Totem Pole at the Pike Place MarketOften ignored or forgotten, the Market’s trove of murals, functional art, historic signs and sculpture are being rediscovered.

Art in the Market ?!?

Victor Steinbrueck felt there should be art for art’s sake. In 1983, he initiated the Market’s first artwork: two 50 foot totem poles and wrought iron decorative panels located in the park which now bears his name. Pike Place Market Foundation’s fundraising efforts gave birth to life-size iconic bronze piggy banks “Rachel” and her cousin “Billie”.

Function found art in the form of colorful murals to discourage graffiti in the parking garage, custom benches to provide rest, and manhole covers with a map of downtown Seattle. Artists who lived in the Market left their creations in collage, acrylics and whimsical pieces.

Murals were commissioned to honor the Market and its history, including the Japanese-American farmers interned during World War II who never returned to the Market. Finally, there are historic signs like the Public Market Center neon sign and clock that have attracted shoppers from the foot of Pike Street for over a hundred years.

Art Rediscovered

In 2012, Friends of the Market organized a committee of volunteers to inventory and research each artwork and artist. The Market Art Project identified 33 artworks and 15 historic signs.

Seeing the deteriorating condition of the historic hand-painted High Stall produce signs, the committee undertook a fundraising effort resulting in their repair and restoration, with preservation work completed in 2013. Click here and scroll down to “Sign Restoration at Pike Place Market” to learn how the signs were restored.

These historic signs and artworks reflect the Market’s unique history and cultural legacy. The Friends are proud to have helped preserve and document them for future generations to discover anew.

To learn more, come join us on a summer Market History & Art Tour.

Please click on the links below to see the Market Art Galleries.