Dreaming of Landscapes Has Moved!

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Dreaming of Landscapes has moved to its new self hosted space. You can find it at binglestudios.com.

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Things That Are and Things That Will Be

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This week I did not have a cohesive collection of sketches. However, each sketch has sparked an idea for future projects I hope to post soon. Enjoy this collection of miscellaneous sketches and stay tuned for future developments.

My first library sketch is of the historic West Seattle Branch Library. The West Seattle Branch Library was funded by Andrew Carnegie's philanthropic efforts, opening in 1910.

My first library sketch is of the historic West Seattle Branch Library. The West Seattle Branch Library was funded by Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropic efforts, opening in 1910.

The Seattle Public Library recently announced that they will open all their branches on Sundays. Due to budget issues many neighborhood libraries had to close their doors on Sundays. However, a library levy passed in August included money to open all branches on Sundays.

To celebrate, the library system has challenged its patrons to visit 15 libraries in 15 weeks starting on Sunday, January 6. I have decided to take on this challenge, and sketch each library I visit. Stay tuned for further Seattle Library sketches and stories.

The atrium at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. This room is dedicated to South Asian statuary portraying buddhas, gods and goddesses in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions.

The atrium at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. This room is dedicated to South Asian statuary portraying buddhas, gods and goddesses in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions.

I also recently visited the wonderful Seattle Asian Art Museum. The museum is a hidden gem of Seattle, tucked away in Capital Hill’s Volunteer Park. As its name implies, this museum houses the Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) collection of art from Japan, China, India and other Asian countries.

Even if you are not a fan of Asian art, the art deco building that houses the collection is worth a visit. The park is also a classic example of the Olmsted brother’s work with sweeping lawns and shady woods. Stay tuned for more sketches of SAM’s collections and properties.

During my time in Mt. Vernon, I only had the chance to sketch this view of Highway 99 and a gas station next to my motel. This was even more difficult when the sun rose, blocking half the view.

During my time in Mt. Vernon, I only had the chance to sketch this view of Highway 99 and a gas station next to my motel. This was even more difficult when the sun rose, blocking half the view.

This finally sketch is of old highway 99 near Mt. Vernon, WA. Mt. Vernon is a small town ninety minutes north of Seattle and is famous for its annual tulip festival. Downtown Mt. Vernon has a charming collection of shops housed in historic brick buildings. The Calico Cupboard is particularly famous for its breakfast and lunches.

SAM’s Porcelain Room

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A section of the porcelain collection. Most of the pieces in this view are from England  though the plate at bottom center is from Germany. All of the pieces date to the mid 18th century.

A section of the porcelain collection. Most of the pieces in this view are from England though the plate at bottom center is from Germany. All of the pieces date to the mid 18th century.

Deep in the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is a windowless room filled with floor to ceiling cases displaying several thousand years of porcelain. Porcelain was first developed in China during the Eastern Han Dynasty (196-220 CE) and was refined during the following Tang Dynasty (618-906 CE). Porcelain is extremely strong because the clay and stone dust used to create porcelain has a high content of quartz and mica. This allows for the thin ceramics and transparency associated with fine china wares.

Following the Tang dynasty, porcelains became a major export and were highly prized in Europe. European aristocrats and wealthy merchants collected porcelain and displayed their collections in rooms, which inspired SAM’s porcelain room. The porcelain room fashion reached its height under Augustus the Strong, King of Poland, who built an entire palace to house his 20,000 piece porcelain collection.

Today porcelain is used in a wide range of applications. Toilets are the most common example, but porcelain’s strength lends it to many industrial and commercial applications as well. Porcelain insulators are used on high voltage power lines, and porcelain tiling is used extensively in the building industry.

This ten sided dish is from 18th century Japan and was originally a piece in Augustus the Strong's porcelain palace. The scene on the dish shows a cat crouching next to some bonsai and bamboo.

This ten sided dish is from 18th century Japan and was originally a piece in Augustus the Strong’s porcelain palace. The scene on the dish shows a cat crouching next to some bonsai and bamboo.

Want to learn more about the SAM’s porcelain collection? Visit here

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All sketches on Dreaming of Landscapes are available as art prints for $15.

 

Magic, Modernism and Soviets at the University of Washington

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If you are a fan of Harry Potter, you should visit the Suzzallo Library on the University of Washington campus. The library is an outstanding example of the collegiate gothic architectural style with a plethora of arches, stain glass windows and statuary. Standing in the library reading room, you could forget that just outside is a modernist inspired square and think you are in a Europe cathedral.

 

Suzzallo Library opened in 1926. It was championed by the University of Washington’s president Henry Suzzallo, who was dismissed before the library was completed. Following Suzzallo’s death in 1933, the University named the library after him.

Inside, the Suzzallo Library is decorated with geometric shapes and arches. The most spectacular room is the reading room. At 250 feet long, 52 feet wide and 62 feet tall, you feel like you have stepped back outside when you enter the reading room. Soaring stain glass windows top off oak book cases decorated with native foliage while rows of desks and lamps seem to disappear into the distance.

The library’s facade is decorated with statues of historic figures who contributed to learning and culture: Moses, Shakespeare, Plato, Newton, and Benjamin Franklin to name a few. The library’s front entrance features reliefs representing mastery, inspiration and thought who look out on the University’s Central Plaza, commonly known as Red Square.

In 1962, an underground parking garage was built on this site. Fearing that grass would lead to leaks in the garage’s roof, the project engineers ordered the garage paved over with red brick. The university student newspaper editor, Cassandra Amesely, began referring to the space as Red Square and the name stuck.

Folk lore holds that the name is a reference to Moscow’s famous Red Square. This allowed the 1960s student body to subverting the University’s authority by renaming the square for the center of Soviet patriotism, but remain blameless. However, this has never been confirmed.

 

The Suzzallo Library’s gothic style facade is a sharp contrast to the modernist inspired Red Square and Brutalist architecture of Kane Hall.

Want to learn more about Suzzallo Library and the University of Washington? Visit here

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Jack Block Park: A Window on the Port of Seattle

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The Port of Seattle container yard stretches into the distance framed by the West Seattle Bridge and a container crane.

Most landscape architects are familiar with Seattle’s Gas Works Park. Designed by Richard Haag, Gas Works Park and several German parks launched a new design movement that preserved and celebrated industrial landscapes. However, Seattle is filled with parks that not only celebrate past industrial activity but provide a window onto working industrial landscapes.

My favorite example is Jack Block Park in West Seattle. Like many of Seattle’s industrial parks, Jack Block is hidden behind railroad tracks and freight containers. The only sign of the park is an arched gate and a road winding away into the Port of Seattle’s train yard. Following this road, visitors find themselves immersed in an island of green on the edge of Elliot Bay with stunning views of the Port of Seattle and downtown.

This week’s sketch was done on the Jack Block Park observation platform. The platform offers a 180 degree view of Elliot bay and is a perfect place to watch the parade of freighters, ferries, cruise ships and pleasure craft using the port. The sketch shows the view to the south, dominated by the Port’s container yard and cranes with the West Seattle Bridge in the distance.

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A train car waits to be loaded in the Port of Seattle’s train yard.

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