This has been an incredibly full weekend! I can hardly describe the full capacity of my trip up to Seattle. For my Post-Modern Art class, we took a trip up to Seattle for Friday and Saturday to tour the city and see some amazing contemporary art galleries and installations. I went on the trip last year, with my Modern Art class, but this year was infinitely better. The sun, the people I was with, the art–everything culminated into a amazingly memorable experience.
We met up at 6:00 behind the art building on campus to start the drive up. It takes quite a bit of time to get from McMinnville to Seattle, so we wanted to get an early start. Of course, no one ever likes travelling in a van for three hours, but I drove up in the car with my professor, two other art professors and several of my friends in the class, so it made the time pass much more easily. It quickly turned into an absolutely amazing day, and we made it into the city by about 10:30, which is pretty good time! Our first start was at the 4Gallery. They’re actually a government funded organization which puts together public art installations or galleries, works bringing art to the community and promotes local artists. It was very cool to see how a group like that functions, especially for the art majors in the group who are looking to pursue gallery management or a career in the arts.
After we were done at the gallery, we drove up to the U District and were released for lunch! There’s so much good food on the Ave. it was difficult to choose! A group of us ended up finding a small Thai restaurant. Thai tea and spicy noodles are just so perfect for lunch on a sunny day. When we were all done–some people got pho, others Mexican etc–we met back up on the UW campus and were able to tour with our professor, Brian Winkenweder, who got his undergraduate degrees from UW and is from the area. Their campus is absolutely breathtaking–the neo-goth facades were absolutely lovely, especially on such a gorgeous day. Installed at Red Square on the campus is a large sculpture piece from one of the artists we’ve been studying, “Obelisk” by Barnett Newman. It was wonderful to see it in person. It’s one thing to discuss and analyze a digital reproduction; but a whole new thing to actually stand next to it. We also toured their Graduate Reading Room in their library. It felt like walking through a mix of Hogwarts and the castle from “Beauty and the Beauty”. The interior and exterior of the building was breathtaking.
After we were done with our tour of the campus, we all headed back to our hotel, which was only a few blocks away from the Ave. After a little break, we headed back to campus to check out the Henry Art Gallery. This was one of the standout experiences of the trip. There is a stunning James Turrell exhibit permanently installed at the gallery called, “Light Reign”. It’s an elliptical shaped skyspace attached to the gallery. The whole room is curved like an ellipse, with a smooth granite floor, pale grey walls, and long wood bench seating following the curve of the room. On the ceiling, there’s an ellipse cut through to the sky outside. The intense blue of the sky coming through the hole is surreal. To enjoy the piece, you have to lay down on the floor beneath the ellipse and watch the play of light, color, and the soft hum of city noise outside the pod. There’s no special trick lighting or paint–it’s just the sky and natural light. I must have stayed in the room for at least almost an hour. It’s transfixing. It play with your sense of space, light, and your body in the space of the installation. I adore it. The rest of the Henry had a gallery exhibit featuring photography examining the subject of beauty and the body. The second floor house several more large installations–one by an artist called Latouffey who heavily referenced alchemy, philosophy, numerology in his blend of text and diagram in painting. It was so much to process mentally! The colors were so vivid, the work so incredibly detailed and the references so densely layered. Right after that was a large gallery space featuring the work of contemporary/post-modern artists. This was heavily content laden as well, with large video installations, many rooms with various interactive pieces, works by artists we’ve studied like Cy Twombly, Alberto Burri, Richard Serra, Marcel Duchamp and more. I can’t even begin to describe how much imagery and content I absorbed. When Robin and I felt we just couldn’t process anymore, we returned to James Turrell’s “Light Reign” once more and spent at least another half-hour, enjoying the play of light as it grew closer to the evening.
After we finished at the Henry. we were released into Seattle to entertain ourselves for the evening. Robin and I met up with our good friend Miles, who graduated from Linfield with a degree in Creative Writing last year. He lives and works in the city now, saving for grad school, so we don’t get to see him very often. It was a wonderful opportunity to see him again! We went out and got the most delicious pho I’ve had in years. Linfield really needs a Vietnamese restaurant, I’ve decided. I was going to take a picture of it, because it looked delicious, but for those same reasons, we devoured it pretty much immediately. It’s always nice to see former students who’ve already graduated. It makes the whole process of graduating and leaving Linfield next year a little more tangible. After meeting up with Miles for dinner, Robin and I just decided to take an easy night and hang out around the area. We split some amazing Haagen Das (Java Chip, Mint Chip, and Belgian Chocolate–they let us pick three flavors!) and explored the UW campus after dark. It was so peaceful and different! We were too exhausted from all the art and traveling, so we ended up just chatting with some other friends on the trip and listening to music at the hotel, once we were done.
The next morning, we got up bright and early to go to the Sculpture Gardens. I’ve been before, but the gorgeous day outside made it a completely new and amazing experience. It’s right on the waterfront, so the sea air blows through the gardens. The water is so pure and blue! I love the smell of salty sea air, so it just provided the perfect morning to walk slowly around and look at the sculptures. Richard Serra, one of the artists we’ve studied, has a large outdoor site-specific piece called “Tides”. This is always one of my favorite pieces, just because of its monumental size and the delicacy of its curves next to the hard angles of the city. It’s amazing. There were other pieces I enjoyed as well, that I hadn’t taken much note of in the previous times I’ve visited the gardens. The breathtaking made everything look so much more vivid and beautiful.
We were supposed to go to Tacoma to look at another museum after the sculpture gardens, but it was such a beautiful day our professor just released up into Seattle to explore until about 2:00 when we would head home. Robin and I, with several others, took a long walk along the waterfront then up to Pike’s Place Market. It was bustling, as always. We wandered around for a long time–Robin bought me a gorgeous peony. They’re my favorite flower, so I was thrilled. There are just entire walls of fresh flowers along the walls at Pike’s Market. It’s incredible. There are so many people, so many different languages being spoken, and so much food. When we got hungry, we just bought food from different vendors along the way. I bought some char siu bao, which is my favorite Chinese bun, and Robin got tamales, which we shared. We also bought a fresh avocado and made our own guac right in the park where we ate lunch.
I didn’t want to leave! It was such a fantastic experience, and one of the highlights of my time here at Linfield. I couldn’t even begin to tell you every wonderful detail about the trip. This upcoming week there’s even more to do! I have a large research paper due, but it’s also the week of Wildstock and I’ll be seeing the Dalai Lama and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, courtesy of Linfield! May is turning out to be an unbelievable month.