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Annie Mac Notes from Seattle – Sunday Oct 17

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  • themcalexanders
    On Sunday we got up and had our breakfast at the hotel (waffles!) then headed downtown to Pioneer Square to catch the first tour of the day (11am) of the
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 1, 2010
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      On Sunday we got up and had our breakfast at the hotel (waffles!) then headed downtown to Pioneer Square to catch the first tour of the day (11am) of the Seattle Underground. We had a full day planned – after the tour we were going to drive down to Tacoma to visit the Museum of Glass (MOG), and then we were coming back to the Seattle Convention Center for the Pacific Sound Chorus show that evening.

      The Underground Tour is something I'd wanted to do the last time we were there, but we hadn't had enough time to squeeze it in. I'm glad now that we waited, because the kids would probably have been a little bored in 2002 (at ages six and eight), but at 14 Maggie found it fascinating and very entertaining. While waiting to start the tour we ran into our fellow chorus and SING list member Robbie Cooper, her husband Jim, and her sister and brother in law, and we also saw several other groups of Sweet Adelines, so it was starting to feel more and more like we were really at the international convention.

      Seattle was originally built on tidelands that often flooded, so when a large part of the city was destroyed in a fire in 1889, city leaders made the decision to raise the streets up between 12 and 30 feet (lower in town, and higher in the outlying area) to build the city on a higher plane. They also required that the buildings, previously almost all wood, be made primarily of brick or stone. The only problem was that the business owners needed to rebuild right away to survive, and it took the city years to build the raised streets, so the result was that the original first floors of the new buildings later became the basements as the new streets took shape. These former first floors, and some walkways surrounding them under where the sidewalks now are, form a hidden labyrinth known as the Seattle Underground. Because of the brick walls that support the newly raised streets, it's not possible to get from one block of the underground to another under the ground. Instead you have to come up to the surface, cross the street, and go back downstairs again. Fascinating!

      The tour is factual but also very humorous by design, so we heard some fun stories about how the people coped with lowered buildings and raised streets while construction was underway (they climbed very tall wooden ladders to get up over the brick walls and across the new streets – can you imagine women doing this in their Victorian-era finery?), and about how a very successful local Madam opened her business right next door to City Hall, offering them her parlor as a place to conduct – ahem – official city business. Needless to say, this was quite a popular meeting place.

      Her profession was quite common in Seattle in those days – The population was heavily male, young, and primarily focused on the logging industry, so they didn't bring a lot of women out there with them – and because every worker was required to register their trade in those days, most of the women listed their profession as "seamstress." Eventually the city caught on, realized they were losing a lot of revenue to these "seamstresses," and legalized the "seamstress" business, requiring that each woman pay a tax on her income. Even after paying taxes, this Madam became quite wealthy. And although she left most of her fortune to the University of Washington, the school declined to name any of its facilities after her because of her quite colorful background. The city followed suit, so her only lasting recognition is through a mention during this tour. As a little touch of humor, there were some old metal mattresses and a very antiquated sewing machine strewn around outside one of the underground building entrances.

      We stopped afterward to take some pictures by the totem pole in Pioneer Square, then headed down to Tacoma to the MOG.

      I didn't realize this until I was reading the Seattle information Anna Chamberlain published on the SING list, but the Seattle-Tacoma area is widely known for its glass artisans, and Tacoma is the hometown of one of the most renowned in the world, Dale Chihuly. I'm familiar with his work because of his large sculpture that hangs in the atrium of the Indianapolis Children's Museum, so I thought it might be interesting to visit the museum and see all the beautiful glass works. Maggie loves 3-D visual art, so she agreed that this was someplace she wanted to visit as well.

      The MOG was opened in 2002 (just days after we were here the last time) as a showplace for some of the best area artists, and unlike other glass museums (e.g. the one at Corning, NY), this one focuses on Contemporary and Pacific Northwest glass-art.

      It's about a 30-mile, 30-minute trip between Seattle and Tacoma on I-5. On the way on this beautiful, clear day we were able to see Mount Rainier in all its glory. Spectacular! We got off the interstate and were headed toward the museum when Maggie decided she was hungry. (She'd bypassed the waffle that morning and had less for breakfast than I'd had.) Not wanting to starve a tired, hungry, and somewhat whiny teenager (bad idea!), I agreed to look for somewhere to stop for lunch before we got to the museum. We passed one restaurant that looked okay, and I was just about to turn around and go back to it when we saw Alfred's Café in a cute little three-story yellow waterfront-looking building near the museum. It was the perfect place to stop for a vacation lunch – it was picturesque on the outside, had kind of a 50s diner feel inside, and had lots of sandwich choices. We ordered the bacon grilled cheese and the Monte Cristo (hey, we were on vacation after all!) and split both of them. The Monte Cristo was very good. The bacon grilled cheese was to die for!

      We got to the museum a little after 2:00, which still allowed us plenty of time to look around before it closed at 5:00. They told us the next glass-blowing demonstration in the Hot Shop (a glass workshop with auditorium seating inside a large silver vortex) started at 3:10, so we wandered the galleries for about an hour first. Our favorite exhibit was Kids Design Glass, a roomful of whimsical kid-designed glass sculptures made by the professional museum artists. Kids submit their designs to the museum, which chooses one per month to craft, and so far 52 works have been completed. Each one is created in front of a live audience at an event that features the kid designer as an honored guest. While we both liked many of the sculptures, we agreed that our favorite was Green Guy, who we found out later was also prominently featured on some of the Museum's literature, and on a refrigerator magnet that we picked up in the gift shop. (If you're interested in seeing him, Green Guy's picture is about halfway down by the Kids Design Glass information on this web page: http://www.museumofglass.org/exhibitions.)

