Central Library : Public Art

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Public Art at Central Library

These acclaimed artists were selected in a national search to develop site-integrated artwork for the library:

  • Internationally recognized conceptual artist Ann Hamilton
    Hardwood floor artHamilton designed and fabricated 7,200 square feet of hardwood floor in the Evelyn W. Foster Learning Center.The project suggests the tactile experience of book production and reading in the digital age. The floor includes words created in raised letters in the 11 languages that are included in the library's collection. These words spell out, backward, the first sentences from books written in those languages. A detailed "Language Reference Guide" to the artwork is available.
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  • Video artist Tony Oursler from New York
    Oursler's artOursler's artwork is a series of three video sculptures called "Braincast." The installation is a contemplation on the transmission of information. It reflects the tradition of the public library and its expanding role as the transmitter of myriad information forms: spoken, printed, recorded and digital. The installation is located within the walls of the escalator connecting levels 3 and 5.
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Three artists who completed residencies at the library also have permanent artworks on display:

  • "Making Visible the Invisible: What the Community is Reading."Artist George Legrady of Santa Barbara, Calif. created "Making Visible the Invisible: What the Community is Reading." It's an electronic installation that visually maps the circulation of The Seattle Public Library, revealing the community's collective reading interests. The work is presented on six large plasma screens on the glass wall above the reference desk in the Charles Simonyi Mixing Chamber on Level 5.
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  • "The Phoenix Fairy"Textile artist Mandy Greer of Seattle completed three works for the Faye G. Allen Children's Center based on three folk tale themes: "The Phoenix Fairy," "Babe the Ox," and "The Magic Grove." The artwork is from fabric, papier-mâché and steel. As part of the process, the artist conducted art workshops with Seattle children.
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  • "Of Memory"Mixed-media artist Lynne Yamamoto of Massachusetts created "Of Memory," a sculpture of antiquated card catalogs made of cast polyester fiberglass. The artwork is located near the Hugh and Jane Ferguson Seattle Room on level 10.

The Tsutakawa Fountain

The Tsutakawa FountainThe Tsutakawa fountain welcomes visitors at the Central Library's Fourth Avenue entrance. Known as "The Fountain of Wisdom," the abstract bronze sculpture is the first fountain by Seattle artist George Tsutakawa, who won international recognition for his graceful sculpture fountains. Tsutakawa died in December 1997 at age 87.

Northwest Screen

Northwest ScreenCreated by artists James H. FitzGerald and Margaret Tomkins, "Northwest Screen" was commissioned for the 1960 opening of the Central Library. The screen was placed in storage before the building was razed in 2001 and was reinstalled in the new library in 2010 in the SirsiDynix Gallery on Level 1. The piece is more than 8 feet tall and 27 feet long and is made of bronze, enamel on brass and colored glass.

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