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A cyclist stands in front of a mural with a white background and a gold thread running through five black hands.
The Sodo Track.
Hallie Golden

30 notable public art spots in Seattle

From the troll to the giant popsicle

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The Sodo Track.
| Hallie Golden

Seattle is teeming with artwork—some we appreciate every day, some we forget is actually artwork because it’s so ingrained in our routine, and some that we don’t even realize is there. We don’t always agree on whether the art is good (or even art), but there’s certainly something for everybody in our urban landscape.

We’ve singled out 30 pieces or places that are notable for one reason or another. If you feel like you need to check off some boxes, you’re looking to explore the city through some creative installations, or if you want to discover Seattle artwork you haven’t already, consider this map of Seattle public art jumping-off point. What you explore after these choices is up to you. You certainly won’t lack for options.

Seen all of these already, or none strike your fancy? In an extremely characteristic move, the city has created an app for exploring its public art.

Map points are ordered north to south. Due to some technological limitations, map points may not be exact.

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“Salmon Waves” at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

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You think of a lot of things when you think of Hiram Chittenden Locks: the boats, the gardens, the buildings. But what about the water itself, without which all of this would be moot? Salmon Waves celebrates the most basic and important of elements here, which brings the salmon and other animals with it.

A post shared by Phylicia (@nordichearts) on

“The Wall of Death” under the University Bridge

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Installed in 1993, “The Wall of Death” doesn’t have the best location in Seattle, but it’s a hidden gem for those traveling along the Burke-Gilman Trail. (At least, for those who enjoy it; the Seattle Times, gauging viewer reactions soon after its installation, summarized public input on the statue thusly: “sinister, whimsical, tacky and really orange.”)

A post shared by Rochelle (@rochv8) on

Fremont Troll

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The colossal statue underneath the Aurora Bridge does a terrible job driving people away. If anything, he attracts them in droves. Sculpted by four local artists—Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter, and Ross Whitehead—the work was the winner of a competition to create a piece of public art in this spot. He is interactive; visitors are encouraged to clamber on him or try to poke out his one good eye (a hubcap).

A post shared by Emma McGee (@emmamcgee97) on

“Waiting For The Interurban”

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A group of roughly cast gray aluminum figures huddles under an open-frame pergola. One woman grabs a snack, another holds a small child. A man reads while two others stand patiently. Glimpsed between their legs is a dog with a human face. Silent and uncomplaining, they wait. In fact, they have been waiting for nearly 30 years and in the process have become an emblem of Fremont, one of Seattle’s most public-art-heavy neighborhoods. That Interurban? It ain’t coming back.

Neon art on the Fremont Bridge

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Local glass artist Rodman Miller created two neon sculptures, installed in bridge tower windows in 1994: a neon Rapunzel and a depiction of Rudyard Kipling’s “How the Elephant Got its Trunk.”

“Sundial” in Gas Works Park

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Most people come here for the view and to take pictures of the skyline and old gas works. But the ornate analemmatic dial by Charles Greening atop Kite Hill is a special find for anyone who scales it. Want to use the dial? Just stand in the center and you become the time-teller.

“Black Sun” in Volunteer Park

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In 1968, Isamu Noguchi envisioned creating a fluid and timeless work that would appear to move as the sun does. Located in the heart of Volunteer Park, Black Sun offers one of the most unique views of the Space Needle you’ll find. Local legend goes that the Soundgarden song “Black Hole Sun” was inspired by this piece; upon the singer’s death, the sculpture became an impromptu memorial site.

“Changing Form” in Kerry Park

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Up on high at Kerry Park, you’ll find that iconic view of the Seattle skyline, as well as the steel sculpture, “Changing Form” by Doris Chase. The artful design allows onlookers to take in the view in a completely unique way.

A post shared by noodlefish (@noodlefish) on

Counterbalance Park

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You have to come here at night to really appreciate the last work by architect Robert Murase. The urban oasis lights up with a rainbow of colors that make everything ethereal for the groups that have gathered to sit and rest.

Various works at Seattle Center

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So many pieces of public art to choose from here. You could even make the argument the Space Needle is one. “The Fountain of Creation,” a.k.a. DuPen Fountain is a big highlight. Originally created for the 1962 World’s Fair, it’s home to smaller installations, too. Don’t forget to look for other works such as “Dreaming in Color,” “An Equal and Opposite Reaction,” “Baby Whale’s Tale,” “Kobe Bell,” and “Grass Blades”—plus another watery World’s Fair relic, the International Fountain.

