the rail line on A Street between 26th and 25th Streets, near the Pink Elephant Car Wash. Since it is an ADA-accessible pedestrian underpass, Hansen wanted to create art that was pedestrian-scale and pedestrian-interactive. So she’s cast a series of giant metal keys and padlock-shaped hearts (with a T-shaped keyhole in the middle) to flank an architrave panel above the columns. Painted in a flaky-gold, coppery car enamel, they’ll shine brightly against the midnight-blue of the panel. Underneath, each pillar will be covered with metal mesh, which will allow passers-by to attach – you guessed it – padlocks of love, either for their romantic partner or for Tacoma itself.
“Tacoma is both whimsical and industrial,” explains Hansen, of her idea. “And I love it when people can become part of the work, feel some ownership in the piece.”
Though Hansen’s lock-art isn’t even up yet, people can start to feel some of the love at a lock-decorating event happening next Monday night at the Art at Work kick-off party. From 6-8:30 p.m. at the newly-renovated Foss Waterway Seaport building on Dock Street, party-goers can enjoy live music by Taxi Driver, dance from the Barefoot Collective, a molten iron pour by TCC, urban arts by Fab-5, poetry from Tacoma Poet Laureate Lucas Smiraldo, films by Kat Ogden and Carla Barragan and appetizers and dessert. They can applaud this year’s AMOCAT art award winners: patrons Erivan and Helga Haub, organization Puget Sound Book Artists and director David Domkoski.
They’ll also be able to decorate free locks with enamels and sharpies, ready to clamp onto the underpass art as soon as it’s installed in November.
After that, Art at Work month continues with the two-day, 39-venue studio tour on November 2 and 3, the Tacoma Arts Conference on November 16 and numerous performances and workshops.
Art at Work month kick-off party happens 6-8:30 p.m. Oct. 28. Free. Foss Waterway Seaport, 705 Dock St., Tacoma. For full details see artatworktacoma.com.
Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568 firstname.lastname@example.org