Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Donkey Run Away...

Richard Beyer is one of my favorite sculptors here in the Pacific Northwest. His public art works are everywhere, and deservedly so. One of the most popular sculptures in Seattle is his...

Waiting for the Interurban.

The Interurban was a local rail system who’s first incarnation began with an electric streetcar line in 1889 and grew to provide cheap public transportation connecting Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, and points in between. The sculpture’s joke is that (after over a half century) they’re still waiting at the stop on Fremont & 34th in Seattle for a ride to Everett. The Interurban was gone by 1940. 

In old downtown Renton just south of the post office on Williams is Tonkin Park. I like this little triangle park. It’s a great place for a quiet moment and home of another Richard Beyer sculpture, “Donkey Run Away From the Mines.” 

The donkey was a perfect symbol for Renton with it's long coal mining history. Donkeys and mules were used in the coal mines to pull the coal wagons. Many of them spent their entire lives in the mine.

What I appreciate about Richard Beyer’s art is he sides with the public. They can be somewhat controversial and/or irreverent, yet to me they’re more conversational. They reflect the views and perspective you’d hear in the neighborhood.

I drive past here most every weekday going back and forth to work. It's one of my little shortcuts that long time residents know to get across town and beat the traffic. I can't tell you how many times in the rain, fog, snow, or sunshine I've caught the donkey out of the corner of my eye driving by and did a double take thinking it was real.

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