Ride the Wave & Name that Station, Bellevue!

Sound Transit's map of Light Rail plans for Bellevue

Sound Transit’s map of Light Rail plans for Bellevue

So I get it…naming a transit station is not nearly as entertaining as naming the next British Royal. But it should be. Sound Transit’s East Link Extension design and station naming process is well underway. Ride the Wave! The City of Bellevue will be engaging stakeholders in further station naming efforts in the coming months before review with Council this Fall.

Open Transit design…a design process that leverages all things open data, open source, open process…in the service of achieving successful, innovative and inspired community-centered design solutions…intrigues me. It, like many other “open” initiatives, engages community in fun, creative and unprecedented ways. I am trying to learn more about this. This is an interesting article by Peter David Cabaluzzi Faia, describing a new approach to transit design: Open Transit Design: Why Station Designed for Non-Transit Users Are Most Successful. Fresh approaches to engagement to like these have the potential to be transformative tools in urban planning and community development.

City of Bellevue's "preferred alternative" map with 'cultural/arts district" identified (2009)

City of Bellevue’s “preferred alternative” map with ‘cultural/arts district” identified (2009)

The City of Bellevue’s vision for Bel-Red and the pioneering opportunities to ignite a wide range of economic, cultural, and community development there are inspiring. The rezone planning process allowed for the City and Commissions to collectively draft a plan for Bel-Red that included a vision for a vibrant arts/cultural district in the heart of BelRed, a perfect frontier for creative and entrepreneurial industry settlements. With this plan, Bellevue has an opportunity to create some differentiated urban and cultural spaces that compliment those in the Downtown. That differentiation really begins with the naming process. Below is the Sound Transit naming criteria that has been given:

  • Reflect the nature of the environment: neighborhoods, street names, landmarks, plus geographical locations
  • Be brief and easy to read and remember
  • Comply with federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines and requirements and be limited to 30 characters
  • Avoid commercial references because they may change, prove confusing to the public and be costly to change
  • Avoid similar names or words in existing facility names

Personally, for the 130th Street Station, I’m rallying for a name that stakes claim to this arts/cultural district rooted there. An ‘arts district’ station name seems a most appropriate station moniker. Perhaps a “Cultural Arts District (CAD)” Station. It’s proximity to the historic Cadman Concrete Hopper, Bellevue’s industrial icon, has added historical dimension.  

The Cadman Hopper in Bellevue. (photo: Gen Tremblay)

The Cadman Hopper (photo: Gen Tremblay)

An Arts District Station moniker telegraphs the exisitng and soon to be rooted arts/cultural businesses in BelRed. Donn Bennett Drum Studio, Bellevue Art & Frame, Mike Lull Guitar Works, Northwest Guitars, Evolution Studios, American Music, Mills Music…and the jewel in the crown, Pacific Northwest Ballet School/Francia Russell Performing Arts Center are all familiar Bellevue cultural assets anchored in East Bellevue near the 130th Street Station. The recent issues surrounding the route alternatives around the Pacific Northwest Ballet illuminate the critical importance of our anchor cultural asset situated in the heart of BelRed…a stone’s throw from 130th St Station. Building on this key cultural asset, with the right transit path and the right transit station name, will be critical to creating an our East Bellevue arts/cultural district.

Pacific Northwest Ballet/Francia Russell Performing Arts Center, Bellevue, WA

Pacific Northwest Ballet/Francia Russell Performing Arts Center, Bellevue, WA

On July 31, 2013, King County is hosting  Open House for the Eastside Rail Corridor at Bellevue City Hall. This informational event is an opportunity to learn more about how the region is working together to maximize the benefits of the rail corridor between Renton and Woodinville. County staff will be on hand to answer questions, and comment cards will allow residents to share thoughts on what they would like to see for the corridor. ST has engaged the public in this process by offering surveys online for a short period of time around each open house during design open houses. There are currently no online surveys available, but you can still send in your station name ideas to Sound Transit. That, and stay tuned for Bellevue’s stakeholder engagement opportunities too. I’ll keep you posted. If you are down with the idea of an Arts District in BelRed or if you have other naming ideas…WEIGH IN…at eastlink@soundtransit.org!

More on the East Link Project


cultural space…the final frontier!

