The Art of the Pacific Northwest

The Art of the Pacific Northwest

The Seattle Art Museum has a little bit of Italian, some art from Japan and China, some representation from New Guinea, Nicaragua, and the Pacific Northwest American Indian tribes…a great variety of many items to keep it very interesting.

The Seattle Art Museum

Unique to this part of the United States, the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast contribute their own unique art which reflects  their various nations and distinctive tribal and cultural identities.  These tribal groups come from British Columbia, Washington state, parts of Alaska, Oregon, and Northern California, over fifteen different tribes, with a population of over 250,000.  For these natives, winter is a time of ceremonial dance and performance, with masks being an essential part, as they enact adventures of their ancestors and spirit beings from the mythological past.  The masks carved by shamans and worn in special dances to please the spirits.

The patterns created reflect the life around them… bears, ravens, eagles, orcas, as well as legendary creatures such as thunderbirds.  Totems are symbolic spiritual beings made into emblems to represent the differing tribes.  Poles, made of a collection of these spirits, are carved and erected by these indigenous tribes and are well known throughout the Northwest.  Much of the art in also reflected in today’s  printings, prints, sculpture, artifacts, clothing designs, and decor.  It’s difficult to capture the detailing and vibrancy of these hand carved painted wonders.  How can I get one of these!!!??

Masks and totem poles
Eagle headdress
Tribal headdresses and masks

A few blocks away is a whole different kind of art, more like street art that one I could hardly believe is on the list of top things to do in Seattle.  You can’t leave the city without a quick glance at the gum wall.  This 15′ high, 50′ long brick wall, on both sides of Post Alley, beneath the Pike Place Market, has become a spot for placing your blob of used chewing gum.  In many areas, it is several layers thick!

Is it art?
Whatever you do, don’t touch anything!!  Yuck!

Here is Jeff, my brother-in-law, at the famous Gum Wall…


One thought on “The Art of the Pacific Northwest

  1. That gum wall is GROSS!!!! And…..when you get to Alaska, you can order a totem pole or carving. There are amazing artists there, and each part of what they carve tells a story.

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Monie Thompson