[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

[Traveling Tales] An Inspiring Stroll Through Arkansas’ Crystal Bridges Museum

A week in the South 💜✨

I think at one point or another, we’re all either turned off from – or turned on to – different types of art; I’ve been enamored with the musical process since I was a little kid, but in first grade -after viewing ‘color by numbers’ as more of a competition to finish first than an exercise in observing the intricate nature of shapes and sizes – art (painting, drawing, sculpting and the like) simply just lost me.

A week in the South 💜✨Throw on some old Mozart and we can talk, or let’s discuss the sociocultural importance of ‘Pope Marcellus Mass‘ – but the second you’d bring a Rembrandt or a Monet anywhere in my general vicinity and my boredom would be palpable. Living in Los Angeles, there are so many different venues to enjoy the arts – and so many different forms and iterations of the artistic process, that you nearly have to go out of your way not to enjoy them.  Which, I did, for my first few years living here but I’ve learned that you’ll keep disliking the things you don’t like if you keep avoiding them, and the more I’ve jumped feet first into the deep end of the artistic process and finally, art has been making a splash everywhere I’ve looked.

A week in the South 💜✨

The Crystal Bridges Museum caused quite a stir when it was built, receiving outcries from more populous cities and snarky artsier-than-thou personalities from San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago: why were historic contemporary pieces from the likes of Herring, Rockwell and Warhol being sent to the rural, deep South? Why couldn’t it be where a larger population, a more “educated” and “artistically inclined” population lives? But to me, the real question is this: why shouldn’t it be?  Why shouldn’t everyone be able to enjoy art, especially when art is for everyone!  Crystal Bridges is absolutely free to the public, proving that once and for all – no one, no matter where they live, should be deprived of art, of this beautiful process that is usually borne out of strife, out of the human need to connect and understand our emotional nature.

A week in the South 💜✨

But even between the LACMA, Getty Museum and Getty Villa, Broad Museum, Natural History Museum and Science Museum – I didn’t really get it until I went to Arkansas almost half a decade years ago. Because the art there did just what I know it will do for everyone in the town, bind them to our collective unconscious that we all tap into and remind them that someone, somewhere sees the world in the same technicolor vision that they do.

A week in the South 💜✨

Crystal Bridges is the reason I first fell in love with art, with the unexpected twists and turns of sculpted work and the obscure nature of three dimensional pieces; between the contrasting complexities of color patterns and shifts between shades of color; and it’s the reason I’m still falling in love with new artists, painters, sculptures and styles.  The brainchild of architectural mastermind Moshe Safdie, best known for his Habitat 67,  the grounds also offer a look into a Frank Lloyd Wright spectacle known as Bachman-Wilson House that had migrated from the Millstone River all the way up in New Jersey. The terrain of Crystal Bridges boasts gorgeous grounds and wonderful, winding trails that take you through the lush landscape and next to the babbling river that runs through the property.  Last, but certainly not least – if you’re hungry or in need of something tasty to sip on, get your fix at their incredible restaurant Eleven.  From signature drinks named after their collection of fantastic fine arts to the Pig Ear Nachos, I think it’s necessary to give it all a whirl -because you’re in Arkansas and you might as well enjoy yourself, damnit.  Next time I come out for work, I’m planning my trip around making it to a weekend Brunch at Crystal Bridges so I can finally see everything the grounds have to offer, strolling leisurely through the museum, soaking up beauty around each and every corner.

For more on the Crystal Bridges Museum, or as I prefer to call it – the one not-directly-Wal Mart related reason to visit Bentonville – head to their website and socials.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

For more on my trip to Arkansas, including the glorious Southern food and beautiful scenery – head to my album here!

A week in the South 💜✨

A week in the South 💜✨

A week in the South 💜✨

A week in the South 💜✨ A week in the South 💜✨

A week in the South 💜✨

 

[The Audiofiles] Enter The Intersection of Music and Art with’Life is Beautiful’ Visual Artists Charlotte Dutoit and Felipe Pantone

Image result for life is beautiful festival just kids art

For centuries, the idea of festival has conjured up ideas of celebration and admiration, overflowing happiness and dexterity among the arts; a literal feast for all of the senses. As the fine arts circle and intertwine with each other, there’s been an innate, inexplicable tie between music and the arts. Both works of passion, music paints our auditory experience in much the same way that a painter, sculptor or designer creates in the physical world. This year at Las Vegas’ fabled Life is Beautiful Festival, witness firsthand how music and art intersect on a higher plane.

