Kent receives grant to promote Earthworks bicycle tour

A tour group strolls past an earthen structure June 16 at Kent
A tour group strolls past an earthen structure June 16 at Kent's Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks Park. The tours was to give the public a chance to learn about the park's creator, the late German Bauhaus master Herbert Bayer. The park will now be included in another kind of tour - bike rides.
— image credit: Laura Pierce, Kent Reporter

The Kent Arts Commission has received a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to develop and promote a 2011 bicycle tour of the earthworks projects located in the Green River Valley, including Kent's Mill Canyon Earthworks Park.

The bicycle tour will create an ecological and cultural connection between urban Seattle and four suburban municipalities, according to a city of Kent media release. Besides Earthworks Park (created by the late acclaimed artist Herbert Bayer) the tour in Kent includes the Green River Natural Resources Area; the Robert Morris Earthwork in SeaTac and Lorna Jordan's "Waterworks Gardens" in Renton. The bicycle tour also will pass through Tukwila.

The Kent Arts Commission is partnering with Cascade Bicycle Club on the planning and promotion of this eco-art tour. Due to the threat of flooding posed by the Howard Hanson Dam, sections of the Green River Trail have been closed to bicyclists.

The NEA grant will allow organizers to provide an alternate bicycle route while highlighting artistic solutions to storm water management. The inaugural ride will take place in September 2011.

In addition to the development and promotion of the bicycle tour, the grant will fund the publication of the documentary "A Place for People: the Herbert Bayer Earthworks." The grant is in addition to the recent Partners in Preservation award of $70,000 that will be used to restore the park.

The Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks Park, at 742 E. Titus St., is internationally recognized as a masterpiece of modernist art and functions as a stormwater-detention dam, as well as a public space.

Bayer, considered a master of the Bauhaus art movement (a German art style combining the crafts and fine arts) had the landscape sculpted to handle flooding and erosion and to detain stormwater. He designed a series of sculpted spaces for the park to mix in circles, lines and berms that gives the park a distinct look.

The NEA awarded 21 grants in July totaling $3 million across the nation to support creative placemaking projects that contribute toward the livability of communities and help transform sites into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core.

Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the largest annual national funder of the arts, bringing art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.

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