Artist spruces up Issaquah Highlands’ Miracle Grow sculpture

September 25, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

Seattle artist Leon White stands in the middle of Miracle Grow, his public art sculpture in the Issaquah Highlands. Last week, White spent 30 hours refurbishing the sculpture that was installed in 2005. By Christina Corrales-Toy

Issaquah drivers who frequent Northeast Park Drive may have noticed a colorful change to the public art structure that sits on the median across from the fire station.

Last week, the sculpture’s artist, Leon White, spent about 30 hours over a four-day period sprucing up the sculpture that was installed in 2005.

Miracle Grow consists of a grouping of individual steel sculptures with colored flowers accenting the top of each one.

White said the piece was inspired by the flowers in the garden of his Seattle home.

“When I was doing this series, I just happened to be looking at my garden, which has irises, and looking at the long, thin blades of irises and the green leaves, I thought how cool it would be if I took what is on an inch-scale and made it a foot-scale,” he said.

Once White got a space where he could weld, he made his vision a reality, creating the sculptures that range in height from 8 feet to 14 feet.

“It’s kind of an optical illusion because when you’re coming in at a distance because of this open area, it doesn’t look that big,” White said of the sculpture’s size. “But if people parked somewhere and got out and looked around, they would see how big it is.”

It was White’s first time refurbishing the sculpture since its installation. It was a necessary undertaking, the artist said, after the artwork had accumulated rust.

On the Web

See more of artist Leon White’s works at www.leonwhitestudio.artspan.com.

White carefully scraped the rust off of the sculpture, sanded it down and then added primer and several coats of paint to restore the work to its vibrant, original state.

More than 30 cans of spray paint later, and several puzzled looks from the cashiers at The Home Depot as he approached the checkout line with a cart full of spray cans, White finished the sculpture and even added an extra splash of color.

“Previously, all the irises were purple, so I thought I’d spruce it up and put some yellow in there,” he said. “And I’m tickled pink, actually I’m tickled fluorescent, because I found this fluorescent yellow. So it’s going to show up at dusk, at dawn and at nighttime.”

The Seattle-based artist, who also has works showcased in Wenatchee and Olympia, said he enjoys making the trek to Issaquah every so often, just to take a look at the work.

“As an artist, I take pride in it and I come up and look at it,” he said. “Every once in awhile, I’ll swing by to see that everything is kosher.”

Miracle Grow was a part of the city’s Loaned Art Program. It was placed in the highlands to recognize its annexation to the city. After a survey of highlands residents, Issaquah Arts Commission officials found it was popular with the residents and purchased it in 2006.

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