We may have given up on NASA discovering new galaxies in space, but here in the NW, we’re working on exploring the far reaching corners of our community to discover and cultivate cultural space! Not long ago, I heard the exciting new that Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture has launched its Cultural Space Program, appointing Matthew Richter to lead the charge. Exciting, indeed, given his catalyzing work over the years as arts entrepreneur and his recent work at Shunpike with the Storefronts Program.

Screen shot 2013-06-02 at 2.03.41 AMBellevue, in fact, has been working with Matthew to develop Storefronts Bellevue. “Storefronts Bellevue is a neighborhood activation program, helping communities with vacant storefront spaces in an attempt to revitalize the urban cores of our city. We bring life, brightness, marketing, security and walkability back to our sidewalks. Storefronts Bellevue programs a series of arts installations and pop-up galleries and other creative enterprises in short-term uses of vacant retail spaces. Roughly every three to four months, a different project will inhabit and activate an empty space, until that space rents to a commercial tenant.”

Medical Genetics and Art meet on the Eastside

Robin Bennett and the UW Genetic Counselors at "Chromosome Paintings", 2011

Robin Bennett and the UW Genetic Counselors at “Chromosome Paintings”, 2011

In 2009, I brought my esteemed colleagues, Geraldine Ondrizek and Robin Bennett, together to embark on a collaboration at the convergence of art and medical science. It took the shape of an immersive arts residency that was based on the research of the genetics scientists at UW and is now culminating in an exhibition at Kirkland Arts Center. This partnership inspired a new, seminal body of work for Ondrizek. The upcoming exhibition at Kirkland Arts Center, CHROMOSOME PAINTING, showcases three bodies of work generated from Ondrizek’s two-year residency with the department of Medical Genetics at the University of Washington. It includes the artist’s explorations, prototypes and final commissioned work, “Chromosome 17″, as well as new work made specifically for the Kirkland Arts Center.

Geraldine Ondrizek is a research-based artist and professor at Reed College. Her work ignites interest and inquiry about the influence of cancer and other diseases on both individuals and entire families. She relies heavily on scientific inquiry, focusing on documenting biological specimens and exploring systems of categorization. She works closely with genetic scientists to trace ethnic identities, portray life spans, and depict genetically inherited conditions. Robin Bennett, one of the most prominent genetic counselors in the nation, teaches human genetics at the UW Medical School. She pioneers genetic counseling practices that have become standard worldwide. As a community catalyst and public scholar, I integrate research, teaching, service, and public engagement in my curatorial practice. A formidable interdisciplinary trifecta, making genetic information more accessible, more visible and better understood was the goal of our team in creating this partnership, the public art commission and the exhibition.

In order to properly commemorate the 50 years of Medical Genetics/Genetic Medicine Clinic at the University of Washington Medical Center through her commission, Ondrizek dove deeply into the groundbreaking work of the UW scientists… Founder, Arno Motulsky, M.D. (colorblindness, pharmacogenetics), Peter Byers, M.D. (osteogenesis imperfecta, inherited aneurysms, Ehlers-Danlos syndromes and other collagen disorders), Wendy Raskind MD, PhD. (dystonias, myokymia, myopathies, and ataxias), Mary-Claire King, Ph.D. (HIV, lupus, inherited deafness, breast and ovarian cancer), and Dr. Philip J. Fialkow (leukemia) to name a few.

Chromosome 17, G. Ondrizek, UW Medical Genetics, 2011

“Chromosome 17” is the public artwork that was commissioned by the department of Medical Genetics at the University of Washington, is made of dyed and embroidered silk and engraved plexiglass and uses the National Center for Biotechnical Information (NCBI) database of the human genome as a resource to artistically map technologically derived gene sequences.

Geraldine Ondrizek’s exquisite limited edition silk panel/scarves of the 23 Chromosomes with genetic markers for Cancer (Prostate and Testicular, Ovarian, Colon, Gastric, Ovarian, Hepatocellular, Melanoma, Bladder, Oral Cancer, Breast, Pancreatic, Leukemia and Leukemia t-cell acute, Lymphoma and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) are on exhibit now at Kirkland Arts Center through July 6. They are also available online. Learn more, view/purchase: GO Forward Design

Ondrizek’s silk scarves

I’m excited to share this multi-faceted endeavor with you and hope to engage a broader audience with this exhibition, one that extends beyond the art community to include the medical community, the cancer research and survivorship communities.  I thank you for sharing this with others you think will have an interest in this work.

