I parked up in the South Park area south of Seattle when I was off to get some shots of the large stored 737 Max population. I walked across the bridge to see the planes but I was also rather taken with a sculpture that was sitting on the sidewalk. It was a multi layered creation with an angler fish style design with many more intricate elements built in to the structure of the fish shape. It was striking. There were lots of distracting background elements near the sculpture which I didn’t want in the shot so I decided to shoot close up to it with lots of shots and then combine them into a pano when I got home.
The hot shop at the Tacoma Glass Museum proved to be a lot of fun. We went in there as soon as we arrived because we had been watching them at work on a monitor while we were in line to buy our tickets. We also knew they would have a break later in our visit so wanted to make sure we saw the work underway. The shop is laid out to provide a lot of options for the visitors.
There is a seating gallery area built up at the back of the studio so people can sit and watch what is going on. A camera operator moves around the shop providing close up shots of the work which are shown on monitors to give a more detailed view of the work. Meanwhile, a guy was providing commentary on what was happening and answering questions from the crowd. There was also a walkway that went above and behind the work space so it was possible to look down on exactly what they were doing from quite close in.
The team were working on a candelabra in glass which appeared to be a new idea that they had. They got quite well through the work when it shattered. They went back to the beginning and edited the design the second time around. The simplified some elements and reinforced others and this time everything worked out well. We were fascinated by the whole thing and watched them all the way to completion of the work. Even if the rest of the museum hadn’t been there, this would have been worthwhile for a visit on its own.
While the Chihuly Museum in Seattle is well known, it is not the only glass museum in the area nor the only one involving Dale. He is from Tacoma originally and teamed up with some partners to create the Tacoma Glass Museum that is a focal point of the redevelopment of part of downtown Tacoma. We had seen it on a previous visit and resolved to visit on a winter’s day. We finally got around to doing that at last. It is not a huge museum but it does have some interesting works. It also has a hot shop which I shall post about separately. These are some of the shots of the works that are on display. Some of Dale’s own work is there but much work by other artists too.
This previous post included many shots from a visit to the Chihuly Museum in Seattle. In that post I mentioned how it closed around the time it was getting dark and that a return trip during the winter would be in order. With my mum visiting at Christmas, that’s exactly what we did. We timed our visit to be later in the day so we would be there once the sun set.
The transition from light to dark brought a lot of options in the gardens. Not everything was illuminated so some elements were okay while there was some light remaining but then were gone while others were only gently illuminated and only really showed the effects well once dark was fully upon us. The view back to the museum was also interesting as it changed and I did go back inside often to see how the move from external to internal lighting affected the glass works on display in there. Hopefully these shots give you a sense of how things look as darkness descends.
For the longest time I wasn’t interested in visiting the Chihuly Museum in Seattle. I had seen some glass installations outdoors and the rather bright and garish look of them put me off the idea of seeing the collection. It just didn’t look like my thing. Then, when we had visitors that were interested in going, a trip was inevitable. I have to admit, I was very wrong. What I had seen a glimpse off was in no way representative of the collection as a whole and I was most impressed by what I saw.
First, there was a lot of variety in the art. Some of it was more to my taste than others which is only to be expected. However, all of it was interesting. The layout of the exhibits gave you plenty of space to enjoy them and, while the place was popular, I rarely felt overcrowded. Much of the work was much more subtle than I had anticipated and the forms and coloring were most impressive. Other parts were a bit more dramatic but still very cool.
While much of the work was indoors, there was a selection outside and these were nicely integrated into the gardens. The blend of the colors and the reflections of the surrounding structures in the surfaces were interesting for some while others were just interesting shapes. The potential of lighting them is something that was apparent but closing time was around sundown, so we only got a hint of the illumination. We shall return in winter to see how the lighting looks.
Located in Federal Way, the Pacific Bonsai Museum is not the easiest place to find. It shows up in my GPS but, when you arrive at the turning, the signage is either too small for me to spot or nonexistent. I turned in to the entrance, more as an act of faith. Once on the access road, there were signs but then you drive for a long time before you get to the place. You do start to wonder whether it is a spoof.
Once there, though, it is worth it. Entrance is free which was a surprise, particularly given how good the trees were. Everything is outdoor with the trees displayed in groupings around the space. Backdrops provide some visual separation and information boards explain their individual histories as well as telling a little about the styles of Bonsai and the history of the art form.
Individual plants are intermingled with compositions that involve many plants, sometimes over fifty different plants being incorporated into one display. The sizing of some of these is carefully tailored to give an increased sense of depth. The bases are also chosen to emphasize different elements of the plants. As with any activity, when you find out a little bit more about it, you discover just how much complexity is involved. Old trees are not as important as those that appear to be old apparently.
The place is very impressive and, if you are in Federal Way, definitely give it a look.
