Tacoma Link Stations
September 5, 2003

Sound Transit is proud of the contributions artists have made to Tacoma Link Light Rail, the new 1.6 mile line in downtown Tacoma that began operation on August 22.

Fernanda D’Agostino was the lead artist for Tacoma Link, with primary responsibility for determining where art was appropriate, what kind of art, selecting and mentoring other artists, working with the community, designers, contractors, and creating artwork for the Theater District Station, Convention Center Station, and Union Station. Nate Slater began working with Fernanda in 1999 when he was a relative "newcomer" to the field of public art. Now he is a seasoned veteran. He had lead responsibility for art at the S. 25th Street Station and collaborated with Fernanda on the Theater District Station, Convention Center Station, and Union Station.

Other artists who created artworks for Tacoma Link include sculptor Ingrid Lahti, videographer Marianna Hanniger, writer/photographer Philip Red Eagle, and poet Amelia Haller. One of the most innovative art projects is a video projection system built into the Theater District Station. Dream-like sequences of four Tacoma performance groups in action are projected onto transluscent glass windscreens on the platform from dusk until 10 p.m..

Temporary artworks were also an important part of Tacoma Link. During construction, local artist Peg Tysver worked with various children’s groups to create temporary installations along the future rail alignment. Sound Transit photographer-in-residence Peter de Lory brought a keen eye and an artist’s sensibility to recording the engineering, architecture and public art involved in Tacoma Link, as well as capturing the human story behind them. During construction, Peter’s photographs were on display in the Tacoma Link field office. Three exhibits of his photographs were on display at various venues during the opening of Tacoma Link. Virginia Bunker, a Tacoma resident, created the artwork for a commemorative poster, postcard and pin.

Following are further details about each of the five Tacoma Link light rail stations:

Tacoma Dome Station

Artist Norie Sato and station architect, David Clinkston collaborated to create the Tacoma Dome Link Station The station is centrally located within the vibrant Tacoma Dome transit hub. The design follows the Tacoma Dome Station's theme of water and fluid movement with the wave-like pattern on the glass edge of the station's canopy. Seats resembling railroad spikes pay respect to the importance of freight and train transport in the Dome District's history.

Elizabeth Conner, Jerry Mayer and Norie Sato worked with the plaza deign team to include the pedestrian bridge, dry streambed, and garage rooftop viewpoints. Luke Blackstone created the Tacoma Preservatory of Fluid Moment(um). A unique sculpture with moving parts. Elizabeth Conner worked with Tacoma artists Renee Cortese, Mick Newham, Diane Novak and Shaun Peterson to create the Wild Parcel, a steeply sloped space between the two garages that integrates landscape with recycled "artifacts" of Tacoma's history.

S 25th Street Station

Tacoma native Nate Slater grew up along the shores of Commencement Bay and has boat building background. Therefore, it's not surprising that he wanted to create artwork for this station that people could relate to as they head toward the waterway. Six large, colorful fishing lures are mounted onto the station's canopy, to recognize the many fishing-lure manufacturing companies that thrived near the Tacoma ports in the first half of the century. These colorful pieces are an abstract spin on a practical and familiar object.

In this transitional area, the station sits beneath the iconic Elephant Car Wash. Lowered, sheltering windscreens are situated at the back of the station with railroad spike seats that link S. 25th Street to the other Dome District station at the Tacoma Dome.

Union Station/ S. 19th Street

Directly in front of the Washington State History Museum, this large station incorporates references to Tacoma's rich history. Nine large sculptures that honor the tools and technology used by people of Tacoma over the centuries are bedded along with native plants in the station's landscaped median.

These sculptures are large abstractions of tools commonly used in fishing and boat building: a ship frame, a railroad wheel, and Native American fishing lures and net sinkers. When you examine the windscreen, you find images of these tools in their full context being used by the city's early boat builders and Native Americans. Looking up, you see that the station's canopy resembles a boat hull and the "lofting lines" depicted on the windscreen. Steel detailing of the canopy hearkens back to historical steel construction.

Convention Center/ S 15th Station

With Zen-like balancing rocks paying homage to the former site of a Buddhist temple, the Convention Center Station is perhaps the station most focused on the city's future. With the new center opening in 2004, the theme of this station is tied to international connections and progress. All stations have a slanted vertical design. The Convention Center Station takes a modern slant by designing the stations to parallel each other on opposite sides of the tracks. The shelter's canopy is made of colorful geometric patterns inspired by Tacoma's leadership in glass art.

The multi-leveled garden on the east side of the station includes five stone and steel cairns, made by Seattle artist Ingrid Lahti. The sculptural cairns are a reminder of how the lessons of the past continue to mark the way to the future. Ancient stones enclosed in contemporary stainless steel embody the balance and the tension between tradition and innovation seen everywhere in the evolving Tacoma cityscape.

Theater District/ S 9th Station

This station links Tacoma riders with the city's main-stage theaters. The station brings the theater outside, with theater-style lighting mounted on a trestle above the canopy. At night these fixtures project a dreamlike blue light onto the canopy.

The art invites travelers to journey onto a stage set, and into a theater performance with its one-of-a-kind video art installation, and remember images of past performances. Paving inlays of red granite are scattered over the platform like the windblown remnants of an evening at the theater. Imagery is drawn from historic and contemporary playbills, director's and costume designer's notes, the dance notation used by choreographers, and newspaper advertisements of performances. The Tacoma performing arts community contributed most of the diverse imagery, which was then translated by the artists into graphic designs suitable of etching in stone.

Theater-style seating designed by the artists, sets the stage for days and evenings on the town in Tacoma's historic Theater District.

A video installation entitled Night Magic features four Tacoma dance groups in a silent and dreamlike sequence of video images project onto translucent glass windscreens. Contemporary images are layered with references to the larger culture of each participating group and historic imagery of performing artists from around the world. Featured performers are Tacoma Kabuki Academy, Tacoma Chinese Opera R & D Association, Tacoma City Ballet and Dance Broomz.