Sarah Schacht

Sarah Schacht

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From Graffiti to Gallery

May 26, 2010 , , , ,

There’s an I-5 support wall at the end of my block in Seattle. Despite some greenery nicely maintained by WSDOT (Washington State Department of Transportation), the wall, and its surrounding small strip of land, attract transients, crime, and gang graffiti. Less than a year ago, a body was found in the brush.

The wall is not exactly a neighborhood jewel.

After living on the block for 8 years, I’d come up with an idea to transform this little space into something, well, fun. So, I wrote to a friend at WSDOT, this letter below:

…(I’d like to submit a) proposal & get permission
for a small art project on a piece of WSDOT property in my
neighborhood… I live almost immediately adjacent to I-5. At the end
my my block, there’s a small green space with a large, concrete
support wall for I-5 Northbound, next to the 65th street park & ride,
in Seattle’s Roosevelt Neighborhood. It attracts graffiti and
transients, and is an area that WSDOT employees frequently repaint or clean up.

With a few community volunteers and community dollars, I’d like to
install an art project on the wall. It’s pretty simple:

I’d like to use 2/3rds of the large wall, paint a large frame on it,
and fill the frame with chalkboard paint. A link to a Flicker page
for the “Roosevelt Gallery” would be posted, along with a hashtag
#RGallery. Artists, community members, graffiti artists, etc. could
use chalk to create whatever message or art within the frame, take a
photo of it, and post it to Flickr, tweet it, etc.
The art would
live on, after the rain comes, after the next artist wipes the art
away, online and public. It would add character to the neighborhood
and, perhaps with the regular foot traffic, keep transient use at
bay, and reduce the amount of paint graffiti that WSDOT has to spend
money removing. It seems that our local graffiti artists respect
public art, but not blank, public walls. I’m pretty confident they
wouldn’t vandalize the wall. And even if they did, community members
would just spread some chalkboard paint on it.”

I got a response back today! WSDOT has approved my proposal and wants to work with me on the project! I’m waiting to hear back on the permit for it, but should be able to start the project soon. If you’ve got ideas on how we could promote the Roosevelt Gallery and help the chalk art live on, online, let me know! I’d love to involve others in brainstorming in planning in the project!

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