Luckily (or not) I’m unemployed this summer, and have time to be the family activities director. This is a really good thing as teens without jobs and facing another month of summer vacation are a sad sight indeed. When you’ve seen it all in Seattle, what’s left to do?
Along comes “Mad Homes” a new art installation on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, et voilà, inspiration for the day. The installation features 4 houses (you can tour 3 of them) which are scheduled for demolition after the August 7 closing of the show. In the meantime, artists have transformed the once-grand old homes into pieces to ponder. One house is shrink wrapped, bar coded, and covered inside, floors, walls and ceilings, with discarded clothing, all of which are neatly stapled to the surfaces in a crazy-quilt of textures colors and patterns. Are these the ghosts of previous residents? A reminder of all the different families who have lived in the house for generations?
Next door is a home caught in “ties that bind”, actually red propylene straps, entwined with the neighboring home. (This house is off limits as it has an occupant). The 3rd house is an explorable, bending, twisting, ducking trip through the house, over and under the red ties, which makes one think of a house of conflict and discomfort. The ties hold doors open, pass through rough holes in the walls, and tear up the roofing materials. This house is physically tied to the neighboring one; are the occupants tied together through some sort of unfortunate history?
The last home on the tour is the most dramatic, with moving parts; giant constructed canvases which move in and out of the rooms of the house. This house also features other works, inside and on the front lawn, which you won’t want to miss. Everything in this house begs another look, and will fuel your conversations for the afternoon.
Hunger usually hits teens about an hour after their last meal, and my kids were famished after our art experience. Continuing the theme for the day, the artistic Café Victrola on 15th Ave never fails to please. Their award-winning baristas produce some of the most deliciously smooth coffee drinks you’ll find in Seattle. The simple menu features grilled sandwiches and pastries, and they have one gluten-free option, a nicely-balanced quinoa/spinach salad. Lunch and drinks for 3 came to around $30.
Stomachs full, we continued down to Volunteer Park and the Conservatory, which is a beautiful antique greenhouse full of interesting species of orchid, fern, carnivorous plants, cactus and fragrant lilies. There are some really terrific opportunities for shutterbugs in the Conservatory, with all the variety of shapes, colors and textures. The inner workings of the carnivorous plants, and the incredible, bizarre shapes of the ferns and cacti are amazing.
Next stop was the historic Lakeview Cemetery, right next door to the Conservatory and Volunteer Park. The cemetery, incorporated in 1871, has burial plots for some of the most well-known names in Seattle history, including martial arts icon Bruce Lee and his son Brandon. Outside of the famous names, the grave architecture hails from a time when people had grand monuments erected for their loved ones instead of simple headstones. Most surprising was the monument to confederate soldiers, so far away from the confederate states.
Mad Homes is open from noon-7pm daily through August 7, located at 711 Bellevue Ave E. in Seattle. Info at 206-328-2585 or www.madartseattle.com
Café Victrola has several locations in the Seattle area. Their Coffee and Art on 15th location is at 411 15th Ave E in Seattle. www.victrolacoffee.com or 206.462.6259
Info about the Lakeview Cemetery can be found at www.lakeviewcemeteryassociation.com.