When we opened up the morning paper and studied up on the plans to construct a new exhibit hall for Dale Chihuly in Seattle our hearts sank. The proposed site resides in the outdated and depressing 74-acre Seattle Center, and while this area of town certainly needs help, another Chihuly exhibit is the last thing Seattle needs.
A great artist, no question, but we’ve got Chihuly glass coming out our ears here in Seattle. You can hardly walk down the street without bumping into some brightly colored, oddly shaped glass sculpture. His work has become ubiquitous in the northwest to the extent that it’s not special anymore. Tacoma has their Chihuly Bridge of Glass, which takes you to the Museum of Glass; Benaroya Hall has their Chihuly chandeliers, as does Union Station. The Seattle Art Museum has their Chihuly collection; City Centre has their Chihuly installation as does Seattle University and the Sheraton Hotel. Add UW’s Meany Hall, the Seattle Athletic Club, and the Washington State Convention Center Chihuly collections and what you get is too much Chihuly. We’d like the work just fine if the northwest hadn’t overdosed on it years ago. But unfortunately if you don’t keep your front door locked here in Seattle you run the risk of finding an ornate glass chandelier in your living room. Enough with the Chihuly already.
But we digress, this isn’t about glass sculpture and it’s not about Dale Chihuly. It’s about cities escaping the formula of trying to look edgy, daring and creative by employing tired formulas that have long since run their course. As one of the youngest cities in the world and one of the most forward-thinking digital societies we know of, there’s no excuse for relying on the old math – the copy-cat, keep up with the Jones’, and constantly playing catch-up tactics of making our cities appealing. We need to be playing a bigger game.
The talent pool of young artists, designers and architects here in the northwest is extraordinary and to overlook the innovation, ambition and fresh ideas is a shame. This is where the real creativity and edginess exists. These are the people that Seattle should be looking to in order to escape the narrow minded formula we’re in.
So today’s post is a call to action – Who should Seattle be looking to? Individuals, groups, artists, designers, let us know what you’ve got. Because without this sort of thinking, it’s more funny glass chandeliers for all of us.