[Seattle Sights] Adventure Through the Art of Pioneer Square

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

With a few years of Seattle living under my wings, I can say with some authority that when the rain presses pause – I have to press play, and this past weekend was no exception. Kicking 2022 with a hefty dump of snow, the weather has calmed down and taken a much softer, arid approach to January with puffy clouds layered to the horizon and mercurial skies shifting throughout the day. Of course there’s been assorted moments of drizzle (hello, it is Seattle) but for the most part we’ve been fortunate to have an opportune amount of sunlight (read: ANY) for this time of year. Add that to the mix of the perpetual COVID quarantine and it’s given me extra motivation to get outside and enjoy the heartbeat of the city when possible.

I don’t know what it is about museums, but for the most part I find myself instantly uninspired by the necessity to browse art in silence, the stuffiness (both in people, and in air circulation), and the rigid formality of it all; suffice it to say, I’m not the biggest fan. I’m far more likely to enjoy the exterior architecture and landscape of a museum than what’s inside.

Art galleries however – oh goodness, color me curious! Back in Los Angeles, one of my favorite things to do was pop on my headphones, snag a camera, and hit the streets of downtown or Melrose for an urban safari – digesting the graffiti, street art and art galleries dotted across the city. I like my art tangible, accessible, and very in one’s face. I’ve been itching to find that dose of creativity again, and this past weekend gave me the perfect chance to chase that feeling in a new city.

Once the ancestral home and Indigenous land of the Coast Salish tribe, Downtown Seattle’s Pioneer Square now has become synonymous with the ever expanding art scene in Seattle. After visits to the Seattle Art Museum and Bellevue Arts Museum, both the quality and quantity of art galleries, as well as the public art in the area, were a pleasant surprise. Stepping out to explore, I was instantly enamored with the antique brick feel of the Richardsonian Romanesque buildings, inspiring an East Coast vibe right here in the Pacific North West. Yeah, sure, you could come to Pioneer Square with a plan – but as they say, life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. Whenever an art itinerary is concerned, I’m always of the belief that it’s very much choose-your-own-adventure; you could come back to Pioneer Square time and time again, finding something new with each and every journey – which is precisely what I intend on doing.

Waterfall Garden Park

Does your city boast a waterfall in the heart of their downtown? Didn’t think so. Which naturally made a spot for UPS’s Waterfall Garden Park on my personal bucket list. A stone’s throw from Occidental Square, and in eyeshot of the historic Smith Tower – the Waterfall Park is as tranquil as it is tiny, encompassing a fairly small corner of 2nd and South Main. Let the sounds of this 22′ waterfall soothe your spirit, and enjoy a mindful moment or two between art galleries. After chasing waterfalls (sorry, TLC), the enchanting pieces of Glasshouse Studio immediately pulled me in. Ever since visiting Chihuly Museum a few years ago I’ve been itching for more; I am so glad to have stumbled into their magic.

Founded in 1971, Glasshouse Studio is recognized as Seattle’s oldest glass blowing studio – as well as pioneers of America’s Studio Glass Movement. Just one step in their gallery and you too will be awestruck by the whimsical, colorful cacophony of art in literally every shape and form; pardon the pun – but you’ll be blown away. Pro tip: between the hours of 10 and 12, and then 1-5pm, you can catch the studio in action as they demonstrate the form and function of glass blowing. I was lucky enough to watch their team work on Saturday afternoon and it was mesmerizing.

Next stop on the art safari was to the Davidson Galleries, and their extensive collection of international artists and fine art prints. The staff were lovely and resourceful, and their catalog of work seemingly unmatched – playing host to almost twenty thousand original works. They rest their laurels on the idea that “art should be accessible to everybody” – and as you could imagine, I wholeheartedly agree. Time and time again, I found myself pausing at the Japanese inspired art – simply enthralled by the intricacy.

A quick tour through the Frederick Holmes and Company Gallery, and it was time to recharge with a quick bite and a bit of bartender roulette from Locus Wines. Even though a large number of the galleries start closing their doors at 5pm, many have window displays that are perfect for casual browsing. Not to mention, the magic dusk has a special place in my heart, as the natural light and artificial light momentarily merge into a moment of serenity.

Last, but most certainly not least for the day, was the crown jewel of Pioneer Square: the Foster/White Gallery. Featuring an international array of artists in a variety of mediums, including sculpture, photography in addition to painting, I was immediately awe-struck. The expansiveness of the venue was matched perfectly with the grandiosity of the large scale pieces adorning the building. Founded in 1968, the Foster/White Gallery has etched their mark as the premier gallery of Pioneer Square, and potentially the oldest as well. Wandering from afternoon until nightfall, I ventured through at least seven – maybe nine – galleries and didn’t even scratch the surface – which is perfect, because that means I can already look forward to my next visit.

