Monday, January 10, 2011

Art to Sea: Floating Seattle

"Floating Seattle" installed before sailing

In early 1988 Seattle art patron Max Gurvich launched the idea for "Art to Sea" when he hosted a group of local artists at the Seattle Yacht Club. Max proposed that artists create works to be installed on boats participating in "Opening Day" of Seattle's boating season, which happens in May. At the end of the evening each artist submitted an idea sketched on a cocktail napkin for which Max would seek funding. I quickly drew a Seattle skyline on a sailing boat and turned it in. It took another year for adequate funding to be found, during which time I developed the idea into an elaborate 18-color serigraph and poster for the Seattle Art Expo. I also created the Wind Puppet installation for Bumbershoot to explore structural ideas and dying and printing on nylon.

Henry Kotkins on his yacht, Diamond Head

When the news came that "Art to Sea" would happen in May of 1989, I was delighted to hear that Ackerley Communications, Seattle's billboard company, had chosen to fund my project and wanted to install it on a billboard... the irony made it even more delightful.

Henry Kotkins, the Seattle Skyway Luggage tycoon, volunteered the use of his 72' classic yawl, Diamond Head, for the display, and on Saturday May 6th, "Floating Seattle was launched to much delight.

Floating Seattle sails through the Montlake Cut.

The morning Seattle Times featured a photo of the Diamond Head ready to sail.

The painted billboard backdrop

Afterward I supplied Ackerley with a section of the sky from my Art Expo "Seattle" print which was painted as a background and my 3D cityscape was installed on the billboard at the south end of Lake Union, where it was so popular that I got my first fan mail. It later moved to two other locations, in Fremont and Kenmore.

"Floating Seattle" takes flight.

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