Top Stories 2014: #1 — Warhol Tacoma Dome

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Tacoma Daily Index is looking back at the 10 most popular and most read articles among visitors to our Web site. Enjoy!

A public art project dating back more than 30 years received renewed interested this year at Tacoma City Hall.

In 1982, iconic pop artist Andy Warhol responded to a call for artists to submit proposals for public art at the Tacoma Dome, which was under construction at the time. Warhol’s plan called for painting a bright flower over the exteriors of the Tacoma Dome’s roof. Although Warhol’s work was not selected, members of Tacoma’s arts community have advocated for the project ever since (see “Discussion continues on Warhol Tacoma Dome roof plan,” Tacoma Daily Index, April 17, 2014).

This spring, City officials tested the idea by digitally printing an image onto an adhesive film and gauging the adhesive by applying it to a portion of the roof for a six-month period — and under a variety of weather conditions — in order to determine its impact on the roof’s exterior surface, as well as how well the image would hold up under the elements (see “A rooftop test for Tacoma Dome Warhol flower,” Tacoma Daily Index, April 22, 2014).

Earlier this month, City staff released the results of the rooftop test (see “City Council committee to revisit plan for Warhol art atop Tacoma Dome,” Tacoma Daily Index, Dec. 1, 2014). For supporters, the results were not promising.

“Testing of the material proposed for the installation has demonstrated that there could be significant issues with appearance, color fading, cleaning and ultimately removal of the material,” wrote City of Tacoma Public Assembly Facilities Director Kim Bedier in a Dec. 9 memo. “The appearance of the decal had varying degrees of acceptability in relation to color and weathering. The darker colors of the test pattern were noticeably dirty and not as bold as they were at installation. The lighter colors hid the dirt better, but presented a slightly faded appearance. All the seams were very dirty. This is not surprising due to the exposure to the elements in this location, but presents a condition that could negatively impact appearance and presentation, regardless of the frequency of cleanings.”

The report also noted the cost to design and install the public art could total nearly $2.2 million, and it would need to be cleaned at least twice annually at the estimated cost of $150,000 per cleaning.

For now, it remains to be seen if Warhol’s art will ever cover the Tacoma Dome.

To read a monthly breakdown of the Tacoma Daily Index’s most read articles of 2014, click on the following links:

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index, an award-winning journalist, and author of A Reporter At Large: A decade of Tacoma interviews, feature articles, and photographs. His journalism is collected online at wahmee.com.