2015-08-06 - Northwest Road Trip - Seattle - Part II
EMP Museum and Chihuly Garden and Glass
My brother and I had a slightly late start heading to central Seattle where we saw the Space Needle and entered the EMP Museum. Not really knowing what to expect, the museum turned out to be an amazing place designed to showcase contemporary pop culture. We first explored the fantasy section with archetypes of fantasy, and props from popular shows and movies of this genre, including weapons used in Lord of the Rings and one of Cersei's dresses from Game of Thrones. There was also a small section with paintings from games including ones of the card game Magic the Gathering.
We then ventured downward to the Sci Fi and Horror sections, respectively Infinite Worlds and Can't Look Away. Both sections were somewhat similar in talking about the history of the genre and filled with props, costumes, and figures from popular movies and shows. Some items of note for example were a terminator robot figure, hoverboards from Back to the Future and weapons from various sci fi stories. It was awesome how much authentic memorabilia the museum was able to collect in one place, a lot of which are held at the museum by permission of their owners or donated to the museum for keeping and display.
We finished by seeing the large "If VI was IX" guitar sculpture, playing various indie games in the indie game revolution section, and spending a little time in the animation art and sound lab sections.
After a delicious but too-filling Indian buffet some minutes walk away, we returned to the same area to check out the Chihuly Garden and Glass longterm exhibition. Dave Chihuly is a celebrated American glass sculptor who pushed the boundaries of glass to areas others though impossible. The proposal to showcase Chihuly's work by the Space Needle in the Seattle Center won in competition to other ideas and he was delighted for the chance. Armed with an audio guide streamed from our phone's web browser, we walked through the glass forest, northwest room, and sealife room. Each room is related to a different stage of Chihuly's life. The Glass Forest for example shows his early collaboration with James Carpenter who specialized in botanical drawings. The Northwest Room shows glass vessels inspired by Navajo textiles and native american baskets, connected to the history of the Pacific Northwest. The Sealife Room revolves around teh 15-foot Sealife Tower and are all inspired by the sea and the Puget Sound. Animal figures such as starfish, octopus, and sea anemones are created and possibly hidden in his pieces exploring his love of the sea.
The next few rooms dazzled with their shapes and colors. The Persian Ceiling was an experimentation in new forms and took forever to put together when the museum was set up. I enjoyed just standing under that ceiling and staring up and imagine I could do so for a long time, like how one might sit to admire a scene in nature. Mille Fiori, Italian for "a thousand flowers", I think is the center of the exhibition. It is a truly exquisite mastery of fire, gravity, and centrifugal force inspired by memories of Chihuly's mother's garden. The forms are so beautiful and so botanical. I think it is my favorite room. As his Chihuly grew older, he lost sight in his left eye and dislocated his shoulder. He began doing less and less of the glasswork and more drawing, designing, and directing. The Drawing Walls showcases some of his drawings. The Ikebana and Float Boats were really special as well, inspired by Japanese ikebana, his trip to Japan, and discovering Japanese fishing net floats along the beaches of Puget Sound. In his documentaries you could see that he enjoyed floating glass pieces in water to see them move and capture the light in new ways and these pieces really speak to that. The reflection really helped make it seem like a floating scene with reflections by the water. The Chandelier series was next and is embodied by impractical, artistic, heavy, glass chandeliers like the ones he made in Venice in 1995-1996.
The Macchia Forest is another testament to his skill. In his "experimentation to separate the interior and exterior colors", he added a white cloud layer in-between and speckled it with color. The pieces are so thin that glass shines through it in different ways, giving them a unique glow and luminosity. Stepping "outside" to the bright-lit Glasshouse and Glasshouse Sculpture, we saw the "centerpiece". Chihuly had long been fascinated by glass houses and took this opportunity to create his own. The pieces here and outside in the garden play with the natural light in different ways than the pieces inside. Designed to work with and not compete with the Space Needle, I found many of the pieces blended well into the garden's lively landscape.
My brother and I really enjoyed our day and we spent the rest of it preparing for the road trip ahead, including stocking up on supplies and picking up our car. Due to our late start, I did not pick up our car in the morning. The small car rental place rented that car away and the cheapest one they had available when we arrived was a BMW which turned out to be hundreds of dollars more in cost for the rental period. During our road trip we would try to save money in other ways such as sleeping in the car so it was not all terrible. I went to bed looking forward to checking out the national parks I had been looking forward to and seeing Mount Rainier up close.