A post shared by Allison Paige Varney (@alliv826) on

Ellen Forney art at Capitol Hill Station

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Passengers emerging from the light rail station on Capitol Hill are greeted by a couple of steel-and-porcelain works by legendary Seattle cartoonist Ellen Forney. In one piece, pinkies on two hands link. In another, two fingers take a stroll.

“Adjacent, Against, Upon” in Myrtle Edwards Park

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Often overshadowed by Olympic Sculpture Park, this shoreline spot was dedicated in 1964. Within, you’ll find Michael Heizer’s “Adjacent, Against, Upon,” which continues to be an important work—and a great spot to settle down with a book on a sunny day.

A post shared by Jorge (@atta.boy.jorge) on

“Waterworks” in Cal Anderson Park

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Inside Cal Anderson Park, you’ll find Douglas Hollis’ Waterworks, an endlessly-streaming “river” that flows from a volcano (source) and settles in a calming pool (reflection).

A post shared by Nina M (@ninammross) on

Olympic Sculpture Park

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It’s an obvious destination, but a mandatory one if you’re looking to see as much public art as possible. Old stalwarts like the Eye Benches and the Eagle mix with ever-changing installations, all with views of Elliott Bay.

A post shared by Morgen (@sunnyfacedgirl) on

Giant popsicle at Fourth and Blanchard

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This dual-stick popsicle—the kind designed for splitting and sharing—at Fourth and Blanchard in Belltown was designed by Catherine Meyer.

Very good dog mural at Regrade Park

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What better thing to add to a dog park than more dogs? It’s hard to choose a highlight of this extremely dense mural by Cern, but if there were an angel at the top of this Christmas tree, it would definitely be the giant, precious Pomeranian face.

A post shared by Josh Koehnke (@jkoehnke) on

Tetris mural on Eighth Avenue

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Near Eighth Avenue and Pine Street, this huge wall has been painted with a Tetris-inspired mural designed by Will Schlough and installed by Urban Artworks.

“Angie’s Umbrella”

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Right in the middle of the Lenora & Western intersection, this 30-foot, red metal umbrella is inspired by, what else, the rainy weather of Seattle. Not everyone knows that it actually spins 360 degrees, depending on which way the wind blows.

A post shared by Silly America (@sillyamerica) on

“Westlake Star Axis/Seven Hills,” aka Westlake Park

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A collaboration between sculptor Robert Maki and landscape architect Robert Hanna, “Westlake Star Axis/Seven Hills” consists of several elements throughout Westlake Park: a 24-foot-high stone proscenium arch meant to be a kind of Roman-style speakers forum, with a set of three large stairs that provide seating; a fountain creating 64-foot-long wall of water cascading around steel ramps that allow visitors to walk through the center of the spray (and more recently, lights); and a pink granite column and six cubic pieces that allude to Seattle’s original seven hills. At the center of the park, a stand of 24 trees is also a part of the installation.

Homeless Remembrance Project’s “Tree of Life” and “Leaves of Remembrance”

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The Homeless Remembrance Project’s “Tree of Life,” installed in Victor Steinbrueck Park in 2010, is a more general memorial—but the corresponding “Leaves of Remembrance” around the city make the work even more powerful. Each leaf contains the name of a person experiencing homelessness who has died, and a dedicated website tells each person’s story. Leaves are scattered throughout the city, including locations in Lake City, Ballard, Capitol Hill, Downtown, and Seward Park.

“Hammering Man” outside Seattle Art Museum

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Certainly we can’t talk about public art and not talk about Hammering Man. Measuring 48 feet tall, he “hammers” silently and smoothly four times per minute from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. He actually rests his arm every year on Labor Day.

A post shared by Keishiro Miwa (@keishiromiwa) on

Various works inside University Street Station

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This station in the middle of downtown has a couple of notable pieces of public art including LED boxes by Robert Teeple that create a kind of magnet-poetry-like display, crafting poetry and collections of symbols around a silent, animated face.

A post shared by Alex Stein (@alexandstein) on

“Braincast” and “Fountain of Wisdom” at Seattle Central Library

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Meant to inspire contemplation upon the transmission of information, Tony Oursler’s “Braincast” features a tableau of faces and individual features projected onto three-dimensional forms and semi-transparent Plexiglas. Outside you’ll find George Tsutakawa’s “Fountain of Wisdom.”

A post shared by Brian A. Williams (@b8pix) on

“Vertebrae” at Safeco Plaza

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Take a stroll around Henry Moore’s piece “Vertebrae.” What you see in one spot, you’ll see something different in the next, and so on. All three forms are basically the same shape, just placed differently in a way that reveals new dimensions at different angles.

