With lots of volunteer help, a quilting artist has created an art installation across the front of a vacant Capitol Hill house that will become the home of Ada's Technical Books.
It might remind you of every afghan, quilt, doily, scarf, shawl or knitted blanket your mother and grandmother ever owned.
“I cleaned out all the Goodwills I could get to for a couple of weeks straight,” said Luke Haynes, 29, a North Carolina transplant who describes himself as an architect-turned-quilter.
With the 500 pounds of fabric he collected, and the help of 30 volunteers recruited through his Facebook page, Haynes in two days transformed the front of a boarded-up Capitol Hill house into a lively, large — albeit temporary — art piece that has the neighborhood buzzing.
“When I first saw it, it was just a pile of blankets and I didn’t know what to expect,” said Jenna Bean Veatch, who lives five blocks away and walks by often. “But now people keep saying, ‘Have you seen it? Have you seen it?’ and most people seem excited about it. They really like it.”
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Fabric strips on the front of the house spell out the words “Hello World,” a message with at least two meanings.
On one level, it signals that the house, vacant since Horizon Books moved out in 2009, is ready to spring back to life. It has been purchased by Danielle Hulton, owner of Ada’s Technical Books on Broadway, who plans to relocate there, although the timing and remodeling plans are still being worked out.
“I’ve had Luke do other work in the past,” said Hulton. “So I hired him to do whatever he wanted to do to make the house look a little bit better while we are working out our plans.”
Haynes said he made suggestions, but didn’t dictate each move, as the work went up with countless stitches and staples, cloaking the front of the house, along with porch rails, steps and the bottom eight feet of a tree in the tiny yard.
“I don’t know how many people stopped by, hundreds maybe. And I think I talked to all of them,” he said.
The “Hello World” message is also an allusion to the coming bookstore’s large selection of material on computers and programming. Entry-level programming classes often have students create a program to spell out “Hello World” on the screen.
Word about the art installation and bookstore’s plans were first reported in the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog, a Seattle Times news partner.
Anthony Arnold, owner of Remedy Teas, about a half-block away, said the house’s boarded-up facade behind a chain-link fence has been a blemish in an area he sees as going through a revitalization.
Haynes said he’s not worried about the effects of weather on the art piece, which he expects to be in place just a couple of months. When it comes down, he anticipates donating any still-usable blankets to the homeless.
Haynes had begun to pursue a career in architecture when he decided that quilting offered a more immediate and concrete outlet for his creativity. He’d had some experience with knitting and crocheting at the alternative middle school he attended. And several relatives on his mother’s side of the family had made quilts.
“Although I wasn’t a quilter, I grew up seeing lots of quilts around,” he said.
Haynes, who has lived in Seattle about four years, is a quilting crusader whose work often combines traditional quilt patterns with photographic images. In an exhibition in New York last spring titled “The American Context,” his pieces included a large American flag, dollar bills and portraits inspired by famous paintings.
He is among eight artists whose work will be featured in “Media Matters,” running Thursday through Sept. 29 at the Foster/White Gallery in Pioneer Square.
Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org