Nine Spaces, Nine Trees

As a University of Washington student, I pass by the Henry Art Gallery and continue through the western entrance of the campus fairly often. I’m a somewhat recent transplant to Seattle, so when the installation of Robert Irwin’s Nine Spaces, Nine Trees began (on the lawn immediately to the east of the Henry), I didn’t know what to expect, nor did I know the history of the piece. The install progressed slowly over many months, and I would always walk by, wondering what the space would transform into.

When it was finally completed, I honestly didn’t know what to think. The purple chain-link fencing just seemed so out of place. But thanks to some great art news and reviews from around town, now I know why. Brand new on Artdish is Gary Faigin’s review. Jen Graves wrote about her visit to the site last month on the Slog. Their perspectives have helped me to understand Nine Spaces, Nine Trees a little better.

It is true that people still don’t come into this public space very much. Even though it provides a meeting place, large tables and benches, and even a decent place to people-watch (with some amount of privacy), it is underused. It just doesn’t seem all that inviting from the outside. Maybe this will change as the weather warms up, but I wonder. Maybe it would help if people knew of its history at the old Public Safety Building in town.

It will be interesting to see how people adapt to this space over time.

Nine Spaces, Nine Trees by Robert Irwin (Photo by Kurt Kiefer)