Chromosome Painting, G. Ondrizek, Lightboxes, 2012

Kirkland Art Center presents: CHROMOSOME PAINTING and works from a commission for the University of Washington Division of Medical Genetics, GERALDINE ONDRIZEK  Curated by Genevieve Gaiser Tremblay   May 25 – July 6, 2012, Kirkland Arts Center. Here are links to (UW and 4Culture) writings about this work:




This exhibition is being funded in part by  the Oregon Arts Commision, The Ford Foundation and the Stillman Drake Fund, Reed College.

4Culture is funding 3 public scholarship forums. My contribution to this project is dedicated to my eldest sister, Loretto Gaiser, who recently passed away from Leukemia.

STEAMBOT: A Fusion of Alloys and Allies

Steambots at the Hazard Factory, Seattle WA, 2010

“Hybrid thinking” …it’s what is going on in the minds of successful innovators, according to Dev Patnaik, founder and chief executive of Silicon Valley growth strategy firm Jump.  He defines it as “the conscious blending of different fields of thought to discover and develop opportunities that were previously unseen by the status quo …”. By nature, “hybrid” thinkers embrace new vantage points. They create new connections and landmarks. So, just what happens when you cross-pollinate a handful of creative hybrids?

Steambot is a collaborative exhibition up now at the Kirkland Arts Center, featuring artwork that combines both current and Industrial Age technologies. In creating the curatorial model for Steambot, Cable Griffith and I stewarded a thoughtful and flexible process that allowed these artists with diverse backgrounds to mine each others’ expertise, share studio practices and develop effective working relationships. Our aim was to set up the gallery itself as a working platform for their collaboration. With generous funding from 4Culture’s Group Arts Project Grant (we heart 4C!), Steambot became an incubator, a collaboratory, a fablab, an heritage archives and a virtual community hub.

Starting with an architectural landmark as muse (the Peter Kirk building)…and toggling between to industrial eras, these 5 hybrid thinkers, Rusty Oliver, Pat Gallagher, Rebecca Cummins, Randy Moss and Simon Winder, explored ideas around industrial heritage, technological advances, craftsmanship and collective authorship. They honed new skills and forged meaningful partnerships while creating a body of work together.

Peter Kirk’s imagined steel hub, along with a veritable palette of archival ideas including oracles, time travels, Victorian Spiritualism, magnetic fields, weights and measures, recoding instrumentation, telegraph, early astronomical devices, clear cut forests, powered flight, X-ray technology, diatoms, steam powered turbines, steel mills, helium balloons, Morse code, rotoscopes, stereoptics, dirigibles, telegraphic cameras, portraiture were investigated by the group. These notions served as fertile ground for collaborations and blue prints for potential fabrications. The result…a steam engine generating powerful, poignant and whimsical site specific works of art that speak to place, partnership and possibility.

ALL ABOARD, STEAMBOT…before it pulls out of the Kirkland station on Dec. 3, 2010.

Kirkland Arts Center (620 Market St, Kirkland, WA 98033 | (425) 822-7161)

Photo credit : Steambot portraits by Marty Oppenheimer. From left to right: Randy Moss, Simon Winder, Rebecca Cummins, Patrick Gallagher, Rusty Oliver, Cable Griffith, Genevieve Tremblay

Badshah’s Beatitudes

Earlier this Fall, Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director of Microsoft’s Global Community Affairs was in NY for the Clinton Global Initiative and then in Washington, DC, attended the Business Civic Leadership Center Global Corporate Citizenship Conference. After his active engagement at both of these summits, Akhtar shared his thoughts on the shifting the economic and political dynamics shaping our future on his Microsoft Unlimited Potential blog… later published in the Huffington Post.

Toward a New Normal — Visions for Development Leaders (Huffington Post)

In this article, Badshah calls upon everyone, especially those in the development community – businesses, governments, international donors, NGOs and individuals, “to embrace change, chart a new path, and to become more relevant to the communities they serve”. Armed with a well-rounded perspective and a depth of expertise in the realms of global economics, corporate philanthropy, information technology, architecture, environmental and urban planning, as well as arts and culture, the insights he shares in this piece focus on the positive opportunities at hand for a myriad of global development initiatives. Inspiring ideas, indeed, but more importantly, scalable ones that can be mapped and adapted to smaller, grassroots level cultural and community development efforts. So I took note.

