South Parks Arts is a Seattle organization dedicated to supporting and promoting art and artists in the South Park neighborhood.
South Park Arts’ humble beginnings go back over a decade. From early events like craft booths, an art walk and a living barge to yearly blockbuster events like Art Under $100 and South Park Putts Out, this passionate group connects art and community.
Many moons ago, a man named Patrick Stark came up with the idea of having a neighborhood arts group in South Park. His idea was a good one, but his neighbors weren’t yet ready. When he moved away from South Park, he passed the torch to Lauren Woodward and Wendy Woldenberg, who didn’t exactly know how to proceed.
That is, until the summer of 2003, when the City’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs approached South Park Arts and asked if the group would like to apply for participation in a public art project called ARTS UP (Artist Residencies Transforming Seattle’s Urban Places.)
We applied, were accepted, and after a series of interviews, were matched with an artist from San Francisco: Gregory Gavin.
Gregory made several trips to Seattle for community workshops and brainstorming sessions and we decided to do a small project with the South Park community to introduce our Artist in Residence. That project involved renting a booth at South Park’s 2004 Fiestas Patrias Celebration and setting up an arts and crafts area where kids created their own hats. We had over 100 participants, and everyone had a great time.
Unfortunately, the ARTS UP program lost its funding before we could develop our more ambitious project: Talking Bridges.
After this set back, South Park Arts went underground again, and re-emerged with Bill Pease at the helm for the first annual Art Under $100 event in 2005. The event was a huge success, and it kicked South Park Arts into high gear once again.
2006 brought South Park Arts the public art team of Sarah Kavage and Nicole Kistler, with their idea for the Living Barge Project, a month-long installation of native plantings on a barge parked in the Duwamish River. South Park Arts partnered with the artists to bring four weekends of community events to South Park. South Park had its first Art Walk, a tile making event headed by artist Gregory Fields (the resulting tiles are now installed at a park along the Duwamish River in South Park), architectural tours of the neighborhood, a community-wide clean-up day of the Duwamish River (with the governor and mayor in attendance), and finally, a ceremonial removal and re-planting of the 400+ native species from the barge to Cesar Chavez Park, where the trees and shrubs were planted by the community.
At the end of 2006, Wendy Woldenberg took over as chair of the group. Since the Living Barge Project, South Park Arts has grown in membership and continued to host the Art Under $100 event, Art Walks, and a summer event called Crank It Up which features bikes, bands, and art. South Park Arts participates in the annual Duwamish Riverfest as well as other various art-related events and activities.
In 2009, Maureen Carroll and Jennifer Nye became co-chairs of South Park Arts and the group is now busy planning the upcoming events and connecting our community to art.