Arts and culture will play a central role on the waterfront. Responding to the history of the site, its ecology, economy and communities, permanent art commissions will help to create a sense of place that will invite residents and visitors alike to visit the waterfront.

For more information on overall vision for the art program, read our 2012 Art Plan.


Map of the waterfront area showing the locations of the permanent art installations
Rendering of a floating doc that includes an art installation where metal half-sphere shapes are mounted vertically on a structure attached to the foundations of a dock
Land Buoy Bells will be installed on the floating dock attached to Pier 62, and when rain or waves hit the bells, they will ring softly

Stephen Vitiello has been commissioned for an integrated, sound-based artwork that will be located on the floating dock of the new Pier 62. Land Buoy Bells uses industrial materials – steel tank ends - and transforms them into a set of five instruments. The bell-like objects are struck at various moments as energy is stored up in an engineered device driven by the rise and fall of the waters that encompass the floating dock. The goal is to create sounds and rhythms that harmonize with the ongoing life on the waterfront, including voices, natural, environmental and industrial sounds.

Stephen Vitiello would like to acknowledge the project team of Fabrication Specialties, Ltd. and Stuart Kendall, Engineer for their work on Land Buoy Bells. He also extends thank yous to Mutuus Studios (Kristen and Saul Becker) and Eric Fredericksen.

Born in New York City, Stephen Vitiello lives and works in Richmond, Virginia. Vitiello is a professor of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University. Beginning his career as a punk guitarist and composer, Vitiello moved into sound as an artistic medium around 1990. In 1999 he was artist-in-residence in the World Trade Center, resulting in a widely presented field-recorded installation. Solo exhibitions include All Those Vanished Engines, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (2011-ongoing) and A Bell For Every Minute, The High Line, NYC (2010-2011). Vitiello’s work was featured in the MoMA exhibition Soundings, the first major US museum survey of sound art, in 2013. Other group shows include Sound Objects: Leah Beeferman and Stephen Vitiello, Fridman Gallery, New York (2014); September 11, PS 1/MoMA, LIC, NY (2011-2012); and the 15th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2006). He has performed around the world, and has composed music for independent films.

Artists Malynn Foster, Tamela LaClair and Kimberly Deriana, working as a team, were selected as the artists for the Overlook Walk. The artists, who represent both local tribes and Urban Indians, will work with the design team to develop a permanent artwork that will help to elevate the importance of Indigenous culture and history to the site.

This artwork will be located on the lower level of this new pedestrian bridge in a location known as the Salish Steps, which connects the lower portion of Overlook Walk to the promenade. These amphitheater-style steps not only provide access to the new waterfront and views of Elliott Bay, but they also provide a space for entertainment and community activities.

Ann Hamilton discusses the concept for her art installation on the waterfront

Internationally recognized artist Ann Hamilton has been selected for a commission as part of Waterfront Seattle.

Hamilton, known for large-scale, sensory installations, is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and has also represented the United States at the Venice Biennale. She will join a team of architects, planners and city designers to create the project over the next several years. Hamilton is known for recent installations such as the event of a thread at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, and tower · Oliver Ranch, in Geyserville, California. Seattle audiences will recognize her LEW Wood Floor at the Seattle Central Library, with raised letters spelling out the first sentences from books in the library's collection in 11 languages. In addition, the Henry Art Gallery hosted an eponymous exhibition of Hamilton's work in 2014.

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture selected artist Cedric Bomford to join a team of architects, planners and city designers to develop art work associated with the concept of "play."

Bomford’s interest lies in the built environment and the politics embedded within it. A Canadian artist working in photography and installation, Bomford is currently based in Winnipeg, where he is an assistant professor in the University of Manitoba School of Art. This project is his first in the U.S.

Design rendering of Qwalsius-Shaun Peterson’s art piece “In the Spirit of Chief Sealth”, showing people on the park promenade enjoying three sculptures of Coast Salish-inspired welcome figures
Qwalsius-Shaun Peterson’s Family will reflect the Coast Salish tribes that have a historic connection to the Seattle waterfront area

Qwalsius-Shaun Peterson is a renowned Coast Salish artist and a member of the Puyallup Tribe who has been practicing his craft since 1996. He works in wood, glass, metal, and digital media, embracing historical and contemporary influences throughout.

