I would take them to fish and chips on Alki, and to Schmitz Park, which has old growth timber, so it seems like you’re in the middle of the rainforest. Lincoln Park is a great park in West Seattle. It’s huge and feels quite wild. And to see the salmon in the summer at the Ballard Locks is awesome. Capitol Hill has really great places to eat. I’m not a hiker—I’m more of a city guy.
A couple of public things that are worth seeking out that are my favorite things are the native sculptures, like the totem pole in Pioneer Square, and the greeting figures in Occidental Park. Hachivi Edgar Heap of Birds’ piece Day/Night is made from two pylons with enameled text in English and Chief Seattle’s native language. To me, those are really moving. And weather-wise, seeing outdoor art is so doable. You just put on a hat.
The Tashiro Kaplan building houses galleries like Soil, 4Culture, Platform, and Punch and gives a really good taste of what local, emerging artists are doing. If you’re interested in art, that would be a thing to not miss. The Burke Museum is great, and people sometimes overlook the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and that’s such a gem—the Asian art collection in Seattle is super good. And the African collection at Seattle Art Museum is world class.
I know so many people in the food world, which is a thriving culture in Seattle. There’s always a new restaurant, and Seattle has great food epicenters like Melrose Market. Most restaurants that are chef-owned do farm dinners in the summer, and lots of organic farms feature a different chef every week, like Local Roots out in Carnation.
The essence of a city comes out in what houses and gardens look like when you walk down a residential street. And Seattle gardens seem really particular. For someone who is interested in this sort of thing, the Bloedel Reserve is a great day trip. Seattle has some amazing gardens, like the Kubota Gardens, and down south there’s the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden and Pacifc Bonsai Museum. They’re just down in Federal Way.
Interview by Jess Van Nostrand, 2012.
Photo taken at Volunteer Park.
Identifying himself as a “gay folk artist,” Jeffry Mitchell creates work that deals largely with dualities.