On a recent balmy, damp Saturday morning Sonia and I boarded the train to Seattle at Union Station in Portland. The predicted downpour for the day had thankfully arrived early the night before leaving only puddles of water and low hanging clouds. A little disappointed that our train was not the new European style one, recently purchased by Amtrak, but pleased to find it clean and comfortable for I had heard since my last train ride that Amtrak had fallen behind in the upkeep of their trains’ interiors.
Settled in our seats we looked out the picture window, the sky growing lighter with the lifting of the low ceiling clouds allowing a nice view of the scenery passing by. As the train moved northward we noticed periodically leaves, from seemingly nowhere. were flying past our window leaving us to pondering their source. As we passed by the south end of the Puget Sound, we watched the choppy waves rolling across its vast expanse. It was then we realized how hard the wind was blowing and its strength is what carried the fall leaves from their unseen source.
As we drew nearer to Seattle, we began discussing one of our favorite artists, glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly, whose ‘Garden and Glass House’ exhibit we had come to see. Upon our arrival at King Street Train Station, again the wind made us aware of it’s strength as we ventured outside. Whirlwinds of fall leaves flew in our faces as they pushed past us and into open doors of shops as we walked, or rather pushed past. The next day, we learned due to the high winds, the floating bridge crossing Lake Washington closed, leaving cars abandoned as people walked off the bridge to safety.
We had on a previous occasion, a couple of years ago, visited Dale Chihuly’s Museum of Glass in his native home town of Tacoma, Washington. Enchanted with the Bridge of Glass, a 500 foot long pedestrian overpass that links the Museum in Tacoma to the downtown section of the city, a delightful walk with walls and ceilings showcasing his work.
Our first sight within the Garden and Glass House exhibit, in Seattle’s Center, brought a sense of calm as we paused to admire the Chihuly’s ‘Glass Forest’. I love light and its effect on a subject whether it be natural or created by man. Chihuly truly understands its importance as it illuminates and reflects off his sculptured pieces. A real treat to one’s eye and mind. Allowed to photograph his work, I captured a few of my favorites. These are very large displays set on a stage, its floor covered with reflecting mirrors producing an impact.
We moved on to the ‘Northwest Room’, a gallery of his glass sculptured Indian Baskets. Magnificently done, with Indian designs painted on the blown glass. His success revealed in his sculpturing the glass to the likeness of ancient Indian baskets with their slump and saggy forms.
Another gallery ‘Macchia Forest’, intrigued me as the shape of the glass sculptures captured and reflected the light directed upon it. Below I captured a section that really caught my eye. Subtle yet bold!
Further into the exhibit we came to ‘Ikebana and Float Boat’. The ‘Float Boat’ literally took my breath away. Full of glass blown floats the boat drifted upon an illusion of water created with mirrors. Other floats appeared to have fallen from the craft and been set adrift. I shot two different angles. This is a life-size boat.
The other side of this display is another watercraft filled with Dale Chihuly’s interpretation of Ikebana, a traditional Japanese art of flower arrangement.
As we moved slowly through the rooms, contemplating this man’s magical work, one enjoys the many themes displayed here besides those shown above. The ‘Sea life Room’, filled with sea plants, starfish, anemones, octopuses, fish, all intertwined, appearing as if moved by the sea’s current.
To our delight, we came to another ceiling gallery, ‘Persian Ceiling’, for we so enjoyed the one displayed at the Tacoma Pedestrian Bridge. ‘Mille Fiori’ another gallery, at the Glass House and Garden, is fifty-six feet in length and twelve feet wide, a garden of sculptured glass. Very colorful as most gardens are.
When we finally reached the ‘Glass House’. which sits at the base of the Space Needle, we marveled at the size of this sculpture. This piece has two thousand individual Persian glass forms fused together.
Below a closer view of the Persian glass sculpture in the Glass House.
We exited the glass house to stroll in the garden. At the base of the Space Needle ‘The Sun’, a sixteen foot in diameter sculpture in bright yellow, sits center stage above a platform of sculptured plants.
My favorite piece in the garden, as shown below, I see dolphins riding the surf. The garden, a fun enchanting place, is filled with Chihuly’s glass sculptures.
After our stroll in the garden we went to the Collectables Café . A cute little café with tables inlaid with shadow boxes, displaying items from Dale Chihuly’s personal collections. To our surprise the foods presentation at other tables evoked our reason for eating here,. We were not disappointed, it delighted our palates. I highly recommend it.
Though invigorating, we had fought the wind and mini-tornadoes of autumn leaves coming to this exhibit by way of city busses. With our time running short to catch the train back to Portland, we decided to take a cab. At the station as we departed our cab, the wind ushered us into King Street Station, along with dry crackling leaves,
With a little time on our hands we took in the architectural beauty of the building. Sonia commented that it looked freshly painted. I took pictures of some of the architectural design and when I got home I looked up the building’s history. Built between 1904 and 1906, over the years it endured many remodels, one that resulted in a lowered ceiling, leaving much of the original ornate interior hidden, till now. The restoration completed just this year reveals a very stately structure of classic architectural design.
Darkness descended as we traveled south. Without the views to distract us we made acquaintance with some of our fellow passengers. One small group told us about eating at Ivan’s that afternoon, a well-known restaurant on one of the many piers along Seattle’s waterfront. This restaurant is a newer version of it’s former self, destroyed by fire. As they ate, the strong winds drove waves crashing over the piers. The rolling white-capped seawater, in clear view of Ivan’s vast picture windows, left one in their party feeling a little queasy as he tried to finish his meal.
We arrived on time back in Portland, though we didn’t get the opportunity to ride the new train, the comfort and cleanliness of the ones we rode in left us in good form. An enjoyable day, windy but no rain!