For locals who want to get in on the fun, venture down to Pioneer Square the first Thursday of the month and take part in the longest running Art Walk in the nation. Yes, that’s damn right – nation. As one of the first cities in the United States to request a ‘Percent-for-the-Arts‘ from their businesses in the early 70’s, Seattle has been a trendsetter for the arts and has built itself into a haven for artists and the extended maker community. Back in 1981, the art community of Pioneer Square put their creative heads together, painted footprints outside of their businesses and printed maps with the footprint of the local galleries; et voila – the Pioneer Square First Thursday Art Walk was born. Not to age myself, but it’s pretty awesome seeing an Art Walk that’s older than I am!

For more on the Pioneer Square Art Walk, and the art scene in the area – head to their socials; and if you’re a local to Seattle, head on down and see it live – it’s an adventure worth taking, over and over, and over again.

Website | First Thursday Art Walk | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

[Seattle Sights] Immerse Yourself in Art at the Olympic Sculpture Park

As the last year and a half starts to blur together, and we collectively try and negotiate the new normals of the world, or whatever that means, more and more of us are flocking back to our old favorite habits in new stomping grounds. For the better part of the last two decades, the music world was my life – concerts, festivals, massives, raves; whatever the event was, I was there and loving losing myself in the middle of a crowd of sweaty strangers that could quickly become close friends. I wish I felt that those situations were a viable, healthy option at the moment; alas, I don’t. With the blossoming number of COVID variants, paired with living with someone who is immunocompromised…simply put, is a stupid idea for now. So in the meanwhile, I’ve been amassing my list of fantastic parks, gardens and outdoor venues to frequent in the Pacific North West and am so eager to watch the colorful cacophony of Autumn colors come into being.

I really wanted to believe that I’ve seen all that the city of Seattle proper has to offer – but time and time again, I’ve been proven delightfully wrong. Just the other weekend, I took a proper afternoon excursion to the Olympic Sculpture Park and I was so incredibly enthralled with everything it had to offer.

Encompassing 9 acres right on the edge of the Puget Sound, the Seattle Art Museum‘s Olympic Sculpture Park offers a novel and whimsical view of the downtown skyline befit with large scale, immersive art pieces that inspire insight, awe and adventure. What was once before an industrial site was transformed in 2007 into a wonderland, befit with bike paths and walking trails, rocky beaches and stunning vistas. A stone’s throw from the actual Seattle Art Museum, the Olympic Sculpture Park sits in Belltown bookended by the Central Waterfront to the North and and Myrtle Edwards Park to the South.

Hidden right off the trails is one of my new favorite micro-parks, the Rose Garden within Centennial Park; it might have a teeny tiny footprint, spanning about the length and width of the street on one city block. Color me a hopeless romantic, but there’s something so special, serene and soulful about smelling the incredible blossoms while getting a look at the sweeping seascape of Elliot Bay.

Meandering south, you’ll stumble across fabled fixtures like Alexander Calder’s ‘The Eagle’, a collection of Tony Smith sculptures – ‘Stinger’ and ‘Wandering Rocks’, and a few personal favorites like ‘Seattle Cloud Cover’ from the incredible mind of Teresita Fernández, Roy McMakin’s ‘Love & Loss’ and the illusion inspiring mirrored collection from Beverly Pepper.

Whether you’re in the mood for a picnic in the heart of the city, a long stroll with the Seattle skyline, sunset on the water or incredible art installations – the Olympic Sulpture Park has it all, and more. Though most of the collection is permanent, there are assorted temporary pieces that flow in and out of the park on a regular basis; paired with the ever mercurial weather and plenty of detours, each visit to the park has the opportunity to be a unique experience to be coveted.

For more on the awe inspiring Olympic Sculpture Park, head to their social media channels – or dive right in and experience it for yourself.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | TripAdvisor

[Seattle Sights] A Cacophony of Color at Chihuly Glass and Garden

“I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced.”

Dale Chihuly

I’m picky – with almost everything, but especially with what I want out of a museum. In my eyes – when art can exist in so many beautiful forms in ‘the wild’, let’s just call it, I have a hard time believing it should be relegated to a stuffy room with static lighting. I love when art is unencumbered and free – probably a reason I fell in love with large installations at music festivals, and the vast swaths of street art in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Art is everywhere you look, if you look with the right eye – or so, I’d like to believe.

