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November 14, 1996


Journal staff

University of Washington professor and artist John Young has an idea for turning pieces of nuclear attack submarines into art, taking inspiration from the Biblical injunction to turn swords into plowshares, or in this case, into fin art.

Young wants to take submarine fins donated by the U.S. Navy Shipyard at Bremerton and arrange them into an art installation which will simulate the fins of an orca whale pod or a school of salmon. The fins would range in height from 18 inches to 12 feet tall and the whole installation would be less than 500 feet long.

A total of $150,000 would be needed for the project and Young proposes to raise this through private donations. The artwork would be a gift to the city of Seattle -- if the city chooses to accept it.

A public hearing will be held today at 7 p.m. in the Board Room of the Seattle Parks Department at 100 Dexter to get comments on Young's offer.

Two sites are proposed for the installation. One is below Sand Point Head and north of the swimming area at Magnusson Park, in an area currently occupied by blackberries and scotch broom. The fins would appear to "swim" around nearby trees, Young said. The other site is at Myrtle Edwards, just past the entrance sign in an open grass area between the bike and pedestrian paths.

The fins are from 1960s-era submarines and are made of high-strength steel. The smooth, vertical surfaces cannot be climbed. They would be sandblasted and repainted glossy black to look like wet whale or fish fins, and coated with an anti-graffiti sealant. Each fin would be mounted on hidden concrete footings.

Several city council members, city officials and organizations such as the Seattle Arts Commission have come out in support of Young's proposal. A parks department spokesperson said several people have signed up to speak in support of each site.

The Board of Parks Commissioners will make a recommendation on site selection Dec. 12, or could choose instead to decline the gift.

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