A post shared by Katie Webb (@sumafichick) on

Tlingit Indian Totem Pole in Pioneer Square

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The Tlingit Indian Totem Pole first appeared in 1899, after members of the Chamber of Commerce stole it from Tlingit Indians, then gave it to the City of Seattle as a gift, even though it wasn’t theirs to give. In 1938, the totem pole was set on fire. Even though the the city had retained ownership of their stolen totem pole, Tlingit craftsmen in Alaska carved a reproduction to stand in its stead. The new pole dedicated with tribal blessings, and it now stands, as the National Register of Historic Places puts it, “as symbol of the complicated relationship between American Indians and European Americans.”

A post shared by Bruce Fugett (@brucefugett) on

West Seattle Cultural Trail along Alki Beach

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Along with the water views along Alki Beach, there are multiple fascinating pieces of public art to see. A trail between Duwamish Head and Alki Point is lined with art by Joe Fedderson, Donald Fels, and Juane Quick-To-See, including viewers that superimpose historical images, inlaid stone, sculptures, and bronze plaques to tell a story of the history of the land.

The Sodo Track

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The Sodo Track is a unique take on a public art gallery: It’s specifically designed to be viewed via public transit. Hop on Link Light rail or one of the many buses that rolls through this neighborhood to see more than 50 murals on nearly every wall facing the bus-only road.

Hallie Golden

Various works, Beacon Hill Station

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Beacon Hill Station is full of art that not only decorates, but transforms the space to combat claustrophobia. Two works by Dan Corson give the station a spacey feel: portals with images from the Hubble Telescope, a microscope, and the depths of the ocean, plus sculptures of glowing creatures. At the platform, playing cards flash past train windows in a piece by Bill Bell. At the surface, a path of textile motifs from 55 different cultures lead riders in or out.

A post shared by James Harnois (@cat_on_kava) on

“Walking on Logs” along the West Seattle Bridge

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In this sculpture by Phillip Levine, four bronze children leap about on the side the Fauntleroy exit at the end of the West Seattle Bridge. Some folks find them creepy, others find them something worthy of dressing up. They get a reaction regardless. In 2012, volunteers stepped up with a landscaping plan, removing waste and planting trees and shrubs—and are now a big part of the site’s upkeep. In 2014, one of the kids was stolen.

“Painting and Sculpting the Land,” “Drawing the Land,” and “Skate Space” at Jefferson Park

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Jefferson Park contains a massive duo of installations by Elizabeth Conner that track the culture and topography of the land, both past and present. It also contains “Skate Space,” a sculpture by CJ Rench specifically designed for skateboarding.

A post shared by Beatrice Speck (@beaspeck88) on

“Salmon Waves” at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

You think of a lot of things when you think of Hiram Chittenden Locks: the boats, the gardens, the buildings. But what about the water itself, without which all of this would be moot? Salmon Waves celebrates the most basic and important of elements here, which brings the salmon and other animals with it.

A post shared by Phylicia (@nordichearts) on

“The Wall of Death” under the University Bridge

Installed in 1993, “The Wall of Death” doesn’t have the best location in Seattle, but it’s a hidden gem for those traveling along the Burke-Gilman Trail. (At least, for those who enjoy it; the Seattle Times, gauging viewer reactions soon after its installation, summarized public input on the statue thusly: “sinister, whimsical, tacky and really orange.”)

A post shared by Rochelle (@rochv8) on

Fremont Troll

The colossal statue underneath the Aurora Bridge does a terrible job driving people away. If anything, he attracts them in droves. Sculpted by four local artists—Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter, and Ross Whitehead—the work was the winner of a competition to create a piece of public art in this spot. He is interactive; visitors are encouraged to clamber on him or try to poke out his one good eye (a hubcap).

A post shared by Emma McGee (@emmamcgee97) on

“Waiting For The Interurban”

A group of roughly cast gray aluminum figures huddles under an open-frame pergola. One woman grabs a snack, another holds a small child. A man reads while two others stand patiently. Glimpsed between their legs is a dog with a human face. Silent and uncomplaining, they wait. In fact, they have been waiting for nearly 30 years and in the process have become an emblem of Fremont, one of Seattle’s most public-art-heavy neighborhoods. That Interurban? It ain’t coming back.

Neon art on the Fremont Bridge

Local glass artist Rodman Miller created two neon sculptures, installed in bridge tower windows in 1994: a neon Rapunzel and a depiction of Rudyard Kipling’s “How the Elephant Got its Trunk.”

