With the recent completion of the all new Southeast 62nd Street extension project, the largest capital project in the history of Issaquah, traffic can now flow freely between Eastlake Sammamish Parkway and Lake Drive. However, there was still room for a human touch.
The city of Issaquah partnered with Seattle-based artist Susan Zoccola to create public art, and for the past two years worked with her to design and manufacture the pieces. In March, her four, 20-foot tall sculptures were installed at the extension’s roundabout.
Art coordinator for the city of Issaquah Amy Dukes said the sculptures were designed specifically for the site. Zoccola visited the area before construction began to examine the natural environment and use that for inspiration.
Zoccola said all of the public art projects she has done have been specifically designed for each location, including the work for Issaquah. She took part in the early steps of the process, to understand not just the new city project but the land where the the art will be. Much of her inspiration was inspired by the efforts to preserve the environment, stream restoration and wetland preservation.
The sculptures themselves are meant to evoke the spinning of wheels in terms movement through the area by car, bike or pedestrians, as well as the flow of wind and water. The art also includes lights which will activate at night.
Dukes said the arts commission originally selected Zoccola, who then created multiple designs for the commission to review.
The final designs for the cultures are 20-feet tall and are made of steel. All four are unique and range in width, from eight to 12-feet wide. Built by Metal Arts Foundry in Lehi, Utah, the sculptures were hauled in a 65-foot truck to Issaquah where they were lifted by cranes to place them in their final location and bolted down along the road.
For Dukes, public art helps bring a human touch to projects otherwise intended to serve a specific purpose.
“The art provides a human scale to these kinds of construction projects,” she said. “It adds an extra element of whimsy, gives a little more character to a fairly straightforward project.”
The project was supported by an arts ordinance as well as the municipal arts fund. Dukes said the city has an ordinance that requires half of a percent of the total project budget be dedicated to art for the project. Along with that half percent, the project also used money from the municipal arts fund. The total cost of the project came in at around $170,000, Dukes said.
Zoccola thanked Dukes for her help during the process to make the art possible, and was excited to see the pedestrians and cyclists use the new road extension so heavily.
“I hope people connect with it and enjoy it in their everyday life,” she said.
The city of Issaquah has a video of the installation process available to watch on their official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cityofissaquah.