Seattle Parks and Recreation and ARTSparks present Read with Me, an outdoor literary salon: Stories of the imagined Occidental Square

Seattle Parks and ARTSparks present Read with Me
An outdoor literary salon: stories of the imagined Occidental Square

When you think of reading in the park, you probably imagine taking a book with you and sitting on a park bench. But ARTSparks—a partnership of Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, with project coordinator Urban Art Concept—is bringing a different kind of literary experience to one of the country’s best-read cities.

A dozen writers will display their site-specific pieces for an outdoor literary salon as part of the first installation of Galleria Occidental, a special art series in Pioneer Square’s Occidental Square.

The exhibition takes place from June 7 through the summer. An opening reception takes place on Thursday, June 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. during the First Thursday Art Walk at Occidental Square, S Main St. and Occidental Ave. S.

Park-goers will enter the park and see trees, barriers, lampposts, and other existing objects in the park featured and highlighted as if on display in a museum to bring attention back to the often ignored urban landscape. When viewers approach the “sculptures,” they will find plaques displaying short fiction and poetry meant to inspire readers to view common spaces with curiosity and mindfulness.

Co-curators are Frances Dinger and Bryan Ohno, and contributing writers are Tara Atkinson, Greg Bem, Jamey Braden, Richard Chiem, Darren Davis, Wilie Fitzgerald, Len Kuntz, Stacey Levine, Justin Noga, Bernadette Pajer, Kevin Sampsell, M. Thompson, and Jane Wong.
The stories and poems encourage readers to consider the potential mystery beneath a manhole cover, what stories trees might like at bedtime, unexplained architectural features appearing over water, mothers and sons, faces in tree bark, whale hearts, and potential Seattle hauntings, among other things.

This installation is the first of its kind and will offer pieces accessible to readers of all ages and tastes.
Sample stories:
Bedtime Story for Occidental Park Tree
by Tara Atkinson

Tree, I understand you. Sometimes the person you love and the person
you are supposed to love show up at the same party and your heart in
your chest wants you to be a bird. But we’re not birds, are we, tree.
We’re trees and the birds come to us and land wherever they want and
sometimes a storm takes a limb. We flutter a leaf and that’s the best
we can do.

Man & Bear
by M. Thompson

Bear says to man says, yes,
says purr with waxlips peeled
straight spined
Says, now.

About ARTSparks
Tossing the spark of art into the daily mix of downtown life. ARTSparks will bring temporary, site-specific art installations to Seattle’s downtown parks. The program is created by Seattle Parks & Recreation in partnership with the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs. ARTSparks 2012 is produced by Urban Art Concept and sponsored by 4 Culture, the Downtown Seattle Association, The Seattle Parks Foundation, and the Jim Ellis Freeway Park Association.
Check out ARTSparks Seattle on Facebook

Project coordinator Urban Art Concept embraces art, in all of its forms, to inspire human connection. It focuses on humanizing everyday spaces with compelling artworks and creating unique experiences in unusual spaces. Current projects include the Spiral Project at South Lake Union, a 350 foot long, 20-foot tall spiral created out of reclaimed branches. For more information, please visit