Due to Seattle’s size and large creative community, street artists have placed their mark all over the cityscape throughout the years. Some pieces truly reflect the artist’s vision, and others were commissioned by the city. Regardless of the intention, with such a wide scope in ideas, sometimes the bizarre and the strange have been stamped into the community in a truly awe-inspiring fashion. Check out these fantastic pieces of art that fill in almost every nook and cranny of Seattle — from beneath the bridge to museum waypoints and even to the very sidewalks themselves Seattle is graced with all sorts of artistic beauty.
Seattle, WA 98168
In the 1980s, the city of Seattle decided to replace and/or repair a swatch of sidewalks in the Capital Hill neighborhood. Street artist Jackie Mackie saw this as an opportunity, and thus proposed to the city of Seattle that it include works of public art within the sidewalks themselves. Mackie’s idea of inlaying bronze dance steps, matched to professional dance teachers, was embraced wholeheartedly. Now, it is not uncommon to see people dancing in the streets in the style of the foxtrot, lindy hop, mambo, rhumba and waltz. As an inside joke, Mackie included a bit of his own dance steps including “The Bus Stop” and the “Obeebo.” Mackie’s unique dances mimic the impatient sidestepping one does at a bus stop, as well as the casual weave between people during crowded times as you walk the blocks to your next destination.
North 36th Street
Seattle, WA 98103
The “Fremont Troll” is perhaps Seattle’s strangest, but most highly regarded, art piece in Seattle. Nestled beneath the north end of the Aurora Bridge lies the Fremont Troll, a two-ton concrete and rebar troll that clutches an actual Volkswagen Beetle that sports a California license plate. “The Troll Under the Bridge” was constructed by four Seattle artists with the intention of being interactive, to encourage onlookers to climb onto the T]troll or gouge out his good hubcap eye.
Oxbow Park in Georgetown
6400 Block Between Carleton Ave S
Seattle, WA 98108
Originally built as themed gas station in 1954, “Hat N’ Boots” quickly became an iconic attraction to Americans traveling through the Georgetown neighborhood in Seattle. Described as the largest cowboy hat and pair of boots in America, “Hats N’ Boots” took a life of its own, and to preserve the pair, it was relocated to Oxbow Park in 2003. “Hats N’ Boots” doesn’t scream Seattle, but because of its tenure and endurance, it has become a staple to the Georgetown community. As an interesting aside, “Hats N’ Boots” was also featured in the 1983 Chevy Chase comedy, “National Lampoon’s Vacation.”
Related: Most Iconic Works of Art in Seattle
1300 First Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101
“The Hammering Man” is a 48-foot tall metallic statue that stands outside the Seattle Art Museum, relentlessly hammering away nearly every morning. Weighing in at 13 tons, this unusual bit of public art was crafted by artist Jonathan Borofsky, and was erected in 1992. From 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. “The Hammering Man” quietly strikes away every 15 seconds (with the exception of Labor Day) marking the toils of the workingman. However, “The Hammering Man” is not a singularity, Borofsky also constructed moving statues of varying sizes in Los Angeles, New York, Germany and Japan.
3526 Fremont Place North
Seattle, WA 98103
Originally constructed by sculptor Emil Venkov in 1988, the statue of Lenin was placed on display in Lenin’s Square until the fall of Communism in 1989. Surprisingly enough, the statue was not destroyed, but instead removed and placed into storage until native Washingtonian Lewis Carpenter found it in a scrap yard. Even with Lenin’s unpopularity, Carpenter felt the statue was worth preserving due to its intrinsic art value. At his own cost, Carpenter bought the statue, had it divided into three pieces, and shipped it to Seattle. Seattleites fell into an uproar at the thought of placing a statue of Lenin in their city, and the statue came to rest in disrepair on Carpenter’s estate as he vied for its inclusion. After Carpenter’s death, and the passing of several years, the statue was finally placed in the Fremont district of Seattle along with an old Cold War rocket to commemorate the tumultuous, but important time period as well as Lewis Carpenter’s tenacity.
Related: Guide to Puget Sound Art Museums