Saturday, December 12, 2009

How Green is Your Alley?

Last week I met Todd Vogel, owner of Livable Walkable LLC, a Pioneer Square architecture and urban planning firm, and a member of the International Sustainability Institute.  He is working with loads of other urban planning professionals and the City of Seattle, to develop a comprehensive plan for Downtown that would 'activate' in his words, dozens of the alleys of downtown Seattle, starting with those of Pioneer Square (and the first, just around the corner from my Gallery), by adding art, retail businesses & cafés, and pedestrian amenities to these untapped spaces, hopefully making them the latest addition to the City's list of urban green spaces.  Vogel and his team have the City behind them and grant money to boot, so hopefully this will fly.  This won't be the magic pill to pull Pioneer Square back from the brink.  But it might help.  To this end, they are launching a design competition for artists.  You can sign on to get more information at  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Local Famous View

Just in time for the Holidays, Kristina Hagman had these nice blank cards made of six of her woodcuts from the series, 36 Views of Rainier.  Actual prints from the series can be seen here.  Cards are $15 for the set of 6, plus $1.50 to mail in the US.  To order please send email to info(at)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Japan - What's Art, What's Not

This morning I heard Cynthea Bogel speak at the Seattle Asian Art Museum as part of the lecture series, No Passport Required: Saturday University Lecture Series, Asian in Focus.  Her lecture, What's Art and What's Not in the History of Japan was full of new insights for me.  Bogel looked at the history of Japan's National Treasures: how the process has favored certain types and periods of art over others, and how the distinction has done much to shape Japan's regard for it's art and artifacts. 

A couple take-aways I got:  1. that the list of National Treasures currently includes not a single Japanese ukiyo-e print or painting.  That's right, not one.  No Great Wave, or Ohashi, or Kambara, or anything by the mysterious Sharaku.  2. that the People in Charge decided in 1950, to wipe clean the list of National Treasures and start over, bestowing the honor on only a fraction of the works of art that were previously included on the list, and 3.  that the word for 'art' in Japanese,
bijitsu, was coined, along with new words for painting, sculpture, textiles, and handicraft, around the time of the 1873 and 1876 World Expositions in Vienna and Philidelphia, in order to better market Japanese art to the West.  Particularly in the case of Buddhist iconic figures, the new term 'sculpture' chokōku, allowed these sacred figures to be regarded as art, which allowed for their removal from temples, and later exhibition in Japanese halls and subsequent sale to Western collectors and museums.  

If you have attended any of the lectures this fall, there will be one more round table discussion next Saturday morning at 9:30.  Thanks to SAAM for putting together this great series!