Friday I took my #5 downtown to meet the 594 to Tacoma. It's the final week of the Rockwell show at Tacoma Art Museum and week one of Chihuly. Besides, I've always wanted to visit Tacoma.
Google transit wanted to send me via Amtrak, which would have been fun, but $13 each way. The bus was $3, all the way from home, and what a bus! I had an armrest, a footrest, and a personal reading light. The seat had a headrest and lumbar support, and it tilted. It was all so posh I checked the back of the bus for a restroom, but that would have been too much.
We shot down the freeway for an uninterrupted 30 minutes or so, then the bus made a couple stops before dropping me off at UW campus and a block from the museum. A block that includes the restored courthouse with its lovely dome and the glass bridge. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge was in sight, and yachts at harbor.
I liked the Rockwell show. Possibly I just don't know enough to be bothered by the distinction between illustration and fine art. Wasn't Breughel, say, or Vermeer, a Rockwell of his day? Rockwell's paintings are beautifully done and full of illuminating detail. He started his career at 17 in -- mm, 1922? -- for the Boy Scouts, and then, of course, produced decades of covers for the Saturday Evening Post. So a Rockwell retrospective is a lesson in American social history.
Mostly, it's upbeat and optimistic, a picture of the Americans a lot of us wanted to be, want still to be. I'd love to see a Rockwell of some American family on their way in 2011, to vacation or church, with a pierced and tattooed teenager reading to a toddler in the back seat, Mom driving, Dad reading the map, some mini dog doing whatever they do in cars.
But civil rights issues are featured as well, despite editorial prohibitions that for awhile limited the number of blacks you could show and only if they were in menial jobs. I knew the iconic cover with the little black girl being escorted to school by the National Guard, but not the illustration about the three civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi.
Then, Chihuly. I tire fast of looking at art glass, so this show was perfect for me. It's one huge room filled with both Chihuly's work and the Native American trade blankets and baskets that inspire him, plus a whole wall of his own (I believe) framed Curtis prints of Native Americans. Seeing it all that way, I better understood the idea of Chihuly's "glass baskets" brightly "painted" with glass threads.
I made this excursion on my own. If I'd been with somebody else, we probably would have explored Tacoma more, while we were at it. I almost ate lunch there, but Indochine, which was recommended, was posh and pricey for lunch. Next time, I'll take a walker's map.
I adjusted my bus seat back to Seattle and settled in. I slept.
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