City creates policy on public art decorations in Kirkland

Santos Contreras and Terri Fletcher decorate the Cow and Coyote for the Seahawks Super Bowl game back in January. - Matt Phelps/Kirkland Reporter
Santos Contreras and Terri Fletcher decorate the Cow and Coyote for the Seahawks Super Bowl game back in January.
— image credit: Matt Phelps/Kirkland Reporter

Downtown Kirkland dwellers need only look toward the bronze Cow and Coyote statue on Central Way to figure out what major holiday is quickly approaching.

For years members of the community have decorated the statue as somewhat of a tradition.

Created by Brad Rule and purchased by the city in 2002, the pair has dawned Seahawks garb during the Super Bowl, a cupid getup during Valentine’s Day and several other outfits catering to holidays such as Christmas, Fourth of July and soon-to-come St. Patrick’s Day.

But now there’s a policy in place to ensure those decorations don’t overstay their welcome.

On Feb. 21, city officials enacted a policy that allows public art decorations so long as the decor doesn’t damage the art and is removed after one week by the decorators.

“We had never had a written policy before,” said Jason Filan, the city parks operations manager. “It gives us some written direction.”

While several people enjoy the decorations, some within the community feel otherwise.

On Feb. 7, a Kirkland resident went to City Hall to complain about decorations on public art.

Marie Jensen, the spokeswoman for the city of Kirkland, said it was the week of National Wear Red Day when the woman complained. In order to raise awareness about women’s heart health, volunteers were encouraged to dress up various Kirkland sculptures in the city to spread the word, and so they did.

Red scarves, hats and other clothing appeared on the Puddle Jumpers, the Cow and Coyote and other Kirkland sculptures.

But the complaint sparked a conversation within the Kirkland Cultural Arts Commission at their monthly meeting on Feb. 19.

Filan said the difference of community opinion on whether public art should be decorated was what prompted this new policy.

“Historically, there hasn’t been an issue. It’s pretty low key,” Filan said. “It makes people smile. It gives the community some freedom to add a cute little decoration that might make someone smile.”

The new policy prohibits decorations that paint, scrape, scuff or mark the public art, as well as decor that commercially advertises or poses as a dangerous distraction to motorists or pedestrians.

Filan said the Parks Maintenance Division is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the art and will simply remove the decorations if they are up longer than one week. Fees or tickets will not be issued to any decorators, he said.

For more information, contact the Parks Operations Manager, Jason Filan, at 425-587-3340.


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