It’s that time of year when Seattle’s gardens are in full bloom—or in my case, bloomed, spent and in desperate need of a good watering and dead foliage trimming. This was one of the lushest seasons I recall in recent memory, at least in the microcosm that is my Ballard backyard. Everything seemed to be growing faster and blooming a few weeks earlier than usual—including my nemesis (and maybe yours?), morning glory.
Summer, in spirit if not via the weather, kicks off each year over Memorial Day weekend with the Northwest Folklife Festival at Seattle Center. This year, it sadly provided echoes of the sound too often heard on Seattle streets these days: gunfire. A bystander was caught in the crossfire of a shooting near the Space Needle, shot in the leg. Urban reality intruded on a music festival that is a tribute to the hippie ethic of “live and let live.”
Those Pink Lady apples you’re eyeing at the supermarket cost $2.49 a pound. A feather-light pint of organic raspberries? Five bucks. But at the new, 7-acre Beacon Hill Food Forest, these and other garden produce will be free (with a little sweat equity encouraged).
When the Volunteer Park Conservatory opened its doors in 1912, there was no art museum, no “Black Sun” sculpture, no Shakespeare in the Park to keep it company. For 100 years, the Victorian botanical garden, built of cast iron and 3,426 panes of glass, has been treating visitors to rare bromeliads, ferns, palms, cacti, succulents and seasonal flora—and a few sweet, sweaty moments in the thick humidity our natural climate rarely provides. But despite its historic landmark status, the conservatory’s very existence hangs in the balance this year, due to city budget cuts.
What began as a search for a better coffee machine in a local start-up’s break room has evolved into the perfect Seattle combo: coffee and robots. Last winter, the employees at ZipWhip (zipwhip.com), a Queen Anne-based company focused on “cloud texting” (i.e., taking text messaging beyond the bounds of mobile devices and onto all Internet-connected devices), were faced with both an inferior coffee pot and the challenge of promoting their new cloud texting app.
Bainbridge Island-based author Jonathan Evison has an uncanny knack for writing prose that roils across the page, sweeping readers up for the ride. His first novel, All About Lulu (2008), won the Washington State Book Award, and his second, West of Here (2011), earned him the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award.
Nerdy Seattle loves its slide shows. Locally based and/or created series such as Pecha Kucha, Ignite and Slideluck Potshow—all of which feature presenters using a short, swift series of slides to tell stories about art, tech, food, etc.—have devoted followings, drawing people in with both the appeal of learning something new and the constraint of a seriously structured time slot.
If you’ve ever tried to get glitter out of carpet, you’ll understand the genius behind West Seattle’s brand-new kids’ craft studio, Young at Art. There, kids can paint, bead, glue, draw and, yes, glitter to their heart’s content without wreaking havoc on your home. Art teachers Theresa Anderson and Andrea Watterson, who host after-school programs at Schmitz Park Elementary, opened the studio last November; the place is jam-packed with art supplies and offers open studio time in the morning, workshops in the afternoons, summer art camps and party options.
The most innovative, high-tech musician playing the Capitol Hill Block Party this weekend is named Stanley, and he only does covers. Invented by the artful geniuses at Digital Kitchen, Stanley is a souped up, interactive player piano that takes requests via text message (@stanleypiano).
There’s a new gang hanging out in Westlake Park this summer and its members seem a bit steely. But that’s only appropriate—they’re made of aluminum and cast iron. The gathering of humanoid sculptures, called “Borders,” was installed in June by Icelandic artist Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir. The 26 androgynous, life-sized figures are cast in ordinary poses and stationed around the park: sitting on benches, traversing the plaza (which since April has been enlivened by Konstantin Dimopoulos’ ultramarine trees), stopping to “think” or to look at something.
In case you haven't seen it, check out this short film that won the critic's choice award at Capitol Hill Block Party's Totally Stacked short film competition. Composed as an open letter that sticks it to Clay Bennett - former owner of the Seattle Supersonics - the film is really a love letter to the landscape of Seattle, composed of beautiful noir imagery of the city (who knew the Monorail was so sexy?).