He has been commissioned to create a permanent monumental artwork on the park promenade near Pier 58. He will create three welcome figures in an ancient sculptural style, standing on concrete bases with decorative elements that honor the Coast Salish textile art tradition. The shoreline of Elliott Bay has significance, both culturally and economically, for the Indigenous peoples for whom this region has been traditional ancestral land for over 13,000 years.

Peterson is a pivotal figure in contemporary Coast Salish art traditions, with major installations throughout the Northwest, In 2008, Seattle Art Museum mounted "S'abadeb, The Gifts: Pacific Coast Salish Art and Arts," a major exhibition of historical and contemporary artwork which he contributed to. In 2010, he created the monumental "Welcome Figure" across from the Tacoma Art Museum on ancestral Puyallup land. He collaborated on a collection of re-imagined Coast Salish myths with writer Andrea Grant, entitled "Killer Whale-Wolf & the Isle of Women." Most recently, he is working on a permanent installation for Kobe, Japan and three major works for his tribal community. The approach uses a mixture of traditional and modern materials to showcase that Native art can honor the past in the present with modern innovation.

"Native people have survived many obstacles with attempts to erase them from history," said Peterson. "I am filled with pride knowing the work I make has a history that the ancestors of the land will relate to and the coming generation will grow up with, and bridge that gap as we continue to survive, as we always do."

People sitting on large boulders
Norie Sato’s artwork at the Union Street Pedestrian Connection includes a steel abstracted fern frond framing the passageway, and a screen on the bridge that layers abstracted imagery of seagull wings over that of a fern.

Norie Sato was chosen to collaborate with the project design team to create an original artwork or series of artworks on the new Union Street Pedestrian Bridge between Western Avenue and Alaskan Way. Her artwork takes its inspiration from the natural environment that manages to make its presence felt on the working waterfront. This project has a personal connection for the artist: in 1991, Sato created a temporary artwork on the waterfront that marked the location of her arrival to this country by ship. Watch Sato talk about her personal connection to the Seattle waterfront and discuss the varied influences for her work.

Norie Sato is an artist living in Seattle. Her artwork for public contexts is derived from site and context-driven ideas. Her practice also includes works for galleries, museums and other installations. She strives to add meaning and human touch to the built environment and considers edges, transitions, and connections as important as the center. In addition to the artwork for the waterfront, Sato has projects located around the country, including for the San Diego International Airport Reflection Room; San Francisco International Airport Terminal 2; Arabian Library and McDowell Mountain Ranch Aquatic Center, both in Scottsdale; Miami International Airport; the Seattle Justice Center; Iowa State University's Hach Chemistry Building; Salt Lake City Light Rail; the new Port of Portland Headquarters; and University of Wisconsin/Madison's new Biochemistry Building mosaics for Ft. Worth's new Chisholm Trail Parkway and others. She works in sculpture and 2-dimensional work, and in various media including glass, metal, terrazzo floors, integrated design work, landscape, video and light. She is a former member of the Public Art Network Council and former commissioner of the Seattle Design Commission.

Commissioned to create an artwork for the waterfront promenade, Oscar Tuazon has designed a series of post and beam structures that reflect the construction of a longhouse; these will stretch across three blocks along the waterfront, spanning over the bike path, from Columbia Street to Spring Street.

Oscar Tuazon was born in Seattle and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. His artwork draws on different construction methods; based in minimalism, conceptualism and architecture, the artworks engage both the viewer and the site. He studied at Deep Springs College, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program.

His artwork has been exhibited throughout the world in solo and group shows, including the Henry Art Gallery and Bellevue Arts Museum locally, and the MSU Broad Museum, the Hammer Museum at UCLA, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and Le Consortium in Dijon, France and at galleries internationally. He has received public commissions in Boston, New York, Paris, and Belfort, France. He was also represented in the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial at the Chicago Cultural Center.