      The glass blowing demonstration in the Hot Shop was one of those fascinating things that you stumble upon somewhat by accident that prove to be so memorable. We'd headed to the museum mainly to see the exhibits, and thought it was a nice bonus that they happened to have a demonstration that coincided with our visit, but we wouldn't have thought anything of it if we'd missed it. But this ended up being the absolute highlight of our visit. Let me sum it up in four words … I had no idea! I've been to several shops before where I've watched some pretty basic glass-blowing demonstrations (two memorable ones were in Venice and at Dollywood – talk about contrasts!) but I'd never watched a large-scale work of glass art being created. The entire thing took about 90 minutes, starting with the audience collaborating (using a very unofficial applause meter) to pick the style, color, and embellishments for a large glass vase, and culminating in the completed vase going into a curing oven to sit for a couple weeks. Three of the museum's professional artists crafted the vase (two of whom have been there since the museum opened), and it was just fascinating to watch all the hard work, timing, heat, nerves of steel, teamwork, calm hands, and lung power that went into it. If you're ever in the Seattle-Tacoma area, I highly recommend you visit and take this all in.

      Just before the museum closed at 5:00, we headed outside to Glass on the Plaza (the outdoor art installations surrounding the museum) and walked up a long ramp to a level up above street to find the entrance to the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, a 500-foot-long pedestrian overpass spanning the street in front of the museum. Think of walking along inside a 500-foot-long glass paperweight and you'll kind of have an idea of what this was like. It's really hard to describe, and pictures don't do it justice, but this will at least give you an idea: http://www.chihuly.com/bridgeofglass.

      After we'd finished gawking at the bridge and taking some really great pictures of it, we headed back to the car, back by our little café, back onto I-5, and back to Seattle. We arrived at the Convention Center at about 6:00 – Just in perfect time for the 6:30 Pacific Sound show.

      When I'd read several months ago about the show, I remember thinking, "Oh, if we're there already, we HAVE to go to that!" What a great idea – Schedule a local chorus's show to coincide with the international convention! Ladies from Pacific Sound, you sure must have been busy this week – Competing, helping with some of the local activities, AND doing your annual show? Wow! Any one of these would normally be pretty exhausting for most of us!

      And there were many other great groups sharing the bill with PCS from Washington state, British Columbia, Australia, and New Zealand. Choruses included Jet Cities, Faultline, Endeavour Harmony, and Greater Auckland. Quartets included The Fource (Rising Star contestants from NZ), Mojo, LiveWire, iCappella, Singspiration, and EvenTime. Headlining the show was Zing!, the current international Queens of Harmony. I'd never seen them perform in a show setting, only in the vastness of the international arena, so it was fun to see them up close, and be able to see a little more of their personality come through. I really enjoyed it, and of course we had to buy their new CD on the way out, and listen to it in the car on the way back to the hotel. Luckily Maggie reminded me to take it out before we returned the car, or it'd probably be there still!

      The show was very entertaining – a Wizard of Oz/Wicked theme with emcee Chris Noteware channeling a very madcap Glinda complete with a foofy dress and an extremely tall sparkly hat. When the hat kept falling off at the beginning of the show, she asked the audience if there were any real queens there, and brought double-queen Marcia Starnes up from the back of the audience to properly pin on the hat. We got to see previews of some of the international performance packages, including LiveWire's very entertaining L-O-V-E (with Theresa McCafferty as the reluctant E) and their humorous drug-disclaimer-like take on the barbershop hobby. Thanks to whoever came up with the idea of this super-show. It was really fun to get to see all these groups in one place, outside of the international competition setting.

      There was an afterglow afterward, and I asked Maggie if she wanted to go, but we agreed we were both pretty pooped, plus we didn't think we'd really know anyone very well that would be there, so once again we headed back to the hotel.

      Our plans for Monday: The ferry to Bainbridge Island and dinner later at Salty's


      Ann McAlexander
      Capital City Chorus, SAI
      BHS wife, mom, and Associate
    • themcalexanders
      The links I d included in my original message got a little messed up in translation ... They were fine when I first typed them in Word, but YahooGroups
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 2, 2010
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        The links I'd included in my original message got a little messed up in translation ... They were fine when I first typed them in Word, but YahooGroups included the period at the end as part of the link.

        Try these instead:

        Green Guy at the Museum of Glass:
        http://www.museumofglass.org/exhibitions

        The Chihuly Bridge of Glass:
        http://www.chihuly.com/bridgeofglass

        Also, I heard from Robbie that the couple with them at the Underground tour were actually her cousin and his wife, not in-laws. We saw Robbie from a distance later that night at the Pacific Sound show, too, so she and Jim were out making the rounds that day, too!

        Ann

        --- In bbshop@yahoogroups.com, "themcalexanders" <amcalexa@...> wrote:
        >
        > On Sunday ...
        >
        ... (If you're interested in seeing him, Green Guy's picture is about halfway down by the Kids Design Glass information on this web page: http://www.museumofglass.org/exhibitions.)
        >
        ... It's really hard to describe, and pictures don't do it justice, but this will at least give you an idea: http://www.chihuly.com/bridgeofglass.
        >
        > Ann McAlexander
        > Capital City Chorus, SAI
        > BHS wife, mom, and Associate
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