By Peggy DePersia, guest blogger
Seattle Sculpture Part #2
The story is an interesting one and, for me, began in the early 1970’s with a trip to Berkeley, California. Go Figure and, welcome to the long and winding road back to Seattle and another approach to its love affair with sculpture.
‘Berkley’ was definitely a happening place in the early 1970’s. From my current vantage point, I like to think of it as ‘perkin’. New ideas about food and culture were percolating, metaphorically that is, and Berkley was on the cutting edge. In addition to the ‘farm to table’ concept conceived by Alice Waters in her Berkley restaurant, Chez Panisse, and immortalized in the song, Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie, there was another fever brewing and it had to do with coffee.
As one might imagine, there were impressive coffee cafes in Berkley in the 1970’s and Peet’s (think quality whole bean coffee on some grocery shelves across America these days) was one of them. The Berkley ‘Peet’s Coffee’, provided a new, to us, experience of cappuccino. We had tried cappuccino in Italy a summer earlier but this was our first cup in the USA and it tasted most authentic. A couple of guys affiliated with the Peet’s Coffee phenomenon decided they’s like to get in on the burgeoning interest in really good coffee; including lattes, cappuccinos and other, as yet undiscovered coffee possibilities (I’m thinking frappacinos maybe). They decided to move up the coast a bit; how about Seattle? And now, Starbucks is virtually everywhere…..all these years later. You don’t even need to go to Seattle to enjoy it, Peet’s either for that matter.
As we have a friend who has lived in Seattle since the early 1970’s, he was able, recently, to help us connect the dots on various big ideas emerging up and down our western coast at that time. In addition to coffee, a sub culture of the arts community in Seattle was exploring a new way of thinking about an old art form with the founding of the Pilchuck Glass Studio near Stanwood Washington and HillTop Artist’s program in Tacoma, Washington by Tacoma native, Dale Chihuly. Tacoma and Seattle actually share an airport and Seattle proper has a museum dedicated to the large scale installations and ‘epic’ blown glass sculptural forms in all manner of shapes and sizes.
The ‘STUDIO’ of glass blowers is overseen by Dale Chihuly who now serves more as a mentor/designer than a practicing artisan. That is not to say that he isn’t ‘hands on’. His touch is everywhere to be seen. He has taken the art of glass blowing to new dimensions and connections of his works to the natural world and integration of his works with the natural world is prized.
The ‘Garden Motifs’ included here offer a sampling of the sometimes eerie, usually luxurious, often surprising, and generally provocative arrangements of museum and landscape exhibit displays.
Seattle has become, over time, its own mecca in the art of glass. Small galleries and museums alike carry sculptural glass creations by local and regional artisans and, then again, Dale Chihuly has his own museum.
Who knew what might be new with the art of glass?
Photography by Jerry DePersia