Saturday, March 20, 2010

Belltown Art Walk- 2nd Ave and Bell Street- Dinah Gewalt

Artistic Character along Second Avenue and Bell Street

The sufferings, strength and identity of any place can be discovered though the expression of public art. Belltown, commonly identified as an eclectic residential/commercial area, has experienced a rocky history throughout development but has none the less evolved. This evolution is evident from significant events, such as the Denny Regrade (1897-1930), followed by an economic depression (1930s), the World’s Fair in 1961 and currently faces the most influential event of shaping its identity, increased density, redevelopment and gentrification.
Since early January 2010, I explored Second Avenue and Bell Street on weekend photography and sketching excursions. I observed how people interacted artistically with the urban environment (16), and the placement of apartments and businesses that have made Belltown their home. However, the most interesting feature I discovered were the little things; textures, signage, sculpture, graffiti, old murals and new advertisements. The colors and scale of these art features act as landmarks, reflecting the unveiling of character from businesses along two blocks along Second Avenue between Blanchard and Battery Street.
There are definitely layers of art in Belltown, a collection of event stickers pasted over one another in the alley behind a music club and bar (21). Not too far away is a competition between the colorful store fronts of a Mexican restaurant among many bars (10 -14). Behind these restaurants along 2nd Avenue is a service alley, with a variety of sculpture, graffiti and shrines that represent business and individual identity toward the public sphere.

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