Bridge Between Cultures

With coal cars and commuter trains rumbling beneath, the Weller Street Overpass connecting the ID to King Street Station isn’t a place where pedestrians tend to linger. Racing across Fourth Avenue South from offices at to catch the last Sound Transit train home, their haste is understandable. The view axis north and south down the tracks is protected, perforated even, by Bridge Between Cultures, a metal-mesh series of stencils integrated into the fencing. Installed in 1999 with the bridge, the group of steel panels began as paper cutouts based on commercial advertising and other retro iconography. Artists Fernanda D’Agostino and Valerie Otani have adapted what look to be old album covers, cigarette ads, and baseball cards to suggest Seattle’s past, back when trains and trolleys ruled, private automobiles were expensive and rare, and the city was a somewhat simpler place. Now, of course, rail is resurgent and gas is expensive. Commuters hoof past, furiously thumbing their BlackBerries instead of pausing to frame the skyline through the stencils. And instead of relaxing to play cards and talk with fellow passengers on the way home, they’ll probably do more work on their laptops. BRIAN MILLER

Starts: Oct. 15. Daily, 2008

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