Just as early entrepreneurs sliced up and regraded the land of Seattle, a group of artists are re-working conventional Seattle attitudes toward the land. In her article, Jen Graves suggests that artificial, self-conscious landscapes are proliferating. Artist trio SuttonBeresCuller are reinventing a heavily polluted former gas station into a new city park that will also be a sculpture, a tiny hill, and a cultural center. Artist-architect Jerry Garcia proposed a nature preserve sixty feet in the air, accessible only by elevator. In the Olympic Sculpture Park, Mark Dion built a vivarium for a nurse log that will naturally and, if let alone, violently outgrow its glass house. Graves will link these artists and others (Alex Schweder, Lead Pencil Studio, Mandy Greer) with the major 1970s works in Seattle by Michael Heizer, Robert Morris, and Herbert Bayer, and also with classic artist-created landscapes, particularly Heizer’s Double Negative and City and James Turrell’s Roden Crater.

Jen Graves is a full-time art critic at The Stranger. Her cultural criticism has also appeared in such publications as The BelieverModern PaintersArt in America,ArtnewsNewsdayNewsweek.comArt and AuctionFlash Art, and Artlies. She teaches a survey course in art history at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Graves received BA and MA degrees from Stanford University, where her thesis was titled “Art and Anti-Art: New York Dada, Marcel Duchamp, and William Carlos Williams.”