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That said, it takes a special brand of both art and artist to get me into a museum. Growing up in the Bay Area, my family took me to plenty of museums growing up, but my heart was always much happier at the San Francisco Academy of Sciences, the Barbie Museum in Palo Alto, or roaming the city streets in search of hidden art right under our noses and feet.

Even with an immaculate collection of museums in and around Los Angeles -from the LACMA to The Broad, The Getty and Getty Villa to the Museum of Death and Destruction, and all the niche pop-up museums in between – I always enjoyed myself, but still gravitated more towards the street art in the alleyways as versus the art within. As mentioned before, my taste in artistic expression has been vastly shaped by both Burning Man art installations as well as music festivals like Lightning in a Bottle, EDC, Shambhala – and even the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, art makes me happier when I can interact with it; when I can engage multiple senses, and open my mind in new ways of thinking creatively.

I was over the moon when I stumbled across Hauser and Worth, and the Kusama exhibit at The Broad was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in person; but not shortly after we made the big move up north. Ever since migrating to Seattle a few years ago I have been searching for something comparably fantastic. As transplants, one way we could get to know the city and the community ethos was to try and visit as many museums, galleries and parks as we could fit into a day

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Up here, the nice days are exquisite and it’s your duty to get your cute butt outside and enjoying the fresh sunshine – but on a cloudy, rainy, blustery day it’s the diverse array of art that’s truly inspiring about the Pacific North West. So, believe me – when I heard about Chihuly Glass and Garden I immediately knew I had to have an adventure.

Built to host the exquisite designs and artwork of Washington’s own Dale Chihuly, Chihuly Glass and Garden is located in the heart of the Seattle Center in the mix of the hustle and bustle of Seattle proper.

With gorgeous gardens adorned with exquisite glass pieces, as well as several permanent pieces indoors and a rotating show of the latest and greatest in blown glass – this is a can’t miss museum that fairy tales are made of. From the second you get to the grounds, you’re greeted with a spectacular view of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle.

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Inside, you’ll meander through the hallways and large scale, open air designs with three different drawing walls and eight individual galleries of work. Once you’ve marinated on the unique and exquisite beauty indoors, you’ll be greeted by my favorite pieces – the Glasshouse, and the gardens. Standing over 40′ tall with over 4,000 square feet of radiant space -The Glasshouse is one of the most amazing things I’ve literally ever seen with the focus on a larger than life suspended structure in the middle, full of vibrant and delightfully rich colors.

The Chihuly Glass and Gardens is a phenomenal experience that deserves to be on everyone’s bucket list, Whenever travel is available again, it’s really worth visiting Seattle for – and 10 out of 10, I greatly recommend it! If the Pacific North West isn’t in the books anytime soon, there are also exhibitions around the country, including permanent galleries in the Tacoma Art Museum, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Ohio’s Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the Morean Art Center in Florida, and Tokyo’s Toyama Glass Art Museum.

For more on Dale Chihuly, his life’s work and his various galleries – head to his social media links and websites:

Chihuly | Chihuly Garden and Glass | Instagram | Facebook

“In Seattle, we live among the trees and the waterways,
and we feel we are rocked gently in the cradle of life.
Our winters are not cold and our summers are not hot
and we congratulate ourselves
for choosing such a spectacular place to rest our heads.”

What’s the most interesting museum that you’ve ever been to? Do you have a artistic niche that you cant help but be enthralled by? Let me know what some of your unique museum experiences in the comments below!

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[Seattle Sights] An Enthralling Experience at the Seattle Art Museum

“Art, at the dawn of human culture, was a key to survival, a sharpening of the faculties essential to the struggle for existence. Art, in my opinion, has remained a key to survival.” – Herbert Read

Located in the heart of Downtown Seattle near the Seattle Aquarium, Pike Place Market and steps from the Starbucks Reserve and colorful bane of my germaphobe existence – the historically disgusting gum wall, the Seattle Art Museum sits surrounded by towering skyscrapers and moody skies – depending on the time of year at least. One of three sister facilities with the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park, the Seattle Art Museum opened it’s doors in 1993 and plays host to over 25,000 unique pieces of fine art, sculpture, pottery, design and experimental immersive exhibits from around the world.

Native American Masks

Many Art Museums tend to lay their focus on the European, or Western, historic artistic influence – but one of the many wonderful things about the SAM, is their focus on art and artists from around the globe, and because of that have renowned and fantastic collections of African, Native American, Aboriginal, Oceanic and Islamic Art in addition to more traditional collections of Modern, American and European art.