The carvers below are collaborating with Oscar Tuazon to help create the artwork for the waterfront promenade.

Randi Purser

Randi Purser is a Suquamish tribal member, with family roots in Skokomish, Cowichan, Lummi and Makah. Purser carves for herself in Salish style, but she is versed all traditional NW Coastal Styles.  For Purser, the great pleasure in carving is being completely present in the moment. She first carved with Michal Pavel in 2008 which led to learning from Ruth and Andy Peterson which also directly led to apprenticing with Duane Pasco in 2009. Her artwork is represented in public, corporate and private collections. In 2019, she was artist-in-residence at the Suquamish Museum where her artwork was featured in a one-person exhibition.

Tyson Simmons

Tyson Simmons is a member of the Muckleshoot Indian tribe and a talented Coast Salish artist. His work spans a diverse approach and perspective. By tapping into the history and teachings of his people and merging them with his own approach and experience, Tyson is able to create something entirely new and exciting. Traditional Salish art for the 21st Century. His vision and his voice are indicative of this, honoring the past by celebrating the future. This all comes together in an exciting and unique way and informs Tyson's worldview and work. From metal working and creation of his own carving knives, through rattles and spears, to canoes and story poles, Tyson's range of abilities cover extremes.

Tyson has a broad range of influence and is thus able to produce a unique and diverse perspective of work. He will tap into and utilize any and all tools available to him to achieve a goal of vision. Whether this means carving cedar with a adz which is hundreds of years old or accessing the most-cutting edge and contemporary digital imagery to realize an image, Tyson's artistry and creativity are paramount.

Tyson carries on the long tradition of Salish artists from the region. He has bridged the traditional with the contemporary and as a result is able to crest something entirely new and exciting. Over the course of thousands of years and hundreds of generations, a completely unique worldview and expression developed in the Salish Sea region which is both beautiful and insightful in tapping into the Native American perspective and point of view.

Tyson had the formal honor and training of being mentored by his people's last-remaining master carver of dugout river canoes and spent literally thousands of hours perfecting this training and technique; however, has since also been influenced and inspired by many. Most notably, the strong traditional knowledge and influence of his traditional people and homelands shape and inform his approach and style. He honors these teachings and principles through his expression and products, today. As is also customary with the traditional teachings of his people, Tyson, who now carries the knowledge and teachings of this vitally important and spiritual work, is responsible and required to continue to pass them on in a good way and humbly. This is what Tyson's work represents.

Keith Stevenson

Keith Stevenson is a coast Salish artist and he is a member of the Muckleshoot Indian tribe. His work spans a diverse approach and perspective.  His vision merges the cultural teachings and tradition of his people with a unique and exciting contemporary point of view that is fresh exciting.  His work primarily entails carving large and small scale work; a spectrum of expertise and abilities spanning in scope from grand on one end; canoes and story poles... to extremely fine on the opposite; rattles and spear making. 

Keith works within various medium and thus able to tap into a broad range of influence.  As a result, while he works primarily in traditional natural resources and is a well-respected and recognized figure of the Pacific Northwest Native American carving and artistic movement, he is also able to master and utilize contemporary and cutting edge tools and resources such as digital technology or imaging software and tools to expand his approach and influence helping to further solidify his artistic interpretation and expression.

Utilizing his talent, training and abilities, he creates indigenous designs and work that display a unique, bold and beautiful perspective through the lens and point of view that define the Native American experience in the 21st century.  He humbly works doing so for his people and with neighboring communities throughout the Pacific Northwest region up and down the coast. 

Amazingly, Keith is self-taught; however, inspired by many... None more important than his ancestors and ancestral lands themselves; casting their shadow and influence throughout history, since time immemorial.   As is customary with the traditional teachings of his people, Keith, who now carries the knowledge and teachings of this vitally important and spiritual work, is responsible and required to continue to pass them on in a good way and humbly.  This is what Keith's work represents.

