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April 23, 2007

Olympic Sculpture Park

Last weekend I went to visit the Olympic Sculpture Park, on the edge of downtown Seattle. There is a map of it available here (a PDF). The sculpture park is in a great setting, right on the water, and very interestingly arrayed across the landscape. It's an example of how Microsoft money is changing Seattle, with big donations from Bill Gates, Jon Shirley, and William Neukom funding it.

The art itself is the typical "It's good because the experts say so" sculpture, but there were a couple I liked. Walking between the pieces of Richard Serra's "Wake" is nifty, and the vivarium is interesting (but doesn't beat a walk in a real forest). My favorite by far was Beverley Pepper's "Perre's Ventaglio III". The picture here captures the effect pretty well. Because it is so reflective, and because it has the same landscaping on either side, it really does create the intended visual trick, which is that the sculpture is not there and the gaps in the sculpture are there. It rewards an extended viewing.

I was looking at Google Maps later and realized that the Michael Heizer sculpture "Adjacent, Against, Upon" is just north of the sculpture garden, in Myrtle Edwards Park; it's not officially part of it but it isn't that far to walk (I didn't realize it was that close when I was visiting the sculpture garden). You can see the Heizer sculpture quite clearly in satellite photos (the Sculpture Garden itself is too new).

Then I started following the train tracks north and realized that up towards Mukilteo you can see a freight train in the satellite photo! I tried to count the cars, I think it had about 95 total.

Posted by AdamBa at April 23, 2007 08:50 PM

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Wow that is one heck of a train you've got there. I don't think we have trains that size over here.

Posted by: Jack at April 24, 2007 05:43 AM

the typical "It's good because the experts say so" sculpture

implying what? that YOU know better? ;) wow, everybody's an expert now. Or I guess nobody's an expert. either way, how do you suggest the sculpltures are selected?

I propose a digg-style virtual art gallery for up and coming artists where art works from around the world are voted up or down by the general public and the top 5% are then shown in a traveling display.

Posted by: pffft at April 24, 2007 10:23 AM

I admit to being a complete clod about such things; but I don't see why this particular collection of welded tractor parts is better than that collection of welded tractor parts.

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at April 24, 2007 04:58 PM

Geez pffft, why the flame? I read Adam's description as meaning the sculpture might be a little inaccessible or avant garde, not that he thought he was more qualified to judge art than the experts.

Posted by: guest at April 24, 2007 05:57 PM

I saw Ray Ozzie there the weekend before :)

Posted by: anonymouse at April 25, 2007 03:44 PM

People like you and so called experts try to impose guilt on the general public for not liking the modern art, because they don't understand it. However the very fact that public doesn't like it, means it is dead.
Art is turned into elitarist hobby, way for rich people to spend ridiculous sums of money, and the rest of people just assume that nobody would waste so much money on crap. In fact it is not art, it is business. You know, nothing personal.

The idea for voting is really good. You must try to implement it.

Posted by: Ivan at April 25, 2007 05:00 PM

adam, there is a hell lot of spam in your blog. make something.

Posted by: Ivan at April 25, 2007 05:01 PM

People like me? Tell me more about me. :)

It wasn't meant as a flame - don't be so sensitive. Didn't you see the smiley? ;)

It was a serious question. Assuming, for the moment, that we do want public art -- who picks it? How? Somebody has to pick the art. Will you do a better job? (Probably not). Art is subjective and opinions will always be mixed.

It's easy to blame the "experts" but I think that smacks of complacency.

Posted by: pffft at April 26, 2007 10:17 AM