Ken Slusher: The West Seattle Bridge Under Construction

Remember the Chavez! That was the freighter that rammed the old West Seattle Bridge in 1978, leading to massive traffic jams and an emergency effort to create a $150-million span that would rise much higher over the Duwamish and out of harm’s way. During the subsequent six years of construction, photographer Ken Slusher enjoyed remarkable access on the muddy site, documenting the pilings, girders, rebar, and poured concrete through his large-format view camera. Thirty of his silver prints compose his historical series “The West Seattle Bridge Under Construction.” The black-and-white images create a time-lapse effect as the bridge gradually takes form. Massive swooping shapes rise from the muck, something like Margaret Bourke-White’s WPA photographs of industrial sites, with workers and human scale generally absent. There’s something satisfying about infrastructure—and maybe something timely, as we consider replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct and 520 bridge with the assistance of federal stimulus spending (if we’re lucky). Thirty years ago, Sen. Warren G. Magnuson helped secure about one-third of the new bridge’s budget, and you can bet our state congressional delegation will soon be asking the Obama administration for far more. One nice aspect of seeing this exhibit—for non-West Seattleites, at least—is that you first have to drive across the bridge to reach the gallery. And on the way home, you’ll give the pavement a whole new level of respect. (Gallery hours continue 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. and Sun.) Divina, 4160 California Ave. S.W., 938-9388, www.divinaseattle.com. Free. Artist’s reception: 6-9 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Thu., Dec. 11, 6 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 13, 11 a.m.; Sun., Dec. 14, 11 a.m., 2008

 
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