The Adventure Begins…

June 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Seattle May 26 – 30 2011

FLUX, is what transported me to Seattle, Washington for the 2011 adaptation of the annual Society of North American Goldsmiths conference.  This aptly named event signaling a change that is imminently fluttering on the horizon of the months that lie ahead.  As I plan and shuffle and reorganize the life that I have come to know over the past two years in Providence, it is with great anticipation that I ruminate over the road trip that will comprise my summer of 2011.

Seattle was the perfect aperitif to whet my westbound appetite.  It was a whirlwind trip, whisking me away from the familiar confines of RISD just as I was beginning to ask, okay, now what?  With the pressures of graduate school and thesis behind me, idle time, something that sounded like nirvana two weeks ago, now seeming almost scary.  This three-day excursion came at the pinnacle of transition, and getting out of dodge was the best thing that could have possibly happened.  And so it was with an exhausted body and an open mind that I found myself in an unfamiliar city, on a coast that lies unexplored, yet soon to be conquered.

Saturday morning breezed in boasting an azure sky and ubiquitous sunshine.  As I walked from our downtown hotel towards the water, my only expectation for the day was to visit the arboretum, a botanical garden I had heard about located a bit outside the city.  Waiting to meet up with my local friend and hostess, I wandered into an antique shop just up the hill from the Pike Place Market.  A bounty of treasures awaited my curious gaze as I wandered cautiously between cabinets filled with all manner of antique items.   There was an enormous assortment of jewelry ranging from carved jet brooches of the Victorian era to filigree diamond engagement rings to art deco and costume jewelry.  There, positioned among other medical oddities, in a tall wooden case I saw a pair of prosthetic eyes, bluish green with thick blonde eyelashes intact.  These peepers perched on a small stand made of wire.  Anatomically positioned, the eyes watching the customers with a glazed over aura of all knowingness.









I wandered through the market, but overwhelmed with the weekend visitors and the push and shove of walking in a crowded space, I opted to wait outside for her.  “Meet me by the pig,” she had said.  And it was there, that I sat for a few idle moments and listened to a three-piece string band, twanging out folk tunes in the middle of it all.  We met up there and squeezed through the market once more, pouring out the other side and opting to walk along the sound towards the sculpture garden.  Wandering there amidst the lupines and irises the Sera’s and Paine’s we bumped into Mark Dion’s nurse log in its long skinny green house, the Vivarium.  As ancient idyllic ferns, and one diminutive spruce were born upon this dead hemlock in the forest where it once fell.  Each now reaches its green tendrils towards the glass-pained roof of the structure that holds it, one man’s vision executed.

We walked swiftly now, through the city bound for a bookstore on 1st and Stewart.  There Peter Miller, a close family friend of my tour guide, greeted us warmly, the tomes that fill his shop are manifestations of modern architecture and design.  He sent us on a fieldtrip to a gallery nearby and wouldn’t speak with us further until we left, promising to report back.  There at 3 X 10 we poured our vision over the fragility and fleeting nature of jewelry made exclusively of handmade paper, appreciating the repetitive forms for the amount of handwork that went into this undertaking.  An excerpt from the artist book that accompanied this work by Kiff Slemmons:

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,


One clover, and a bee,

And revery.

The revery alone will do,

If bees are few.








Back to Peter Miller’s where we were received generously with smartly designed Danish glasses filled with cool white wine.  The topic of conversation focused on the Louisiana Museum outside Copenhagen, as well as where we should have supper that evening.  ‘You will eat at the Walrus and the Carpenter,’ he declared ‘but you’ve got to go there now.’  And so with a faint buzz we bumbled out into the warmth of the sunshine to board a bus headed for Ballard.  There we dined like queens on stinging nettle soup, kushimoto oysters, and salmon tar tare, relishing each discrete taste.  We spoke about the past with clarity and reflected upon the future with promise, and discussed our impending evening of cocktails and banter that lay waiting somewhere in the ether.  Post feast, we made our way back to the city watching the sunset over the sound out the back window of the taxicab that carried us; the sky alight in blues, pinks, and purples – clouds and mountains illuminated by the soft hues of sundown.

As it came time for going, we departed after having said our goodbyes and I love you’s, this epic journey coming to a close on a Sunday morning.  We rode an airplane – eastbound and zooming across this wide continent.  I slept lightly, yet luckily awoke just as we were approaching the Rockies.  As the plane paralleled the line of the mountain range I looked ahead and all I could see was the way that this land had heaved and contracted, creating these white-capped giants.  My face glued to the small pane of plexi-glass, I watched as these peaks veered to the south and disappeared out of sight as quickly and magnificently as they had emerged.  I continued to look, watching the changing landscape from a bird’s eye view.  Soaring over the carved river channels, the salmon colored sands of the desert, and the orderly circles of green growth dispersed throughout this wide open landscape; I couldn’t help but wonder, just where down there you might be.

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