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Summary for 305 Harrison ST / Parcel ID 1985200130 / Inv # CTR006

Historic Name: The Seattle Mural/Century 21 Mural Common Name: Horiuchi Mural and Stage/Mural Amphitheatre
Style: Other Neighborhood: Queen Anne
Built By: Year Built: 1962
Designed by artist Paul Horiuchi, this large mural was one of several works of public art commissioned for the grounds of the Seattle World’s Fair Century 21 Exposition. The fair’s organizers wanted to show visitors that Seattle was no longer a cultural dustbin. To this end, they included a Fine Arts Exhibit in the World of Art, one of the five Worlds of Century 21, as well as outdoor public art. At the time of its completion, it was considered the single largest work of art in the Pacific Northwest, measuring 17 feet high and 60 feet long. Following Horiuchi’s design, Olivo Santagostino fabricated the mural in Venice, Italy, using 160 shades of glass mosaic on 54 concrete slabs. The concrete slabs were installed on a curved concrete wall designed by the fair’s primary architect, Paul Thiry. The fair’s organizers paid for "The Seattle Mural" with funds designated for development of the grounds with the intent that it would be donated to the city at the close of the exposition. During the fair, the mural was prominently located at the end of an open plaza between the United States Science Pavilion (Pacific Science Center) and the Food Circus (Center House) in the shadow of the Space Needle. Paul Horiuchi (1906-1999) was a premier Northwest artist, best known for his abstract collages ranging from intimate compositions of ethereal delicacy to powerful images of massive solidity in monumental scale. The story is often told that the inspiration for collages first came to Horiuchi when he encountered outdoor bulletin boards covered with weathered notices and advertisements in Seattle’s International District during the mid-1950s. Although he continued to produce paintings in other mediums, it was in collage that Horiuchi found his strongest artistic voice. Layering torn mulberry papers colored and textured with pigments or sumi ink, Horiuchi "painted" rather than constructed his collages. The rich fabric of Horiuchi's life was woven together from his experiences as a Japanese immigrant and his gradual emergence as an American artist representative of the Pacific Northwest. Born in Japan, Horiuchi came to live with his father in Wyoming in 1920 at the age of 14. During the next two decades, while working in canneries, cement factories, and on the railroad, Horiuchi largely taught himself to become a painter. He moved to Seattle in 1946 and opened a body and fender shop where he made use of his welding skill and canny ability to match color. Although Horiuchi was a steady participant in Seattle's Northwest Annual since the 1930s, it was not until he began working with the collage medium that he established his distinct niche in the Seattle art scene. His first one-person show at the Zoe Dusanne Gallery in 1957 was a spectacular success, and another one-man exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum at Volunteer Park followed the next year, launching Horiuchi’s long, distinguished career. Abstraction dominated Horiuchi's works and his approach was essentially intuitive. However, the images were often inspired by the artist’s personal experiences in nature and in the human world. During the 1960s, references to Japanese art and culture began to appear frequently in Horiuchi's work. His most ambitious public work was the large mural he created out of Italian tiles at Seattle Center for the world's fair in 1962. (Excerpted from a description written for a Paul Horiuchi exhibit held in Spring 2000 at the Seattle Asian Art Museum). This mural is significant for its design and for being an outstanding work by a major Northwest artist, Paul Horiuchi, and for its association with the Seattle World’s Fair Century 21 Exposition.
Completed in 1962, this large abstract mural is situated at the rear of a raised concrete stage, which occupies a site in the shadow of the Space Needle near the southeast corner of the Seattle Center. The stage lies at the lower eastern end of a gently sloping grassy amphitheater ringed by trees. A wide asphalt path runs along the front of the stage and separates it from the grassy area. After Paul Horiuchi provided the original artwork, a Venetian craftsman, Olivo Santagostino, fabricated the mural on 54 concrete slabs, using 160 shades of glass mosaic. These slabs were installed on a curved concrete wall measuring 17 feet high and 60 feet long. The rear east elevation of the curved wall was embellished with decorative patterns in the concrete. Designed by the fair’s primary architect, Paul Thiry, the wall rests on a wide center block situated behind a ramp set between two low walls. The ramp’s front wall has lights installed along its length in order to illuminate the mural. Originally, the stage in front of the mural was lower in height and smaller in area but included pools of water around it. The low concrete curbs at the northwest and southwest corners are remnants of the walls, which enclosed the pool. The stage was raised and enlarged in a subsequent renovation of the site. Temporary metal ramps lead down from the north and south sides of the stage. The mural now adjoins the rear of the Fun Forest Pavilion, which detracts somewhat from the appearance of the mural. Prior to the construction of the pavilion in 1998, evergreen trees framed the view east towards the base of the Space Needle. This mural retains good physical integrity despite these alterations.

Detail for 305 Harrison ST / Parcel ID 1985200130 / Inv # CTR006

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Object District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete, Glass Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): None Roof Material(s): None
Building Type: Recreation and Culture - Work of Art Plan: None
Structural System: None No. of Stories:
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Arts, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
Architecture/West. An Architect's Guidebook to the Seattle World's Fair, 1962. Seattle, WA: Pacific Builder and Engineer, v. 68, no. 4, April 1962.
Official Guide Book Seattle Worlds Fair 1962. Seattle, WA: Acme Publications Incorporated, c1962.
Seattle Art Museum Website (
Peterson, Julie. "Paul Horiuchi, who earned fame as an artist, dies," The Seattle Times, Monday, August 30, 1999.

Photo collection for 305 Harrison ST / Parcel ID 1985200130 / Inv # CTR006

Photo taken Nov 14, 2000

Photo taken Nov 14, 2000
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