The $10,000 project is being funded through the Department of Transportation and the 1 Percent for Art initiative.
The City of Seattle is searching for someone for an unusual project: to become musician-in-residence at the Fremont Bridge.
Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture and Department of Transportation (SDOT) put out a call this week seeking a musician or composer to hole up in the Fremont Bridge’s northwest tower for the summer to explore “the historic bridge’s role and meaning for the city” and to create a composition in response.
The $10,000 project is funded through SDOT and Seattle’s 1 Percent for Art program, which sets aside 1 percent of the budgets for certain capital improvement projects to fund local artwork.
It will be the third time in the last 10 years that the city has funded an artist-in-residence at the Fremont Bridge, though it’s the first specifically for musicians.
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A call for writers in 2016 drew more than 200 applicants, says Kristen Ramirez, the city’s public art project manager. With Seattle’s deep musical history, the city expects a similarly fervent response. Ramirez says she’s already being inundated with calls and emails.
“It’s wide open in terms of genre, so I’m curious to see what the applicant pool looks like and who applies,” says Ramirez, an artist who was selected in 2009 as the bridge’s first artist-in-residence. “It could be a classically trained cellist, it could be a hip-hop artist, somebody working with electronic music — who knows.”
At the end of the residency, which runs June through August, the musician is required to give a performance or some type of public presentation of their work. The city also wants an unspecified “ongoing public component,” like blog or social media posts, plus community engagement events.
Though the musician can’t actually live in the tower, which offers 360-degree views and an endless barrage of traffic noise, he or she will use the 13-by-8-foot space as a studio.
During her stint in the unorthodox studio space, Ramirez was instantly struck by the sounds of the century-old drawbridge — the bells, honking boats, yelling rowers. Using field recordings and stories she sourced from local residents, Ramirez created an audio show for people to listen to while waiting for boats to pass through the canal. Signs were set up around the bridge with a hotline for people to call and listen to her sound collage.
As far as the final product the city’s looking for this time around, it’s open to interpretation. Artists don’t need to have a fleshed out project plan in their initial pitch, though having demonstrated interests in history, urban infrastructure and Seattle’s waterways helps.
“To me what’s important and interesting is looking at underutilized city infrastructure and how it can be used to support arts and culture,” Ramirez says. “Especially at a time when those are under siege, because our city is getting so expensive and so many artists are leaving.”
The residency is open to “established professional” musicians living within 100 miles of Seattle and the application deadline is 11 p.m. March 20.