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Posts tagged ‘Washington’

My Seattle: NOAA Art Walk

Above/featured: On the Art Walk trail.

In northeast Seattle, the NOAA Art Walk is contained fully within the campus of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Western Regional Center (NOAA WRC), located at Sand Point next to Magnuson Park. Initially, I’d intended only to visit one sculpture from which a “fairly successful” local band got its name. I explored the entirety of the Art Walk on a breezy sunny early-spring morning for an easy peaceful walk on a trail hugging Lake Washington’s shoreline. Over a two- to three-hour period, I encountered only a handful of other visitors, some of whom may have been NOAA staff.


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My Seattle: 10 S-spots, free of charge

In thinking about things to do for free in Seattle, I thought about some of the city’s sights labelled with the letter ‘S’. There’s plenty of alliteration to follow.

I could have listed two obvious choices with the Space Needle and the Smith Tower. They are free to admire from the ground, but both require an admission charge to enter and reach the top of each respective structure for sweeping views of the city.

Here below are other arts and culture spots in Seattle that don’t cost a penny to visit or see; all locations are easily accessible with public transport.


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Seattle Sunday at Ballard Farmers Market

In Seattle, a friend in Ballard recommends a visit to their neighbourhood’s weekly farmers’ market. Despite the forecast for intermittent morning showers, I’m lured by any stroll through a market for bright harvest colours and freshly prepared food.

A slow meander through the stalls, letting curiosity be the guide. Fresh apples and pears here; ripe plump tomatoes there. From an assortment of red and yellow peppers; to an array of yellow and green gourds. Quickly, the appetite is on high alert. Quesadillas prepared fresh from the grill. Hot from the fryer, little donuts sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Happy dogs walking their humans; couples strolling with children; others sitting on the curb for a chat, nosh, and sip.


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My Seattle: Bruce & Brandon Lee, father & son

Honouring the surname

In the mid- to late-1970s, our parents took us to single-screen movie theatres with names like Olympia, Golden Harvest, and Shaw for cinema night to watch movies made in Hong Kong. There were dramas; some high on the melodrama and low on character. Some were historic-period pieces, and there were kung-fu movies for which Dad passed his love to me.

There’s nothing quite like seeing a kung-fu action sequence on a big screen. I was mesmerized the first time I laid eyes on a memorable fight scene set in Rome’s Colosseum, that epic scene observed by little stone dragons between “Little Dragon” himself, Bruce Lee, and Chuck Norris’ character in the 1972 film “The Way of the Dragon“. As a kid, I was proud to have had the same surname as this Bruce fellow, and memories of seeing his on-screen characters prevailing in fights have stuck over time (e.g., “Boards don’t hit back.”)

Tragically, Bruce and his son, Brandon, died too young. I’m certain when I was a teen that I asked where Bruce Lee was buried; my parents didn’t know and in pre-internet days, it was more of a challenge to find those answers. But the mystery has long been solved: Bruce Lee and his son, Brandon, lay side by side in Lake View Cemetery in Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

Despite multiple visits to the city in years past, this particular return trip to Seattle has been decades in the making for a chance to honour a part of my childhood and a part of my heritage. When I find the Lees, my arrival means another answer has been quietly realized. On a crisp bright autumn morning under blue skies, I feel my father’s spirit with me; he never had the chance to come to this cemetery. My lips move without voice, a prayer I utter into the ether, pushing for hope to reach him. Because I know now that this, is also for my Dad.


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My Seattle: murals in West Seattle

Above/featured: Facing east at The Junction: SW Alaska Street at California Avenue SW. At left (northeast corner) is the red-brick Campbell Building from 1911, oldest in the neighbourhood and a designated City of Seattle historic landmark since 2017.

What: Paintings depicting the history of West Seattle.
Where: In and around West Seattle’s The Junction.
Why: Arts project with community and pride.

Technically, West Seattle is an area consisting of several neighbourhoods within the city of Seattle. Historically, West Seattle feels separate, a peninsula separated from the centre by the flow of water and peoples along the Duwamish river valley. West Seattle had incorporated as its own city in 1902, before agreeing to annexation by Seattle in 1907.

One key to West Seattle is “The Junction”: an intersection of 2 former streetcar lines “West Seattle” and “Fauntleroy”. As expected, commercial activity took root at the intersection and although streetcars have vanished, the nickname has remained as a simple useful designation.

A product of West Seattle, retired businessman Earl Cruzen (1920-2017) launched a local arts and community project in the late-1980s, inspired after visiting other towns in Washington as well as Chemainus on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island. Cruzen promoted the project with support among residents and business owners, generated fundraising efforts, and brought American and Canadian artists into the city to paint wall murals to highlight the history of people along the Duwamish river and the history of West Seattle. A total of 11 murals were painted, dedicated, and unveiled between 1989 and 1993.

Over time, the murals deteriorated and faded without touchup or maintenance. Members of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society engaged the community in 2018 with questions about the murals, and about raising money to support revitalizing the murals. In May 2018, Adah Cruzen honoured her late-husband with a gift of 100-thousand dollars to the West Seattle Junction Association to boost the restoration process.

So, what do the murals mean to the people of West Seattle?


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