Design rendering of Buster Simpson’s art piece, Anthropocene Beach, showing children climbing on sculptures that resemble logs and rocks near the beach.
Buster Simpson’s Anthropocene Beach will integrate natural and manmade materials from the waterfront

Buster Simpson will develop a permanently-sited public at the southern end of the park promenade

Buster Simpson received one of the earliest Waterfront commissions. His project Migration Stage is a response to the Habitat Beach that has been built in conjunction with the rebuilding of the Alaskan Way Seawall. Key interests of Simpson’s are: the marine and shoreline habitats and the environmental forces that affect them; and the waterfront as a site of exchange – the working waterfront and port coupled with an evolving environmental/urban shoreline edge.

For Migration Stage, Simpson has strategically situated two sets of immediately useful as well as forward thinking sculptural placements along the Waterfront promenade. Anthropomorphic Triapods and SeaBarrier are sculptural and practical constructs that both furnish a public amenity zone and create a staging area of accessible materials that will be available to migrate inland as needed to mitigate future rising sea encroachment.

Anthropomorphic Triapods, act immediately as seating and interactive play objects, and stand ready to be engaged as shoreline habitat anchors and wave attenuators. The form of the one-ton cast concrete sculptures is based on an interlocking tetrapod system, used extensively along ocean edges to provide shoreline armor. Holes in Triapod “armpits” are intended for moorage lines that secure habitat biomass, the design of which was borrowed from the Salish people who hand carved the holes in their stone anchors. This promenade location, at what is now the Seattle Waterfront, was once a principle boat landing site for the Duwamish Tribe.

SeaBarrier is made up of multiples of six-foot long precast concrete wall segments, with a faux sand bag motif, that utilize a flexible interlocking modular system typical of a Jersey barrier. They are arranged in three thirty-foot long sections to provide seating with a view of the constructed beach. The design suggests a working waterfront with stacked bags of cargo, or a defensive sand bag wall ready to hold back storm surge. All port cities are on the edge of rising tides, Simpson has inscribed the names of some of them along the bottom of SeaBarrier in a gesture of commonality.

The sculptural placements of Migration Stage are offered for future deployments when shoreline mitigation is needed. Able to be moved inland over time, they are adaptable, as we also need to be, as part of a changing environment. This is a global dance of resilience, agility and equity. Migration Stage is set for now and for the long view.  

Buster Simpson has been a working artist since the late 1960s. His practice has ranged from major infrastructure and planning projects, site-specific sculptures, museum installations, to community interventions and social engagement. He often integrates humor and metaphor with sustainable solutions to real-world (usually ecological) problems, an art realm he calls “poetic utility.”

Simpson received his MFA in 1969 from the University of Michigan, from where he later received a Distinguished Alumni Award in Architecture and Design. He has received numerous awards, among them, NEA fellowships, the Americans for the Arts Public Art Award, and a Mayor’s Arts Award from the city of Seattle.

In 2014 and 2015, Simpson directed one-month long confabs called Rising Waters at the Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva Island in Florida. In 2013, the Frye Art Museum held a retrospective of his work. He has exhibited at the New Museum, MoMA PS1, Seattle Art Museum, The Hirschhorn Museum, the Capp Street Project, the Museum of Glass, and elsewhere. Simpson’s artwork is in many public art collections throughout the country. 

Artists Derek Bruno and Gage Hamilton, working as a team, were selected as design team artists for the Pike + Pine Renaissance. They will work with the project team to develop artwork that will unify Pike and Pine streets, creating a legible path from Capitol Hill through the downtown retail core to Pike Place Market and to the waterfront. The artists will work to create a unifying identity for these streets and sited artwork through activate key locations along the route.

Derek Bruno has a background in industrial design and investigates human perception and the cognitive visual experience. He works both as a lead artist and a design and fabrication consultant and has worked as an artist-in-residence for Facebook.

Gage Hamilton is an artist, curator and arts organizer. He was the lead artist and curator for the SODO track project, an over-two mile long corridor project. He has coordinated artworks working in close collaboration with artists and community stakeholders.