The Fussy Eye: A Sense of Placement

Since Seattle Weekly moved from Spring Street to south of Pioneer Square, a different set of public artworks marks my daily bicycle commute and lunchtime foraging. Forlorn among them is the cheerful orange Anawog, by Jan Evans, one of Seattle’s first 1-percent-for-art beneficiaries back in 1978. At that time, Pioneer Square had only recently been preserved; there were cheap artist lofts but relatively few galleries. (The Tashiro Kaplan Building wasn’t established until 2004.)

Today, the tangled old blocks south of Yesler still feature several homeless shelters and soup kitchens—necessary services for a hard-luck population, but they’re not the type to buy or inspect the art. Anawog sits across Second from the Union Gospel Mission, on a little plaza fronting a pawn shop and the Double Header, a favorite tranny bar at the time the sculpture was bolted outside. The city keeps it clean of graffiti and provides new paint. Disappointingly, there’s no plaque to identify Anawog, no benches to encourage anyone to linger and admire it. In truth, it’s more of a whimsical, oversized dingbat than great art. It looks like a Jim Flora squiggle writ large, but I like it. And it deserves a better site—up the street by the TK Building, perhaps. Where is it written that public art can’t be moved, especially as neighborhoods change? The city moves other things it owns (utilities, fire stations, seawalls, etc.). Right now, Anawog feels stranded and unappreciated, outside the circuit of the First Thursday art walk. Give it some legs. Second Avenue South & South Washington Street.

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