A worker in a hard hat and orange vest leans into a large metal piece of public art at Motor Avenue in Lakewood, WA where the piece is being installed.

Public art comes to Motor Ave.

Jan. 25 2023

Under cloudy skies Wednesday and clad in a bright orange jacket, Seattle artist John Fleming installed his “Colonial Plaza Gateway Arch” to the entrance of Motor Avenue. Those passing on Gravelly Lake Drive may have noticed the large crane stationed at the entrance to Motor Avenue as it slowly and carefully lowered the large, steel pieces to the ground.

The installation marks another milestone in the evolution of this community gathering space that once was a sparsely traveled two-lane road that passes by the Lakewood Theatre and former shopping center commonly known as the Lakewood Colonial Plaza.

Artist John Flemming points to a piece of public art he crafted while talking to Lakewood Mayor Jason Whalen on Motor Ave in Lakewood, WA.
Mayor Jason Whalen and Seattle Artist John Fleming look at the art installation on Motor Ave.
Artist John Fleming works on Gateway Arc metal public art piece as it is installed on Motor Avenue in Lakewood, Wa.
Artist John Fleming works on one of his gateway arches as it is installed on Motor Ave.

Motor Avenue was renovated in 2019 to become a community centerpiece. On top of the cobbled street and classic architecture, was a vision to place a welcoming metallic gateway arch with metal strands etched with phrases from residents and community groups entwined within the piece.

The Lakewood Arts Commission selected Fleming to create the custom piece and solicited Lakewood residents and community groups to share their stories to be incpororated in the piece.

Wednesday the sweeping steel arcs were placed at the corner where Motor Avenue and Gravelly Lake Drive meet. Made from inch-thick curved steel plates, the pieces form a gateway. The larger stretches 50 feet wide and the smaller 34 feet. Both rise about 4 feet from the ground.

Aluminum “story strips” are found within the arc, each etched with quotes and memories gathered from the community.

When walking Motor Avenue, people can read these stories and memories up close. From the street, the aluminum strips reflect a luminous glow through triangular cutouts.

A public “unveiling” is planned for the spring. More details will be announced soon.