SODO TRACK 2018
Western Neon School of Art is excited to share our work in collaboration with the 2018 SODO Track project. Over the last three summers, artists from all over the world have painted large-scale mural installations along the busway to downtown Seattle. This July marked the third and final year of painting and the complete transformation of the two miles of industrial building backs into a long contiguous corridor of street art. Traveled by over 50,000 people daily, the SODO Track has effectively transformed daily commutes from drab to awe-inspiring.
For our contribution to this year’s SODO Track event, we hosted two SODO Track artists in a three-day residency in our school space. Invited to work with us by SODO Track founding partner 4Culture, artists Celeste Byers and Derek Bruno completed murals in July 2018 and July 2017, respectively. With their own distinct styles, each artist brought unique ideas to the table and left WNSA with personal, beautiful pieces reflective of their artwork.
Over the three days, Celeste and Derek worked closely alongside WNSA instructor Will Kirtley. They began by learning about the different equipment used in bending, as well as the process of making a neon piece from start to finish. They then delved into the fire and learned a variety of basic glass bends to get a feel for the medium.
Day two began with a discussion about ideas and planning patterns. Celeste approached her piece with a variety of line drawings playing off motifs in her painting work and expanded on a doodle of a leopard to create a full size, 40” long pattern. Derek came about his project plan in a different way: he spent time in a 3D modeling program to create a dimensional geometric form he could create multiples of to combine in interesting ways. As his project was three dimensional rather than flat, he relied less on a pattern and more on precise measurements and wood blocks to bend his glass around. That afternoon, after practicing bends for their project with clear glass, our students moved on to practicing with colored tubes. Celeste chose a bright coral pink, whereas Derek went with a variety of different whites.
The final day of the workshop was set aside for finishing the final projects. By lunchtime, Celeste and Derek had finished bending their pieces and they were ready to be processed by Will and transported to the Canvas event space for that evening’s SODO Track Open House event. Will spent the rest of the afternoon attaching electrodes, filtering out impurities in the glass, pumping them with gas, and making sure everything was in working order.
Our students’ work was then proudly displayed at the WNSA setup at the SODO Track Open House event. The display featured the final pieces, as well as examples of practice glass and materials used during the process. The neon attracted everyone’s attention, brightly illuminating the corner of the room. The event also featured a print sale of SODO Track artist work, tours of the murals, a DJ, and refreshments. We were so proud to have our hardworking students’ beautiful projects on display!
We are so thankful for the experience to work with these amazing artists and provide them with a brief introduction to an enchanting, unfamiliar medium. We’d like to thank SODO Track founding partner 4Culture, especially Tamar Benzikry, Senior 4Culture Project Manager who worked with us every step of the way during the SODO Track event. Another big thank you to SODO Track Lead Artist Gage Hamilton who worked to select artists for the residency. And of course, Celeste and Derek for being our first artists-in-residence at Western Neon School of Art!
Check out Celeste’s mural Above the Clouds at 1760 4th Ave S, and Derek’s Mural Angles of Incidence at 2739 6th Ave S, and the rest of their fantastic work on their websites here and here. If you haven’t yet, head to SODO to see the all the murals along the SODO Track!