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An Introduction to “Art in the Wild”

Connections Art in the Wild

The following is an introduction to the Spring 2022 Connections issue, “Art in the Wild: Finding Delight in Issaquah Highlands’ Outdoor Art and Trails.” Read the issue online. 

Have you ever taken a walk or stopped at a traffic signal, noticed a piece of artwork placed nearby, and wondered, “How did that get there?”

We live in a region filled with visual pops of art woven throughout our urban, suburban, and even rural landscape. Issaquah and King County have art ordinances that make this rich tapestry of public art possible. Most municipal construction projects in our area have a “set aside” for public art in their budgets, so art can enhance the project (in the city’s capital projects, it is 0.5%). Sometimes public art takes the form of a stand-alone art piece, like a sculpture, and sometimes it is an artistic element in a stair railing, an artistic gate or fence, or an artist-designed pattern in sidewalk or flooring. No matter what the form, public art helps build a sense of place and hopefully assures you that someone thoughtfully created the site or landscape, enhancing your overall experience. Or, maybe art just makes you go, “Hm, what is that?” That’s OK, too, because art can also be a catalyst for thought, wondering, and contemplation. Art can tell a story of a place or express ideas and emotions visually; it doesn’t always have to be pleasing or pretty, and sometimes it is all of these things at once — that’s the superpower of art.

Issaquah Highlands is home to many public artworks “in the wild”: in our parks, on public facilities, along trails, and adorning traffic signal utility boxes. This art was commissioned by the city, King County, regional agencies, and even private developers and created by professional public artists and community members. We are fortunate to have art in so many forms in our community, and there is always room for more. I hope you enjoy learning about some of the public artworks that call Issaquah Highlands home and appreciate them even more now as you walk, ride, and explore.

Amy Dukes is the arts program administrator for the city of Issaquah, and a Roanoke Woods resident.