Art at the Arena: Meet the Artists

SEATTLE — For months, we’ve been showing you the artwork that will be installed at the new Climate Pledge Arena.

This month, we introduce you to cartoonist Megan Kelso and partners, Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan.

Kelso has been a cartoonist for 30 years but had to get even more creative during the pandemic to begin sketching some ideas.

She began by driving around Seattle, sketching ideas on receipts. That’s because receipts are the shape of her artwork so it gave her the orientation she needed.

Her piece will consist of 21 panels, that together will create a timeline that begins in 1969.

Kelso tells me, “I did different panels to sort of attract different types of viewers. Like, some are actually little comic strips to tell a story within one panel.”

The finished piece will be 85 feet long and be installed along memory rails on the southeast side of the arena.

Kelso will include a lot of people, vistas and crows.

It begins in 1969 with people streaming out of a Jimi Hendrix concert. It goes to the left and ends at Fort Dent in Tukwila.

Then, “on this end, it ends at 2021 in Kenmore at the Kenmore Park and Ride. So it covers a lot of ground,” Kelso told me.

Another piece you will see at Climate Pledge Arena this fall also takes some inspiration from Seattle music icon, Jimi Hendrix.

For artists Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan, it’s Hendrix song, “Bold as Love.”

Haddad tells me, “In the song, Jimi equates all the colors of the rainbow to an emotion and an image so we took that as an inspiration for the artworks.”

The partners created “Axis Lounge” — an interactive and immersive piece that will take those song lyrics and equate them to art.

You will see a guitar shaped bench and all that color Hendrix sings about.

Haddad says the pieces are still in fabrication but she already knows it will be inviting and her hope is that people will play on it, climb on it and enjoy it.

For Drugan, this is a project of a lifetime. He told me, “That’s part of why it’s so great. You know what you are doing is kinda leaving a legacy for the next generation. And so you feel like you’re really giving back to the community.”

Axis Lounge will be about 60 feet by 60 feet and you’ll find it on the NW corner of the arena.

It will have light effects as well that will show different colors, depending on when you visit.

Haddad tells me that because this is a public art piece in Seattle, where they’ve both called home for decades, they “have to do their best work.”

They are well on their way.

Look forward to the pieces at the Climate Pledge Arena this fall.