The giant typewriter eraser got us talking. The eraser is a piece of art in the Olympic Sculpture Park just north of downtown. My family and some...

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The giant typewriter eraser got us talking.

The eraser is a piece of art in the Olympic Sculpture Park just north of downtown. My family and some friends walked past there last Monday before the park opened.

The eraser generated a conversation about age and technology because the teenagers with us had no idea what a typewriter eraser was.

Art gives you something to think about, which is one reason people like it. Visual art fits our inclination to observe and think, and our interest in shapes, colors and textures.

We’re fortunate to live in a place full of natural beauty that makes you suck your breath in.

And now we have this park that takes advantage of that scenery and adds human creativity to it.

People like to look at pretty stuff and interesting things. Smart businesses take advantage of that.

One of the attributes that makes Apple’s products so popular is the cool factor. Their stuff just looks nicer than the competition.

In recent years, Target stores have been emphasizing style, not just price. A little art in their products sells well.

And we know people get addicted to television not because of its content, but because we are easily mesmerized by all that moving light and color.

Our eyes are hungry for things to look at.

I visited a retirement home last month to see a mural by a local artist. The mural in a hallway of Northaven Retirement Apartments near Northgate shows a garden in the foreground and countryside in the background. The artist, Melissa Koch, said she thought it would remind people of happy times working in their own gardens.

Most art is intended to invoke something in the consumer. Sometimes it’s straightforward, as in the mural, and other times people might have to squint and scratch their heads a bit.

I imagine the sculpture park will start a lot of conversations. There are already conversations about what the whole thing means, whether it was worth the cost and so on.

The retirement apartment I mentioned houses people who don’t have a bunch of money, but residents scraped together $4,000 for the mural. That seems like a lot of money to me, but it was worth it to them.

It’s harder to know what’s the right price for public art.

I’ve argued that the Sonics have asked too much of the public. The basketball team wants $300 million from taxpayers for a new arena.

Art is a big-money game, too, though it has a more genteel feel to it. The Seattle Art Museum and its supporters got $21 million in public money for the sculpture park.

The right price depends on who is doing the judging. Sports and arts both add something to a city, and both require something in return.

My house has paintings, drawings, tribal masks, kid art, posters. It enriches my life.

Public spaces need that, too.

I finally got a chance to walk through the sculpture park a couple of days ago, looking, thinking, exploring. The landscape, the art pieces and the location fit each other and feel right for Seattle. It’s worth the price.

Jerry Large’s column appears Monday and Thursday. Reach him at 206-464-3346 or