Among the pleasures on our frequent walks around Seattle are discoveries of unexpected art, some designed and installed by humans, some the work of Nature, some the transitory miracles of a unique moment.
My attempts to capture the sense of wonder that these sightings inspire are doomed from the start. Two dimensions are almost always trumped by three, or four, and at times it seems to me that there are far more than that. But that’s probably just the flashbacks talking.
Anyway. In this season when the city is besieged by pirates, Vikings, and tourists, the urge to get out and explore tempts us off the beaten paths. Most recently that led us over to Alki and the Whale Tail Playground, where the undersea theme is played out in three dimensions. I was drawn to the life-size cast-bronze octopus, which anchors one edge of the “Swimming Stars” entry plaza designed by Seattle artist Lezlie Jane. The children clambering over the nearby whale tail slide and the replica lighthouse may be unaware of the thoughtful elements at work in the colored and stamped concrete design studded with yellow mirrored stars in Jane’s tribute to Cetus, “The Great Whale Constellation,” but surely the sparkle of creative fire must catch in some young minds while playing there.
At Lincoln Park, a short distance south of Alki, we came upon an example of Nature’s artful sense of humor in a striking Madrona tree. Classic mythology tells of dryads, tree nymphs whose life depends on the trees to which they are connected. Admittedly, the first thought that went through my mind at the sight of this tree was that it called out for a caption contest. But bawdy subtext aside, it’s a work of art. And if you have the time to listen, it will speak to you.