Since our cruise took off from Vancouver and our cruise line offered a convenient transfer there from the SeaTac airport, we decided to go a little early and spend some time in Seattle. It was a city which we enjoyed immensely during our past Navy life when Jim was stationed at Bremerton, right across Puget Sound from Seattle. We used to take the ferry across and spend a day there dinking around Pike Street Market, enjoying a beer somewhere. Often we would by a couple of dungeness crabs, have them split, and take them home with crusty french bread for dinner.
All I can say is that tourism has pretty much ruined Pike Street Market. I’m sure in the off season it is still a fun place to shop, but during the cruising season it is a zoo packed with people who are there to experience it, but not actually interested in buying anything. The amazing displays of food, flowers and art are viewed as entertainment. I’m sure that there is stuff being sold, but if you actually want to buy seafood, it is better to go across the street to the less popular market which is not crammed with tourists watching the fishmongers throw fish across the aisles. Whatever.
We had scheduled a hot air balloon ascent, but it was cancelled due to foul weather. This is still on my bucket list. As Jim said, we just need to get out to Albuquerque when the hot air balloons are there. The same company we scheduled with in Seattle area runs a branch in the Albuquerque area during the fall and winter. I’ll bet they don’t get weathered out so often there.
So we took our rental car and went for a drive instead, out to Whidbey Island, where Jim served two tours of duty early in his Navy career. He showed me the very first house he lived in there off base, and we were both impressed that it is still there 40 years later. Drove across the Deception Pass bridge and down along the I-5 corridor to the winery area north of Seattle. We enjoyed tasting wines at the Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest wineries, purchased three bottles to take with us on the cruise which we shared with our cruising companions. After the wine tasting, we headed back to Seattle with plenty of time to return the rental car before we got charged for another day.
Ha ha ha ha ha. It has been a long time since we experienced a big city rush hour traffic congestion situation. I hope it is even longer before I do again. It took us over 7 minutes to go around the block to get to the rental car place.
As is our usual custom, extensive research was conducted before we left on this vacation. Despite the fact that we lived in the area for a while, that was twenty-five years ago, and much has changed in the interim. One of the things that has been established since then is Chihuly Garden and Glass at the Seattle Center. Dale Chihuly is an internationally reknowned artist in glass. I was aware of his existence when we lived in the Seattle area, and I wish to heck now that I had purchased some of his work at that time, when it was still affordable. At the museum gift shop they had Chihuly bowls for sale, the cheapest one was about 8 inches in diameter and they “only” wanted $4000 for it, and NO, I do not have the quantity of zeros wrong.
A few years ago, Chihuly did an installation at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis. I visited that, and blogged about it.
When I was up in Seattle with my mother and sisters back in late May, I suggested that we might want to visit this exhibit. When the price of admission was mentioned, $19 for all day entry and re-entry after dark, my mother deemed it “too expensive.” The upshot was, we Smith women did not experience the Chihuly exhibit, which is a shame; I think we would have all enjoyed it. Jim and I determined to go, and as far as I am concerned it was WELL worth the price of admission.
Even though Chihuly no longer does a lot of work due to injuries, he has a group of glass artists that carry out his visions. And visions they are. The museum contains pieces that date back to his earliest work, when he was inspired by North American Indian basketry.
Once you leave this room, you enter a room that is inspired by the ocean and the myriad creatures that inhabit it. Now I have to say, this was an extremely difficult thing to photograph, what with the hordes of people surrounding it and the rather vast size of the installation.
To give you a little concept of scale, this is one of the creatures on that vase shape of glass. It is about 6 inches long.
Also in the room were numerous smaller pieces depicting crabs, shrimp, and my favorite, the octopi:
I really had a hard time getting great shots in this room. The lighting was designed to highlight each individual work, some of them were large and had lots of shadows. I did not have the right equipment, and so many of the images remain in my memory rather than in digital form. There were plenty of others that were good enough to delight.
This is one of the huge glass balls that supported one of the octopus creations.
The next room contained the Persian ceiling. Now I honestly have no clue as to why Chihuly chose to call these sorts of things Persians. Anyway, these sorts of forms occur all through the exhibit. Here, there was a glass ceiling that had the pieces stacked all over it, some on top of others and the whole thing lit from above. It was magic. I could have shot 500 pictures in here and never gotten it all. We spent a long time looking up in this room. Amazing.
You walk out of the Persian ceiling into another very large room that contains an installation inspired by Chihuly’s mother’s garden. Another one that was difficult to shoot: large large large and surrounded by people oohing and aahing (just like we were). The phantasmagoria of botanically inspired shapes was… well… amazing. Sorry. I just don’t have words.
A side note here: more than once as I progressed through this collection of shape and color I wondered what it would be like to be on some sort of psychedelic drug while experiencing this art work.
At spots in the exhibition, there were what was referred to as design walls. Chihuly discovered paint somewhere along the way in his glass blowing career, and began working out designs using all sorts of media on water color paper.
You can see his chandeliers in the above design wall.
Another room was inspired by an installation where he was floating glass balls in some river, sorry, don’t remember which one. Anyway, there were people out in small boats catching the balls at the end of town after they floated down the river,and Chihuly liked the idea of boats full of balls. Incidentally, that boat is a real boat and about 20 feet long.
He also did a boat full of floral forms. This is a detail of one of the flowers in that boat.
The last inside room was one that contained several giant bowl forms. They were very large, around a meter in diameter. I can’t imagine how many of these were spoiled during the annealing process of the glass blowing. Absolutely incredible.
After all this intense color in black rooms with brilliant spot lights, we emerge into the Glass House, inspired by the great conservatories of the world.
Frankly, I thought it was more magical at night.
The informational signs claim that many of the forms here were inspired by the Space Needle.
I can see it. I was fascinated by the huge botanical form, an installation of many Persians.
Outside, in the gardens, I see another inspiration for the Persians in the hardy geraniums.
The Space Needle shows up all over the place.
And now, the gardens. Both in the grey afternoon and at night, illuminated. I felt that some of these installations would have benefitted from being lit from underneath the actual glass piece rather than having spotlights on them. But that is a mere quibble. Everywhere was color, fantasy forms, details of color and light.
Last image, probably my favorite despite the blur. There were installations on the installations; the art had become habitat. This was the home of a little spider, all upset because my camera was so close to her, shaking her web so that maybe I would not notice her…
I hope you have enjoyed this tour of Chihuly’s visions in glass. It was extremely difficult to cull the hundreds of images I acquired along the way through this positively fabulous collection. There were hundreds and hundreds of pieces of glass, every one of them was beautiful.
“Even the orchestra is beautiful….”