by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS

Internationally renowned artist Christian Moeller is a professor of art at UCLA in Los Angeles. This German artist’s large media installations are of architectural scale and are kinetic in nature. Moeller’s site-specific works have been exhibited worldwide, including installations in Tokyo, London, Singapore, Silicon Valley – and now Olympia.

A beautiful and evocative vast assemblage, the new Moeller work is now displayed as the outer face of an entire parking structure in downtown Olympia; it covers the structure in a lacey film that creates a piece entitled “Buttons.”

The Washington State Employees Credit Union (WSECU) contracted with this internationally known artist to wrap the structure as they sought new options to provide a new finish for their parking structure.

“WSECU’s Board of Directors sets the expectation that we build high quality facilities that complement and add to the neighborhood,” said Ann Flannigan, Vice President of Public Relations. “When they were presented with options for how to re-clad our headquarters garage, the Board loved the idea that it could include a public art component that could be enjoyed by the community. So they took a chance on a direction that’s playful and bold.” ­­­

WSECU opened the parking structure in 2009. At the time, the garage siding included hundreds of glass panels that served both an aesthetic and functional role. In 2012, the glass panels were removed out of safety concerns after two panels shattered and fell. The new artwork went up this year.

The artwork is 42 feet tall and covers 24,000 square feet of wall with 235,000 discs of injection-molded white vinyl. The discs are attached to the fencing in a style Flannigan describes as reminiscent of pointillism. It is a shimmering, see-through wall of overlapping discs of various sizes that faces the downtown Post Office on Jefferson Street.

“The installation’s imagery of buttons evokes connectivity, fastening, holding and the joining of two pieces of fabric,” Flannigan said, adding, “A source for Moeller’s inspiration was the concept of a grandmother’s button box, which is a sort of treasure chest holding a collection of button mementoes one can sift through representing history across generations.”

Keith Stahley, City of Olympia Director of Community Planning and Development, said, “It’s wonderful to see artwork installed and the parking structure made whole again. Congratulations to WSECU for their commitment to finding and executing a workable solution.”

Work on installation is expected to continue for a few weeks, as of May 29, to complete all final structural securing of the panels and to make any needed adjustments.


“Buttons” face wrap at WESCU parking garage

WSECU headquarters, Jefferson Street at 9th Avenue, downtown Olympia

Christian Moeller website