Urban Art Renewal

Pier 2, Central Park, The Dome of Light, and Outgrowing in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

When my skilled and knowledgable travel partner and I left the Puget Sound, the big news story was “Viiadoom.” The highway 99 viaduct in downtown Seattle is being removed. Today’s Seattle Times reports that the Seattle City Council approved $160 million tax on downtown property owners for a new waterfront park.

I have also seen waterfront renewal in San Francisco, Vancouver, Canada, and my old hang out Eureka, California. While visiting Kaohsiung in Taiwan, I saw another waterfront urban renewal project in progress.

 
A hazy, bad air day in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

A hazy, bad air day in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Pier 2

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One of their top attractions listed for Kaohsiung is the art district Pier 2. Kaohsiung is looking to change its waterfront areas from areas of industry to areas of people, culture, and art.

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When we first arrived at the waterfront, it was mid-morning, and we had the place to ourselves. There are large murals on the sides of the buildings, small art incorporating pipes and building support structures, and there was free standing art along the central walkway. It is a nice place to stroll and take selfies, which is a common activity in Taiwan. I like to collect photos of street art to use as a screensaver on my television back home. I found a lot to photograph.

Selfie in the mirror.

Selfie in the mirror.

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Many of the old waterfront warehouses were now housing local art, jewelry, and assemblage artworks. I can imagine that there are nighttime events that really get the streets rocking. The area isn’t 100 percent occupied, and there is a lot of room for growth, but Kaohsiung is apparently trying to make a friendly and safe place for artists to display new works and a safe place for families.

A dome of chairs.

A dome of chairs.

There were many school groups touring Pier 2.

There were many school groups touring Pier 2.

On one end is new construction, on the other end is a small railway museum and the light rail that wraps around the waterfront and connects with shopping, stadiums, residential areas, and other train systems.

The Chinese Zodiac are surfing dudes.

The Chinese Zodiac are surfing dudes.

Central Park

When you enter the Kaohsiung Central Park, you can tell that they link art with cultural, economic and social progress. As I check out the artwork pieces, including the beautifully designed and re-constructed metro station, I see a lot of effort. There are new pieces and several works that look like they have been sitting there for a while with little or no maintenance. The park demonstrates that it is one thing to make new installations, it is another thing to keep them up to date and looking fresh.

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I find this inscription next to “The Eye of the Future.”

“The Eye of the Future” I found the statement more interesting than the work of art.

“The Eye of the Future” I found the statement more interesting than the work of art.

“Kaohsiung Central Park is in the heart of the city. The overall shape is based on future expectations and hopes of Kaohsiung. The round eye symbolizes flow and changes the city. At night, the flashing dual concentric circles represent the brilliant multi-colored lights of Kaohsiung, sharing a heart with the city and the world. The “Eye of the Future” represents Kaohsiung’s progress, guiding the city’s close connectivity as a compass to greater global involvement.”

It is good to have goals, and I can see that they are still working on reaching their dreams for the future.

The impressive Central Park Metro Station, with large daisy pinwheels in a vertical garden.

The impressive Central Park Metro Station, with large daisy pinwheels in a vertical garden.

The Dome of Light, Formosa Boulevard Metro Station

The Dome of Light, Formosa Metro Station, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

The Dome of Light, Formosa Metro Station, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

The Dome of Light is within the Formosa Boulevard metro station in Kaohsiung. This works boasts that it is “The largest glass work in the world.” When we visited this station someone was playing the piano, and most people weren’t bustling onto the next train, but instead they too were enjoying the art.

Birth, life, death, re-birth, space, oceans, trees, wow, - all towering overhead in vivid colors. The Dome of Life is an impressive 30 meters in diameter with 4,500 glass panels. I like big art. This piece is big, bright, and beautiful.

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Mona Caron Outgrowing

The Outgrowing mural by Mona Caron was featured by Wallriors Festival, and it was commissioned by City of Kaohsiung, Lingya District. It is a “WOW look at that!” when you first see it.

Previously, I saw a video showing a time-lapse of Mona Caron painting this mural. Flowers and a butterfly rise over industry and missiles while children look above. Beautiful and uplifting in the middle of a busy urban area. ⠀

The 2017 mural stands tall as an inspiring work of art. We looked this one up on the internet and set out to find it. On a busy street with retail shops and residences, her expressions of hope and optimism stand tall.

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It is beautiful, and there is not a speck of graffiti or vandalism in the area. I hope the people love this piece as much as I do. It was amazing and my favorite wall mural.

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Seattle learned that urban renewal takes a lot more than art. Kaohsiung knows that supporting public art is a good starting place. People will learn about the city, they visit art, hang out, and they will have expectations for future respect and development of the town. Kaohsiung has started the process of change, but they will need more than artists to revitalize the waterfront and the downtown.

I like their art, and I wish them the best of progress.

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Going "Au Naturel"

Four Natural Areas in Urban Taipei, Taiwan

Long-tailed Shrike, Guandu Nature Park, Taipei, Taiwan

Long-tailed Shrike, Guandu Nature Park, Taipei, Taiwan

I woke up, and it was still dark. Dang.

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I thought that maybe I was experiencing a jet-lag moment. But I wasn't. 

My ankles and legs were itching and displayed the all too familiar little red bites.  The day before, I had forgotten one my basic rules and now I was paying the price. 

One of my reasons to wander is to explore natural environments.  I like using my long background in ecology, biology, and environmental sciences. My career and personal history allows me to see the trees in the forest and the forest from the trees.

