Our good friend, Dennis, has been bartender at The Space Needle for 34 years!!! He invited Hubby and me to join him and some other friends for a tour in November (yes, “last year”) and as it was a splendid day, the views were astounding!!
The Space Needle observation tower was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and is an icon of Seattle. At 605 feet high, it was for many years the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. From up top you can either dine in the rotating restaurant or just enjoy amazing vistas of the Seattle skyline, Elliott Bay and surrounding islands, the Olympic Mountains to the west, the Cascade Mountains to the east, Mt. Rainier to the south and Mt. Baker to the north, On April 19, 1999, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Board designated it a historic landmark.
In September 2017, the needle underwent a $100 million renovation to include the world’s first and only revolving, see-through glass floor, known as “The Loupe”, as well as the replacement of the observation deck’s wire enclosure with glass panels. It has only recently been reopened to visitors (the restaurant is still unopened) so we were thrilled when Dennis asked us to join him! It was entertaining to watch people apprehensively step out onto the glass floor for the first time and some who couldn’t muster the courage at all! Myself, I had to inch my way out with first my big toe, and then another, until one foot was extended, and finally I was standing directly over glass exposing our beautiful city below! Eventually I was brave enough to actually lay down on it! Another great opportunity to be a tourist in our own backyard!
Backtracking a little further to October of 2018, we had our fun friends, Marge and Ted, visit us from Toronto. We met them in Zihuatanejo, Mexico and after our second sharing of vacation time with them there, they invited us to their lovely home in St. Catherine’s. Not only did they engineer a Major League Baseball game at Rogers Centre downtown Toronto to see the Blue Jays which allowed me to cross another ballpark off my list, they also took us to their Upper Canada Cheese Company (amazing, delicious and finely crafted curds and whey), to some stellar wineries AND to Niagara Falls!! So, when we heard that they would be just north of us in Vancouver and Victoria, Canada visiting friends and family, we proffered an invitation to them for an extended Pacific Northwest visit.
It started off with a bit of a SNAFU as the day they were to catch their ferry to Anacortes, just a ninety minute drive north for us – that particular route was shut down for maintenance!! So instead they took another course that had US taking a ferry from from the beautiful port town of Edmonds to picturesque Kingston and then a 61 mile drive to the harbor town of Port Angeles (and BACK)! Which was actually quite okay, because its a lovely drive through and along side the towering trees of a bit of our Olympic Forest. To add to the fullness of our day, we accepted an invitation to join Julie and Walt at their stunning and welcoming Magnolia home before concluding at our Kirkland condo for the evening. We ALSO met Julie and Walt in Zihuatanejo and so all six of us enjoyed each other’s company together in paradise! Julie is an amazing chef and she WOWED us with a visually intoxicating, aromatic, mouth watering spread of Spanish cuisine as a celebration of Bill’s and my recent trip there! Walt served us some most delicious Washington wine as well.
The weather forecast had been dubious, however we were fortunate that instead we enjoyed crisp and lovely autumn temperatures and mostly blue skies during our Canadian Friends’ visit. There are always so many fun things to do around town that its difficult to choose, yet ultimately we decided upon a visit to Pike Place Market (yes, we visited the “Gum Wall” and saw a few salmon get thrown – quite the tradition there) and just enjoyed moseying around.
Then we had a delightful visit to Chihuly Garden and Glass, located in the heart of Seattle adjacent to the Space Needle, This “Museum” provides a look at the inspiration and influences that inform the career of our local boy (well almost), artist Dale Chihuly. The exhibition has eight interior galleries, a lush outdoor garden and a centerpiece Glasshouse for a comprehensive look at his most significant series of work. There was so much to feast our eyes upon during the day experiencing these various collections, and we will definitely want to come back in the evening sometime when lighting will create an entirely varied display!
We grabbed a delicious lunch in the adjoining Collections Café, which in and of itself is a unique, long-term exhibition. Each table is a shadow box of individual vintage collections and surrounding shelves and walls are loaded with collectables gathered and treasured over the years by Dale. “I discovered my first collection of beach glass on the shores of Puget Sound when I was four or five years old. I have never stopped collecting since.” (Dale) It was mind boggling to look at the displays of ceramic dogs, bottle openers, Mexican silver ashtrays, pocket knives, inkwells, alarm clocks, plastic radios, cast iron bouquet doorstops, cast iron dogs, string holders, fish decoys, tin toys, African necklaces, chalkware, toy house trailers, doll house furniture, fishing plugs, toys soldiers, cast iron dog bookends, shaving brushes, transistor radios, silvered bottles, accordions, juicers, vintage Christmas ornaments, fly fishing poles and reels, 1950’s cameras, small toy cars! I have more pictures of these than of the stunning glasswork as frankly, the latter is so difficult to capture in a photo. Please do further research to see Dale’s work – you will not be disappointed. In fact, I have included some of that data below.
