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Finding Arts in Seattle: Antiques and Collectibles

Art, Antiques, and Collectibles in Seattle Day #1

Pioneer Square in Seattle

Seattle is well-known for its waterfront, weather, the space needle, and coffee, but what often goes unnoticed is a thriving market for antiques. You’ll find traditional items such as 18th and 19th C American and European furniture as well as Asian art and antiques, reflecting Seattle’s diverse cultural heritage. Two particular areas in downtown Seattle offer a concentration of shops, allowing you to see a lot in one perfect day.

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Pike Place Market

Begin your day at the original Starbucks for coffee and pastry, or Three Girls Bakery. Both are located across the street from the Market itself. If you need a full breakfast, visit Café Campagne on Pine Street or Lowell’s in the Market.

Then start your quest at the Market entrance at 1st Avenue and Pike Street. Pike Place Market is a warren of shops, including several antiques and collectibles vendors on the lower levels. Look for the Seattle/Pioneer Square map of antique shops in the first place you visit.

If you are shopping for small collectibles like teacups, pots, cruets, and perfume bottles, start at Antique Touch. This shop also boasts a collection of about 2500 salt & pepper sets, including ceramics from occupied Japan. There are quirky sets, like Grandma and Grandpa in their easy chairs, as well as more traditional pairs.

Nearby is Golden Age Collectibles, featuring vintage comic books, posters, and games. On the same level, you’ll find Market Coins, where you can have your old coins appraised or find some to complete your own collection. This shop also has political memorabilia.

Close to the Market, on Stewart Street, Antiques at Pike Place offers items that date from the Victorian era through mid-20th C modern. This is really an antique mall, with more than 100 vendors displaying a wide variety of items. You’ll find vintage Eisenberg rhinestone Christmas tree pins, estate jewelry, Art Deco lamps, and vintage clothing.

The Seattle Antiques Market, down the Market Hillclimb on Alaskan Way, is worth a separate visit; this mall features larger items, such as bookcases, bed frames, and fixtures. You may even find a vintage wooden phone booth!

Pioneer Square

pioneer square antique alley

Climb back up and walk or take a city bus along 1st Avenue to Pioneer Square. Have lunch at the café in Elliott Bay Books (don’t get lost in the bookstore!) or at the Grand Central Bakery and Café, also on 1st Avenue.

Start your tour of this area at Fairlook Antiques, on S. Washington Street. This lower-level shop features vintage photos, including daguerreotypes, tintypes, and snapshots from the early 20th C.

Back on 1st Avenue, stop in at Cuttysark Nautical Antiques. The collector of marine antiques will find plenty to intrigue: ship’s lights of all kinds, US Navy china, flags, and a Chinese diving helmet from the 1950s. The helmet looks like something out of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.

There are several galleries and shops that feature photography in the Pioneer Square neighborhood. Flury and Co. specialize in Native American art from the Northwest Coast, Alaska, the Southwest, and the Great Plains. Especially notable is the selection of photographs by Edward S Curtis, who spent 25 years documenting traditional Native American culture. This gallery also displays Native American artifacts dating from the 19th C.

Settlers from China, Japan, and Korea are an important part of Seattle’s history. Their legacy is evident in the shops that feature fine art, antiques, and collectibles from that part of the world. At Chidori Antiques on S. Jackson Street, you will find Chinese blue and white export china from the Ming dynasty (15th C) as well as pottery sculptures that date from the Tang dynasty (7th-10th C). There are also scroll paintings from Japan’s Edo period.

Around the corner on Occidental, stop in at John Yaconnetti Antiques to look at the latest finds from England, France, and Italy. Collectors of American pottery will want to stop at Laguna Vintage Pottery on S. Washington. This shop specializes in the pottery design styles of the 20th C, such as Rookwood, Art Deco and Art Nouveau, and hosts a fine display of Roseville.

Finish your tour at the Pioneer Square Antique Mall. You’ll find room after room of collectibles: estate jewelry, ceramics and china, postcards and books. Remember the classic pin-up art of Vargas and Petty? You’ll find sets of their cards here. And how much would you guess your vintage Lone Ranger lunch box is worth? Or your original Barbie doll? These are only a few of the surprising finds around every corner.

You’ll be finishing up your perfect day of antiquing just as the nightlife in Pioneer Square is getting started.

What and Where:
(1912 Pike Pl; 206-448-8762)
Three Girls Bakery (1512 Pike Place; 206-622-1045)
Café Campagne (1600 Post Alley; 206-728-2233)
Lowell’s (1519 Pike Pl; 206-622-2036)

Pike Place Market
Antique Touch (1501 Pike Pl, #318; 206-622-6499)
Golden Age Collectibles (1501 Pike Pl, #410; 206-622-9799)
Market Coins (1501 Pike Place, #422; 206-624-9681)
Antiques at Pike Place (92 Stewart St; 206-441-9643)
Seattle Antiques Market (1400 Alaskan Way; 206-623-6115)

Pioneer Square:

Elliott Bay Café (101 S Main; 206- 624-6600)
Grand Central Bakery and Café (214 1st Ave S; 206-622-3644)
Fairlook Antiques (81-1/2 S Washington St; 206-622-5130)
Cuttysark Nautical Antiques (320 1st Ave S; 206-262-1265)
Flury & Co (322 1st Ave S; 206-587-0260)
Chidori Antiques (108 S Jackson St; 206-343-7736)
John Yaconnetti Antiques (322 Occidental Ave S; 206-284-4967)
Laguna Vintage Pottery (116 S Washington St; 206-682-6162)
Pioneer Square Antique Mall (602 1st Ave; 206-624-1164)

Seattle’s Metro bus system is free in the area between S. Jackson Street and Battery Street along 1st Avenue. Get specific information and schedules here.