Purchase Tickets for Life is Beautiful

Landing on the strip this weekend from September 23rd through the 25th, Life is Beautiful is back for their fourth consecutive year. In addition to an internationally respected group of musical acts across the breadth of the spectrum from Bassnectar, Flume, Major Lazer, Bob Moses, Chromeo, Zhu, Crystal Castles and so many more- the festival plays host to equally talented visual artists.   Curated and commissioned by the esteemed mind of Charlotte Dutoit, founder of the JUSTKIDS organization, Life is Beautiful has blossomed into a mecca for world renowned visual artists, featuring murals and installations from all over the globe as well. This weekend’s event will be highlighted by art tycoons including US grown Shepard Fairey of “Obey Giant” fame and Tristan Eaton, while corners of the globe from France, Japan, Spain, Norway, Poland and Argentina are represented with works from Fafi, Mark Drew, Dulk, Bezt from Etam Cru, Martin Whatson and Felipe Pantone respectively.

We were lucky enough to catch up with visionary mastermind Charlotte Dutoit and the kinetic contemporary magnate Felipe Pantone on their craft and influences, the creative process, music, art and all things in betwixt.

The head honcho on the art scene for Life is Beautiful, Charlotte Dutoit has perfected the art of curation. Charlotte has been with Life is Beautiful since its inception four years ago, applying her taste-making abilities to both the murals and installations programs. As founder of the JustKids organization, Charlotte has now even curated people – bringing together an exceptional network of otherworldly creatives, artists, designers and art consultants to collaborate on gallery shows and spaces for high profile clients.  Charlotte has created and designed spaces at first class US festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas and Coachella, internationally acclaimed events in Mexico, Puerto Rico and Berlin’s Urban Nation, not to mention – producing proper gallery shows in Puerto Rico, London, and Berlin.

What goes into curating a large scale event like Life is Beautiful?

Life Is beautiful takes almost a year of preparation. My job ranges from artistic visioning to hands on delivery. It includes the conception of the lineup, the team recruiting and supervision, the locations choice, the equipment and material logistic, the planning, the designing, the marketing, merchandising etc. Of course I am not alone, Life Is Beautiful is a perfect example of a spectacular team work. It’s a collaboration between very specific and specialized talents, and we learn a lot from each other every year.

If we took a walk into your home right now, whose art will we find?

Mostly new Contemporary Artist such as Borondo, Roa, Dates Farmers, Patrick Martinez, Daniel Arsham, Bicicleta Sem Freio, Alexis Diaz, Ana Maria, Saner, Cyrcle… And some Modern Artist like Carlos Cruz-Diaz.

What type of art do you find the most inspiring?

Art with a meaning, that provokes questions and challenges modern society and conventions. Art that brings new discussion toward the art.

Tell me a bit about the Justkids Organization, what drove you to create it and how does it inspire you?

Justkids is a creative house of artists, curators, art events creators and brand marketers. Together we produce, curate and manage art projects for institutions, cities, brands and private clientele. It’s a constant emulation between us and it’s allowed me to collaborate and work with the people I admire. That’s my fuel!

The Life is Beautiful Festival poses the perfect cohabitation of Live Art and Live Music; how does music inspire your work?

I am passionate about music since I was a kid. Actually, my first job in Paris was in the music production. So it’s of course it’s a pleasure to collaborate on a festival where the attendees are real music enthusiasts and culture lovers! Music is a source of inspiration and an infinite niche of references that I appreciate when I recognize them in art, could be in the aesthetic, in the message or in the attitude.

What’s your favorite genre of music?

Hip- Hop, Punk Rock, Electro, Folk…

Who’s in your headphones / stereo at the moment?

Kurt Vile

What’s the best live music show you’ve been to and how did that inspire you creatively?

Beastie Boys, Check Your Head Tour! It’s a piece of my childhood, the music I grew up on and I continue to listen. They brought so much coolness, new style and new energy that it’s a constant inspiration for me.

Which other artists on the lineup are you excited for?

Janes Addiction!

In the 21st century, it feels like everything is interconnected these days. How does social media enhance the artist experience and connect you to your fans (and peers)?

It’s a perfect to show a project from scratch to completion or to show the insight of our Art event. It’s also a good way to tell people where we are so the Art enthusiasts that live around can pass by to see it live. It’s a fantastic tool and we all took advantage of it to share on a global scene and it’s really worked for the Art.

As a writer, every once in a while I get writer’s block, and it comes with a pretty specific feeling attached. What does “curators block” feel like and how do you get over it?

It happens all the time and I have learned to deal with them now. It’s annoying when you have a dead-line but I don’t see block as a frozen state, they are entirely part of the creative process and the necessary space and breath to deliver the idea that will satisfy your goal and creativity.

