Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Seattle's Best

A few months ago, I decided to visit Seattle. Ken and I had been there years ago, but I wanted to see a city, feel movement and encounter a substantial art scene. I had asked a few girlfriends to join me but they were too busy and Ken was off in the field, so I decided to take a five day mini field trip on my own. It turned out to be wonderfully alive and stimulating; my days filled with long meandering walks around the downtown district and having a transit system at my fingertips made going on my own a wise choice. I booked an inexpensive hotel for sixty bucks a night (which is cheap in Seattle) and after I committed, I read reviews where some had rated it poorly. The hotel turned out to be functional with a great bed and hot shower not to mention the light rail across the street, a few coffee joints around the corner made me wonder why people comment what they do. My room could be described as dim though but I was using it to hang my hat. I was set up!

Pictured above is an abstract picture of the light rail tunnel. I took this train to and from the airport costing $2.50 each way taking thirty-five minutes to arrive at my hotel destination. Once out of the underground passageway, my room was literally a hop, skip and a jump from the stop. Their bus system is great too. One day I took the local 72 train which landed me to the University of Washington where I intended to visit the Henry Art Gallery. I happened upon a street fair and loved reacquainting myself to the school and it's settings.

Before heading to Seattle, I bought two maps and oriented myself to where I was going and what I wanted to do. I used tripplanner.com and devised a plan to go to the Bellevue Arts Museum one day that would take a thirty minute ride from downtown. I found the bus stop easily and got to see a successful ceramic show done by the Chinese artist Wanxin Zhang. Pictured above is a detail of one of his life size sculptures - his contemporary interpretation of the Terracotta Warriors. The town of Bellevue is odd and very sterile but everything was so green and bright, the day's weather warm that the outing won my heart over. The bus driver was incredibly nice and let me know when my destination appeared. In fact, the people of Seattle are warm, generous and not at all suspicious of taking on a conversation with a stranger. At the museums and bus stops, people were open and friendly. I held several lengthy substantial discussions with a few people I met throughout my journey. Coffee shops and eateries are everywhere, so you can rest, pull out a novel and pass a few hours before you take on your next adventure on the streets.

Pictured above is the public library located near the Pioneer Square District. Inside the library you are filled with this filtered light and the architecture takes on the outside appearance. It opens up to an immense reading space and you feel like you are sitting in an outdoor cafe book stand. Around the city, I viewed public art by famous artists such as Jacob Lawrence and Dale Chihuly. I visited the Seattle Arts Museum and the Frye Art Museum. Along the way, I would comfortably pick up free reading material where I could map out the galleries and where to go next. Several galleries held massive spaces; some art better than others but it didn't matter because the city was full of alternative art spaces, ample choices and the excellent shows made up for any of the misses. Evenings were a set back though and the city seems to close down early. I was surprised to find Pike's Market taking down its booths as early as five o'clock on a Friday evening.

Seattle is a beautiful city with the openness of Puget Sound contrasted to the massive industrial settings of commerce and cargo transportation, causing a tumble of mixed sensations and conflicting landscapes that keep you on your feet. It is quizzical and at times strange! (One night, I couldn't sleep and switched on the TV where the sci fi movie End of the World was playing. How opportune!) I had splendid weather during my stay reminding me and everyone around that we were indeed lucky to be strolling the waterfront and taking on this excellent sunshine.

It was the perfect city to experience on my own. Yesterday, I put together a slide show for my upcoming summer UAA class; my first class meeting will introduce this trip, reminding students to take a passage on their own. It is good to be uncomfortable, to be reminded that you are a capable individual, and by using your intuitiveness and your skills whatever trip you take works out in the end. I would describe it as Seattle's Best.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011