John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The ephemeral artworks celebrate the city’s newly extended “C Line.”
Commuters in Seattle are in for unexpected pelagic encounters should they visit certain bus stops. When it rains, ghostly sea creatures now appear on the sidewalk, beckoning them aboard with pincers and large, looping tentacles.
Are these advertisements for a bus service that plunges right into the frigid Puget Sound? Well, no. They’re public artworks meant to celebrate the RapidRide C Line, which due to a public vote got the funds for a recent extension.
For the ephemeral installations, the city collaborated with Rainworks, a local start-up behind an invisible coating that materializes only when wet (which, in Seattle, is quite often). Here’s a camouflaged hopscotch court in West Seattle, for example:
Octopuses and at least one crab hide on sidewalks in West Seattle, Belltown, and South Lake Union, hoisting messages such as All aboard, C creatures and Ride on, C creatures. “This was our first time working with the City of Seattle in an official capacity, after making rainworks ‘guerilla style’ at bus stops for years, and it was a real treat for us,” writes Rainworks. “We hope that the local commuters will see these rainworks and smile, and feel pride for their awesome public transit system!”
Seattleites interested in meeting their new benthic buddies might want to act now, because the average lifespan of Rainworks pieces is two to four months.