I LOVE Dale’s works so much, I may put you to sleep with details garnered from www.chihulygardenandglass.com, yet I simply have to! I will place them at the end though so you can totally skip through if you want (well, of course you can skip anything you want at ANY time you want…)
Not to be outdone, we took our friends to several Woodinville wineries to sample some Washington juice and still had time to enjoy the view of Lake Washington from our condo! A good time was had by all!!
From www.chihulygardenandglass.com: “Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington,” (thus my “almost” local comment above given that this city is a bit south of Seattle) “Dale Chihuly was introduced to glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington. After graduating in 1965, Chihuly enrolled in the first glass program in the country, at the University of Wisconsin. He continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he later established the glass program and taught for more than a decade.
In 1968, after receiving a Fulbright Fellowship, he went to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice. There he observed the team approach to blowing glass, which is critical to the way he works today. In 1971, Chihuly cofounded Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State. With this international glass center, Chihuly has led the avant-garde in the development of glass as a fine art.
His work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide. He has been the recipient of many awards, including twelve honorary doctorates and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Chihuly has created more than a dozen well-known series of works, among them, Cylinders and Baskets in the 1970s; Seaforms, Macchia, Venetians, and Persians in the 1980s; Niijima Floats and Chandeliers in the 1990s; and Fiori in the 2000s. He is also celebrated for large architectural installations. In 1986, he was honored with a solo exhibition, Dale Chihuly objets de verre, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, in Paris. In 1995, he began Chihuly Over Venice, for which he created sculptures at glass factories in Finland, Ireland, and Mexico, then installed them over the canals and piazzas of Venice.
In 1999, Chihuly started an ambitious exhibition, Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem; more than 1 million visitors attended the Tower of David Museum to view his installations. In 2001, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London curated the exhibition Chihuly at the V&A. Chihuly’s lifelong fascination for glasshouses has grown into a series of exhibitions within botanical settings. His Garden Cycle began in 2001 at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. Chihuly exhibited at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, near London, in 2005. Other major exhibition venues include the de Young Museum in San Francisco, in 2008; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 2011; and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2013. Chihuly Garden and Glass, a long-term exhibition, opened at Seattle Center in 2012.
For his exhibition in Jerusalem, Israel in 2000, in addition to the glass pieces, he had enormous blocks of transparent ice brought in from an Alaskan artesian well and formed a wall, echoing the stones of the nearby Citadel. Lights with color gels were set up behind them for illumination. Chihuly said the melting wall represented the “dissolution of barriers” between people. This exhibit holds the world record for most visitors to a temporary exhibit with more than 1.3 million visitors.
Chihuly’s largest permanent exhibit can be found at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Chihuly maintains two retail stores in partnership with MGM Resorts International. One is located at the Bellagio on the Las Vegas Strip, the other at the MGM Grand Casino in Macau. A number of other galleries also carry his pieces. He also has a gallery in Las Vegas in the Crystals in the Las Vegas City Center in Gallery Row. In 1983 Chihuly returned to his native Pacific Northwest where he continued to develop his own work at the Pilchuck Glass School, which he had helped to found in 1971. Throughout the 1970s, influenced by the great glassblowing tradition of Murano, Chihuly experimented with the team approach to glassblowing. Working with a team of master glassblowers and assistants has enabled him to produce architectural glass art of a scale and quantity unimaginable working alone or with only one assistant. In 2010 the Space Needle Corporation submitted a proposal for an exhibition of Chihuly’s work at a site in the Seattle Center, in competition with proposals for other uses from several other groups. The project, which sees the new Chihuly exhibition hall occupy the site of the former Fun Forest amusement park in the Seattle Center park and entertainment complex, received the final green light from the Seattle City Council on April 25, 2011. Called Chihuly Garden and Glass, it opened May 21, 2012
•1996: Chihuly Over Venice, Venice, Italy
•2001: Chihuly at the V&A, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
•2005: Gardens of Glass, Kew Gardens, London.
•2006: Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri
•2006: Oisterwijk Sculptuur, Oisterwijk, Netherlands
•2006: New York Botanical Garden, New York, New York
•2016: Chihuly in the Garden, Atlanta Botanical Garden
•2018: Chihuly at the Biltmore House Asheville, NC”