Quileute exhibition opening ceremony

I’ve been working at the Seattle Art Museum a little over a year now, and I’ve just been itching to photograph some of our fabulous public programs. With my boss Amy’s support, I’m now officially blogging for SAM!

My first post went up today: it’s about the opening celebration for the Quileute exhibition. The cavernous Brotman Forum was packed with people all day — our official head count came in at more than 1,600.

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Cai Guo-Qiang’s installation, Inopportune: Stage One, arcs overhead. You’d be surprised how many comments I get about that piece: “What’s with the cars?!” Or: “Is this where the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program ended up?”  Haha.

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The woman who wove these hats said she used cedar bark, which is pliable when it’s wet.

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Tropical centerpiece

I snagged a centerpiece left over from a corporate event at work. The party was Hawaiian-themed, so all the flowers are tropical. Isn’t it stunning? The base looks expensive, but it’s actually made of plastic.

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The anthurium has a pretty heart-shaped flower.

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South Lake Union

I walked through the Cascade P-Patch in South Lake Union, and off all the irises, snapdragons and tulips in bloom, I chose a weed to photograph. It’s pretty, though, isn’t it?

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These days, South Lake Union is a creepy mess of cranes and dug up pits. I can’t wait for the promised hi-tech hub to emerge. This antique shop, on the corner of Republican Street and Westlake Avenue North, is one of the few older buildings in the neighborhood.

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Hawai’i

Picture “paradise.”

You see warm sand, turquoise water, palm trees swaying gently, right?

There is a place that matches that description EXACTLY, and it even has a direct flight from Sea-Tac.

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Ah, Hawai’i. I wanted to stay forever.

Chris and I visited my sister on the Big Island, waking up to fresh papayas for breakfast and falling asleep to the chirps of coqui frogs. Stunning landscapes, and nice people too. Driving, it’s somewhat rude NOT to wave “hello” to strangers coming down the other side of the road. I loved the flowers in the ladies’ hair and the lilt of their voices. Even the airport security fellas had smiles and winks. It was impossible to be grumpy in a place that friendly.

Chickens ran freely at the side of the road. Hibiscus flowers and orchids grew wild. Below is the endangered silversword plant high up on Mauna Kea.

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On the black lava Kona coast, we were amazed by the lightness of the rocks. Taking them would anger the gods, however, so we left everything as we found it. Not far from where this photo was taken is the spot where Captain Cook, who “discovered” the Hawaiian Islands for Europeans, moored his ships during his travels.

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On a 4-mile hike across the Kilauea Iki crater floor, the soles of our feet were warmed by the magma deep below. The surface of the crater looks like a cracked asphalt parking lot. But ferns, and even small bushes, manage to push their way into the sun.

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We summited the world’s tallest mountain by Subaru Forester — my idea of mountain climbing. Mauna Kea is even taller than Mount Everest if you measure it from its base on the ocean floor. (From sea level, Mauna Kea is 13,796 feet tall, which is just a little shorter than Mount Rainier.) The colors of this sunset make me think of a certain dress from the Oscars!

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Mauna Kea is sacred to Hawaiians; it’s where their gods lived. Mauna Kea is also great for astronomers, because it’s the best place on Earth to see the stars. At the summit are 13 telescopes (including the world’s largest), representing 11 nations. Hilo was stormy and wet, but above the clounds it was perfectly clear. We spotted Venus bright in the sky, and easily found Orion’s belt.

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Taiwan

I’m probably the most relaxed traveler in the world. I view an international flight as a fantastic opportunity to catch up on my reading, watch movies, nap… and best of all, people deliver food right to my seat. It doesn’t get any better than that. I thoroughly enjoyed a recent 10 hour, 55 minute flight to Tokyo, followed by a four-and-a-half hour flight to Taipei.

Chris and I spent four days in the city where I was born. He met my aunts and uncles and cousins, and most importantly, my 96-year-old grandfather. He tasted all the foods I grew up eating, tried out a few Mandarin phrases, observed my cousins dodging the sun. (Tans are highly undesirable in Taiwan!) In a nutshell, he experienced all the things that make me the crazy person I am.

The funny thing about being in a foreign city is that I didn’t feel compelled to make any pictures. Taipei is too dirty, too crowded, too chaotic for me to see any beauty. The one time I felt like making pictures was on the 91st floor of Taipei 101. (Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world, until Dubai built one even taller.) Yes, the observation deck was super touristy, but the views were amazing. Taipei actually looked beautiful. I could see how the city is nestled into a ring of mountains, and the polluted air cloaked the landscape in mystery.

So here it is, Taipei from the air:

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And here is the 96-year-old grandpa I mentioned earlier. He’s 100 percent Chinese, but oddly, he looks more like my Irish-Polish counterpart than me!

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Early spring

It feels like spring already — it’s February! — and the flowers seem to agree. Our cherry blossoms have been enjoying the mild temperatures for a week or two now. Global warming is sad for the polar bears, but it’s pretty darn nice for the people in Seattle.

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The days are getting noticeably longer too, which is nice, because it’s still light out when I get off work. Below is this evening’s stunning sunset, seen from Volunteer Park. That’s Isamu Noguchi’s Black Sun in front of the reservoir, and way on the other side of Lake Union is the Space Needle.

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Morning frost

The East Coast is getting blasted with a wintry mix, and I’m ever so thankful I live in balmy Seattle. A recent cold spell brought freezing temperatures and frosty mornings.

Something we Seattle-ites don’t often see:

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