Crosscut. Magazine – Year in review: 10 Seattle artworks that exemplify 2021

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Women sit on a bench crafted in the shape of a record player arm, part of Paul Rucker’s “78,” at the Jackson Apartments, a new housing and retail complex developed by Vulcan Real Estate in Seattle’s Central District, August 19, 2021. (Lindsey Wasson for Crosscut)

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New visibility via public art: “78 on Jackson,” Paul Rucker 

On a hot day this past summer, three older Black women took a break from grocery shopping to sit on a mint-green bench in the shape of a record player tonearm on the plaza in front of the Jackson Apartments. Part of a public artwork by Seattle artist-musician Paul Rucker, the 2,800-pound arm is affixed to an oversized turntable embedded in the concrete of the plaza, complete with a 12-foot diameter granite “vinyl” record etched with the names of 70 jazz artists, as well as 32 venues that once lined Jackson Street. 

Rucker’s work was one in a crop of new public artworks by Black artists in the Central District  — Seattle’s historically Black neighborhood — that helped anchor new developments with a sense of place and history. This influx of new sculptures and murals reflects a major shift in how local institutions are attempting to honor long-obscured histories, eclipsed stories and marginalized artists with major public artworks.