Seattle, in May

Last month, I went to Seattle for two days for a workshop.

I arrived on Sunday around noon. Since everything closed early, my plan was to go to the art museum and then the public library. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t have time to go to Pike Place while it was open.

King Street Station with taxis in front Looking down at some outdoor brick steps
Looking up at the corner of a tall building. In front flies an American flag Looking up at tall glass buildings
Street view of a white  building with tall windows
The side of a brick apartment building with small windows Street intersection
Van driving through a street intersection Looking up at a tall white building with many windows

Seattle Art Museum

What if I can’t find the art museum? I thought, but luckily the building had the words ART MUSEUM on it in big letters, so I was not lost.

Side of the museum that has the words Art Museum etched in big letters in the surface Lobby of the art museum where a big installation that looks like a tree trunk with branches hangs sideways from the ceiling

There was a coat check, so I dropped off my backpack (which you’re not allowed to wear in) and put my sketchbook and water (which I later learned you also wasn’t allowed to have inside) in a tote bag. Since it was relatively dark, I didn’t take any film photos inside the exhibits.

I was fortunate to visit on the last day of the Jeffrey Gibson’s exhibition, Like a Hammer.

Text woven into a colourful textile

“American history is longer, larger, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.”
— James Baldwin

Thin vertical strips hanging with words written on them. The strips form a rainbow


The rest of the museum was varied and beautiful—I wish I had more time to go through everything more slowly.

Painting of a black woman in a blue dress

Saint Woman
Amy Sherald (2015)

Sculpture of a bird

Lkaayaak Yell S'aaxw (Box of Daylight Raven hat)
Tlingit, Taku village, Gaanax.ádi clan (1850)

Sculpture of an animal head with large curved horns

Crocodile headdress
Nigerian/Cameroonian, Cross River, Ejagham

Seattle Public Library

Side of a building on a steep incline

Downtown Seattle turned out to be quite sloped, and I walked a few blocks uphill from the museum to the library.

I had seen photos of the library online, but I forgot how extraordinary it was, until I took the escalator up to the third floor, and the glass wall slowly revealed itself to me.

I switched my film here and I forgot to change the ISO setting on my camera, so most of my interior shots came out underexposed and dark. But here are the few that didn’t:

Outside of the library's slanted glass windows Looking up at the bottom of the escalator. It's neon yellow with the word escalator written on it in big letters
Looking out the diamond shaped window panes at a building across the street

The fourth floor was entirely red, which was amazing and eerie and disorienting.

Down an empty allway that's painted from floor to ceiling red Empty hallway that's floor to ceiling red

I walked around the bookstacks, which the library calls the Book Spiral. The escalator/stairs situation was confusing and I wasn’t sure how to navigate around.

I ate lunch/dinner at Cortina during happy hour. I picked it because at this point a headache was forming and I wanted to go somewhere that was enroute to my hotel.

Empty bar at a restaurant with many alcohol bottles lined up on wooden shelves Theatre exterior that's showing Westside Story.

After eating, I went up to my hotel to check in and lie down for a bit. I hadn’t been to a hotel in a long time, and it was novel to be somewhere by myself.

View of tall buildings through the hotel window Mirror photo of myself

pike place (after hours) + the pier

I made my way down to the water. Pike Place had closed by now, so I only passed through.

A bike leaning against a lamp post Gate covering an entryway with the sign 91 and 1/2 on it
Farmers Market neon sign at the public market
Looking up at the side of a brick building with a small balcony Empty hallway in the public market with neon signage

Seattle has a lot of bike sharing, especially around the pier, but I opted not to try it out as it was quite busy and I didn’t want to fight another app sign up and payment workflow.

View of downtown buildings from the pier Looking up at the ferris wheel
Ferris wheel on the pier beside the water, viewed from a distance
Horse drawn carriage The words 'Hulk Smash' taped on the window of a building

Miner’s Landing was interesting and had an entire carousel inside.

Neon sign of The Crab Pot Arcade games with neon lights
Indoor carousel Closeup of a horse on the carousel

Afterwards, I went to McDonalds and then back to my hotel to watch the new Game of Thrones episode 🔪🔥

Day 2

4 books on a table with a notebook, water, and some food

I was in Seattle to attend Edward Tufte’s course, Presenting Data and Information. I was fortunate to have my company sponsor my attendance.

The course ended in the afternoon, and I dropped by General Assembly to meet a Twitter mutual. It was cool! Sometimes I hate being as Online™ as I am but also each time that I meet someone I know from the internet is a cool moment.

Looking up at a big building with lots of windows Mirror selfie in a circular convex mirror on the street
Street view of a white building with trees in front
Street view of a dark brick building Crosswalk with a woman standing on the other side

I stopped at a cafe patio to change my film, and there was a woman sketching passersby. I thought about it, and decided to ask her if she had drawn me while I was sitting there. She hadn’t, but we briefly chatted. She works at a television production company and asked me if I came there to draw a lot. I told her I was a tourist.

Looking up a tall glass building Various buildings and a construction crane


Archway in Chinatown

I didn’t have time to explore Chinatown, so I quickly went through to visit Kinokuniya. It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t spend much time here though, because the ten minutes I did spend I ended up buying three shiba inu things 🥺

I took some photos from the train window, but they all turned out too dark and/or blurry.

Coastline from the train

The view of the water was pretty spectacular, but unfortunately couldn't be captured on film. This is as good as it gets.

final thoughts

  • A day wasn’t enough to spend in Seattle—I managed to visit only three places (the art museum, the library, and the pier). I’ll be going back in a few months for a more leisurely three days, in which I hope to go to more museums, the market, and the university.
  • I think I took too many photos of the same streets and angles and buildings. I need to get better at composition and being more creative.