This is the Biggest Laundry Basket You'll Ever See

New art in South Lake Union adds culture and context to the gleaming tech hub
Brangien Davis  |   August 2014   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
With “The Laundry Strike,” Whiting Tennis pays homage to a forgotten strain of South Lake Union industry

Having given The neighborhood an extreme makeover, Paul Allen’s development company, Vulcan Real Estate, is making a concerted effort to enrich upscale South Lake Union with art. Since 2003, Vulcan has commissioned 18 public installations for the area, with more on the docket. “The Laundry Strike,” a recent addition by renowned Seattle artist Whiting Tennis, brings not just culture, but context to the mix. Positioned near the two-story 1906 Supply Laundry Building, which Vulcan is preserving and converting into offices, retail and restaurants, the sculpture recalls the wicker hampers and baskets used by the industrial laundries that once thrived in SLU. Regarding the title, Tennis, who hand-wove the piece from rattan before having it cast in bronze, says, “I wanted there to be no ambiguity about what it’s a memorial to,” namely, the Seattle Laundry Strike of 1917. “The figures are hampers and baskets,” he says, “taking in the dirty clothes of the bourgeoisie.” Yale Avenue N and Republican Street. Visit during the SLU Art Walk (8/1; discoverslu.com) or anytime.