 

Inspired to pick up a spray can at the ripe age of 12, Felipe Pantone firmly found his footing within the graffiti circuit and hasn’t looked back since.Currently a full time artist, Felipe crafts nearly 200 to 250 pieces a year between various mediums from graffiti and canvases to murals. Thematically, his work circles around modern methods of communication and the fast paced world we inhabit. Though you won’t be able to catch him personally at the festival, you’ll be able to marinate in the perspective shifting precision of his work. After Las Vegas he’ll be heading to Detroit, Tahiti, Mexico, Miami and finally back to Europe

 

What’s your preferred artistic medium and what other mediums do you dabble in. Will you be employing any new methods this event?

I always use spray paint. I studied fine arts so I learnt most of the common techniques and I figured that the best for me was the one that I started using as a kid to paint on walls. It’s the most versatile one. With the same tool I can paint from tiny little canvases to huge 10 stories walls. I’m trying something special for LIB, a sort of integration of my sculptural work with my mural.

When art is psychedelic and thought provoking, it deserves music that parallels – how does music influence your work?

I listen to music all the time when I’m working. From songwriters to indie when I’m at the studio, and electronic music mostly when I’m painting outside.

What influences the subject matter of your work?

I reflect on the present and the kind of life that I have. This feeling that a lot of people of my generation are experimenting nowadays. The fact that everything changes really quickly, that you can spend 12 hours on a plane and be on the other side of the planet, and still have a Skype meeting with you from. I try to live and understand the present through my work.

Would you say that your work fits into a particular art movement?

I’m part of the street-art scene since I come from painting on the streets. But street- art, if a movement, is a very loose one. There isn’t an ideology behind it. I wrote the “ULTRADYNAMIC MANIFESTO”, a new art movement, ha, ha. It was more like an exercise, trying to put on paper what I wanted to do. Of course I don’t follow it, I think these are times of dissolving tradition and staying away from collective thinking.

Have you ever done stage design, album, LP, EP or promo artwork for a musical artist? How does that collaboration process work?

I owned a records label for a little while. So I created art works and music videos for the artists. It was really cool since I had full control and they trusted me. I really enjoy these kind of collaborations when the musical artist control the music, and the visual artist control the visuals 🙂

What’s the last record your purchased?

Hmm, honestly it’s been a while. I have a Spotify subscription and I stream everything from there or Soundcloud. Probably the last album I bought is Tom Waits “Bad as Me”.

Who’s in your headphones / stereo at the moment?

El Último Vecino.

What’s the best live music show you’ve been to and how did that inspire you creatively?

I really enjoyed that Etienne de Crécy show where he played inside these big cubes and the projections were just amazing. I remember that being very inspiring.

As a writer, every once in a while I get writer’s block, and it comes with a pretty specific feeling attached. What does “artists block” feel like and how do you get over it?

I think that the more you do, the more creative you are, the more ideas you have, so I feel really good these days that I produce so much work. Always – something that you paint today inspires you for the next piece. When I get blocked, visiting museums and watching some of the masters’ works is really refreshing.

One thing I’ve found in life is the best things are usually shared; how do you feel about collaborating on your craft and how is the creative process enhanced when you’re surrounded by a collection of equally talented peers?

I have a couple of assistants and that makes things way easier. Somebody to share your concerns with, ask for second opinions… And of course also helps productivity wise and fun wise.

Make sure you give each area of the festival some proper attention, be prepared to be inspired and open your soul with every experience possible while at Life is Beautiful. For more on Charlotte, the JUSTKIDS Organization, Felipe Pantone and Life is Beautiful – head to their social media channels.

Charlotte Dutoit: Website  | Twitter | Instagram

JUSTKIDS: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Felipe PantoneWebsite | Facebook | Vimeo| Instagram

Life is Beautiful: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

 

 

 

[Life Hack] Bring Your Color Schemes and Dreams To Life

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Life is like a canvas, and with each moment we fling technicolor paint onto it over and over again, haphazardly layering abstract vision onto linear paths; the continual result is a personal universe, vibrant and blossoming to the brim with color.  Fortunately, coloring the rest of our lives from our apartments, homes and dorm rooms to websites  and weddings is a bit more straightforward.  While an affinity towards individual colors is a simple formula of RGB, choosing the breadth of a color scheme can become slightly overwhelming – especially, apparently, if you’re me.  Every time I pick two colors I enjoy, then try and settle on a third I’m reminded that two is a party but three is definitely a crowd – so you have to choose right.  Enter: the internet.

