Seattle was recently named in Kiplinger’s 10 Best Cities list, number two in fact (after Austin!). Mark Emerett, president of UW, is quoted as declaring, “We have only two products here: smart people and great ideas.” Among cities that are prosperous, innovative, and are generating plenty of jobs, Seattle stands out to me for its jewel-like Pacific Rim location set amid the natural splendors of the Pacific Northwest.
The real estate market here was affected along with the rest of the country and “suffered” losses (buyers are celebrating of course) of value of about 20% since the peak according to comparisons I’ve recently been running for January sales over the past several years (more in some outlying areas) but the effects of the “underwater” mortgages on short sales and repossessions were less than in many parts of the country where we hear the job market was hit much harder. With our sparkley, innovative large-scale employers and diverse and exciting live sciences industry (UW has a billion dollar a year research budget in place and there are plentiful bioscience and research centers) Seattle’s economy, according to the financial gurus at Kiplinger, is poised for take off.
As a happy resident, that is good news not only because I am a real estate broker who loves helping people find their homes here, but also because of the major interest the top companies here, guided I’m sure by the same farsightedness that created some of the world’s most exciting corporate visions and cultures, have been big players in the development of the area’s arts and amenities. Not to mention whole neighborhoods having their future shifted by the commitments of the area’s major entrepreneurs, notably most recently the development of the South Lake Union area guided by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (who founded Vulcan Real Estate, SLU major player, and lent 30 million to the land acquisition kickoff, leading to an infusion of more than 2 billion in private industry investment and development) and the City of Seattle which designated the area an urban center in 2004 indicating 16,000 new jobs and 8,000 new households in the neighborhood by 2024).
For me, my family, and all those living and working here in Seattle and the area, it means an endless variety of arts, sports, activities and amenities that make for a rich and varied experience that blends the natural splendor of the area with the sparkle and variety of society.
SAM, Seattle Art Museum, is a wonderful jewel in the city’s plethora of adornment, but can easily be overlooked as we take advantage of the infinite range of what’s available here, there, everywhere in the area. Don’t overlook it this spring. The Paul Gaugain exhibit (Gaugain and Polynesia) is here until April 29, and it would be a real shame to miss out on the chance to see his work in real life (much as I love the virtual world), the only opportunity to see this show in North America! (Thanks, SAM!) Gaugain is one of the larger-than-life morphing-into-modern painters along with Picasso and Van Gogh (ok, and Cezanne and Monet and Matisse and …) whose work remains influential throughout our art and life. What soft bright glory shines through some of his island visions and lush still lifes! Sometimes characterized as a European stockbroker who left his wife and five children to live an unstructured fantasy on a remote Pacific Island, certainly not a character of moral exemplitude, yet as with all truly great historical figures the work he leaves us retains a life beyond the mere humanity of its creator. We left with a magnified sense of things unknown, of soft breezes in the far distance calling our names over and over, of the point on every path where our past and our destiny intersect for an instant, of the moment in time that defines history.
FURTHERmore, the next day after going to the exhibit (I’m a member so they knew I’d been there of course, but this is a little big-brotherish for me, though I’d better get used to it) I got an email from SAM thanking me for turning up to see the show, and reminding me that as a member I’m eligible for as many free visits to the Gaugain exhibit as I wish! Actually I plan to go several more times, and not only to see Gaugain. A rainy Sunday afternoon must be one of the most crowded moments in the week, and I will certainly pop in on a weekday morning to take advantage of the quieter time. Also, we spent so much time in the modern sculpture and painting gallery, and the glass, as well as the Polynesia exhibit that I failed to get my usual 30 minutes in the small but really really poignant collection of Greek and Roman artifacts including glass and carvings that date from (give or take a few centuries) 2,000 years ago. The sense of timelessness and distance available there in the heart of Seattle is an endless source of renewal. Oh, in the email from SAM they provided me with a wonderful link I want to share with you, to an interactive map of Gaugain’s journey with videos of a couple curators and local art historians talking about his work, and life. Until you get to SAM, this is a great start to the experience! And a good aftermath, I have to admit.
If you have young children, don’t hesitate. My friend commented repeatedly on all the fantastic play areas with art related toys and interactivity including computer learning stations for the tweens in strategic areas of the 5 floors of the Museum. We stopped by Taste for some truly perfect coffee and desert, highly recommended and with a major play area within view on the landing just outside for the active members of your party. I say “outside”and it is outside the restaurant but within the building itself, part of the museum facilities. My son, being 10, enjoyed photographing many of the sculptures, paintings, carvings and instalations, a great way to engage that age group with the art and exploration. There are “no camera” icons where photography is prohibited (yes, like in the Polynesia exhibit), but elsewhere the art and the people experiencing it provide wonderful opportunities for yet another kind of self expressive interactivity. His photos are used for this blog, thanks Daniel!
More information about Edy Kizaki.