Sophie and I joined my parents this weekend for their annual pilgrimage to Tacoma for Wintergrass, the best bluegrass festival this side of the Smokey Mountains. Spanning four days and five venues centered around downtown Tacoma, there was a lot of bluegrass happening. Even the Mexican restaurant where we had dinner on Saturday night was playing bluegrass on their restaurant sound system. Off-duty fire fighters for the City of Tacoma operate a shuttle between the various venues and local hotels, sprinkling musicians and fans throughout the city. As Rayna Gellert commented on stage, “…it is as if the bluegrass UFO has landed in Tacoma”.
Since musicians sometimes like to stay up late carousing with their mandolins, the first concerts on Saturday morning don’t generally start until mid-afternoon. There are various workshops earlier in the day for musicians, songwriters, and wannabe agents, but since we didn’t fit into any of those categories, my mother and I decided to spend the morning at the Museum of Glass.
If you have ever driven through Tacoma, you’ve probably seen these two glass sculptures rising over the highway:
These towers are mounted on a wide pedestrian overpass that connects the museum with the main street through Tacoma; it crosses both the freeway and train tracks. In addition to the rock candy towers, there is the wall of glass, featuring fanciful glass sculptures measuring between two and three feet tall.
The wall of glass contains no less than 100 pieces. While impressive on a grey day, it must be dazzling on a bright, sunny day.
We walked back and forth trying to capture all there was to see, but the wall was just too high and we were just too cold.
Inside, the museum is no less impressive. Several galleries feature rotating exhibits, but the showstopper is the Hot Shop, where a live interpreter narrates the creation of a piece by a team of four gaffers. When we arrived, there were two teams, a professional in-house team and a student team, each working on an elaborate vase. If you can imagine glass blowing as a team sport with live commentary, a large projection screen and stadium seating, that is what we saw. We watched the professional team work for close to an hour before moving on to see what else the museum had to offer.
Just around the corner from the Hot Shop is a studio where rotating artists-in-residence create projects for students. We arrived just as they were opening the doors for a lino-cut workshop. My favorite.
Sophie took to it like she’d been cutting her whole life. In fact, she really didn’t want to leave. She demanded, pleaded and begged to make another block. Since we have all the materials at home, I negotiated an exit, promising to do more another day.
The artist had lots of photocopied illustrations of bugs and birds, intending to make a paper quilt of the various prints made by museum visitors. I love the look of block prints, but not my own. My preliminary drawings are weak, and no amount of etching or cutting can improve a cock-eyed loon.
So where does the kismet come in, you ask? I was browsing through my favorite blogs late last night and came across a post on WhipUp.net linking to a tutorial: “Linocuts for Older Children“. The blog is called Creative Kismet; believe it or not, my husband and I briefly considered naming our firstborn Kismet, after a bar we enjoyed when we were dating, and because there was so much kismet involved in our meeting years ago when I was volunteering in Haiti. Chancing upon this tutorial late at night, after Sophie had just discovered the art seemed too random to be random.