I was lucky enough to go at a time where there were two fantastic exhibits – which have both catapulted to personal favorites after the Yayoi Kasuma Infinity Rooms at the Broad, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Finally, at the age of 34, I saw my first Georgia O’Keeffe collection in person and found the colors, shadows and textures mesmerizing and meditative; needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed viewing a retrospective of her body of work.

Another favorite rooms in the SAM was the Porcelain Room; an exquisite collection, immaculately laid out in a wonderfully chromatic aesthetic. Brought in from around the globe, many of the pieces on view can be dated back as far as the 17th century – and are dichotomous and beautifully paired with modern retrospective kiosks which can engage and educate you on each piece. Photos simply can’t do the room justice, either; the innocently creme and pastel colors, paired intricate attention to detail on each individual piece, makes the entire collection even more stunning to take in.

I don’t know what it is about art that works up an appetite for wine, but every time after I go to a museum – I come away with a silly cultured craving for some bubbles and snacks, and couldn’t have been more thrilled to discover Purple Cafe + Wine Bar just a hop, skip and a jump from the museum. Featuring a fantastic array of flights, it’s the perfect afternoon beverage and snack break, and they also have an incredible menu if you’re looking for a full meal.

For a sneak peak into the Seattle Art Museum, peep this fantastic new concept – the First Thursdays Virtual Art Walk hosted by the adorably engaging duo behind By The Hour.

In every corner of the country, albeit the world – there are many businesses that are suffering because they are agreeing to stay closed for the betterment of all of our health, and the preservation of our humanity – and our arts – for the future. If you are in a position to do so, please help your local art and music communities by donating where and when you can. To donate to the Seattle Art Museum, head here – and for more on the Seattle Art Museum, including proposed reopening schedules and practices – head to their socials:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Soundcloud

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[Reading is Sexy] Art, Nature and Mathematics Collide in ‘The Golden Ratio’

The Golden Ratio: The Story of PHI, the World's Most Astonishing ...

It’s not so often that you would recommend reading about mathematical history, but here I am – having finished Mario Livio’s wonderful retrospective on art, history and use (or purported use) of the Golden Ratio.

As a resident number nerd, and someone that their entire life claimed they detested art history and history itself – I have to say that Livio succinctly and sweetly would the three topics together into an enthralling tale of mis-attribution and cultural intrigue. All the while, pulling in both the natural math savant, art fluency and historical perspective within all of us.

Golden Ratio : What It Is And Why Should You Use It In Design
Golden Ratio Calculator - Omni

Though it initially seems a bit silly to read about numbers, but books on mathematics illuminate the whole mind into understanding the world around us – and within us – at a different frequency. Once you begin to understand what the Golden Ratio is (below), and the common natural occurances of it in the world around you (above) – I dare you to not be astounded that a natural phenomena can be so intricuately detailed within the permutation of a constantly recurring irrational number, phi – Φ.

Phi: The Golden Ratio | Live Science

As easy as it is to believe that a book about mathematics and history could be dense, Livio’s book The Golden Ratio is a poetic and poignant tale of something that we can all recognize in the world. Math is supposed to be accessible by everyone, as it’s the language of the universe, and Livio reminds you that it’s both both within and around you.

For more ‘books about numbers’ and some additional insight into art history, I highly recommend:

For more on Mario Livio + The Golden Ratio, head to their social media channels: Amazon | Good Reads

Golden Ratio Coloring Book by Rafael Araujo — Kickstarter

Or, if you’re more of a visual leaner – there’s a great pairing with the PBS / Nova series “The Great Math Mystery”.

What’s a book on a subject that you didn’t expect would open your eyes in new and wonderful ways? Let me know in the comments below!

[LA Life] Hunting for Art at Hauser + Wirth

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When I first moved to Los Angeles in my twenties, I met a lot of thirty-somethings to forty-anythings who dolled out their various bits and pieces of wisdom, whether I wanted them or not it seemed.  From life hacks to party tricks, inspirational pep-talks, moving monologues and transformational wisdom – I began to understand that all the learning I did while I was in college was child’s play compared to what the real world was actively teaching me.

Don’t drink the tap water; make sure a friend has a spare key; find a rent controlled apartment; art is everywhere; you don’t have to be happy to smile; sleep later, have fun now; kindness goes a long way; things get better the older you are. 

Some lessons were more like sprints, easier to digest and put into motion immediately, while others felt like a marathon where I was taught lessons over an extended period of time after many an experience. As I gracefully bowed out of my twenties and into my thirties, I felt the wheels inside me churning – I was evolving and surely wasn’t that same girl that moved Koreatown so bright eyed and ponytailed in the Summer of 2018.  As I’ve said before, you never stop having growing pains – it’s simply at some point they become psychological, emotional and mental growth over the physical; and that’s precisely where I’m at today.

