In all my years living in Seattle, I only visited Tacoma, Washington, once – to table at a gay pride celebration, back when I worked for Equal Rights Washington. Mostly what I remember about that day is that I couldn’t get a ride back to Seattle, and had to schlep all my tabling supplies back to the office on the bus. The only other time I went to Tacoma was to the ferry station – it’s where we caught the boat to go to Vashon Island, where my grandmother lived.
So I never knew that Tacoma had more than a decent bus system and a nice ferry dock until I went out there for work. In fact, Tacoma is absolutely teaming with glass art. Dale Chihuly, the famous glass artist who is best known for his marine-inspired pieces, has a studio in Tacoma, and the city has turned to glass art to help revitalize its downtown.
While I can’t say that the revitalization was successful (seriously, we were all kind of unnerved by the lack of people in the city downtown – even at rush hour on a Monday morning), the glass art was certainly interesting to look at. We stayed at the Hotel Murano, which is right by the Convention Center, and features a different glass artist on every floor. The hotel has a modern style, which I really liked, and it was a nice complement to the art pieces throughout the hotel.
Elpis and Justice and I made it down to the Museum of Glass one evening, to check out the glass exhibits. We walked across the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, a public art piece that features Chihuly’s work. At night, the bridge is really beautiful, with all the different glass pieces are lit up to their best advantage. But my favorite part of the Museum of Glass wasn’t the regular exhibits, but a special exhibit from artist Preston Singletary, an artist who explores his Tlingit heritage through glass art. The pieces were beautiful and restrained – and, sadly, I couldn’t take photos in the exhibit.
Still, I’m not sure how I feel about glass art. I’m much more of a 16th century still life kind of girl. But as a strategy for downtown revitalization, investing in glass art seems like a better strategy to me than investing in bars, or casinos, or weird traffic patterns.