Urban Diary #3 | UW Quad | U District

It may seem weird to go from zero to 3, but hey, this is where we are right now. Zooming right along on a Saturday night… doing homework. I’m not complaining, though! Well, I was, but I acknowledge it could be worse. It’s all relative. My homework happens to be fun as heck. So fun I couldn’t help but share.

It’s for my History of Landscape Architecture Class. We’re looking at the shape and the language of spaces in all forms from ancient caves to modern cities. It’s all really fascinating, especially because our professor is particularly passionate about her field. Not only does she teach, but she also works at an architectural firm part-time.

That said, it is still history. There’s a lot of reading and lot of lecture. And then there’s the Urban Diary assignments. We’re responsible for visiting a new location every week, to document that space (in photo or video) and write a paragraph or so relating the space to our themes and ideas from our weekly readings.

This week we learned about paradise gardens and chahar baghs. It intrigues me that paradise is traditionally interpreted as a closed garden, split in four. And the chahar bagh reveals in early landscape architects an affinity with symmetry which may be reflective of ourselves; being that we humans have bilateral symmetry.

We get to choose from a few locations each week and the image above is our very own Quad spied from the interdisciplinary visual arts studio on the rainiest rainy day.

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Later, Jared and I wandered the U-district. Umbrellas and dSLRs, can you imagine? I managed to get a few shots that also seem worthy of the title Urban Diary before water droplets took over my lens. Just outside the Simply Mac store, there’s this killer mural and we decided to get close. It was miserably raining, thick droplets—not at all like our usual Seattle mist, still Jared and I had so much fun! He’s a professional photographer so I love to glean as much knowledge from him as I can.

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What do you think of landscape architecture? I love looking at beautifully curated spaces, but I also understand the argument that a great landscape is one that is so perfect you don’t even think about it.

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Are you inspired by any lovely landscapes lately? Tell me all about it. Down there. Yeah, just scroll and comment. Mmhm. Extra points if you add a picture. 🙂

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Sh*T That Makes Me Smile 02 | Driver Wave

Be it rain or shine, Seattle’s King County Metro keeps me moving. Most of the time that involves physically moving from Point A to Point B, but sometimes, when I’m lucky they move me to smile.

Seeing two drivers, especially when they’re opposite directions of the same route, acknowledge each other with a friendly wave just lights up the day. Like when Tina Belcher hears, ‘bumper to bumper’ or when Amelie finds a perfect throwing stone, seeing Metro drivers wave at one another soothes my soul.It’s a tiny moment, not even intended for me, that reminds me of the unseen relationships constantly encircling as I make my way through the city.

This particular day I was headed to Pike Place Market and, determined to photographically document this moment for you, I told the driver about my Wrays of Sunshine. I also thanked him for his work in general because I really do appreciate not being behind the wheel, especially in that make-you-crazy stop-and-start traffic. Turns out, our driver is Hussein, a funny guy who’ll get you smiling anyway, no driver’s wave required. He very kindly agreed to be photographed if he happened to encounter another bus en route.

He moved here when he was 13 years old from Iraq. He worked hard to earn his bachelor’s degree, but even when working toward his passion, he always woke up in the morning and felt like, ugh, I have to go to work. “Now, when I wake up I get to go to work.” He said he threw his bachelor’s degree away after that. His favorite part is helping people who don’t know where they’re going, meeting travelers and hearing their stories. Hussein is also a very proud papa. And that’s totally reasonable because his son is adorable. Like, crazy cute.

Sure enough, a Number 5 North to Shoreline came barreling up Fremont Hill.

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Oh, you guys. I’m smiling.

A big, thank you to Hussein for sharing his sunshine with me and allowing me to share it with you. Sharing joy and truth is exactly what the world needs more of. It’s what makes these rainy Seattle days bright!

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Incredible story by Hussein. Tina Belcher images from here and here. Text and photos by Sunshine.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“When we allow freedom to ring—when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.'”

Credit: Photo by Matt Lemmon. Text by Martin Luther King, Jr. via government archives.

Chihuly Garden & Glass

I won a ticket to see Chihuly’s controversial or debatable exhibit in mid 2015- March or April. Can’t remember why I won, but I do recall it was in Celeste Cooning‘s class and our invited speaker, Hilary Lee, had offered tickets.

Fast forward through the summer of surgery, the Fall of rest, and the rest of fall and find that same ticket pinned to the bulletin board with a thin layer of dust on it. Expiration dates [12/31/2015] spur action, though. Because we take every opportunity for the arts. Emailed Hilary to attempt scheduling a tour. True, I could just go on my own, but who in their right mind would turn down a curated tour with a pro who knows the details and stories behind each piece? Not I, said the little mouse. Basically, the only person better to take this tour with is Chihuly himself and I can only presume he’s busy being brilliant elsewhere. Because, for real.

Not only was Hilary amenable, she also provided a ticket for my Honeybee and we had ourselves time!

|Inspiration|

Matt & I loved the focus on influence and Native American culture. Hilary explained that Dale grew up in Tacoma and was exposed early to the Duwamish and Puyallup culture. This entire wall of baskets and adjacent wall of textiles is amazing. At some point every glass artist works to perfect the vessel, here you can see the direct link between Dale’s work and Native heritage.