“Sundial” in Gas Works Park

Most people come here for the view and to take pictures of the skyline and old gas works. But the ornate analemmatic dial by Charles Greening atop Kite Hill is a special find for anyone who scales it. Want to use the dial? Just stand in the center and you become the time-teller.

“Black Sun” in Volunteer Park

In 1968, Isamu Noguchi envisioned creating a fluid and timeless work that would appear to move as the sun does. Located in the heart of Volunteer Park, Black Sun offers one of the most unique views of the Space Needle you’ll find. Local legend goes that the Soundgarden song “Black Hole Sun” was inspired by this piece; upon the singer’s death, the sculpture became an impromptu memorial site.

“Changing Form” in Kerry Park

Up on high at Kerry Park, you’ll find that iconic view of the Seattle skyline, as well as the steel sculpture, “Changing Form” by Doris Chase. The artful design allows onlookers to take in the view in a completely unique way.

A post shared by noodlefish (@noodlefish) on

Counterbalance Park

You have to come here at night to really appreciate the last work by architect Robert Murase. The urban oasis lights up with a rainbow of colors that make everything ethereal for the groups that have gathered to sit and rest.

Various works at Seattle Center

So many pieces of public art to choose from here. You could even make the argument the Space Needle is one. “The Fountain of Creation,” a.k.a. DuPen Fountain is a big highlight. Originally created for the 1962 World’s Fair, it’s home to smaller installations, too. Don’t forget to look for other works such as “Dreaming in Color,” “An Equal and Opposite Reaction,” “Baby Whale’s Tale,” “Kobe Bell,” and “Grass Blades”—plus another watery World’s Fair relic, the International Fountain.

A post shared by Allison Paige Varney (@alliv826) on

Ellen Forney art at Capitol Hill Station

Passengers emerging from the light rail station on Capitol Hill are greeted by a couple of steel-and-porcelain works by legendary Seattle cartoonist Ellen Forney. In one piece, pinkies on two hands link. In another, two fingers take a stroll.

“Adjacent, Against, Upon” in Myrtle Edwards Park

Often overshadowed by Olympic Sculpture Park, this shoreline spot was dedicated in 1964. Within, you’ll find Michael Heizer’s “Adjacent, Against, Upon,” which continues to be an important work—and a great spot to settle down with a book on a sunny day.

A post shared by Jorge (@atta.boy.jorge) on

“Waterworks” in Cal Anderson Park

Inside Cal Anderson Park, you’ll find Douglas Hollis’ Waterworks, an endlessly-streaming “river” that flows from a volcano (source) and settles in a calming pool (reflection).

A post shared by Nina M (@ninammross) on

Olympic Sculpture Park

It’s an obvious destination, but a mandatory one if you’re looking to see as much public art as possible. Old stalwarts like the Eye Benches and the Eagle mix with ever-changing installations, all with views of Elliott Bay.

A post shared by Morgen (@sunnyfacedgirl) on

Giant popsicle at Fourth and Blanchard

This dual-stick popsicle—the kind designed for splitting and sharing—at Fourth and Blanchard in Belltown was designed by Catherine Meyer.

Very good dog mural at Regrade Park

What better thing to add to a dog park than more dogs? It’s hard to choose a highlight of this extremely dense mural by Cern, but if there were an angel at the top of this Christmas tree, it would definitely be the giant, precious Pomeranian face.

A post shared by Josh Koehnke (@jkoehnke) on

Tetris mural on Eighth Avenue

Near Eighth Avenue and Pine Street, this huge wall has been painted with a Tetris-inspired mural designed by Will Schlough and installed by Urban Artworks.

“Angie’s Umbrella”

Right in the middle of the Lenora & Western intersection, this 30-foot, red metal umbrella is inspired by, what else, the rainy weather of Seattle. Not everyone knows that it actually spins 360 degrees, depending on which way the wind blows.

A post shared by Silly America (@sillyamerica) on

“Westlake Star Axis/Seven Hills,” aka Westlake Park

A collaboration between sculptor Robert Maki and landscape architect Robert Hanna, “Westlake Star Axis/Seven Hills” consists of several elements throughout Westlake Park: a 24-foot-high stone proscenium arch meant to be a kind of Roman-style speakers forum, with a set of three large stairs that provide seating; a fountain creating 64-foot-long wall of water cascading around steel ramps that allow visitors to walk through the center of the spray (and more recently, lights); and a pink granite column and six cubic pieces that allude to Seattle’s original seven hills. At the center of the park, a stand of 24 trees is also a part of the installation.

