The sun can now shine brightly on the new I-5 underpass mural between Cherry and James Street. This popular thoroughfare has been transformed from a drab and colorless stretch of concrete to a work of art on 72 columns, spanning over 20,000 sq. feet.
“The Interstate 5 Underpass is a prominent gateway to First Hill used by thousands of people every day, but it’s gray and grim aesthetics were hardly the warm welcome we’d wish to present to residents, workers, and visitors to our community. We’re so pleased that this project creates a better environment for all who come to First Hill to live, work, heal, and play,” said Alex Hudson, Executive Director of the First Hill Improvement Association.
The 72 concrete columns were painted by over 100 volunteers in two months, requiring 68 colors and more than 1,000 hours of volunteer work. Volunteers included Urban ArtWorks Board of Directors, First Hill Improvement Association, Blacks At Microsoft, Nordstrom, MG2 Design, Amazon, Microsoft, Plymouth Housing, Ivy League and various alumni groups and individuals. Project Coordinator at Urban Artworks, Lina Cholewinski, exclaims “this would not have been possible without all the hands that touched this project, from the permitting process up until the finishing touches on a hot Seattle summer day. Every hand in this vibrant community got to add a little color to an underserved part of Seattle.”
“It was a true “it takes a village” type project, as I believe public art should be!” Kathleen Warren, Director of Urban Artworks, said. “There was a moment when we were about half way and it felt like we’d hardly scratched the surface and then one day I was walking under and it hit me–the concrete jungle had become a candy colored wonderland! I am so proud of our team, the transformation is massive and real.”
To complete the project, the First Hill Improvement Association was awarded $40,000 from the Office of Economic Development’s Only in Seattle Initiative. The design for the mural was created by local artist, Nathan Watkins, and represents First Hill’s architectural history, topography and density. The corridor is owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the project was managed by Urban ArtWorks. It was the collaboration between these agencies and individuals that made this project a colossal success!