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The first time I saw Chihuly’s work was in the desert on a road trip. Can you imagine the very muted-Arizona backdrop, adorned with abandoned canoes and the most vivid glass jutting out in every direction? That Chihuly is still very much present, yet exists alongside other iterations. It was like catching up with an old friend.

|Reflection|

Reflection

One of the most surprising elements of the exhibit—to me, at least, is the overwhelming allusion to water…without any actual water. This is a huge chunk of real estate, there could’ve been fountains and pools. It seemed like there were fountains and pools. But, no. None. It’s clever and dramatic and perfect. I simultaneously felt as though I was seaside and underwater, completely submerged and, yet floating off a reef, but also somewhere else, also, in the deeper sea. Could’ve sworn I heard bubbling, even. Nonesuch.

|The Garden|

I’m studying the history of landscape architecture this quarter and it’s so interesting to see how this series of works of art seem to fit equally well with this very urban setting in downtown Seattle and with the very natural setting of plants.

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Wiggling tendrils of glass and branch abound and just sort of do their thing—completely still.

|Hotbox|

We even got to see live glass blowing. Molten hot fire wielding madmen, the lot of em!

|Collection|

One of the fringe benefits of having so much space is the ability to display collections. [Because when you have space, it’s a collection. When you don’t, it’s hoarding.] The accordions on display in the ceiling of Collections Cafe inspire awe.

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It’s hard to imagine all this is tucked right below the Space Needle in Seattle Center, but it is. Check it out!

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If I had to pick a favorite, like if you wrestled me to the ground and just basically demanded I pick one or die, it’d have be this ice queen right here. Hilary says this is how Chihuly does Christmas! [Sorry I only had my zoom lens. This bad boy is huge!]

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|Shop|

Even the gift shop had me drooling.

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Find out more about Dale’s work and find details on scheduling your visit to the Garden & Glass Exhibit here. I have to give a huge thank-you-shout-out to Hilary and everyone at Chihuly Garden & Glass who treated us so well and showed us such a great time. And thank you, dear reader, for lending your eyeball for a mini-adventuring out into the urban wilderness that is Seattle! With you, it’s always a pleasure.

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Make: Onsie Onsies for Baby

What’s cute? What’s cuter than cute? I’ll tell you what. A baby in a onsie with a onsie on it. I know, I just blew your mind. No, it’s cool. Take your time. Breathe.

Searching for a quick DIY project to honor all the tiny baby cute overlords in your life? Look no further! Do this in a jiffy to get that baby looking extra spiffy!

Need | non-toxic fabric paint (traditional or spray), tyvek for stencil, brush or sponge, newspaper, onsies of various sizes. I asked all the moms I could scrounge and then tried to size up three months for each baby so they could grow into them and they’d last for a while.

Cut a stencil of whatever shape you’d like. Obviously onsies are my intended shape, but you can do just about anything! Cupcakes, bears, pacifiers, I don’t know, get wild! You could even create a silhouette of the baby in question. The cute potential is unprecedented here, folks.

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Use newspaper to protect the back side of the onsie and keep any paint from leaking. Roll up a page and insert into the neck. Cut your stencil out of tyvek. I chose tyvek for this project because it’s waterproof and cheap. With it, I’m able to rinse the fabric paint off and keep moving, but if you don’t have tyvek, paper works just fine. I would suggest cutting several stencils either way, but extra if you’re working with paper. I even varied the size of some of the onsie stencils. Some of dem babies gettin’ big.

Follow the instructions on your paint for questions on things like pre-washing, drying and curing. The paint I’m using did not require a pre-wash, but did demand a 20-minute heat setting session in the dryer.

The more onsies I made the more fun I had with filling in the basic shape. Variations include stripes, filled, ombre and faux tie dye. I think the ombre are my favorite.

The Wee Baby Wyatt

Thanks to the Massey family for sharing this image of wee baby Wyatt rocking his onsie onsie with pride. Isn’t he the cutest thing that ever happened? Those cheeks! He’s a preemie (fighter, survivor and thriver) with badassery embedded in his tiny baby bones by his loving parents. We love you!

And thank you to all my sunshines for tuning in again. See more projects in the Make: section such as Photograms, Pinhole cameras, and relief prints.

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Music: January Sun

How’s 2016 treating you so far? Well, lemme tell you, Matt—Honeybee—has the right idea. A new album that is right on time for the season, as meditative as the ocean’s surface. He kindly submitted to a quick interview.

January Sun is an entirely new release exploring ideas initially recorded in 97-99. What made you want to begin again? 
I wanted to re-record it because I felt like the songs were good at showcasing musicianship and creativity—not just my engineering skills. I really like creating songs people can get into on another level besides the surface. And it’s better than just sitting on the shelf for almost 20 years where no one could enjoy it. Even myself! They were great ideas, poorly executed. I like expounding upon potential and making things better.

Which song sounds truest to your vision?

The first 3/4ths of the album came out precisely as I wanted. Toward the end things shifted a bit.

Which is the most surprising and why?

…Like Water and Minimal Velocity fit January Sun’s theme surprisingly well considering they were recorded for fun in the intervening years and never made it on to an official album of their own.

Favorite song?

My favorite song is the finale, Deeper Sinking pt. 2, despite it being  different from what I’d planned.

Suggested activities while listening??

Chilling out and opening your mind a bit. It’s music for having quiet conversations, making art, being creative, yogic breathing. Very mellow.

-MW

Of course, my favorite song on January Sun is A Song for Sunshine, but I’m completely, entirely, just wholly biased. Listen for yourself on Super Plaid’s BandCamp. Hang tight in our Super Plaid Jam as seen through Bethany’s lens on her site, Pistol Pix.

And thanks for stopping by our little corner of the internet. Don’t forget to Like, Comment and Subscribe for more Wrays of Sunshine.

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credit: Cover Art by Jared Wade