We joined hundreds of other procrastinators last Saturday to tour the Picasso exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum.
The lines were long, and the 12 galleries holding 150 original works of art by the legendary Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) were crowded.
But what else would you expect from a rich and rare art exhibit that shattered the Seattle Art Museum attendance record, playing host to more than 325,000 visitors before the exhibit closes its more than three-month run at midnight tomorrow?
The folks at SAM are bending over backwards to make sure there are no excuses if you want to catch the exhibit in these final two days. The Picasso show is open to midnight today and Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. All tickets are available only on site, so you’ll have to be prepared to brave some potentially long lines.
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This is truly a once-in-alifetime opportunity, The exhibit is drawn from iconic works housed at the Musee National Picasso in Paris, representing the artist’s personal collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and photographs – pieces that Picasso kept for himself with the intent of shaping his own artistic legacy.
Each gallery is dedicated to a major artistic period in Picasso’s career. The exhibit is a window into Picasso’s adventurous, stimulating world that spanned several lovers and muses, four brutal wars and myriad artistic influences.
“Painting is just another way of keeping a dairy,” Picasso once said. To view the exhibit is to capture vivid images from his diary.
“Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris,” is the most comprehensive presentation of Picasso art to ever show in the Pacific Northwest. This unique opportunity was made possible because the Paris museum recently closed for remodeling. Officials there agreed to send Picasso’s work on a global tour that included Seattle.
While touring the Picasso exhibit, the Seattle Seahawks were several blocks away, falling behind the defending world champion New Orleans Saints by scores of 10-0 and 17-7. We paid no attention to the first half of the NFL playoff game, immersed in the eye-catching Picasso art.
But after about 90 minutes, my eyes began to ache and my mind began to wander toward Qwest Field. We bid adieu to the museum and hoofed it back to our hotel, a bone-chilling wind blowing off Elliott Bay to propel us along at a brisk pace.
Back in our room, we turned on the television to catch up on the game. Lo and behold, it turned into a thriller, ending in a Seahawks win.
Downtown Seattle was electric that night as celebratory fans took to the bars and restaurants basking in the glory of Marshawn Lynch’s 67-yard touchdown run that salted the game away.
I was struck by how many Saints fans made the long trip to Seattle. They were a deflated bunch, but the ones I talked to – except for a friend and New Orleans native back in Olympia – weren’t crushed by the defeat. They had last year’s championship to help ease the pain.
While Seahawks playoff football and Picasso art are worlds apart, the big game against the Bears today in Chicago isn’t lost on the folks at the Seattle Art Museum.
“We’ll be showing the game live in our museum auditorium, which seats 300 people,” noted SAM spokeswoman Nicole Griffin.
If you haven’t been to the Urban Onion Restaurant lately in the historic Olympian Hotel in downtown Olympia, you’re in for a big surprise.
I met with new co-owner Jenny Shaw the other day to catch up with her efforts to breathe some new life into the restaurant and adjoining lounge.
“When we bought it in May of 2008, it was really run down,” Shaw admitted. “It was dark, hot in the summer and didn’t have any windows.”
Actually, there are three gigantic, arched windows looking across Legion Way to Sylvester Avenue. But they were accessible only from the bar, which was separated from the dining area by a wall.
Shaw saw a historic photo of the room, sans wall, and knew right away what her first renovation would be.
“We started taking down the wall shortly after we bought the restaurant and lounge,” she said.
Enter the restaurant today and it’s airy and light, highlighted by the three windows overlooking the park.
The next step was to tear out the old carpet, exposing the original floor, which consists of countless one-inchsquare, black-and-white marble tiles.
“Architecturally, we’re just trying to embrace what it was originally,” she said of the historic hotel room. “We’re letting the space speak for itself.”
The next step is to find some historical photos to place on the hotel lobby walls and in the restaurant and lounge, she said.
Her goal is to create an upscale urban pub scene, acknowledging that she inherited a bar with a strong identity of its own.
“It was pretty much a gay bar when I took over,” she said. “But everybody is welcome. We’re trying to create a varied clientele.”
John Dodge: 360-754-5444 firstname.lastname@example.org