Qantas has decorated previous aircraft with liveries that encompass aborigine art. Their Wunala Dreaming aircraft was well known around the world and, in an age when airline liveries tend to be rather bland, these colorful jets are a welcome change. They have taken a similar route with one of their new Boeing 787-9s and I saw it at Paine Field during test flying. It came in from the south and executed a go around from relatively low level.
Then they caught me out by heading north to turn and make an approach from the opposite direction. This required some rather swift repositioning by me. In fact, I got to the parking lot as they were on final approach and, rather than park, I just pulled to the side, ran up the bank, grabbed the shot and then got back in the car to park properly. It was tight but it worked out okay.
Nancy has bought a few items from Glassbaby and was interested in getting one as a gift for someone. Previously we have been to their stores in the Bay Area but this time we went to they works in Berkeley. They have a storefront but it is primarily a glass blowing facility. As we walked in, I was drawn to the groups of people that were busy creating their works of glass art. Nancy was browsing the shelves of glass so I went back to the car to grab the camera.
There were two groups of people at work. Further back in the shop were the staff who were busy creating the core product of the company. They were heating and having the glass pretty efficiently. One of the nice things about Glassbaby’s products is that they are all hand made and consequently, no two are exactly alike.
At the other end of the shop were some people that were doing their own thing. I don’t know whether they were just using the facilities or whether they run training programs. Some of theme seemed to be under instruction. You quickly see which people are skilled at working the glass and which ones are just getting to grips with how tricky it can be. The heat coming from the furnaces could be felt even where I was and the people who were working definitely seemed to be experiencing the heat. However, they seemed to be having a good time creating.
Perched up on a hill overlooking the entrance to the Golden Gate sits the Legion of Honor. This is an art gallery that, while including quite a variety of art styles, is synonymous with the sculpture of Rodin. I first visited in 1990 during my first trip to the west coast. I hadn’t been back since and Nancy had never been. She is a fan of some of the impressionist painters so I thought this might be a good day out for her. What I hadn’t realized was that they had a special exhibit on of Monet’s early years. Turns out it was a bit more appropriate than I realized.
It was a lovely day to be in the city. The sun was out and the temperatures were on the low 70s. We had started out early to try and get there before it got busy. We hadn’t anticipated the exhibit though. Consequently, it was already quite busy when we got there. It only got busier so we still were getting the better side of things. We went straight to the exhibit and spent a fair bit of time in there. Afterwards, we strolled through the galleries of the collection.
The different galleries are very nicely laid out. Nothing felt too crowded and the light in the rooms was very nice. Each gallery had a different style of decoration so you felt the change as you moved from room to room. Natural light through the roof made it feel a lot less oppressive than some museums. They did have some sections set up as rooms from old houses and these were a lot more subdued.
The sculpture section was very interesting. The Spreckels family started the collection and they were avid supporters of Rodin’s work. The Thinker sits in the forecourt while there are two rooms of his work. These included bronzes, plaster and marble sculptures. Rodin liked marble apparently but I find the bronze castings to be the most impressive since they show the texture of the work in a way that is lost a little with marble for me.
When I visit art museums, I find I have a limit of how long I can last. When we were in Florence, I discovered just how many Madonna and Child pictures I can look at before I am done. This museum is actually well sized for me. I was able to check out the whole collection in about the time it takes me to be maxed out. I didn’t reach the point of either my feet hurting, my back aching or just not wanting to look at another picture. About the perfect size. The collection is not as diverse as you will find in some big cities but it works well for a day out. Check it out if you have the time.
Nathan Sawaya may not be an artist you have heard of before but you may have seen at least some of his work. Nathan is an artist who works in Lego. He manages to combine the artistic vision of the piece he is trying to create with the technical skill in creating structures using standard Lego pieces – no simple feat given that most shapes have gentle curves to them and Lego is mainly straight edges.
An exhibition of some of Nathan’s work was on recently in Walnut Creek and we headed along to see what was on display. There were two types of exhibit. Some were straightforward Lego creations on display on their own. The rest were a combination of Lego and photography. Nathan had created some elements in Lego that were then combined with photography to incorporate the Lego sculpture in the main photo. For example, one of the pieces was a bare tree that then appeared in a landscape shot. Another was some railroad tracks that became the foreground to a train station.
The sculptures varied a lot in themes. Some were relatively light hearted such as a dog or some clouds. A woman’s red dress blowing in the wind with parts of it blowing behind (but with no-one actually in the dress) was a particularly interesting piece. Others were far darker in their inspiration with themes of escape and repression in the corporate world included. These pieces were often the more interesting ones to see as they had more to interpret versus the more light hearted but literal items.
The audience for the exhibit was quite varied. Many people had brought their kids along based on their interest in playing with Lego at home. I suspect they were not quite so enthused with the more sinister works. The other visitors were decidedly more adult. Whether they are just fans of Lego or interested in the messages the artist was conveying, I shall never know.