Auburn’s historic Main Street might seem a little sad in the depth of winter, but new public art is brightening things up. A new round of streetside sculptures and new window-gallery Art on Main add teal cogs, orange tubes and shiny bronze to the blocks between City Hall and Auburn Way.
It’s a wavy forest of knitted orange seagrass inside the One Main building. Home to KeyBank, the building at Main and Division streets has converted an empty window space to a gallery that the city of Auburn plans to fill with seasonally rotating art. This winter, it’s Suzanne Tidwell, a Seattle fiber artist known for odd pop-up projects like tree sweaters and towering knitted flowers.
Here Tidwell uses the window space beautifully, filling it with a forest of tall tubes of knitted orange, red and yellow stripes. They bend gently at the top, as if they’ve outgrown their window, or as if leaning lovingly down to the shorter, more childlike tubes beneath them. All emerge from a sea of yarn like tangled seaweed at the beach. The color and medium give the “grass” a sunshiny, circus feel, a child’s view of the world illuminated with hope.
Across the road, three new works in the sculpture gallery add to the bare pavement and parking garage. Ken Hall’s “Pendant Mandala” is a steel vortex holding a circle of glass fused with indigo, aqua and maroon shards whirling in segments — though you have to look hard to see the colors. A bit of backlighting wouldn’t be amiss here.
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Nearby is Dale Reiger’s “Aspire,” a tall house made of textured glass walls in opaque deep blue and green, charmingly sloping toward the peaked roof and with childlike windows linked ever upward by meandering red and orange lines.
On the corner is “Gear Ball,” Jenny Ellsworth’s big sphere of teal cogs welded together as if by big drips of paint. Each cog is differently shaped and sized, making a planet of happy machinery fitting seamlessly together in a subtle metaphor.
Further up Main Street are works in metal: Roger Small’s soaring steel crane; Steve Tyree’s patinaed bronze hawk caught in take-off with one claw arched; David Varnau’s rather oddly sized “Joie de Vivre” (a girl 3 feet tall but with a much older face), with arms and head thrown back in a joyous gesture and with a delightful flip to the skirt.
You can get more details on each piece by scanning the QR codes into the STQRY mobile app.
What: Art on Main, 1 Main Street window, Auburn.
What: Auburn sculpture gallery, various locations on West and East Main and First Streets between B and D Streets Northeast, Auburn.
When: Viewable anytime; free.