"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Friday, August 8, 2014

Magnificence in the Lower 48: Seattle and Gig Harbor, WA

Phew! What an experience Alaska was. The dreams have finally stopped. I think because I caught up with all the posts about Alaska, my mind could rest. I sure miss the wildness of it all, and the constant alertness for wildlife. But to be fair, our experiences in Gig Harbor and Seattle were pretty darn stimulating as well.

Mt. Rainier from Gig Harbor

Our good friends Nick and Cindy were kind enough to pick us up at the airport and once again welcome us in their wonderful home for a few days in Gig Harbor before we moved on. We really appreciated the time to rest and catch up with them and ourselves, plus we had so much fun and felt so comfortable with them and in their home. Cindy cooked some incredible meals for us while we were there; it was a relief to have home cooking again after all that restaurant food. We are so grateful for their friendship and generosity, and look forward to hanging out with them again in Florida, or sooner!

At Nick and Cindy's suggestions we took the ferry from Bremerton to Seattle one day to hang out downtown and to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Seattle Center "under" the Space Needle. What a great recommendation.

Bremerton (above) is one of our favorite places to observe marine life.  Under the marina is home to multiple varieties of invertebrate sea creatures. Below you can see different kinds of sea anenomes and crustaceans clinging to the sides of the floating dock. 

We also saw sea stars, jelly fish, and this cute little guy swimming around. Maybe it was 5 inches long.  I'd call it a sea taco, but I think it's a nudibranch. Flabellina trephina would be my uneducated guess. (Who knew there was a Sea Slug Forum? You can find anything online.)

I'm usually more than camera shy, but Rick managed to get a shot of me enjoying the ferry ride and the beautiful weather we had for it.

As we docked in Seattle, another ferry just like ours was pulling out.

Although we've been to Seattle before, we haven't really given it enough of our time. We aren't so comfortable in cities, and tend to avoid them. But with directions and suggestions from Nick and Cindy, we felt more confident. Walking from the ferry to the Space Needle was a perfect way to see some of the highlights of the city.

Passing through Pikes Place Market is a sensory extravaganza - in good and bad ways.

In case you didn't know, or couldn't guess - this is the Space Needle

The Space Needle is just one of the most visible components of the Seattle Center, a campus of museums and other attractions, originally constructed for the 1962 World's Fair.  Chihuly Garden and Glass is one of the permanent exhibits on the campus. 

Most readers will have some familiarity with Dale Chihly's work, as he is one of the most prolific and well placed artists in the USA. His works are often featured in botanical gardens, arranged  dramatically among the plant life, mimicking and complementing their organic forms.

In this collection, much of Chihuly's work is displayed chronologically in more a traditional gallery setting, surrounded by black walls and strategically lighted to emphasize color and shape.  The first gallery is the Glass Forest, from the 1970s.

The next room also features Chihuly's personal collection of Native American baskets and trade blankets, the inspirations for his works called Cylinders (two photos below) placed strategically in the same space.

The next collection, the Sea Life Room was one of my favorites, and echoed our experience earlier in the day in Bremerton. Here were Chihuly's vessels topped with black and gold sea life forms such as these turtles and octopi. 

After being in the somewhat understated black and gold of the Sea Life Room, the colors and dynamics of the next room were almost mind blowing. There was a total traffic jam at the entry way, with people taking pictures or just being silently stunned by their first sight of the presentation.  I hope you can see why the Mille Fiori is the show stopper.

It kind of reminds me of Pikes Place Market, now that I look back on it. The next room had two wooden boats in it, one filled with glass spheres called Niijima Floats and the other with what Chihuly calls Ikebana Forms, inspired by Japanese flower arrangement. Like so many of his works, the wooden boats reflect images of Chihuly's childhood home in Puget Sound.

The next gallery displayed about five of Chihuly's Chandeliers suspended from the ceiling. This one is in my favorite color.

On to the room holding some of his Persian Forms. Elsewhere they were displayed in smaller, flatter forms en masse in a glass ceiling like this... 

...but sometimes the Persian Forms are these very large containers. 

The apogee of the exhibit was the Glasshouse, right below the Space Needle.

Chihully loved glass conservatories, and has exhibited his works in many. Here he designed his own to house one of his grand "exotic plants."

We exited the Glasshouse into the gardens, and strolled through a more dense and finely integrated version of the Chihuly garden displays we have seen elsewhere. Unlike others, this garden was designed and created to permanently compliment his work, rather than to simply display it temporarily, resulting in a more dense and integrated effect. 

A large sunburst centerpiece of the garden:

What a beautiful day. It seemed to be woven together with some kind of grand aesthetic intention, from the abundant sea life in Bremerton to the flowing organic forms of Chihuly; from the colorful and exuberant sensory experience of Pikes Place to the magnificent intensity of Mille Fiori.

Was it art reflecting life, or life reflecting art?


  1. Now seeing that exhibit could possibly change my mind about Seattle! LOVE Chihuly's work, and your photos are fabulous!

    1. And you're so close! You could take the ferry and see it.

  2. Thanks Lisa! I hope you get there soon, you'd definitely love it. No guarantees about Seattle though.

  3. Lenore,
    As usual, your pictures here and Rick's pictures of Denali are wonderful! Would have been fun to have had more vacation time so we could have gone on this part of the trip with you too.

    Dave & Judi

    1. Thanks good travel buddies. Maybe there's someplace in the lower 48 that you've always wanted to visit, and we could coordinate to be there at the same time some day! Think about it.


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