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Artists to Seek Inspiration at Georgetown Steam Plant During Duwamish Residency

Seattle City Light will host 11 local artists at the historic Georgetown Steam Plant for two days of inspiration during the 2013 Duwamish Residency.


Photo of artists along the Duwamish River.

These artists from the Duwamish Residency will visit the Georgetown Steam Plant as part of the program’s second year.

Seattle City Light will host 11 local artists at the historic Georgetown Steam Plant for two days of inspiration during the 2013 Duwamish Residency.

Created last year by visual artists Fiona McGuigan and Sue Danielson, the residency is an eight-day journey of discovery for artists who want to explore the Duwamish River that flows through the heart of Seattle’s industrial core.

“We are studio artists so we don’t work outside,” Danielson said. “It really began with that idea, getting to know an area of the city we didn’t know a heck of a lot about,” she said.

Last year’s inaugural event followed the western shore of the river. This year, artists will be exploring the east side, including the Georgetown Steam Plant.

“It’s a fascinating landscape,” Danielson said. “Then, we found out about the steam plant. It’s just so visually fascinating and interesting. It’s a perfect tie in to the history and the industry and what that side of the river means to the city. We’re so excited to go there.”

Participating artists create a diversity of work during the residency. Last year’s creations included sketchbooks, collages, prints and more.

“It really could be anything,” Danielson said. “There’s value in observation whether your works are realistic or you’re abstracting.”


Photo of artist Emily Gherard.

Artist Emily Gherard paints during the 2012 Duwamish Residency.

At the conclusion of the project, an exhibit of works created by the participating artists is planned at North Seattle Community College’s Art Gallery, 9600 College Way N, from Oct. 1 to 25. The exhibit will be open from 1-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

The Duwamish has been a key location for Seattle City Light for decades.

The Georgetown Steam Plant, a National and City of Seattle Historic Landmark, stands today as a reminder of the era of electrification of America’s cities and a time when industry was first attracted to Seattle by its inexpensive hydroelectric power and electric trolley car system. Built in 1906-1907 by the Seattle Electric Company on 18 acres of land along the Duwamish River, the plant was once at the center of the bustling residential and industrial activity in the rapidly growing Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle.

In 1951, the City of Seattle Department of Lighting – today’s Seattle City Light – purchased the plant and operated it on a limited basis until the 1970s.

Modern operations for City Light continue nearby at the Duwamish Substation. Built in 1955, the substation accepts 230,000 volt electricity from transmission lines and provides 26,000 volt electricity into the distribution system that delivers electricity to our customers’ homes and businesses.

Seattle City Light also is an active participant in cleanup efforts along the Lower Duwamish River. The utility is working with the Environmental Protection Agency, Seattle Public Utilities, Boeing, the Port of Seattle, and King County to address contamination from the river’s commercial and industrial past. The five mile stretch of the Lower Duwamish was classified as a Superfund cleanup site in 2001.