City of Burien installs ornamental Art along First Avenue South

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The City of Burien announced Wednesday (May 8) that it has installed a series of ornamental art pieces on light poles along First Avenue South.

The different-colored art pieces depict a series of hubcaps, stacked end-to-end, with the words “Burien’s 1st Avenue.”

“The art pieces were designed by an artist to reflect the character of the City’s main thoroughfare, with its auto dealerships and other related businesses,” said Brian Victor, City of Burien engineer for the 1st Avenue South improvement project. Victor added that the artwork is part of the overall project contract and has been planned for several years. He said the ornamental pieces were installed on light poles between South 140th and South 146th streets, and possibly will be installed south to South 160th Street at a later date.

Phase Two of the improvement project is currently under way on the segment between South 140th and South 146th streets. Improvements include new sidewalks, curbs and gutters on both sides; new asphalt overlay; new signals and street lighting,; undergrounding of overhead utilities; new storm drainage; and landscaping.

Phase One included the section between South 148th and South 160th streets. It was substantially completed in 2009, but the light poles were not installed until 2012.

We’re curious…what do YOU think of this new art? Please leave a Comment below…

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16 Responses to “City of Burien installs ornamental Art along First Avenue South”
  1. Jim says:

    Waist of money… C’mon Burien get your animal control in order then focus on waiting money on stupid art designs that no one pays attention to.

  2. kex says:

    How much did it cost to install garbage on light poles?

  3. May says:

    —-“The art pieces were designed by an artist to reflect the character of the City’s main thoroughfare, with its auto dealerships and other related businesses,” said Brian Victor, City of Burien engineer for the 1st Avenue South improvement project——


    Who is the artist and how much does he get paid?
    Do the Auto Dealerships and other businesses are paying for this or are the citizens of burien paying for this?
    I really like some detail report on this and how much this cost.

  4. Coverofnight says:

    The artwork is fine…’s those ’60’s style aluminum light poles that need to go! We have those beautiful light standards elsewhere through the city; they should be placed along this important main road through town. The artwork would look even better on those light poles.

    They enhance the local environment, so I don’t see them as a waste of money – what IS a waste of money is that parking enforcement guy and his surly attitude!

  5. scott says:

    Lack of information here. Are these paid for with tax dollars? Are they donated? The answer well sway my opinion. If these are funded from the project then i believe they are a misuse of our tax revenues . They do nothing to enhance mobility, improve safety or provide a benefit to the community. We are struggling to make each dollar work for us but still public leaders waste money on unnecessary fluff.

  6. 1) Public Art adds to the aesthetic character of the environment around us, whether we are residents or visitors here in Burien. People of all cultures and time periods have and do adorn their surroundings. It’s part of what makes us human.

    2) My understanding is that these sculptural pieces have been planned and “waiting in the wings” for some time. I don’t believe that the current Arts Commissioners were brought in on the project and I would have preferred that they had been.

    3) “Different-colored art pieces depict a series of hubcaps.” Perhaps hubcaps… but perhaps sun, moon, flowers and seeds, cell structure, marine life or our analog representation of time. If we think broadly, those circular forms can relate to something in each of our lives.

    I will choose NOT to see them as hubcaps, because I think that furthers an already excessive, auto-centric emphasis. I would have liked to have seen one of them as a bike wheel. This is where review by the Arts Commission may have been valuable.

    4) Using “garbage” for art? Yes, actually. It’s something artists have done throughout history. And isn’t it the ultimate in recycling? That said, these pieces are NOT created from cast-off garbage, hub caps or otherwise. They were deliberately conceived of and produced.

    5) Burien, like many other municipalities, has a “1% for Art Program” through which 1% of selected city projects is set aside to be used on public art. These funds are independent of and do not detract from other endeavors in the City of Burien.

    6) In my opinion as a commercial designer of 35 years, the words “Burien’s 1st Avenue” get a “B” for concept and a “D-” for execution. They are unreadable and could have been rendered more successfully.

    – – –

    I greatly support installing Public Art of various media and forms around our town. It adds visual richness to our cityscape and enhances our experience of Burien.

    • Lee Moyer says:

      As I recall, “the 1% for the arts” is a state law, the result of a citizens initiative. Obviously not involving Tim I-man.
      Maybe someone more familiar witht he law can correct me, but for good or bad, the city has to spend the money on art. .

  7. eric says:

    There is more to life than austerity and starkness. While these additions to the light poles would not have been my first choice, I am sure much of what I like would not be everyone else’s first choice either.

