Home From Pollution to Art: Tacoma’s Newest Park Sculpts the Environment

From Pollution to Art: Tacoma’s Newest Park Sculpts the Environment

by Meredith Areskoug
Adam Kuby, Alluvion, 2019, at Dune Peninsula Park. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti.

DUNE PENINSULA PARK, Tacoma WA

by Rosemary Ponnekanti

For folks who’ve just moved into Point Ruston condos, it’s probably just a nice place to walk the chihuahua. But 11- acre Dune Peninsula Park, newly unveiled, is an undulating, living symbol of environmental hope – and warning. And nowhere is that more potent than in its public sculpture, Alluvion.

Dune Peninsula Park is a scenic cap on one of the South Sound’s biggest environmental mess-ups: the Asarco copper smelter. For years it belched arsenic-laden fumes, then for years more stood silent on a toxic slag heap. Now, Metro Parks Tacoma has sealed the site and covered it with curving pathways, grassy prairies and rising viewpoints. It’s beautiful. But it’s also bittersweet, if you know what came before – and Adam Kuby’s Alluvion speaks perfectly to that history.

A 15-foot vertical steel pipe announces the work, a dark homage to the smelter tower, and behind it are two pipes, half as long. Then four pieces of the same pipe lie neatly in a row, followed by eight, 16, 32, smaller and smaller, spreading in neat, cemetery-like rows until 256 pieces lie scattered in the final row. There’s death here, grim industrial pollution, rippling inexorably outward just as Asarco’s pollution did, and still does. But there’s also hope: the steel’s dark brown is echoed in waving cattails, and the pale green-and-yellow prairie is, by design, gently covering up the sculpture.

Experience more of Tacoma’s art scene during Tacoma Arts Month in October. More than 95 artists open their doors for free on the Studio Tour, and the opening night party celebrates the city’s performing arts.

Opening night party Oct 2, 6:30-9pm
Eastside Community Center, 1721 E 56th St, Tacoma

tacomaartsmonth.com