Akhtar’s practical, yet visionary call to action so resonated in me, that it triggered associations of biblical proportions. I have taken some poetic license to rename his “common elements” and now refer to them as, “Badshah’s Beatitudes: 9 Common Elements of Development”. With his permission, I edited them down and borrowed a format from another familiar sermon on a Mount. They hang in clear sight on my bulletin board…to remind myself to create a “new normal” everyday.  I hope you’ll do the same…

BADSHAH’S BEATITUDES: 9 Common Elements of Development

Blessed Be the Innovative

for they look at things anew. The fresh edges they carve will both preserve and restore.

Blessed Be the Relevant

for they design and deliver necessary solutions.

Blessed Be the Visible

for they are actively engaged and extend their knowledge.

Blessed Be the Transparent

for they share knowledge and incite collective growth.

Blessed Be the Collaborative

for they bring people together to solve big problems.

Blessed Be the Focused

for they keep their eye on the end goal.

Blessed Be the Risk-takers

who tolerate ambiguity and failures on their path to new worlds.

Blessed Be the Geeky

the seekers who reinvent the “new normal”.

Blessed Be [the] Change

unpredictable, shifting, but necessary to survive and flourish.

BEL-RED is GREEN: Artist Tomiko Jones Daylights Secrets of the Corridor

Tomiko Jones is busy stitching up the sails for her environmental installation, “Uncovering the West Tributary”, a one evening only event on Sept. 24 from 7-10pm along the hidden reaches of Kelsey Creek in Bellevue. Jones’ installation is funded by Bellevue’s Arts Program, through its Special Projects program with help from the Utilities Department. This public art event is the first of what hopefully will be more site-specific art events held in the Corridor.

This multi-media installation (projection, sound, sculpture) will quietly transform this forgotten wetland pond into a community reflecting pool…using it as a platform to re-imagine this forgotten wetland waterway as restored, revitalized green and open space. Jones’ temporal work not only serves to “daylight” the critical task of restoring our stream system in Bel-Red, but daylights the potential creative uses of this pioneering area.

Bel-Red is actually GREEN…and is OPEN for the business of CREATIVITY!

City Arts Magazine, Curator’s Eye: Tomiko’s Floating World by Tim Appelo, December 1, 2010

Contact: Mary Pat Byrne, Arts Specialist, Bellevue Arts Program; 425-452-4105

Thanks for the plan, Matt

Matt Terry, the Director of Planning for the City of Bellevue was honored last night at Meydenbauer for his 30 years of  leadership and public service at a retirement celebration at Meydenbauer Ceneter last night.

Among Matt’s many accomplishments, he leaves a visionary master plan for the Bel-Red Corridor. As part of that landmark planning effort, the Bellevue Arts Commission was invited to the table to contribute to the cultural vision for Bel-Red. As a result, the development of an arts/cultural district, as well as integrated public art and the identification of environmental art opportunities were thoughtfully considered in the planning process. Exciting developments for the BAC!

As a gesture of gratitude, the members of the Commission (Mary Pat Byrne, Betina Finley, Judy Holder, Brad Smith, Valentina Kiselev, Roxanne Shepard, Bill Ptacek and myself) privately commissioned Seattle artist, Mariko Hirasawa to create an embroidered interpretation of the sub-area map of the Corridor. The piece entitled, “The Cultural Fabric of Bel-Red”,  identifies exisiting arts and cultural assets such as the Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Francia Russell Performing Arts Center, Mike Lull Guitar Works, Donn Bennett Drum Studio, Evolution Studios, Northwest Guitars, American Music, Mill Music and others with colorful French knots.

Cultural Fabric of Bel-Red

“Cultural Tapestry of Bel-Red”, by Mariko Hirasawa, 2010

Aside from his many citywide contributions, Matt Terry has stretched and primed a beautiful canvas with his team’s master plan. With such a solid foundation, the community now can begin to imagine the possibilities and start to apply color (and MORE FRENCH KNOTS!!!) to this pioneering frontier that is perfectly poised for creative and entrepreneurial industry settlements.