Public art in Federal Way: Commission spreads the word

The Kinetic Sculpture just moved from the skate park at Steel Lake Park to the front of the Federal Way Community Center.  - Kyra Low/The Mirror
The Kinetic Sculpture just moved from the skate park at Steel Lake Park to the front of the Federal Way Community Center.
— image credit: Kyra Low/The Mirror

There's artwork aplenty in Federal Way. Unbeknownst to most citizens, the city owns more than 20 pieces of public art.

The pieces managed by the Federal Way Arts Commission are located at Steel Lake Park, City Hall, Dumas Bay and Knutzen Family Theatre, Celebration Park and the Community Center.

The arts commission is putting together a brochure about the city-owned public art in Federal Way and hopes to have it out in the next few weeks.

"Four years ago, there was an article in the Tacoma News Tribune about how Federal Way didn't have any art," arts commission president Susan Honda said. "That just irritated me."

Art on a budget

The arts commission's budget doesn't really allow it to buy and install new artwork. However, 2 percent of the city's capital improvements project budget must be used for art.

For the most part, they work at maintaining the current collection. The Kinetic Sculpture just moved from the skate park at Steel Lake Park to the front of the Community Center. The sculpture was damaged from skaters who broke the glass and stuck stickers all over it. The commission took 18 months to have it repaired by the artist, find a new location and get a city permit for the sculpture.

"It was quite an ordeal," Honda said.

It's the first time the commission has had to remove a piece, and this sculpture required more repairs than other projects. Now that it's in a new home, Honda has received lots of positive comments, she said.

The commission also hopes to add something new to all the pieces in the next year: Placards to identify the pieces so citizens can know what they own.

"It's their art. We want people to enjoy it," Honda said.

Of course, the city-owned art isn't the only artwork in the area. The Federal Way School District places art outside and inside schools. Sound Transit put in the clock tower and maple leaf on the Federal Way Transit Center as well as the high-five sculpture in the roundabout off the 320th Street exit. King County Library System also does its own artwork. The sculpture outside the Federal Way Regional Library is on loan for a year, but inside, there will be a lot of artwork, and the library's management has asked for the arts commission's help.

Eventually, the arts commission's goal is to include all non-city owned artwork in its brochure of artwork to see in the city — they just have to figure out what all there is.

"I think Federal Way has a significant amount," Honda said. "Public art is my passion. I feel very strongly that the citizens need to know where our public art is. It makes (the city) a much nicer place to visit. I think people will be surprised when they realize how much we have."

City-owned artwork

• "West Coast Fishing Village," an oil painting outside of council chambers at City Hall.

• Trellises and a gazebo steel work at Steel Lake Park.

• Guardrail artwork at Steel Lake Park.

• "Steel Lake" oil painting inside council chambers at City Hall.

• Three Cascade Council Rings, with 1st and 2nd Amendment, at the exterior entrance of the Dumas Bay Centre.

• Light sconces made of cut glass and steel in the lobby at Knutzen Family Theatre.

• Proscenium columns made of steel at Knutzen Family Theatre.

• "Lineup," a bronze sculpture at Celebration Park.

• "Bat and Ball," a carved wood sculpture at Celebration Park.

• "Snake River Suite," a carved cedar sculpture at Celebration Park.

• "Kinetic Sculpture," a steel and glass piece at the Federal Way Community Center.

• City Cycle Arbor, a piece made of onyx, bronze, metal and glass at City Hall.

• "Forest Fireplace" made of stone and concrete and located inside the Federal Way Community Center.

• The glass entry at the Federal Way Community Center.

• The fountain outside of the Federal Way Community Center.

• The cafe tables inside the Community Center. The artwork inside the tables changes every so often and is done by the Historical Society of Federal Way.

• "Boots," which is kept in City Hall. It is the city's first piece of artwork. Anyone who knows who created the piece is asked to contact the city.

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