Buildings go up in Seattle, to eventually be demolished and replaced with new and taller buildings. Each time, a proposed land use sign announces the next big thing. But what happens when construction starts and the signs come down?
In the hands of Aubrey Birdwell, they become artistic commentary on development and displacement in Seattle. The signs alone are reclaimed industrial waste.
Birdwell, in collaboration with Ukrainian-born photographer Darya Husak and New Mystics, will open his art show, PROPOSED LAND USE, with a reception 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, at the Vermillion, 1508 11th Ave. The installation will remain through March 4.
“It’s the header on every board that I want to cut up and turn into art,” Birdwell told the Capitol Hill Times about the succinct title of his show.
Birdwell is a member of the New Mystics, and has been making art for the past 15 years. The idea of using old proposed land use signs was inspired by his day job at the Davis Sign Company, where many of the signs have been produced. Birdwell said he’s repurposed them as furniture in the past.
“It suddenly clicked in my head that I can make art out of these,” he said.
Birdwell said he’s thankful for his boss, Scott Davis.
“He’s very supportive,” he said. “He’s donating all of the material and letting me make it in his shop.”
Not wanting to give away too much about his pieces, he said there will be a short procession at the start of the opening with the New Mystics. Accordion player Vladislav Petruk will provide musical accompaniment.
“There’s a funeral for culture,” Birdwell said. “This is a particularly Seattle-based funeral.”
A news release states these sculptures “reveal a prevailing sentiment in many cities today — one of alienation, displacement and permanent change in communities and the built environment.”
With old parts of Seattle disappearing and new high-end developments coming in, Birdwell plans to donate the proceeds from his art show and sales to a housing-related charity organization.