Friday, May 18, 2012

Mini Art and Garden Tour

In honor of Karen's birthday this week, we spent the day in Seattle at what I dubbed a "mini art and garden tour." It was indeed mini, but it was lots of fun.

Our destinations were the Ballard and Fremont neighborhoods of Seattle. We started at the Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library, a seven-year-old eco-friendly building. We went to the library to see the art -- a display of perhaps 100 pieces of artwork in various medium created by students at Ballard High School -- and the garden on the roof of the library. The library's most intriguing feature is its 18,000-square-foot sod roof, which provides thermal insulation, serves as bird habitat, and moderates rain runoff. Any water not used by plants is filtered through the soil and slowly released. 

According to The Seattle Weekly, the library itself collects solar energy through panels on the roof as well as special glazing in the vertical window panes. This is fed back to the grid, reducing the library's dependence on Seattle City Light. Although not all of it was functioning when we were there, the library was designed with functional public art that monitors and displays data about the microclimate around the structure. Wind direction and speed, energy use, light, and rainfall are artistically presented along building spines.

We went up to the viewing windows to see the roof for ourselves. Here's what it looks like up close...

...and here's what the roof looks like from across the street.

We took a walking tour of a few blocks of Ballard, then ended up at Ballard Commons Park for a picnic lunch, including the gluten-free cupcake and the scone that we bought at Bouteloua Bakery, vegan establishment on Market Street.

Just inside the front door of a lovely little place called Venue Ballard (featuring work studios for artists and a boutique of original pieces) is a vending machine called an Art-o-mat. There are over 90 active Arto-o-mats worldwide,  these converted cigarette machines that dispense art. This is the only one in Washington State. When I read about this one in The Herald last month, I knew what I would give Karen for her birthday -- a chance to choose an artist whose work can fit in a box about the size of a cigarette pack.

Each window in the machine features the art of one specific artist. Whether the artist has painted on a button or created a tiny doll or a piece of ceramic, each artist's name and type of art is displayed above the pull knobs. But you don't know what the work of art actually is until you put in your token, pull the knob, retrieve the box that is dispensed and open it.

I paid $5 for a token for the machine and inserted it into the slot.

Karen selected the Fiber Art by Shirley Ruggiero of Hewitt, NJ. (There are over 400 artists who contribute to Art-o-mat.) I pulled the knob and her gift dropped to the bottom of the machine, where she retrieved it.

She opened the box and pulled out a  fish design for her wall! I chose "button art," expecting to see something made from interesting sewing buttons. I was surprised to discover that it was actually the type of button you use for political campaigns with a picture of birds on a telephone wire painted on it!

Now off to Urban Earth, a nursery on a small plot of ground in the Fremont neighborhood which Tom and I saw through it's fence in February, a view of not much in bloom but full of promise. And we weren't disappointed! It was full of life and fragrance and fresh air! We sat for a moment and the owner took our picture. 

In February

In May

Our final stop -- Archie McPhee's, a store full of goofiness. My first knowledge of Archie McPhee's was several years ago when Karen was trying to locate a rubber chicken for her husband's birthday. It was our first time to actually go to the store. It had nothing to do with gardens or art but it was on our list because of its photo booth. We popped in and acted a little goofy ourselves!

All in all, a great day!

Photo Credit: Archie McPhee store

1 comment:

Karen S. said...

We look worn out! Your art and garden tour was full of surprises and delights! Thanks so much, and for documenting it all in photos!