Art as/and public service

By Ben Gannon

King County, as an employer, feels like a pretty magical combination of things that are important to me and how I want to live my life.

The truth is I live for art. If I retired today, 25 years early, I know exactly how I would use my time: looking at art, thinking about art, talking about art, reading about art, writing about art, and making art. My long term career goals—the dream of my professional life—is to live life that way.

However, another truth is that art never has, currently doesn’t, and in the future probably won’t, be an easy way to pay the bills. And as much as I appreciate the romantic vision of the starving artist, I’m not all that romantic when it comes to my own life.

King County truly supports its employees in their pursuit of work/life balance. It allows me to have the best of both worlds. I am able to put in an honest day’s work but also leave the office at a reasonable hour so I have time in my studio, or to attend an art walk, and still have a reasonable amount of sleep each day.

But it’s not just about the compensation and work hours. It’s important to me to work in service of the community and region that I love. I view my art practice as an engagement with the place I am at—my community and my environment. Working at King County is an extension of my desire to serve, care for, and think about our region.

My work is about the created environments that result from excesses such as wealth, garbage and pollution. I explore the forces at play in the relationships we have with each other (through the choices we make with the wealth we accumulate) and the relationship we have with the world (through the destiny of the refuse we toss into the domain of the natural world).

These considerations are tied directly to the concerns of our local community in the Pacific Northwest. The globe is heating up and our relationship to our once unnoticed Eden is in flux.  Wealth is flooding into the city dramatically enough to feel like an occupation.

My work creates a space for grappling with the complicated position we in the Pacific Northwest find ourselves in—the experience of living in a world whose form has not yet arrived.


Ben Gannon portrait 2Ben Gannon began working at King County on the training team for Oracle Enterprise Business System applications during the Accountable Business Transformation project implementation in 2011. Since then, he has worked in several different divisions at King County, and currently works as an Administrator in Executive Services for the Business Resource Center.

His art work is currently on view at Tacoma Art Museum as part of Northwest Art Now, curated by Rock Hushka and Juan Roselione-Valadez.  To learn more, visit Ben’s website.

One thought on “Art as/and public service

  1. Ben Gannon’s commitment to both his “day” job and to art are inspirational. As an artist’s wife, I know the impact that great art can have upon the individual, the community and our world.

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