Burien/Interim Art Space

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On January 24, Burien will unveil a project that transforms a vacant construction site into a public gathering place for community members of all ages. One of the first of its kind in the Country, the Burien/ Interim Art Space project is a year-long experiment to turn a block of Burien Town Square into a temporary sculptural garden where art and space are intrinsically re-envisioned.

The B/ IAS project has been many months in the making and has engaged a number of community partners including the Burien Arts Commission, Urban Partners, City of Burien, Ignition NW, GGLO , and 4Culture. The interim art space occupies Phase 2 of Burien Town Square, a project, like many others that was placed on hold due to the current economic climate.

Rather than suffer the stark void of a vacant site in the downtown core, Burien Arts Commission Board Members Kathy Justin and Dane Johnson approached property owner, Urban Partners, about using the site for an interim art space. Long-time supporter of the arts, Urban Partners was happy to donate their land for an ambitious project like B/ IAS. With this donation and the on-going support from City of Burien, Ignition NW, GGLO, and 4-Culture, Kathy and Dane moved forward with plans to transform the site into an interim art space.

With a little bit of vision, a languishing construction site has now become a community asset. The B/ IAS is an artist p-patch of sorts filled with handcrafted sculptures, ceramic flowers created by children from the nearby pottery school, and gardens planted by downtown apartment dwellers. At its physical center is the 30-foot tall piece called “The Passage,” created by San Francisco artists Dan Das Mann and Karen Cusolito for the 2005 Burning Man Arts Festival. This dynamic sculpture of a mother and child exploring the world is to be complimented by a sculptural piling of torn-up asphalt and the fiery Synapses and Fire-Pod pieces. These initial sculptures, along with a growing number of pieces donated by local artists, will remain on the site throughout the project cycle and will form a backdrop for ad hoc community gatherings and planned events.

The B/ IAS site plan (click image to enlarge).

The project team recognizes Burien will not be the only city facing underutilized construction sites over the coming years. They hope the B/ IAS project will inspire others across the country to re-sculpt these sites into thriving art spaces, full of life, hope, and beauty. To give other communities a jump-start on the process, the team is sharing their collective experiences in a DIY manual, whi ch will be available for review later this year.

In the meantime, you can get a first hand look at “The Passage” and dance with fire performers around the Fire-Pod at B/ IAS’s grand opening celebration on January 24th starting at 3:00pm. Additional events and art pieces will be added throughout the project’s one-year life cycle. For more information about the project and for details regarding art donations, please contact Kathy Justin with the Burien Arts Commission.

(Note: A previous version of this post said that the B/ IAS opening would take place January 3. The opening has since been rescheduled for January 24, due to weather complications.)

Photo credit: Flickr/Prophet 5


this is awesome! seattle needs this in a big way.

Posted by: amy leigh morgan on December 19, 2008 5:56 PM

What an astoundingly fantastic idea! I'm going to steal this idea for sure...and am looking forward to the guide that will be available later in the year. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

Posted by: Andrea Cordonier on December 26, 2008 4:28 PM

I grew up and lived in Burien until I was about 24 years old. While visiting the license agency near the post office yesterday, I was shocked when I saw this. I actually thought it was a movie set at first. Then, when I found out it was an art project, I thought “Oh my, what are these people thinking here?!” In my opinion, I think the whole thing is ugly, hideous, and obnoxious! It looks like a garbage dump for industrial and construction waste! Oh, and nice purple bus! I’m glad I don’t have to see this thing on a regular basis. Additionally, if I was a business owner looking for space, I’d sure look somewhere else for a storefront that was not in view of this spectacle. Sorry, I just don’t see it as a “sculptural garden” or “art”. It appears White Center has migrated south and taken hold in Burien!

Posted by: Phil Tenning on November 3, 2009 8:00 AM

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