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Spotted in Seattle: Agustina Forest’s Visual Love Letter to the Emerald City

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

A visitor observes pieces from Agustina Forest's "Spotted in Seattle" collection at ARTS at King Street Station on June 1, 2023. (Photo/Jonny Tran)

Spotted on the walls of the ARTS gallery at King Street Station are unique, creative homages to the iconic landscape of the Emerald City. From the fishmongers at Pike Place Market to rainy day hoverboarders, Agustina Forest’s latest art collection is full of fun and quirky animations capturing the true beauty of Seattle.

Spotted in Seattle is a masterpiece of visual storytelling, with 30 works of art including epoxy resin sculptures, pencil sketches, and oil pastel pieces. Through this eclectic collection, Forest paints a picture of the people and scenery she has observed during her time in Seattle.

Watch the interview of Agustina Forest explaining her work Spotted in Seattle.

The collection’s inception started in 2018 when Forest first moved to Seattle from her home in Buenos Aires.

“I always have my sketchbook with me, so I am always drawing people. And that's how I started—I started drawing the people that I've seen on the streets because everything was so new to me,” said Forest.

Forest says that through her observation and recreation of people, she was able to acknowledge all the things in Seattle that were different from her home in Buenos Aires.

“It's not only the difference in the infrastructure, it's the people. I feel that the soul of the city–it's the people, those little social things [that] kind of shape our society,” said Forest.

From the way that people dress to the way they walk, Forest shares that Seattle has a very unique flavor that is constantly evolving. According to Forest, her drawings showcase her hunger to capture Seattle’s evolution through her compulsion to draw as she calls it.

“There's always someone that gets my attention because they're being themselves, and I love when people are being themselves. I like to put that on paper and think to myself, ‘Why is that person so special?’,” said Forest.

A visitor takes in epoxy resin sculptures from the "Spotted in Seattle" collection on June 1, 2023. (Photo/Jonny Tran)

After drawing these people, Agustina started posting her work on social media. Then, as her work began to accumulate interest, she wanted to put a well-suited name. This is how Spotted in Seattle was created. From there, more opportunities to share her work, like at the ARTS gallery at King Street Station, arised. The Spotted in Seattle collection is on display alongside The First 50 Years: Highlights from the Civic Collection, 1973-2023 exhibit, which Agustina felt was a perfect match, merging art from then and now.

“It works so well because it's like the past from Seattle, showing the whole history, and now the present,” said Agustina.

But this begged the question, do the people featured in this collection know they are “Spotted in Seattle?”

“Most of them don't, these are all people that I've seen. They are all real people,” said Forest.

In fact, Forest shared that two of the people featured in the collection came to the art show's opening. One of them is a very famous character in Capitol Hill who can often be seen playing his piano out and about with his signature “Hey U” sign hanging from his keyboard.

“Apparently, I didn't know when I saw him,” shared Forest. “I posted the final art and someone started tagging him saying he hangs out near the public library. So, I put posters up in the area and he showed up. That was really cool.”

Since Capitol Hill is where Forest resides, Spotted in Seattle has a special focus on the neighborhood. However, Forest also wanted to make sure her collection covered a holistic scope of the city. Her artwork also features scenes from Queen Anne to Belltown.

“When you start walking down the hill, you start seeing different kinds of people and each neighborhood has its own identity. I love acknowledging that, and I don't like to generalize. So it's kind of like a tricky point, but there's certain things that are happening in one neighborhood,” said Forest.

Forest expressed that society can become very mundane. However, she found it refreshing how in a place like Seattle, known for having weather so gray, it could be filled with such colorful people who are unafraid of expressing themselves through their own sense of style.

“I love putting that on paper and making that last in time,” said Forest.

‘Time’ is a big theme Forest plays into with her Spotted in Seattle collection. Nostalgic by nature, she wanted to immortalize her experiences and moments in the city. For Forest, drawing helped her do this–acting as a “portal in time.”

Visitors watch a short film featuring Agustina Forest and her artwork from "Spotted in Seattle" on June 1, 2023. (Photo/Jonny Tran)

“[Drawing] helps me remember how I was either feeling or what I was looking at, and it kind of teleports me to that very moment,” said Forest. “So I can go back to that piece of paper and remember so much more than if I just wrote it down or just try to remember it out of my memory.”

Throughout this process, Forest shared something funny she began to notice happening to her. While compiling her artwork, she started repeatedly seeing and recognizing the people she had drawn in the streets.

“It's pretty wild because I didn't notice that before. I mean, you can always see the person that’s always working in the same space, you know, like a salesperson at the pharmacy, but when you're walking, it's so random. But it turns out, it's actually not that random,” said Forest.

Before Spotted in Seattle, these featured characters were just another person walking by her, but now it’s different. Forest says that this is the most special thing about creating the collection. It has changed how she looks at the city and shapes her experience living in Seattle.

“Drawing these people, acknowledging and noticing that we're all part of this community, makes me feel less alone in the city,” said Forest.

The Spotted in Seattle exhibit at the ARTS reinforces this idea with the simple yet genius addition of a gold mirror, alongside all the other drawings, to encourage onlookers to observe and reflect upon themselves.

“I wanted to make people feel that they were also part of [the collection]. So, I was trying to come up with an idea of how to make people see the reflections of themselves,” said Forest. “You kind of are looking at all these different pictures, and then you see yourself like, ‘Oh, yeah, I'm part of this community as well.’”

Crew members from Ground Zero Radio spotted in Seattle with Agustina Forest on June 1, 2023. (Photo/Dominique Morales)

Forest extended this sense of community, beyond the limits of her sketchbook, by inviting others to partake in a workshop co-facilitated by her and poet Sergej Buchholz from Pongo Poetry Project. The workshop, on June 10, included a tour of the current ARTS exhibitions, The First 50 Years: Highlights from the Civic Collection, 1973-2023, and Spotted in Seattle, inviting community members to self-reflect through a series of prompts on writing and drawing.

Forest’s portion of the workshop encouraged community members to re-imagine the characters of Spotted in Seattle, asking people to think about the emotions these characters are experiencing and the stories behind them. For Forest, the stories are at the heart of Spotted in Seattle.

“We all have a story behind us, and I just like to wonder about what that story is,” said Forest.

These stories are something Forest would like to further expand upon in the future. With this in mind, Forest has an ongoing Kickstarter, with hopes of turning Spotted in Seattle into a book that brings these beloved characters to readers’ homes. Spotted in Seattle is on display at ARTS at King Street Station, now through July 6, alongside The First 50 Years: Highlights from the Civic Collection, 1973-2023 exhibit, running now until September 7.


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