Saturday, July 22, 2006

Soon turned out had a heart of glass

Fun day today! We met TJ's Uncle Rick and Aunt Jane in Tacoma at the Museum of Glass.

The Museum's building and plaza is pretty cool, nice and modern, lots of open spaces and light. The weird thing is that they have only one gallery with a couple of rooms, and they were running a few exhibits, only one of which was actually glass.

This was true the last time I went there, a few years ago with Kristin. I mean, if you're going to call yourself 'The Museum of Glass', I'd expect a much larger exhibition of actual glass. (duh). If I wanted to see weirdo mixed-media/film/scary paintings, I'd go to any one of the zillions of regular museums around here.

They did have a cool piece in their open lobby area, called 'Banketje' by Beth Lipman.

She recreated a 17th century Dutch still life painting of an overflowing banquet table, completely in clear glass. There were even a few broken pieces on the floor, and we couldn't figure out whether they were supposed to be there or had fallen off. (Turns out, after reading the fine print, they were supposed to be there, representing life's excesses or something...) From the description, it took 15 people to make the 400 objects on that table.

And that's what I think is pretty neat about glass art - it seems to be a team effort (though I guess the primary artist gets all the credit, much like Nobel Prize-winning science). Dale Chihuly, the famous glass artist who created the amazing ceiling sculpture at the Bellagio's lobby (with over 2,000 individual pieces!), has three huge installations on the Bridge of Glass, right outside the Museum. Each of those has a ton of individual pieces, which must have been created by a huge team, judging from the complexity of what's there. I wish I had my camera, but I'll have to be satisfied with the photos I stole from the Chihuly website:

Bridge of Glass Seaform Pavilion

Bridge of Glass Seaform Pavilion

But the absolutely coolest part of the museum was The Hot Shop. It's a live glassblowing studio, with real artists and their teams making new glass sculptures. You can sit right in front, enough to feel the heat from the 6 furnaces and various ovens, and watch them do their intricate dance to work quickly with the glass while it's malleable, while not poking each other with the 2000 degree metal implements. We were there for over an hour, watching them create a stripy worm-like vase, which was supposed to look like a 70s striped stocking. One of the guys even talked to us a little bit, answering our questions.

It reminded me of sitting at the "Chef's Counter" at Alan Wong's restaurant in Hawaii and watching those guys prepare the meals. The Hot Shop and Bridge of Glass were well worth the trip to Tacoma. That, and seeing family, of course!

We ate lunch at Blue Olive, the ultra-hip restaurant and lounge right by the museum. It was pretty good, not spectacular. Nearby was also Urban Dogs, a very cool pet accessory boutique, but TJ wouldn't let me go there since our dogs have too much "stuff" already. (Spike disagrees, and wouldn't mind some new treats every now and then.)

After we returned home, I collected the dogs in our air-conditioned bedroom and we napped and hid out from the heat for the next several hours. It's been a nice lazy day. I even managed to get to the gym, and read half of the chapter about binomial distributions for my online Statistics course. What more could a girl ask for out of a weekend day?


  1. Cool stuff. I could never do glassblowing -- requires too much patience and attention to detail in the midst of too much heat. But it's beautiful stuff!

    I happened to hear a piece on NPR today about the Museum of Online Museums, where you can see weird stuff online in virtual museums. Like a collection of air sickness bags from various airlines and such. Weird and goofy.

    We named the new pup: Milou (MEE-lou), after the white dog in the "Adventures of Tintin" comics by the Belgian artist. Yay :)


  2. I am a little bit surprised that you went to a museum on a saturday.I thought sight seeing and museum visiting are not your cup of tea.Amma will really be proud !!


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