Bellevue's latest public art installation is not just for looking at. Eight vividly colored steel benches along 140th Avenue, framed by ornate trellises, panels and canopies, offer nice places to sit as well.
To celebrate the benches crafted by Snohomish artist Karen Guzak, the city will host a self-guided walking tour of the installations Saturday, 10 a.m. to noon. The tour will begin at Sammamish High School, 100 140th Ave. SE, where free refreshments will be provided and Guzak will be on hand to talk about her work.
The benches are located along a one-mile stretch of 140th, in the Lake Hills neighborhood, between Northeast Seventh Street and Southeast Seventh Street. The public art was commissioned to complement major improvements the city made to the thoroughfare, including sidewalks and medians.
Guzak's pieces are made of one-eighth-inch thick steel plates cut, welded or bolted together, and covered with a powder coating paint. The artist drew inspiration from the street's landscaping, and each piece has a seasonal theme: the quince benches are for spring, rose for summer, vine maple for fall and magnolia for winter.
Students at Sammamish High helped select quotes to be embedded in plaques at the base of each bench. "A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken," is one, from writer James Dent.
The colorful benches are part of Bellevue's Public Art Program, which purchases and commissions art for the City with the advice of the Bellevue Arts Commission.
For the next seven years, the program will focus on using public art to define and enhance an urban walkway from City Hall to the waterfront at Meydenbauer Bay. The city works with neighborhoods to commission public art that expresses their unique character.
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