Seattle’s best blend: art on the waterfront

Eagle (1971) from Alexander Calder with the Puget Sound in the background (Click to ENLARGE)

Eagle from Alexander Calder with Puget Sound in the background (Click to ENLARGE)

When Wessel and I flew into Seattle this past spring to then go on by car to the Olympic Peninsula, we first took one detour — to the new Olympic Sculpture Park. This amazing green space, open since 2007 and operated by the Seattle Art Museum, is to me one of the most exciting spots in the city. Not only are the landscaping, art, and setting magnificent, admission is free! Below is a little ditty I wrote about it for the Boston Globe travel section “Rave” feature on Sept. 7 (illustrated by one of Wessel’s photos). I just noticed that I used the word “impressive” twice. I’m surprised my editors didn’t catch that!

Urban art with a green heart

SEATTLE – In an impressive makeover, this forward-thinking city has turned a former fuel-storage and transfer facility into a striking sculpture park.

Fountain with sculpture Father and Son (2004-2006) from Louise Bourgeois; the Father is covered with water

Fountain with sculpture Father and Son (2004-2006) from Louise Bourgeois; the Father is covered with water

Opened by the Seattle Art Museum last year, Olympic Sculpture Park, on the northern end of the waterfront, is in a vibrant area to stroll, shop, eat, and admire world-class sculpture. The nine acres of green space that overlook Puget Sound and look out at the Olympic Mountains bring together the best of this city: art and outdoor recreation.

Rotating neon ampersand part of Roy McMakin's installation `Love & Loss` (2005) (Click to ENLARGE)

Rotating neon ampersand, part of Roy McMakin's installation Love & Loss (Click to ENLARGE)

What’s most impressive is the way the park melds contemporary landscape design with existing urban infrastructure. A 2,500-foot, Z- shaped route follows the landform, leading from the visitors center and cafe on a hilltop through a series of outdoor “galleries” marked by differing landscaping down to a waterfront recreational path.

Of course the 21 sculptures take center stage, representing such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Richard Serra, and Ellsworth Kelly.

Mark Dion's Neukom Vivarium, a greenhouse with a 60-foot hemlock nurse log

Mark Dion`s Neukom Vivarium, a greenhouse with a 60-foot hemlock nurse log

The most provocative sculpture is Mark Dion’s “Neukom Vivarium.” The New Bedford, Mass., native and Pennsylvania resident custom-designed a greenhouse that houses a 60-foot-long western hemlock nurse log, whose decay and renewal represents the cycle of life.

IF YOU GO: Olympic Sculpture Park, 2901 Western Ave., 206-654-3100. Opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset. Free.

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3 Responses to “Seattle’s best blend: art on the waterfront”

  1. karel Says:

    Marvellous. Only one minor point (for me). It’s not quite in my neighbourhood. Therefor: something to dream of

  2. erinatruba Says:

    Hi! I’m the Community Manager of Ruba.com. We’re building a website to highlight some of the most interesting places travelers around the world have discovered. We’ve read hundreds of blogs about Seattle, and we think that this post is awesome! We’d love to highlight excerpts from blogs like yours (assuming it’s OK with you of course) and to discuss other ways of tapping into your expertise if you are interested. I’m at erin@ruba.com.
    Thanks! :)

    • didaniel Says:

      Hi Erin. Glad you liked it. Feel free to excerpt and link to the article on my blog. I’ll email you directly about tapping into my expertise.

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