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One of the many things that’s gotten better the older I’ve been, is my perspective on art, or at least my willingness to be curiously critical of it.  Immersive art, contained art, art in frames, urban street art in the wild – whatever the form, wherever it is: I will find it, and I will let it consume me.

Recently, I’ve taken a bit of an obsession in visiting all of the museums and art galleries around Los Angeles.  So far, I’ve crossed off quite a few – with the grounds of the Getty Villa and Getty topping my favorite architecture, the Natural History Museum piquing the nerd interest inside and while the LACMA and The Broad offer fantastic contemporary art.  I still need to get to the Annenberg Space for Photography in Culver City and Neon Museum in Glendale, but for the most part – I’ve been able to cross quite a few off my list; meaning it’s time to hit the art galleries!  Just the other month I ventured to an art opening at the Gabba Gallery but just last month I hit the mecca, the motherload, and my new favorite haunt: Hauser and Wirth’s Downtown Gallery.

Taking over the space of an old flour mill in the heart of DTLA’s arts district is latest iteration of Zurich’s acclaimed Hauser + Wirth Gallery. The gallery curators themselves have a bevvy of locations under their belt, including London, New York, Hong Kong and Gstaa.  The Los Angeles edition opened their doors in March of 2016 in a sprawling urban that spans over 100,000 square feet between their multiple indoor facilities and large open air spaces.  A one of a kind experience with no other facilities quite like it in America, Hauser + Wirth is made up of an open air atrium with outdoor sculptures, an education lab, a research area, a mind bending bookstore, a wonderful planting garden complete with beautiful chickens, and last but certainly not least, Manuela – an impeccable modern American restaurant.  Of the exhibits open at the time, we wandered our way through various nooks and crannies, eventually we ended up at Mike Kelley’s ‘Kandors‘ and took the time to slowly saunter through his keen retrospective of both the world and psyche of Superman.

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Currently, LA’s H + W is under construction as new exhibits are being assembled, but have no fear – they’ll be reopening on February 17th with fantastic new fine art and believe you me – I’ll be back, and in numbers.  With their fantastic restaurant comes one of the best bars I’ve been to in Los Angeles less 71 Above, boasting adorable ambiance like you’ve been swept away into some provincial European town – or at the very least can forget that you’re in the midst of the hustle and bustle of downtown. Plus, H + W offers plenty of pause for party – including their open air courtyard, classes on classes like their latest on Scent Making

For more on the Los Angeles Edition of the Hauser + Wirth Galleries, head to their website and socials; or if you’re in the Southern California area, simply pay them a visit in the heart of DTLA.

Hauser + Wirth Website | Hauser + Wirth Los Angeles Website

 Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

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[LA Life] Meandering through LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art

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Dotted around the city like technicolor sprinkles on an urban cupcake, the museums of Los Angeles offer a unique artists perspective on time, culture and society.  The Getty Villa gives a wonderful retrospective of Greco Roman art and architecture while the Getty proper itself is almost as well known for their immaculately groomed gardens as they are their vast collections of classical, modern and post-modern art. Venture into the Fairfax District and the La Brea Tarpit extension of the Natural History Museum thrusts you backwards through time as the LACMA descends into global contemporary and modern art, and Peterson’s Automotive Museum drives you through the history of the modern car.  Then there’s downtown, with The Broad, a menagerie of museums at Exposition Park and last but certainly not least, the Museum of Contemporary Art.  First, that’s not even all – and that doesn’t cover the incredible amount of art galleries and spaces like Gabba Gallery, The Container Yard and Hauser and Wirth, providing hundreds of avenues, indoors and out, to peruse a vast array of art and creativity.

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One thing about art, one of the great things, like Alex Grey says in ‘The Mission of Art’,

“The artist’s mission is to make the soul perceptible. Our scientific, materialist culture trains us to develop the eyes of outer perception. Visionary art encourages the development of our inner sight. To find the visionary realm, we use the intuitive inner eye: the eye of contemplation, the eye of the soul. All the inspiring ideas we have as artists originate here.”

Each and every one of us is a visionary of sorts, with our own unique lens to observe the world with; within that, we’re all artists just waiting to find our catalyst for creativity.  The art at the MOCA is wonderful, inspired, controversial and pensive – it makes you stop, think and smell the artistic roses – so to speak.

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The MOCA is in close proximity to art galleries, wonderful graffiti and a lot of yummy restaurants – including a branch of the famed Lemonade right outside their lobby.For more on LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art, head to their socials – or just take a journey downtown!

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Yelp| Twitter

For more photos, head to my Flickr album!

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