I was itching to get out of Seattle and explore someplace new, so I took the bus down to Tacoma Sunday morning.
My initial plan was to visit the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM), the Museum of Glass(MOG) and then walk along Pacific Avenue to see some classic buildings (like Union Station and the Pantages Theatre), then down to the water to watch some boats and visit Fireman’s Park. However, it was a cold and rainy day so I only made it to the two museums and then a local brewery for some lunch before heading back home.
I love being able to take the bus from Seattle down to Tacoma. It probably costs less than the gas it would take me to drive down and once I’m there I don’t have to worry about parking or any other car-related concern. The bus drops you off practically in front of the Museum of Glass and it’s only a short walk from there to the art museum.
I went to Tacoma a few years ago with a boyfriend to visit the museums and I remember it being a lot nicer than it was. Don’t get me wrong, the TAM and MOG are beautiful and worth visiting, but only if money isn’t an issue. The TAM cost $10 for an adult regular admission, and the MOG costs $12. No offense to Tacoma, but that’s a bit steep for what you’re getting. The TAM was free this particular visit because of some Northwest Art Festival thing so I’m not sure if we got to see everything. We did get to see Andy Warhol’s Flowers for Tacoma and Michael Kenna’s Photography which is the whole reason I was there anyway, but I felt a little disappointed.
I found out that in 1982 while Tacoma was building the Tacoma Dome, the city solicited national artists to submit a design to decorate the roof of the dome. The selection process whittled the submissions down to 5 artists, Warhol being one of them. This public invitation to decorate a local landmark was because of the City’s 1% for public art fund. “That means that 1% of construction costs for capital construction projects goes toward the construction or acquisition of public art.” (Source) To make a long story short, Warhol’s design wasn’t chosen, but 30 years later the art museum dedicated an exhibition of his design for the dome as well as other flower art and photographs from his career.
Interestingly enough, the artist that did win, Stephen Antonakos, wanted to decorate the roof with an abstract work of orange neon. The city council members at the time were divided between people who wanted a famous artist installation, and those that thought that the rest of the world wouldn’t “get it” and the Dome would be a joke. The contractor on the job said he would not guarantee the roof if art were attached to it, so Antonakos was asked to do an inside-the-Dome neon project instead. (Cool fact: the Tacoma Dome hosted its first major concert on Aug 11, 1983 with David Bowie.)
After the TAM, I visited the MOG (or ode to Chihuly). I love sitting in the hot shop and watching people blow glass. Every
month they choose a chid’s drawing from their art resource center to be made into a glass statue. The day I was there happened to be a day they were making 12-year-old Erin’s “Orca Singing Sensation.” She had drawn an orca whale with sunglasses, standing at a microphone. It was amazing to watch her drawing become a small glass sculpture. I say small, but it ended up probably being the size of a normal teddy bear. They had some of the previous designs on display in the hallway leading to the restrooms and they were some of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
After leaving the MOG and eating a quick lunch, I hopped the bus back to Seattle. It had been an exhausting day, so I have to admit I napped most of the ride back. The bus was warm and cozy after spending a lot of time walking in the cold rain from museum to museum to lunch and there’s just something relaxing about watching the world go by out of your window. On the way to a destination, I’m usually excited about getting there, but on the way home I’m more relaxed and can let the bus driver absorb all of the stress of driving in Sunday afternoon traffic.
I really enjoyed my short day trip. Although I was exhausted and am out of practice of traveling, it felt good to be on the move. I’m planning a trip to San Diego at the end of February and this little excursion has me really looking forward to it. One of my favorite things is being able to travel freely in a new city, seeing things for the first time and meeting new people. I wish I had a career where I could work non-stop for 6 months, then travel for the rest of the year. That would be ideal, but I know it’s won’t be my reality any time soon.
“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” –Robert Louis Stevenson.