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Thanks to some technological geniuses, there are a variety of apps that make the process essentially dummy proof and in the midst of my (re)search for help, I found a treasure trove of answers.  I was trying to paint two birds with one brush, looking to re-do the office in our apartment and wrapping my head around a color scheme for my wedding. Each came with their own monsters.  Back when I was a kid, my mom was redoing the inside of our house and after pouring through scraps of carpet and paint swatches for the living room and her room – she did, at that time, what I fathomed to be unthinkable: let me decide how I wanted my room to look.  Looking back on it, I’d have to say that light blue walls with pink door trim and a lavender carpet still stands as an eccentric expression of my fourth grade mind, a decision that I relive every blue moon when I go back home and visit. As for picking colors for my wedding, let’s just say this – though I’m most certainly a novice at this wedding game, I don’t plan on staying one but I do plan on doing this wedding thing only once – and doing it all sorts of right.

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For the wedding inspired, Wedding Wire has an insurmountable repository of resources – which includes a very simple decision tree for wedding colors.  Personally, I think they’re a good place to start, but beyond being a great jumping off point it’s nothing to write home about.  Instead, I would lean towards a tried and true favorite – AdobePaletton or ColourLovers, well – when they’re back online.  With Colour Lovers – you can create a personal profile, save your palettes and browse for ideas.  On the other hand, Paletton offers multitudes of preset ways to break down the color wheel – Tetrads, Triads, and Adjacent Colors – in addition to Freeform, plus you have the ability to export your information. I have to hand it to Adobe though, their site is beautifully ergonomic and allows you to upload your own images to create an easy breezy color scheme, but Paletton has my attention.

Mobile

The discovery of a stunning color combination is one thing, but an active and informed direction is quite another.   Kiss your interior decorating color woes goodbye because bless their hearts, the good folks at Sherwin-Williams went ahead and made a color app for their collection of paints called Color Snap for iOS.  You can also access the database via Android, or through their website.

For the iPad lovers, go and get your paws on ColoRotate – where you can work with a 3D render of the color scale to find your perfect palette. Even better? It can sync up with Photoshop.

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For good measure, if the curioisity is getting at your cat – try a book on color therapy, or Chromotherapy, and understand the colors on a more intuitive, intimate level.

What sort of ingenious methods have you used to curate your perfect color collection? Let me know in the comments below!

[Artist Spotlight] Tomoko Konoike

The other week I was going through my typical mid-week, 2-o’clock-feeling routine: grab a hot cup of tea, surf reddit and other news outlets for ten minutes and see what was going on in this fabulous world that we’re living in.  After minimal scrolling, I found something that made me stop in my tracks – the amazing sculptures of Japanese artist Tomoko Konoike.  Konoike is a graduate of Tokyo’s famed University of Gedai – one of the oldest art schools in all of Japan.   Originally founded in 1949, the University was the result of merging the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and the Tokyo School of Music; both respectively founded in 1887.

Tomoko’s art takes on a life of its own as she introduces it within unique environments and mediums; often using herself as a reference point – whether it’s through manga, pop culture or Shinto animism – Tomoko truly embodies the breadth  of Japanese art.  Though the wolf is extinct in Japan, one of the most amazing things to me are the way she can capture their dichotomy of delicacy and death, of beauty and violence; essentially, they’ve become a spiritual allegory.

I’ve been staring at her works in awe since last Friday and I’m beyond excited to share some of them with the world.  Tomoko primarily works with crystals, but employs different mediums – like using broken mirrors or drawing them with graphite.  The end result is a creative, surreal look at the world around us.  For you Californians – especially those of you up North – you’re in for a super special treat: Gallery Wendi Norris is currently hosting ‘Earthshine’,  Tomoko Konoike’s American Solo Debut in San Francisco.  Her work will be on display until October 26th so be sure to check it out!

Last but definitely not least – as much as I love using my own images I’ve yet to see one of Tomoko’s works live so I’ve scoured the interwebs to get the best shots of her work.  And, as such, each picture will take you to another original post about Tomoko, her sculptures and her shows.

Reflective Six Legged Wolf Covered in Mirror Shards

The making of ‘Earth Baby’

Earth Baby

Hidden Mountain Reverse

Shira—Spirit from the Wild (detail), 2009, Japanese ink, shell powder, gold leaf on Kumohada-mashi paper, 1.82 x 16.32m

Spirit of the Wild: Japanese ink, shell powder, gold leaf on Kumohada-mashi paper (Japanese paper)

The Return-Sirius Odyssey: acrylic, sumi, Kumohada-mashi (Japanese paper) and wood panel