    I believe that for Burien to live up to its potential there must be both City (public) and private art. While it is true we could all live on plain bread and water for quite some time, do we really want to? Does not the great variety of food and drink make life more interesting than merely surviving?

    The soul is like the body, in that it must be feed. Art feeds the soul. There must be art, both public and private to make life enjoyable.

    While some of the commentators on this blog have enough money to meet their soul’s need for art, that is not true of everyone. Art that is not shared does not feed the community soul. Public art is accessible and feeds us all, and unites us.

    There is something wonderful to be said for turning a corner and being surprised by a work of art. Even one you may not love. Watching the art change in the different light during the day and over the seasons will make even the endless concrete that First Avenue has become more bearable.

    Public art is never a waste of money. Think of any great city. What do you think of first? Long stretches of barren concrete? Auster roadways that were done on the cheap without texture or color? Or do you think of a defining work of art, or architecture? Or numerous small works of art that give the City character and personality? Do we want Burien to be a stark (and depressing) place at the end 405 or do we want a bright and vibrant community that clearly celebrates it existence with art? I know I want the latter.

    Unlike some of the commentators, I applaud the City’s attempt at public art. Maybe next time something a little more daring or interesting is in order, but that is just my view.

    Some try to create a false choice, ether fix (fill in the blank with the complaint de jour) or fund art. But it is not either or. More art of all kinds (public, private, fine, performing) will help the City find its way by enriching the lives of all who live here and those who are “just passing through.” Burien is strong enough to both work on solutions to its problems and enjoy and celebrate its existence through art.

    Finally, studies uniformly show that art brings money into a city. As noted in a recent study, “Data collected from 151,802 attendees at a range of arts events revealed that nonprofit arts and culture audiences generated an estimated $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission (an estimated total of $74.1 billion in 2010).” For local reports see Seattle and Tacoma are included in those local reports.

  8. sallie tierney says:

    Hubcaps? Hmmm . . . would have preferred flower baskets or something less industrial. We have enough of that already. Burien needs a consistent theme – I see no consistency, no clear identity. Who are we anyway?

    • TcB says:

      This is something that I’ve been thinking about for some time. Woodinville has its 100+ wineries, Snohomish has its artist colony, Leavenworth is Little Austria, Ballard, its Scandinavians, Capitol Hill, its hipsters. What is Burien?

      The Medical industry center? The Automobile center?

      Shouldn’t we get together and try to MAKE something rather than just letting it happen to us?

      We could choose Music, Art, or Food, anything to try to focus on. It would have to be a public/private cooperative movement.

  9. May says:

    .” Burien is strong enough to both work on solutions to its problems and enjoy and celebrate its existence through art.”

    I love Art. My sister is an artist. The issue her is not Art, the issue is did they hire one of their friends again and paid them? I like to know how much they paid fo this. Also, i saw the art work driving down 1st Ave. It is right next to the Car Dealerships. Why should the citizens of Burien pay for this? Do the dealerships give you free cars? The car dealers should have paid for this. I really believe that the citizens of Burien being made fools of and no no no the Burien Council is not strong enough to work on solutions, THEY ONLY CREATE MORE trouble for its citizens and most of the council need to be removed.
    Remove Michael Martin and his Friends.

    • Jennifer says:

      Of Course May there must be some conspiracy here! The light poles are not the dealerships responsibility so therefore it is not their resposibility to pay for the art on them. As was stated in previous comments a certain percentage of the city budget goes to art in the community. I appreciate that there is art in our community…do I like all of it no but, that is a matter of taste not because I think it is a waste of tax payer money (which it is not). And I do not feel like I am being made a fool, I am sorry you feel as though you are.

    • eric says:


      I can see you have issues with Burien’s elected officials. There is still time to apply to run for a council position. There you could become the changes you seek. If you cannot serve, you can donated time to a campaign of someone you can support. If you do not have time you can donate money to some’s campaign, even $5 is a help. Being part of the American political system is one of the joys of citizenship.

      Personally I find politicians to be like works of art. I don’t like all of them, but I am glad they are there.

      If the City does not respond to your informal request (did you make one?), you can use the Washington Public Records Act (RCW 42.56 – to get the answers to your questions about who was the artist, how much the artist was paid and the like. There is no reason to speculate about those things.

      Regardless of the answers to those questions, I remain happy to see the City supporting public art. Whatever problems Burien has, I still believe that Burien is strong enough to take a moment and celebrate through public art. Burien needs to come together more often and public art is great way to bridge our differences.

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