Oct. 8th, 2009

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The main result of going to the artstech meeting last night in Kirkland was allegedly to listen to several talks about various subjects, followed by a panel discussion, but in the end it became a return to the old subject: What is the Artistic Vision of the Eastside?

To some, this is an inherently laughable question. But the bel-red corridor is being redeveloped and there is a new chance for the rise of arts spaces like techshop and other similar spaces. Also, the rise in production values of interactive media is being driven in the region largely through the computer game companies. This gives it its own spin, although hearing elanlee talk again was great.

I don't know what the east side has for art. Clearly, in its mall/driving culture, meaningful public art is difficult. Some (ie: the panelists who cared about this sort of thing) would contend that as public transit and walkability spread in the bel-red corridor this will change. Others seem to think that art can only exist in the East side in the forms currently serving as economic export.

What do I think? I think the East Side needs mass transit and more walkable cultural centers like the largely abandoned crossroads mall. I think that they're right that their needs to be a walkable reality before more public art is a reality, at least in the way they want to push it.

When I worked in bellevue in 1996, there were constantly people walking from block to block. Today, those areas we walked through are now megamarts with no space in the frontage for other than window displays and branding. Even by the low standards of a suburb, it's a loss. You can't just destroy buildings randomly, but a lot of the creative installation art in the last while (B/IAS, free sheep foundation, etc) has been based upon the framework of dead buildings or spaces in transition from one purpose to the next.

So, who knows. Art-as-export is nice, but it would be nice to have some sort of walkable core in the corridor and if there's art stuff there so much the better. It was an interesting dialog to be present for, and I also ran into some old friends and colleagues.

December 2009

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