Arts in Seattle Day #2 

Antiques and Collectibles

The new and improved Seattle Art Museum and the very new Olympic Sculpture Park make Seattle a premiere destination to enjoy the arts. Pick a day when you can enjoy being outdoors-which might mean accepting the rain-for the sculpture garden and immerse yourself in great art.

The first stop is SAM, or Seattle Art Museum. Before heading in stop and admire the 48-foot kinetic sculpture that is SAM’s symbol, “Hammering Man” right outside the door.

Having recently undergone a major expansion SAM has added 118,000 square feet and 1 billion dollars worth of art. The improvements show in the soaring atrium that now holds a permanent installation of Cia Guo Qiang’s “Inopportune: Stage One”, which is a number of identical cars tumbling across the ceiling with flashing tubes of light exploding from them. The cars are intended to look like they are being blown up and the multiple cars show how it would roll with the explosion. It’s definitely eye-catching, especially given the scale of the space and the use of real cars.

Exhibits at SAM change regularly. A recently hosted show of Roman sculpture was hugely successful because of the number of pieces they were able to show in the new space. Through the summer of 2008 is a show entitled “Inspiring the Impressionists” which focuses on where the impressionists got their ideas, such as copying works at the Louvre and visiting places like the Netherlands. The next traveling show will highlight the work of American realist Edward Hopper.

Take your time and explore all four floors of SAM. There is Asian art on display, art glass, quite a bit of modern art from the likes of Helen Frankenthaler and Jackson Pollack, and a large display on masks from around the world. There are generally volunteers around who know the art and will tell you about it, as will the guided tours.

Afterwards, head take a short walk. Head one block south to Seneca and three blocks west to Alaskan Way. That will bring you to Pier 56 and Elliott’s Oyster House where you can enjoy a lunch with small plates of goodies like Dungeness crab and shrimp dip, entrée salads, or lunch combos like clam chowder and a Caesar salad. Then there are the oysters which they shuck to the tune of 7,000 a week. Order a drink or some wine and enjoy the view of Elliot Bay.

When you leave’s Elliott’s, cross Alaskan Way to the stop for the George Benson Waterfront Streetcar Line. Hop a ride to the end of the waterfront and you will be at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

The Olympic Sculpture Park may be one of the coolest urban landscapes in the country. It was once a nine acre industrial site that has been transformed into an open air art gallery but still retains its urban feel. Located right on Elliot Bay the park embraces the water and with its unique Z design climbs over railroad tracks and busy Elliott Avenue and includes walkways, grass, and plants that are from the Northwest.

Throughout the park are sculptures of wood, stainless steal, iron, and plastic. Some are huge like Alexander Calder’s “Eagle” others are tucked away in gardens. There is also a one sculpture that includes the building that houses it, a 150-year-old nurse log and all the vegetation it supports. Maps of all the installations are available in the pavilion for a donation because the entire park is free.

The sculpture park affords some of the best views of the bay, the waterfront, and the mountains in the distance. If you are so inclined, the park is adjacent to a walking and biking trail so wander down to Myrtle Edwards Park and enjoy the fresh air and the sights and sounds of Elliott Bay. Find a bench and relax awhile or take a long walk.

After you are done at the Olympic Sculpture Park, hop back on the waterfront streetcar and get off at Seneca Street. Walk back up to 1st and you will be a block from Seattle Art Museum. If you have time you are only a couple blocks south of Pike Place Market which gives you a great opportunity for a little shopping before dinner. When you’re ready for dinner, walk two blocks west on Union Street to Wild Ginger.

Southeast Asia SatayWild Ginger specializes in food from Southeast Asia and one of their features is a satay bar where you can try beef, prawns, chicken, or lamb skewered, seasoned and grilled to perfection. Each order comes with a special dipping sauce to compliment it as well as a rice cake and pickled cucumbers. If you want a full entrée they have a lot to choose from including their Asian take on duck, lamb, curry, and noodles.

Wild Ginger also prides itself on its fine wine cellar so be sure and look over the two different wine lists they have, one with pairings for the food, another for more costly rare wines.

After a satisfying dinner and a bit of wine, it’s time to remember where you parked the car and retrieve it. And you’ll be plenty satisfied by a day of Seattle’s fine art and great food.

What & Where:
Seattle Art Museum
(1300 1st Ave; 206-654-3100)
Olympic Sculpture Park
(2901 Western Ave; 206-654-3100)
Elliott’s Oyster House (1201 Alaskan Way, Pier 56; 206-623-4340)
Myrtle Edwards Park
(3130 Alaskan Way W; 206-684-4075)
Pike Place Market (1501 Pike Pl; 206-622-6198)
Wild Ginger
(1401 3rd Ave; 206-623-4450)

Helpful Information: Parking can definitely be a problem downtown but the SAM has a lot underneath the building accessible off of Union Street, or there are other parking garages up University. The SAM opens at 10:00 so get there early and beat the crowds.

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