At 629 SW 152nd Street in Downtown Burien, there is a working metal clock that has a crooked support.

“Street Clock” is done as an artistic expression as part of Burien’s Public Art program. It was built and installed in 2004 by Kim David, nearly 20 years ago. Since then, it has stood counting out the hours and minutes of each day. 

“Numerals on the clock were chosen to be reminiscent of scientific instruments from the early 1900s,” according to the City of Burien. “A functional element of the downward-facing clock is its increased readability for pedestrians, bikers, and drivers.”

There are many noteworthy clocks in the world. Big Ben in England and the Hornsby Water Clock in Australia are a couple. There is also a long history of grandfather clocks, hourglasses, pocket watches, and other timepieces of ornate expression.  Decorating the passage of time is a timeless tradition. 

Time is an abstract, which means it’s a generalization for many things. Time can be a force of nature; it might mean the Arrow of Time which is the singular direction of cause and effect. Time can also mean the marks of change; what separates one thing from another. 

Seasons are how we can see the change in nature. Cherry and Apple blossoms cover our neighborhood in pink and white, and spring brings the flush of green and flowers. We see these things and find examples in the world around us. 

Holidays likewise provide the drumbeat through the year. They let us focus on ideas or past events and celebrate their concepts. We can celebrate our mothers on Mother’s Day or reflect on motherhood as a concept. Those who no longer have mothers might feel the void of loss, or a reminder of grief. 

Other holidays provide marks upon the calendar for the passage of a year. Events like Arts-A-Glow, Empty Bowls, Father’s Day Car Show, BUFO, and many others. They provide something different from the regular day. Even the Thursday Farmer’s Market provides a difference during the week. 

The Passage at Burien Interim Art Space (B/ IAS)

Photo of “The Passage” circa 2009 by Michael Brunk

In 2009 there was a temporary art installation called “The Passage” which featured a large metal mother and child as well as other sculptures. This was hosted at the Burien Interim Art Space in a parking lot which now has condos and apartments. To me, “The Passage” marked the change in construction and growth in Burien. Whether good or bad – which is not for me to judge – it was a different landscape, with different buildings. 

While Burien has other public art besides the crooked “Street Clock” (which can be seen here: Burien Public Art — Burien Magazine), “Street Clock” provides a symbol for the passage of time. We can reflect on the things which have changed. This includes social differences like emerging issues like homelessness, drugs, new public art, population growth and social collaboration. 

David’s whimsical “Street Clock” is built in a crooked fashion, which I think says the path is not always clear. The future is unknown, and there are changes in technology and society. How we view each other can create marks upon the face of the clock we might not be able to see. Our hands are moving, and time is ticking, but the future might not be ours to decide.  

Living together means many choices are not ours to make. Time moves on without us, and we see the passage of time on the streets, with each holiday and event and the new faces sprouting up in the cracks of the sidewalk like small flowers. 

The “Street Clock” is also a good reminder of where we have been. The path we took to get to this point and the changes over the years. Besides construction and technology there are changes in people moving in, people leaving, and people visiting. They have each added to this place, each added a little mark on the face of the clock which cannot be erased. Diversity is not always about what we are today, but what influences we have had in the past. 

We can count our years, hours, and minutes, but it is the distinction of change from which we can see ourselves. 

A painted picture of the clock by Amber Raven can currently be found at Grand Central Bakery, which is across the street from the “Street Clock.” Her show will be up until the end of May, as well as a mother-inspired display in the window of the Highline Heritage Museum.

Amber Raven’s painting of Kim David’s “Street Clock” is on display at Grand Central Bakery. Follow Amber on Instagram here: Amber Raven (@silver_amber_raven) | Instagram

Street Clock Now Part of New B-Town Blog Logo

The “Street Clock” is also a favorite local art piece of B-Town Blog Founder/Publisher Scott Schaefer, who got David’s blessing to use it in the website’s new logo, which was unveiled at our 15th Anniversary Party on Jan. 18, 2023 at the Highline Heritage Museum.

“To me, the Street Clock represents all that is good, fun and funny about Burien,” Schaefer said. “When we redesigned our logo, I wanted to insert something iconic and whimsical, and Kim David’s Street Clock was the clear choice. To me, it has life – a quirky personality that’s always showing off its fun view about the city and its residents.”

These opinions come from the years Raymond Street has served as a Normandy Park Art Commissioner, a grant writer and artist for the Mural Masters Graffiti festival, a previous Burien Art Walk organizer,...