Acrylic on canvas
24" x 36"
This plein air painting took me three days to compose. Part of the challenge was that its central feature, the 26-foot-tall torii gate, did not yet exist.
There used to be a torii gate on this site. It was erected in 1934 as a gift of friendship from Seattle's Japanese American community to the broader region. I remember riding past it as a kid on training wheels. The old torii was made of wood and eventually had to be taken down due to decay. At the time I did this painting, I was helping lead a community effort coordinating the contributions from foundations, corporations, city government, and individual donors to raise enough funds to build a new torii.
My purpose in creating this painting was to provide the community with a vision of what the new torii landmark might look like. I thought long and hard about what activities to represent in the painting. Seward Park gets over 500,000 visitors a year and this is right by the main entrance. So there is rarely a daylight hour when there aren't people jogging, biking, and walking by this spot. The meadow to the right (north) of the torii is used for many purposes. I chose to render only a couple playing with an aerobie in order to emphasize the size and natural feeling of the space. I also decided to include two important individuals at the base of the torii. I included a person in a wheelchair to emphasize how the sando, the terrace around the base of the torii which connects to the sidewalk, would make the torii accessible to all. The gentleman in the suit waving to us is meant to be Atsuhiko Tateuchi, whose foundation was one of the major donors to the Seward Park Torii project.
Construction completed on the new torii in early 2021.
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