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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

No, January Is Not A Good Time to Open A Sculpture Park

posted by on January 9 at 11:00 AM

The reasons are plain. And talking to landscape architect Charles Anderson Monday, he described the three-month period of December, January, and February as the park’s only vegetative “dead zone.” The other nine months every year will show some flowering on the plantsóred, white, yellow, blue.

Lately, people have begun asking me about this shirking of logic on the part of the museum, which basically arrived at the opening date by stumbling toward it, continually pushed forward by a series of controversies and delays and then stopping more or less haphazardly in the middle of winter. My only response is, what do I look like, the museum director? It’s opening Jan. 20 and that’s that. Don’t want to go in the cold? Your loss.

If, like me, you are mildly irritated and yet determined to show up, a calming, warming drink might help. One of the toughest, best sculptures in the park is Tony Smith’s Stinger, an enclosure of four matte-black walls in the shape of diamonds that rest on the ground on their tips. The artist named it after the ferocious cocktail disguised by its sweetness. To make a Stinger, mix 1 1/2 ounces brandy and a half-ounce white creme de menthe. Or for another version of it, keep going, and add a half-ounce vodka. It’s cold out there. You’ll need one after your first tour.


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It will take some time for these trees and shrubs to mature and for the Serviceberry and Oceanspray (white), the Mahonia (yellow), and Current, Nootka Rose, and Salmonberry (red) to put on much of show, regardless of what month the park opens. But flowers are overrated; the real show, as far as these plants are concerned, will be the changing colors of the fall leaves. The Vine Maples and Serviceberry will be brilliant orange-red, the Larches a glowing yellow-orange, and the Quaking Aspens bright yellow. And what's wrong with Decemeber? During the winter, visitors can admire the structure of the bare deciduous trees against the dark green conifers. It will take a while, though. Good thing we have some sculpture to look at! I'll see you tomorrow, my dear.

Posted by Jim Demetre | January 9, 2007 12:20 PM

I forgot the blue! Were those Camas flowers? Pacific Coast Iris? I guess I'll find out.

Posted by Jim Demetre | January 9, 2007 1:10 PM

I got two invites from Mimi Gates for this, but I'm still not interested. The flyer had really boring pics.

Sorry, rather do something else fun, instead.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 9, 2007 1:16 PM

My invitation said "Betsey Brock, Director, Henry Art Gallery!" I am framing it and hanging it on my office door. I shall cherish it forever. Thanks for the plant list, Jim. I can't wait to see the park in the summer.

Posted by Betsey | January 9, 2007 1:34 PM

Jim - thank you too for using natives for your plantings - how very waterwise of you!

Posted by rubyred | January 9, 2007 1:43 PM

They can open it now and then in the summer when it's nice and broken in they can have a big todo officially opening it.

Either way I plan on visiting soon.

Posted by monkey | January 9, 2007 1:55 PM

"Sculpture Park" is boring. "Plop Art Park" is much more descriptive.

Posted by A Nony Mouse | January 9, 2007 3:08 PM

So they should wait until spring to open a PUBLIC park?

Posted by just sayin | January 9, 2007 5:09 PM

what a profound waste of civic space. stupid, stupid, stupid.

Posted by what a waste | January 10, 2007 12:51 PM

naysayers bah = waste of civic space ??-
what kind of addition might YOU be to civic space meathead ? i'm not on the invite list (till it opens for the public on the weekend of the 20th) but i did see a bunch of cops and tow trucks and people in their fancies tonight for the initial openings - check where you park - what a great addition to our city. i'm excited. all 4 it.

Posted by likes the park | January 11, 2007 8:41 PM

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