Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Eagle Has Landed

In the heart of Seattle's downtown waterfront, you will find a ragtag scrap of land that not so long ago was an oil and gas industrial site and then a contaminated wasteland. Glance at the photo below and you'll easily make out the rectangular parcel as it looks today.

See the tiny red shape located near the center of the park, highlighted against a green angled section
of grass? That's an Eagle. You'll see him again soon.
Olympic Sculpture Park via Google Maps

Thanks to the extraordinary vision of the Seattle Art Museum, this space has been transformed into a one-of-a-kind public outdoor sculpture park and much-needed green space in the heart of the city. Leave your car in the underground garage and then enjoy a zig-zagging stroll down the terraced steps of the sloping lawn, along gravel paths and up rough stone steps, through a shady tunnel in a grove of trees and out onto the hillside to take in the panoramic view of Elliot Bay. Feast your eyes upon the sleek and stimulating art that you will encounter along the way. Sit down and stay awhile in one of the many seating areas that are actually part of the exhibits. Heck, you can even bring your dog along to share the fun. And by the way, it's free. Can't beat that.

I will easily admit that this park is my favorite spot in Seattle. Even after countless visits, I get excited every time I go and when out-of-towners come to visit me, it is always at the top of my must-see list. And if you really want to pin me down, I will confess that even though each one of the seventeen or so pieces of art says something special to me, I have a favorite sculpture. 

At twilight, unedited.
Late afternoon, accidentally solarized.
At sunset, unedited.
It's Eagle, the standout red steel sculpture by Alexander Calder. Despite its obvious bulk and cement moorings, Eagle is poised to take flight. I can just imagine him soaring out across the water and over to the distant Olympic Mountains. He is the show-stopper of the park and to know him is to love him.  

One of the most amazing things about this guy is that he looks different from every angle. Walk up to him, under him, around him, through him, and past him. Let your eye wander in a hundred different directions, take as many pictures as you can possibly shoot. I promise you will never see him the same way twice.

This Eagle inspires me almost as much as another very famous Eagle. Check out this amazing moment in the history of man, when that other Eagle made a most spectacular landing.

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For more stories about my encounters with masterful art, read:

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Stories about my trips to the Olympic Sculpture Park, with photos galore. 

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