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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hands On Museum

Hands On Children’s Museum in downtown Olympia held their grand opening this weekend this weekend. The 28,000 square foot building will be the largest children’s museum in the country when the outdoor space opens early next summer. For now, visitors will be greeted by galleries, an art studio, over 150 exhibits including the centerpiece and indoor climbing apparatus, Tides to Trees which allows children to climb an interpretive eagle’s nest and then slide down to an interpretive Puget Sound.

Hands On is the brainchild of a group of south sound parents who organized a roving museum without walls back in 1987. The group would develop theme based exhibitions and set them up wherever they could get space. The group acquired a brick and mortar space on Franklin street in 1994 but with 15,000 visitors /year the museum outgrew that site. In 1998 they landed a former restaurant space located kiddy-corner from Captial Campus  on the corner of 11th and Capital. With a growing audience, they knocked down walls and enlarged allowing them to host an average of 100,000 visitors /year.

Public Facilities District, PFD, funds allowed the city of Olympia to allocate $7 million in seed money to the museum. Olympia leaders contributed $1million more and then purchased some land  to construct the building. The leaders struck a deal to lease the museum building to the non-profit for $1/year. The museum organization agreed to raise the remaining $18.5 million for the building’s interior.

The result is a huge benefit to the community as the indoor/outdoor learning facility expands experiential learning with endlessly creative environments. The museum is expected to draw over 200,000 visitors annually. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thursday night revivals

Lately when I drive home from yoga on Thursday evenings I've noticed a crowd gathered in the vacant lot near the downtown transit terminal. With the sun still strong and plenty of time I stopped to see what was happening. 

A multi-colored truck complete with a deck and amplifiers reported loudly that "Jesus Saves." As I sat and sketched the crowd a man on a horse approached alongside the group. I heard the speaker announce instructions about bringing children to a western summer camp the following Saturday. 

The sun slid beneath the horizon and the crowd disbursed leaving me to wonder whether I'd witnessed a vision or reality. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Keep on truckin'

If you've noticed more food carts in Olympia recently, there's a reason. The Olympia City Council has, as of last summer and due to the urging of a small but persistent vendors, relaxed it's requirements for permits. Before last summer the city required vendors to renew their $180 permits four times a year totaling $470/annually. Now the fee is $180, once a year. This reduced overhead and hassle, along with the allowance of a vendor parking area along State Street between Cherry and Franklin, encourages vendors to set up business and consistently serve their wares.

California tacos is probably the longest standing food truck in the area. They have three trucks stationed in Lacey, downtown and the westside. I've been going to them for years and will vouch for their cleanliness and good quality.

Westside California Tacos

 Eastside California Tacos

Downtown California Tacos

Nineveh Assyrian Food - on Plum - check out their fried cauliflower

Another shot of Nineveh and Downtown California Tacos

Filling Station Food Court

Thursday, July 12, 2012

2012 Farmers Market +

The Olympia Farmer's Market is one of my favorite sketching spots in Olympia. It has all the fixings of a good sketch color, an endless variety of shape and value, constancy and change happening simultaneously. 

Sullivan's Homestead at the east most side of the market is a hub-ub of activity even on rainy days. Bins of colorful fruits overflow the bins and vendors pass out tastes of the ripening fruit.

The market contracts with musicians that play the market venue every day the market is open. They start at 11 and end at 2, attracting music lovers and enlivening the shopping experience. The contracted musicians play the market stage and covered picnic area. At the same time independent musicians set up on either end of the market or across the street near Dancing Goats. These buskers range from school aged musicians strengthening their courage, to experienced buskers. 

 The chile cart is one of my favorite market scenes. the colors and shapes are scrumptious! Every year I make several sketches of the cart or chile peppers or both. I often buy a bunch and set them out on a table like a bouquet.

The palm readers waiting for their next customers.

From the parking lot

Register to vote while you buy out vegies

Fall apple harvest

The market sits just east of Fiddle Head Marina. On a recent sunny evening, the sunlit water drew me to the shoreline to sketch a few skiffs.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Seattle Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity in Seattle has a building site on Seattle Center grounds. Urban Sketchers visited in June and sketched the volunteers making bricks for the World House. Frank Gerry's Experience Music Project, with its colorful, contoured metallic surface provides a sharp contrast to the simple Habitat structures.

This larger structure is dubbed "Home of the Immediate Future". It's long and narrow, but designed to expand internally. Inhabitants can move the walls to create smaller or larger rooms as their family expands or shrinks. This structure will be moved to a building site on Rainier Avenue in South Seattle.

The small "World House" (about 12'x15') is typical of houses Habitat builds in third world countries. Currently there are many of these structures in Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries. This structure would house about 6 people. Even though the climate allows for much more outdoor living, it is very small by American standards. The workers were making bricks for the structure's facade.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stimson Green Mansion

Stimson Green Mansion on Seattle's First Hill presides as one of Seattle's most distinguished residential structures. Designed by Spokane architect Kirtland Cutter and completed in 1901, it is an example of "eclectic architecture", a trend that was popularized by the world's fairs of the late 1800's. The idea was to give you an overview of architectural history as you walked from room to room much like touring fair pavillions. In the case of Stimsom Green, the exterior is English Tudor, the front entry hall has Romanesque arches and decor, the tea room is "empire", a Napolean era throwback to Greek and Roman classicism, and the kitchen... Downton Abbey era industrial. 

The Stimson family lived in the house until 1914 when they moved to the Highlands. A Seattle business man Joshua Green and his wife, Laura purchased it in 1915 and lived there for 60 years. They both passed away in 1975.

The mansion now houses the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, a foundation committed to helping save historical landmarks. They maintain a most endangered historic properties list and serve as advocates, publicists and grantors for historic preservation projects. 

As hosts of our sketchers' group the foundation's staff were very gracious, allowing us to prowl the corridors of the entire house, find out favorite spots and sketch as we pleased. I found myself attracted to the more practical areas: the kitchen and the second floor bathroom. My companions sketched elegant staircases the Porte Cochere, a Turkish smoking room, spacious bedrooms and the stately exterior

I recommend visiting or better, renting it out for your next big party. You could play a part in preserving one of Seattle's most distinguished historical properties.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Year of the Dragon

The Year of the Dragon got a jumpstart when the Lieu Quan Lion Dance Team made their entrance at the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle's International District. The museum hosted an early new year's party on the third Saturday, January 21, to coincide with their monthly free admission Saturday. Even though the holiday officially started on Monday January 23, there were "the Wing" kicked off the opening of its newest exhibit New Years All Year Long which will be on display until mid July of this year. The exhibit features cultural traditions, foods and activities from several asian cultures.   

The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience is located just a few blocks from King Street Station in the heart of Seattle's International District. It is the only museum in the nation that hosts displays and stories of countless Asian Pacific immigrants and their countless stories that engender compassion and appreciation. 

Wing Luke was a Chinese immigrant born in 1925 who was the first Asian American to hold an elected office in the pacific Northwest. He helped pass the Open Housing ordinance in 1963 which punished racial discrimination in real estate transactions. 

The museum started out as a small folk art museum in a storefront on 8th Avenue. It grew and moved to a larger venue on 7th Avenue, growing under the direction of Ron Chew. In 2008 the museum renovated the historic East Kong Yick Building at 719 E. King St. and relocated there. The Wing hosts daily tours that allow you to explore the neighborhood, discover it's fascinating history and expand your appreciation of these diverse cultures.