Homeless Remembrance Project’s “Tree of Life” and “Leaves of Remembrance”

The Homeless Remembrance Project’s “Tree of Life,” installed in Victor Steinbrueck Park in 2010, is a more general memorial—but the corresponding “Leaves of Remembrance” around the city make the work even more powerful. Each leaf contains the name of a person experiencing homelessness who has died, and a dedicated website tells each person’s story. Leaves are scattered throughout the city, including locations in Lake City, Ballard, Capitol Hill, Downtown, and Seward Park.

“Hammering Man” outside Seattle Art Museum

Certainly we can’t talk about public art and not talk about Hammering Man. Measuring 48 feet tall, he “hammers” silently and smoothly four times per minute from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. He actually rests his arm every year on Labor Day.

A post shared by Keishiro Miwa (@keishiromiwa) on

Various works inside University Street Station

This station in the middle of downtown has a couple of notable pieces of public art including LED boxes by Robert Teeple that create a kind of magnet-poetry-like display, crafting poetry and collections of symbols around a silent, animated face.

A post shared by Alex Stein (@alexandstein) on

“Braincast” and “Fountain of Wisdom” at Seattle Central Library

Meant to inspire contemplation upon the transmission of information, Tony Oursler’s “Braincast” features a tableau of faces and individual features projected onto three-dimensional forms and semi-transparent Plexiglas. Outside you’ll find George Tsutakawa’s “Fountain of Wisdom.”

A post shared by Brian A. Williams (@b8pix) on

“Vertebrae” at Safeco Plaza

Take a stroll around Henry Moore’s piece “Vertebrae.” What you see in one spot, you’ll see something different in the next, and so on. All three forms are basically the same shape, just placed differently in a way that reveals new dimensions at different angles.

A post shared by Katie Webb (@sumafichick) on

Tlingit Indian Totem Pole in Pioneer Square

The Tlingit Indian Totem Pole first appeared in 1899, after members of the Chamber of Commerce stole it from Tlingit Indians, then gave it to the City of Seattle as a gift, even though it wasn’t theirs to give. In 1938, the totem pole was set on fire. Even though the the city had retained ownership of their stolen totem pole, Tlingit craftsmen in Alaska carved a reproduction to stand in its stead. The new pole dedicated with tribal blessings, and it now stands, as the National Register of Historic Places puts it, “as symbol of the complicated relationship between American Indians and European Americans.”

A post shared by Bruce Fugett (@brucefugett) on

West Seattle Cultural Trail along Alki Beach

Along with the water views along Alki Beach, there are multiple fascinating pieces of public art to see. A trail between Duwamish Head and Alki Point is lined with art by Joe Fedderson, Donald Fels, and Juane Quick-To-See, including viewers that superimpose historical images, inlaid stone, sculptures, and bronze plaques to tell a story of the history of the land.

The Sodo Track

Hallie Golden

The Sodo Track is a unique take on a public art gallery: It’s specifically designed to be viewed via public transit. Hop on Link Light rail or one of the many buses that rolls through this neighborhood to see more than 50 murals on nearly every wall facing the bus-only road.

Hallie Golden

Various works, Beacon Hill Station

Beacon Hill Station is full of art that not only decorates, but transforms the space to combat claustrophobia. Two works by Dan Corson give the station a spacey feel: portals with images from the Hubble Telescope, a microscope, and the depths of the ocean, plus sculptures of glowing creatures. At the platform, playing cards flash past train windows in a piece by Bill Bell. At the surface, a path of textile motifs from 55 different cultures lead riders in or out.

A post shared by James Harnois (@cat_on_kava) on

“Walking on Logs” along the West Seattle Bridge

In this sculpture by Phillip Levine, four bronze children leap about on the side the Fauntleroy exit at the end of the West Seattle Bridge. Some folks find them creepy, others find them something worthy of dressing up. They get a reaction regardless. In 2012, volunteers stepped up with a landscaping plan, removing waste and planting trees and shrubs—and are now a big part of the site’s upkeep. In 2014, one of the kids was stolen.

“Painting and Sculpting the Land,” “Drawing the Land,” and “Skate Space” at Jefferson Park

Jefferson Park contains a massive duo of installations by Elizabeth Conner that track the culture and topography of the land, both past and present. It also contains “Skate Space,” a sculpture by CJ Rench specifically designed for skateboarding.

A post shared by Beatrice Speck (@beaspeck88) on