Monday, December 16, 2013

Sites and Insights.

Taking a few days off during the busy holiday season might seem a little crazy.   Maybe, that's exactly the reason, during the season, to fill a few days with less do's and more where to's.

We arrived at our Seattle hotel on the waterfront with no specific places or agenda planned out.  I hoped to see the African masks and sea lions.  Eat some delicious food, taste new wine and local beer.  But even though we had the internet and mobile devices, we explored on our own two feet instead.

We headed down the waterfront, up the lift and over the bridges to Pike's Place market.  A famous local tourist destination, it was a bustling place filled with a mix of locals and visitors.  The craft vendors were packing up for day but the fish market was busy wrapping up dinner for the locals.  We stopped to chat with the man behind the counter and got several suggestions for local seafood restaurants and wine shops.  

The next day, our first stop was the original Starbucks and onto SAM(Seattle Art Museum).  It was a fascinating and enriching morning.  

The African mask exhibit was wonderful and filled with inspiration.  The display of the masks themselves was unique.  Set up on poles, the masks were at different heights, angles and lit to cast shadows onto the wall behind them elevating the pieces artfully and giving an understand of how it would feel to be sitting down, watching the masks being used in dance or storytelling.  The surprise was the Peru exhibit.  An extensive immersion into the rich history and art of this ancient culture. 

Lunch was a great local pub and brewery.  Then a waterfront walk seeing sea lions outside the aquarium, watching the ferry and Ferris wheel, passing the touristy peer.  Taking our own tour of the outdoor sculpture at the Olympic Sculpture Park.  

Public art always amazes me.  The scale itself is daunting but the materials, subjects and concepts span from the beautiful and amusing to the ridiculously awful.  Seattle's outdoor park devoted to sculpture is no exception.  

I loved, laughed and hated it.

I laughed at the fun, funny and functional eyes scattered along the path allowing visitors to sit on and see art as well as the waterfront sunset.  

The silly gigantic eraser sited on a freeway exit.  

The 'Calder-esque' orange metal sculpture, so predictable and iconic to almost any city now.   

I hated the ridiculous 'concept' piece that was sold as a homage to the shipping industry but in reality is three old wooden piers strung up by chains attached to a steel tripod.  Sad to see a crucifiction labeled as art.  Shook my head at the grouping of various steel generic geometric modern pieces.   

Then, at last, a great piece, that to me, shows what good public art can experience for all your senses.   I loved it!

These huge rusted iron structures envelope you in the majesty of huge seagoing vessels.  The sides curve in and around each other and stand as one ship and many ships all at once.  The gravel crunches underfoot as you walk between these pieces giving you a feeling of both land and sea.  Up next to them, you feel insignificant.  Far away, you feel awed by the power and movement of sea vessels in the ocean.

Back through Belltown's condo blocks, we headed for Pike Place to gather food for our own indoor picnic dinner.   Some of the very best food was from La Panier...baguette with brie, croissants with almonds and chocolate, blanc de noel and, an elegant latte.

From the artistry in the foam of my latte to the massive iron sculpture, the sites of Seattle gave me food for body, mind and soul.  Delicious fresh foods.  Masks and sculptures to challenge my imagination.  And a glimpse into the past lives of a vibrant soulful society.  

Yes, I had been busy here, too but seeing new sites lead me to many new insights.

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