Friday, May 6, 2016

We need more emphasis on Art in Redmond

Last night, my wife and I decided on a date night to enjoy some live music. We had to drive all the way to Snoqualmie to find it.  As a 36-year resident, and seeing Redmond's rocketing downtown growth, I find this appalling.  (Education Hill Facebook Groups lit up when I posted for discussion: "Is there any other place than Soulfood for us?")

The good news!  We got to listen to an old friend Clint McCune play his awesome vibe! His music inspired me to write this piece.  Clint was once Chairman of the Arts Commission, serving three terms, and now lives in Woodinville.  In 2008 he worked diligently to attract performing arts and recognize our culture through the arts. 

Redmond is a city of over 49,000 residents and all that we have for permanent, full time performing arts is Clint's old coffee shop that occasionally hosts musicians. This, after extensive downtown cultural corridor studies. Just last week on RCTV, Council Member John Stilin (he's played some base guitar with Clint) spoke of his frustration saying something to the effect that the city's not even on the performing arts and cultural center map.  

It seems little has changed since the days of Clint. Read this old Redmond Reporter article.  We have two outdoor "railroad art" installations, the Marymoor county park summer series and had two colorful "tree wraps" in Anderson Park. What else am I missing? Is there art on Cleveland Street? There's a lot of hum in the Downtown but where's our heart and soul now?  The Downtown Park?  The Historic Core?  Both?  

The city hosts a summer series, a poet laureate, an arts store and theater in RTC, and the valuable Historical Society office with memorabilia and speaker's programs (now threatened by redevelopment).  In the summer the city relies heavily on the County for outdoor music. In the winter, fall, and spring we hibernate.   

For the last seven years or so, the city's spent gobs of money and time with consultants developing art and culture "master plans" but what's there to show for it?  I've heard the Downtown Park will be a key place for outdoor art and culture.  What kind of art?  Will they hire the artist (Ed Carpenter) from Portland again
I'm sorry to sound so cynical.  And I know the city has a lot on their plate.  But how can we spark art?  Most of us aren't Arts Commission "committee types."   The Planning Commission's "Historic Core"  study is underway. This may be good opportunity to give input.  Will our soul reside in the historic core?  

I guess someone could start a "conversation" during the next Town Hall about why Arts isn't a priority. The Ed HIll Neighborhood Assoc. may even have some input. I think it's time the city stops analyzing their expensive, grandiose, bureaucratic art master plan and does something with it.  What do you think?  Please comment!

Bob Yoder, opinion

Listen to Clint's music 
Meet Shin Yu Pai, Redmond's current poet laureate
Graffiti art in "Edge Skate Park"

1 comment:

Bob Yoder said...

There's art and then there's entertainment and a mix of both. I'd like to see a night club in Redmond where we can dance. I think the OneRedmond Foundation should consider this in their vision. It appears Soulfood is our place for artists like Clint with causes, jazz, and open mic, Would Soulfood go so far as to include East Indian music, etc? That would be up to the free market.

For years Clint McCune and his partner Sara's SOULFOOD was "the heart and soul" of Redmond. (My opinion is not influenced by the name of the shop) I'll never forget the "opening night" of Redmond's first poet laureate. She performed at Soulfood and the TV media covered it region-wide. Council Member Hank Margeson was there, everyone.

When Clint and Sara sold Soulfood they left a cultural void.

For several years the city wandered and probed, seeking a new harbor for our "soul." Will it be the Downtown Park? The Historic Core? Both?

I like how the city is installing art that is representative of our history. An expensive "erratic" representing the glacial age, constructed of railroad ties. A railroad signal installation. The Mayor said a Totem Pole installation is planned near Lower Bear Creek. There's the small park with wood Indian carvings on the Slough. An historic marker sits next to Perrigo Springs -- the first water source for Indians and pioneers.

Is it remotely possible they will go so far as to install outdoor East Indian art, European art, Chinese art, etc. After the botched City Hall installation, designed by Portland's artist Carpenter, why did the city hire him again for the erratic?? Please tell me it wasn't Carpenter's idea! Besides Art, it was promoted as place for kids to play. Today it sits hidden away, unappreciated and unused. Next he did the railroad signal installation. Please not Carpenter again!