Artist’s installation will put sea monster at top of the Volunteer Park water tower

I think it's looking at us... (Image: Laura Grossman)

I think it’s looking at us… (Image: Laura Grossman)

(Image: Laura Grossman)

(Image: Laura Grossman)

“Sea monster, huge fish — leviathan. A big unknowable monster,” artist Lauren Grossman promises.

Her work, Leviathan Helm, will begin taking shape at the top of the rook-like tower Wednesday as she and her crew of art students haul the Godzilla up piece by piece to be assembled at the top of the well-worn stairs. By Thursday, the monster will be in place and ready for a five-day stay at the top of the tower. The glass artist and sculptor is powered in the project by a Seattle CityArtist Projects grant… and her own respect for the uncharted.

“There will be mystery,” Grossman said. “A lot of people that will come up won’t be coming up to see the work. They’ll get sound and color as they come up the stairs. As they arrive, they’ll find a 50-foot wide installation. I don’t think it’s too scary.” Continue reading

Volunteer Park’s Seattle Asian Art Museum shows designs for ‘park lobby’ expansion and overhaul

(Image: SAAM/LMN)

(Image: SAAM/LMN)

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-7-01-43-amThe Seattle Art Museum presented its design for the upgrades and expansion of Volunteer Park’s Asian Art Museum in a community meeting held in the International District on Saturday morning. The design makes major changes to the east-facing “back” of the landmark 1933 building in Volunteer Park, featuring some floor-to-ceiling windows in levels one and two and a striking glass “park lobby” on level three of the extension.

The park lobby would allow people inside the museum a park view that includes an impressive beech tree, and allow people outside to look up at art displays inside the museum. Architect Sam Miller of LMN architects, the firm designing the upgrade and extension, explained the design goal of integrating the park on both sides with the museum space itself.

The rather sophisticated design is a complete change from the grey, utilitarian back of the museum as it is now, which looks unfinished and harsh in contrast to the pink stone and Beaux Arts Art Deco style of the front of the building. The upgrade could, as Miller suggested, achieve an added bonus of making the space behind the museum safer in that would be overlooked and less cutoff from the rest of the park.

As he talked through a slide show of the design (the full presentation is below), Miller stressed that it had been modified in keeping with feedback from the public — there were community meetings in July and August and future meetings are scheduled for October, November and December. The external stairway in an earlier draft is now inside of the building, and an extruding elevator is now tucked in and hiding behind a tree. Continue reading

CHS Pics | The dependable, colorful bloom of the Volunteer Park dahlia garden

While hundreds visited the Volunteer Park Conservatory last week to witness the fetid but incomplete bloom of a rare corpse flower, a more dependable Volunteer Park bloom is also playing out in the nearby dahlia garden. Located near the lawn in front of the conservatory, the dahlia garden in Volunteer Park has been maintained by the Puget Sound Dahlia Association — “the Northwest’s largest and most active dahlia club” — for more than 30 years. In the spring, volunteers plant hundreds of bulbs. By late summer, we get to enjoy the blooms of their labor. Later in the fall, the beds will be dug up and prepared for another planting next year.

If you love the dahlias and want to help foster some Capitol Hill growth of a different nature, frequent CHS contributor Alex Garland is selling prints of the photographs featured. You can help support his work and put a few colorful images of Volunteer Park on your wall here. We’re looking for ways to continue to grow the opportunities for readers to support CHS and the people who work on the site — plus we think it would be plain cool to make it easy for people to put pieces of CHS on their walls. If you know of a good solution for easily integrating photography sales into a WordPress site like ours, let us know. In the meantime, may we suggest the metal 8×12 (Wall art > Metal > 8″x12″)? It would look swell on your wall, for sure.

More colorful Volunteer Park dahlias, below. Continue reading

With noise on their minds, neighbors get look at design proposals for new Volunteer Park amphitheater

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

Architects have been working with performers, Seattle Parks and the Volunteer Park Trust community trust to develop a concept design for a new amphitheater at Volunteer Park. Last week, they had the chance to show off their work.

While some park neighbors have concerns about noise and maintenance, many attendees of an open house on Wednesday at the Miller Community Center expressed overall support of the preferred design for the new bandshell which features a translucent butterfly roof, and a back wall that can slide into hiding when it is not needed for performances.

“I’m just very pleased with the improvements,” said Randolph Urmston, who lives north of Lake View Cemetery. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Dougsley the corpse flower in bloom at Volunteer Park Conservatory

A cool, wet end to Seattle’s summer is helping to extend a special — and stinking — experience at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Dougsley, the 12-year-old corpse flower on loan from the University of Washington Biology Department is in bloom but the act is playing out over days, not hours thanks to the mild weather at the top of Capitol Hill. The result is more time for visitors to be part of the rare botanical experience and to enjoy the corpse flower’s unique stench combining notes of rotten fish, filthy gym socks, and sewer gas.

The Amorphophallus titanum are special plants because they take around 10 years to form their first bloom and because they release a foul, decaying flesh-like stench when they do. The last corpse flower hype at the Volunteer Park Conservatory came in the summer of 2014 — that bloom hit in mid-September. This plant is named honors former greenhouse manager Doug Ewing and comes as part of a seeming wave of corpse blooms across the county this year — probably due to a trend of successful blooms, collection of viable seeds, and increased knowledge about the especially stinky plant.

