While in Seattle, I visited an 18-foot troll that decided to take up residence under the Aurora Bridge in Fremont, Seattle, on Halloween in 1990. I was told by locals that the bridge’s underneath area was an undesirable, littered and drug-dealing space. I love how art solved the immediate “ugly” problem and used a lovable “ugly” to turn an area that was avoided to a tourist hot spot.
A Volkswagen Beetle hubcap is used to make a solitaire, glaring, shiny metal eye with the fearsome, shaggy troll crushing the remainder of an actual Volkswagen car in its left hand, which housed a time capsule of Elvis memorabilia; it was removed after the car was vandalised.
The Fremont community annually pays tribute to the troll on October 31st with a moveable “Troll-o-ween” party, starting under the bridge and meandering to other art sites and events.
The troll’s vicinity keeps popping up on the news with strange incidences occurring. For example, in 1998, a bus fell off the Aurora bridge, crashing on top of an apartment building next to the troll. Also, in 2013, the troll’s midnight snack remnants featured on the news when it carelessly left over a dozen bloody sheep skulls in its adjacent yard.
The concrete, steel and wire sculpture was created by Steve Badanes, Donna Walters, Will Martin and Ross Whitehead. It was sculpted by house builder Steve Badanes, who had never made a statue before. The city asked the Fremont Arts Council to launch an art competition to rehabilitate the area and the public chose their favourite. Badanes’s design for head-and-shoulders sculpture won the contest. Art critics disapproved of the public’s choice but the community has loved the Fremont Troll from its initiation.
Busloads of tourists from all over the world stop to take photos with the troll. It is also a celebrity and has been featured in films like The Twilight Saga, Death Note, Sleepless in Seattle and more.
Sleep tight, Fremont Troll. You are an awesome sight.