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October 21, 2011     West Seattle Herald
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October 21, 2011

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'Life in the Gutter' one-man show comes to West Seattle Steve Shay Artist Stokley Towles performs his latest piece, "Stormwater: Life in the Gutter" to SPU employees before launching his citywide tour, including two stops in West Seattle. Here, he instructs audience member Vanessa Villalobos to "practice your sewer yoga", a technique of descending through an 18-inch sewer lid, pictured. By Steve Shay Tall. lean and laid-back in his delivery, performance artist Stok- ley Towles resembles Jimmy Stew- art. But this Mr. Smith isn't going to Washington. He's landing in the Seattle sewers. And that's just fine with him. as he goes with the flow. and makes Seattle's scatological scheme fun. accessible and some- how elegant, too. Towles' nearly one-hour piece. which he wrote, called "Stormwa- ter: Life in the Gutter", explores the dark underbelly of Seattle's sewers. He did his homework by interviewing Seattle Public Utili- ties' (SPU) employees who guide, monitor and maintain stormwater flow in the city. In 2009, he traced the flow of the city's water supply in his piece "Waterlines" and in 2010 returned with " Trash Talk", a close look at our municipal gar- bage collection. The public is invited, at no charge, to see "Stormwater: Life in the Gutter" Sat.. Oct. 29. noon at High Point Branch. The Seattle Public Library, 3411 S.W. Ray- mond St.. also Thurs.. Nov. 3.6:30 p.m. at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. 4408 Delridge Way S.W. This is a piece about SPU and its work and is funded through the One Percent for Art (Ordinance)," said Loft Patrick. Public Relations Manager, Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs. and a West Seat- tle resident. "It's entertaining and informative. He "interviews count- less employees about work that we don't think about. We flush our toilet, step in the shower; turn on our faucet. We don't think about Where it goes." Patrick said this is a public art project commissioned by the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs and supported by Art 4Culture or King County. "The Seattle sewer system is a living thing,'" Towles said in his piece, aided by PowerPoint imag- es. "Parts of it are more than 100 years old and weren't designed to last that long. I wanted to know who provides the life support for this system, this living beast. "Two hundred years ago we were covered in forest." he said of the city. "The rain would fall from the sky, on the trees and stay. Now. when it rains the water picks up used motor oil. gasoline, ciga- rette butts, pet waste and takes it to the nearest drain (...) with baby wipes tennis balls and human waste where it all mixes down the pipes below. By the time it gets to Lake Union, Lake Washington, and Puget Sound. you have nice fresh storm water. "Add to that (dead) goldfish and the occasional hamster as the toi- let is the conventional ceremonial place to say goodbye to pets?' When Towles ventured down through an 18-inch diameter sewer cap on a "field trip", he said what people seem to find gross is that it is not their own waste they are stepping in. He explained. "If it was your raw sewage you could understand it better. So when I was in the sewer I thought, "/laybe there's a little bit of me in there?" For tickets & more, vistt www.stok- Steve Shay can be reached at steves @ West Seattle Herald Friday, October 21, 1 t Steve PAIN IN THE GRASS. Duwamish Alive! is a sem" annual event including South Park, Delridge, Pigeo Point, White Center. plus Georgetown and Tukwila. Pictured are Susie & Scott Blackstock, of Roxhill B restoration. @westseattleher 7/Annu 99 David Rosen / more p ! Nil ill White Center i ]llllll! tl]llllYllllill IIilll[IH HII'I[IIIIIH 111|1 i Iln liHT11-1il  ]li,l ii:l;iliHIilll; ;]|li m Hi[