I like being down in SODO Seattle; I’m sure I’ve stated this before, but it bears repeating. You can meet great folks working on good machinery down there. About a year ago I painted a large Cat D-8 bulldozer at Evergreen Tractor. I frequently find myself driving down in the area looking for equipment and by far the most impressive machines are always at Evergreen. They are a family run business that rents and repairs the big stuff that’s hard to stumble upon outside of large scale construction. On Tuesday I painted a mid size excavator that I’ll post at a future date, so I decided to head back the next day to paint some of the attachments for that machine.
Being around the equipment for me is always a treat because I love the purity of function with these tools. Painting a truck sometimes can still focus on the glamour of the vehicle, but when you get into observing a bucket, you find the form stripped away of anything superfluous beyond it’s intention and function. I get an opportunity through my south Seattle adventures to talk with people working in the job shops and industrial facilities. Most people I meet really like what they do and understand that they are kind of a dying breed in a city and society that is focusing almost exclusively on attracting a generation of people (myself included) that work in the realm of software and service.
To paraphrase a friend this week, “Seattle is a city that is quickly filling in all of it’s interesting and unpolished gaps and crevices with condos and crepe shops”. It is not the developed facade of high rent condos that make for a fascinating city. That is just glamour, and we need glamour I suppose as an image of cleanliness and success. But what really is the delivery on an image? Success for the few who can afford it? Success as long as the gardener and painter can be held on retainer to pull the weeds and Spackle the blemishes? It’s the down and dirty, surprising, worn, hard working, practical, rough, rocky, cracks in the pavement that expose the backbone of a metropolis. I really hope this city can keep supporting industry, manufacturing, fabrication, and work spaces that actually do work. As we become more of a service and knowledge based society we seem to be pushing aside and forgetting the essential value in building and fixing the physical tools and facilities that are all around us. I’ll be painting more down there this year, hopefully getting into more shops to document some of the machinery and processes that happen inside. I recommend travelling south on Marginal way and just observing the way things work down there. It’s dusty yes, loud, dirty, all the above. But it’s also elegantly functional and productive, stripped of glamour and all the more valuable for it.
Much thanks to the guys at Evergreen for showing me around. I’ll be back!