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As part of an ongoing journey to learn more about Seattle’s black community and their ongoing story, I visited the city’s Northwest African American Museum (NAAMNW) in March 2020. The museum’s permanent collection casts a spotlight on black migration within the United States, and the contributions by blacks to the nation and to the American Pacific Northwest. Also timely was the simultaneous visit of the NHL’s Black Hockey History mobile museum as part of their 14-city tour throughout North America.
I was especially moved by the museum’s special exhibition “Iconic Black Women: Ain’t I A Woman“, by Hiawatha D, an artist based in Seattle. His work and paintings highlight his story as a black man and black artist in America. His series of paintings “Iconic Black Women” shines a positive light on black women throughout past and contemporary American history: the important places they’ve occupied, and the important contributions they’ve made to human rights, music, literature, and sport. On sight of the paintings, the context, clothing, and body language may be immediately familiar. But many of the people painted don’t have faces, which allows viewers, especially young women, to see themselves in these figures, sparking and strengthening a connection between viewer and iconic black women.
I would love to see another name added to this list of iconic black women: Viola Desmond.
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Above/featured: Customers’ contributions on the walls of Beth’s Cafe (Phinney Ridge) – 7 Mar 2020.
Where: Seattle, WA, USA.
Who: Chris Cornell.
Why: A search for traces he left behind in his birth city.
On 21 April 1991, an album of music both memorial and celebratory in nature was released, and changed not only the nature of rock at the time, but also the lives of many, both inside and outside the music industry. In the days and weeks after Andrew Wood’s death in March 1990, a group of people gathered to mourn and remember; they wrote new compositions and sang their songs. Temple of the Dog was born: the release of their self-titled album on that early-spring day in 1991 would be the only full-length album to the band’s name.
Decades later, the album’s 3rd track “Hunger Strike” is as compelling now as the first time the music video dropped in 1992 to grab my eyeballs and the harmony-melody-guitar-crunch latched onto my ears and brain. For lead singer Chris Cornell, intervening years included critical acclaim and success with Soundgarden and Audioslave, among solo efforts and other collaborations. Hours after performing on tour with Soundgarden, Cornell was found dead in his Detroit hotel room on 18 May 2017, shocking the community within Seattle and the community inside music at large; he was a young 52. Wherever they may be, that jam session with Cornell, Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, and Andrew Wood has got to be one for the ages.
21 April 2021 is the 30th anniversary of the release of Temple of the Dog’s eponymous album.
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“That Tower Again,” a three-word online phrase for the early 21st-century.
It’s a phrase I associate with Berlin and her TV Tower (Fernsehturm), and that comes with multiple stays and many months in the German capita, a city I feel very much at home (winters notwithstanding). With my return to the Canadian Southwest and near-proximity to Seattle, I reconsider my fondness for the city’s iconic landmark: the Space Needle observation tower. Sight of the tower hasn’t lost its allure since our first family visit in the late 1970s.
For the Seattle World Fair in 1962, construction of the Space Needle occurred over a mere 400 days in time for the “Century 21 Exposition”. The 605-foot (184 metre) tower stood for the spirit of innovation and the might of technology. The city of Seattle designated the tower as an official city landmark in 1999. Fast forward now into the 21st century, it’s unfathomable for resident and visitor alike to think about the Emerald City without its leading spire.
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