Forgotten sculpture rescued at Steel Lake Park

This sculpture at Steel Lake Park will be rescued from a thicket of weeds and moved to a more public area of the park. - Neal McNamara, The Mirror
This sculpture at Steel Lake Park will be rescued from a thicket of weeds and moved to a more public area of the park.
— image credit: Neal McNamara, The Mirror

A nearly 20-year-old sculpture at Steel Lake Park will soon be pulled from the weeds after it was rediscovered during a recent survey of city-owned public art.

Both a gazebo and a bench, the sculpture is shaped like a boat and sits among a tuft of trees and brush near the western edge of the beach at Steel Lake. Brush was recently cleared from near the sculpture, but the Federal Way Arts Commission wants to move the sculpture to a more popular location in the park for public enjoyment.

“We think it would be enjoyed by a lot more people if it was in a more prominent spot,” said parks and recreation supervisor John Hutton.

Arts Commission Chair Susan Honda said that former commissioners were called during the creating of a brochure of city-owned art, which was how the boat sculpture was rediscovered.

“There was actually a dead fish hanging from it,” Honda said when the sculpture was revisited.

The city obtained the piece in 1996, shortly after Federal Way was incorporated. The work was created by artists Gail Simpson and Aristotle Georgiades, who also created similar pieces at Steel Lake: there’s another gazebo (but not shaped like a boat) and two fence-like sculptures farther up the beach. Simpson and Georgiades also designed a fence that rims the parking lot near the beach.

Simpson and Georgiades are now based in Wisconsin and have works in Chicago, North Carolina, Kansas and as far away as Germany. Georgiades, who is a professor at the University of Wisconsin, could not be reached for comment.

Hutton said that the sculpture could be moved as soon as summer. The piece needs to be power washed, along with removal of graffiti that has been gouged into its seats, he said.

“We need to figure out how to take it out without damaging it,” Hutton said.

Honda did not know the motivation as to why the sculpture was placed in such an unvisited portion of the park.

“I grew up going to Steel Lake,” she said. “We never would play over in that part of the lake because the lifeguard can’t see you.” The arts commission wants to move the sculpture to a different area “so children can use it and sit on it.”

New sculpture in the works

As the city prepares to resurrect the Steel Lake sculpture, a sculptor is at work creating a new piece of art for the city.

Sculptor Bob King — whose main tool is a chainsaw — was busy this week at the Dumas Bay Centre carving images of majestic birds into the trunk of a fallen tree. On a sunny Thursday morning, King ( was using a chainsaw to cut large chunks out of the tree. At the top of the trunk, he had already completed what appeared to be an eagle and a hawk.

Honda said the sculpture will include images of seagulls, herons and several birds of prey. The sculpture is located at the southwest corner of the rear of Dumas Bay Centre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road.


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