Downtown

“Hear ye, hear ye! An update about the beast has arrived!”Name the Dragon!

Submit your name for the Renton Rooftop dragon by April 30, 2019 to arts@rentonwa.gov.  The artist team will select the top 5 names from those submitted and a poll will take place on the Renton  Municipal Arts Commission Facebook page until May 5. The community will have a chance to vote on their favorite and the winning name will be announced on Tuesday, May 7th at the Hero’s Feast Exhibit opening at the Renton History Museum.

Project History

LOCATION OF PROJECT:

The dragon will be on the top of the east side of the building at the corner of S. 3rd Street & Wells Ave. S. (826 S. 3rd Street), across from Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes, and next to the gravel lot.

PROJECT CONCEPT/INSPIRATION:

In early 2016, two members of the Renton Municipal Arts Commission (RMAC)—Marsha Rollinger and Mitch Shepherd—were sitting in Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes discussing potential downtown Renton placemaking public art projects. They discussed the building across the street, noticing the repaired crack and askew roofline from previous structural damage, and thought a project could play off of that in some way.

PRESENTATION TO COUNCIL:

RMAC was preparing a presentation for the July 11, 2016 City Council meeting where they would be showing what projects they had recently completed, along with asking for a budget increase to be able to do much larger projects. Marsha, Chair of the Arts Commission at the time of the presentation, had been taking photos of various locations around Downtown Renton and used Photoshop to create “potential” projects (showing before and after pictures), visually illustrating what could be done with a larger budget. The building on Wells Ave. S. was included, with a dragon perched on the roof.

After the conclusion of RMAC’s presentation at the meeting, council member Randy Corman immediately voiced support for the rooftop dragon. Not long after that meeting, Council ended up approving the project with funding from 1% for the Arts to make it a reality.

WHY A DRAGON?:

Marsha loves fantasy and mythology, and so she chose a dragon for the rooftop project because it is a large creature that flies—a creature capable of landing on a building, causing the building to crack. Also, Renton is a culturally diverse city, and dragons appear in many different cultures. Wizards of the Coast (Dungeons & Dragons, Magic the Gathering, etc.) is also headquartered here in Renton, which is another tie-in, along with Boeing’s Renton plant and the Renton Airport being located so close to downtown (ties to the flight aspect).

DESIGNING AND BUILDING THE DRAGON:

With the project approved to proceed and the property owner (Dave Smith) on board to have a dragon on his building, the search for artists/fabricators was underway. Initial discussions were had with a few potential artists/fabricators, but based on the scale of the piece Marsha envisioned, weight restrictions, lighting being incorporated into the piece, budget, installation expertise, etc., Western Neon was chosen to bring the dragon to life.

Although there were sketches, renderings and maquettes created throughout the project, what the dragon would eventually look like was driven by the actual process of building it. The project was truly collaboration between Marsha and Dylan Neuwirth, the Creative Director at Western Neon, and the whole Western Neon team.

Check out this article featuring the dragon on MYNorthwest: “There be dragons in Renton… No, Seriously.”