You’ll find Dougsley in the Conservatory’s Seasonal House, available for viewing daily between 10 AM and 4 PM. Admission during this special event is free. Learn more at or follow along on Twitter:

UPDATE 9/6/2016: Dougsley did not complete his bloom:

After several days of intense anticipation, Dougsley the Corpse Flower has apparently stopped blooming and is starting to decompose. Unfortunately the bloom never fully opened leaving many confused visitors to wonder where was the stench!

“Dougsley appears to have been a dud, and has been removed from the building,” the Conservatory’s terse update concludes.

Senior gardener David Helgeson provided a few possible explanations for the plant falling short of expectations:

  1. The change to cooler temperatures were a shock to the plant, and it halted the bloom
  2. At 12-years-old, Dougsley was a young specimen, and it is possible that it simply hadn’t stored enough energy from the sun throughout its vegetative cycles to sustain a complete bloom.
  3. There are genetic variables present among all plants which can lead to unsuccessful completion of bloom cycles which are difficult to predict.

The UW Biology Department will continue to study Dougsley, the Conservatory update says.

CHS Pics | Deaf drama camp takes the stage at Volunteer Park

As plans come together for a new Volunteer Park amphitheater, the old one stays plenty busy hosting events big and small. Sunday, the venue hosted the 5th annual Vibrations music festival. Saturday, CHS found a smaller event underway as the kids from the Deaf Spotlight Drama Camp gathered in front of parents and loved ones to perform scenes and show off some of their new skills. After some on-stage drama, the kids described their process, a few awards were handed out, and, of course, proud audience members snapped some pictures. Continue reading

What the new Volunteer Park Amphitheater could look like

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 11.25.17 AM

One of the four concepts ready for feedback (Images: Ora Architects)

Replacing the no-frills brick-and-concrete Volunteer Park Amphitheater has been talked about for years. Thanks to a nonprofit championing the cause, the first design concepts are finally complete.

ORA Architects and Walker Macy Landscape Architects developed four concepts using feedback from the public and more than 30 performance organizations. All the designs include a shelter, backstage space, and bathrooms built into the structure as required by the city.

The Volunteer Park Trust is holding an open house at Miller Community Center on Wednesday to take public feedback on the designs. Construction is slated to start in 2017 with a grand opening scheduled for December 2018. The project will require approval from the parks department. Continue reading

And what the Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion could look like, too…

(Images: LMN Architects)

(Images: LMN Architects)

As Volunteer Park’s 83-year-old museum prepares to undergo its first major upgrade, the Seattle Art Museum is seeking public input on the plans. Community outreach meetings are scheduled for September and October.

Preliminary designs for the Asian Art Museum call for adding at least 7,500-square-feet of new gallery and event space, as well as an education studio and art storage space. A terrace, seat wall, and rock garden are part of the plans for outdoor improvements to the backside of the museum. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Tempest staged without a stage in Volunteer Park

In a neighborhood crunched for arts spaces that arts groups can actually afford, the REBATEnsemble might present a few useful lessons.

Bringing “engaging theatre to unconventional spaces,” the “Recession-Era Broke-Ass Theatre Ensemble” has learned how to stage even the greatest works of performance without a stage. Or a theater, for that matter. Continue reading

Volunteer Park Conservatory’s ‘Dougsley’ set to add its stench to the great corpse flower bloom of 2016

There’s a botanical coincidence of massive scale underway in greenhouses across the county. Capitol Hill’s own Volunteer Park Conservatory is about to join the great corpse flower bloom of 2016.

Here is the word from executive director Anthonio Pettit:

You and your readers may be interested to know about a new corpse has just arrived at Volunteer Park Conservatory!

It is currently on display in the Seasonal House, and is anticipated to fully bloom within the next two weeks.

The Amorphophallus titanum has been dubbed “Dougsley”; a portmanteau in honor of retired UW botanist Doug Ewing, and Pugsley of the Addams Family, on account of the wicked stench.

Full details can be found on our website:
Dougsley has arrived!

The Amorphophallus titanum — or, giant misshapen penis, today CHS learned — are special plants, number one, because they take around 10 years to form their first bloom and, um, for number two, because they release a foul, decaying flesh-like stench when they do. The last corpse flower hype at the Volunteer Park Conservatory came in the summer of 2014 — that bloom hit in mid-September.

This particular plant, according to the conservatory’s page on the stinker, is on loan from the University of Washington Biology Department. Continue reading

CHS Pics | What the Lusio light art festival in Volunteer Park looked like

Kelly Fleek's Cephalopod-Chandelier (Images: CHS)

Kelly Fleek’s Cephalopod-Chandelier (Images: CHS)

Lusio, a first ever night of light art and music in Volunteer Park, made for an even more pleasant summer evening walk than usual through this corner of Capitol Hill Saturday night. Even the 83-year-old Seattle Asian Art Museum got in on the action, bathed in a projection that changed its skin for the night of artistic illumination. The iconic Volunteer Park water tower was similarly empowered, bathed in a glow of red. Continue reading