Also, I just like being outdoors. I’m on walkabout in Taipei, Taiwan.

 

While staying in Taipei, I found four different local and accessible ways to commune with Taiwan natural environments.  My trusted travel partner and I are getting out and about using public transportation, and of course on foot, to Daan Park, Guandu Nature Park,  the Taipei Botanical Garden, and the Yangmingsham National Park.

Rather than running from one area to another, we kept a schedule of only one natural area per day. Rushing through a park, even if you see remarkable things, can ruin a day. We slow down to ‘smell the roses’, take photographs, and look for birds.

Manhole covers all over Taipei remind people that the water under foot is used by wildlife.

Manhole covers all over Taipei remind people that the water under foot is used by wildlife.

Daan Park

Stepping out of the metro station at Daan Park, we can see the famous Taipei 101 on the horizon. The metro station features a new shaded and cool (not blazing hot) underground garden. In the park we walked the meandering dirt pathways, past playgrounds, mature trees, newly planted trees and several wet areas full of birds, turtles, and and a shy fish or two. I was very excited to see a dawn redwood, a deciduous redwood native to China.

I don’t get it. What is he photographing?

I don’t get it. What is he photographing?

Daan Park was close to our Airbnb, easy to access, and it is a place where ordinary people do their everyday ordinary things. I don’t think it qualified as a ‘tourist attraction,’ but it is in the guidebooks as a good place for some urban quiet time.

It was fun to watch a gaggle of 15 to 20 male photographers with their big Canon lenses and tripods, photograph the egrets, grey herons and night herons hanging out in the park. What we consider common birds in Washington State were a day in the park for these gentlemen.

The Daan Metro Station on a beautiful day.

The Daan Metro Station on a beautiful day.

We didn’t see many flowers in bloom, but the foliage still made a good show.

We didn’t see many flowers in bloom, but the foliage still made a good show.

The park was busy with people walking their dogs, jogging, taking the kids out to the playground, and enjoying a lovely day. Its the normal kind of stuff we would find in Olympia, Washington, but we were on the other side of the planet.

I like seeing that we all have so much in common, like a day in the park with our family.

Guandu Nature Park

In the middle of the busy urban landscape of Taipei, Taiwan, Guandu Nature Park sits as a natural wetlands with easy access. Facilities include displays, an auditorium, conference room, exhibits, an information desk, a classroom, a cafe, and a gift shop.

A panoramic view of Taiwanese wetlands from the Guandu Nature Park Visitor Center.

A panoramic view of Taiwanese wetlands from the Guandu Nature Park Visitor Center.

It is a landscape with a variety of freshwater and brackish ponds, mudflats, marsh, rice paddies, and woodland surrounded by the busy urban landscape. Their brochure says “The mission this park is to protect these valuable natural resources. Guandu is a major stopover site for migrating birds, especially waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as an important wintering and breeding ground for many species. 250 species of birds haven been recorded at Guandu so far, qualifying this wetland as an Important Bird Area (IBA) recognized by BirdLife International.”

I remember learning about mud-skippers in biology class, the this is the first time I have seen one in-situ.

I remember learning about mud-skippers in biology class, the this is the first time I have seen one in-situ.

I always like to see school groups at nature areas.

I always like to see school groups at nature areas.

This may be a Common Kingfisher, but getting a shot like this is not common for me.

This may be a Common Kingfisher, but getting a shot like this is not common for me.

With the help of the docent, Keith takes a look through the largest binoculars I have ever seen.

With the help of the docent, Keith takes a look through the largest binoculars I have ever seen.

We are not accustomed to the heat and after walking the trails, we hang out in the visitor center and get a fruit smoothy from the cafe. The docent was very helpful in sharing the biggest binoculars in the world. I sat for a while and photographed a common kingfisher who was quite happy just perching on a stick, diving for fish, then returning to the same spot where he started.

Taipei Botanical Park

Even my son enjoyed strolling through the Taipei Botanical Garden.

Patrick and Keith pose for me at the botanical garden in Taipei.

Patrick and Keith pose for me at the botanical garden in Taipei.

The Taipei Botanical Garden was first built in 1896 and the landscape is mature and rich. It contains several exhibit and cultural areas that are managed by the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute. It is also an archaeological relic with 4,500 years of habitation.

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Even though all the vegetation in botanical gardens is planted, the area still has an abundance of native plant life and it becomes a part of the local environment. Birds are plentiful, and photography of foliage and flowers is readily accessible.

The Taipei Botanical garden is also home to a conversation organization which is working to ensure world-wide conservation of threatened plants, the continued existence of which are intrinsically linked to global issues including poverty, human well-being and climate change.
I liked the mature gymnosperms and the Plants in Literature area that featured plants and plant names associated with the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac.

Yangmingsham National Park


I wanted a quite day in to stay in and blog. My favorite traveling birder companion (a.k.a my husband) was eager to get his daily “life bird” so he headed out to Yangmingshan National Park.

My favorite birder counting his accomplishments.

My favorite birder counting his accomplishments.

Keith accessed this National Park by taking a metro train, then a public bus. I don’t think I have ever used public transportation to get to an American National Park. The Park Headquarters had very nice maps in English and the staff also spoke English and were very helpful. They warned him to avoid one of the trails on the map because the cows in the fields were chasing and attacking hikers. It is always good to know your trail hazards.

There were many hikers along the trail that sang out a cherry “hello” in English and Chinese. Keith hiked three trails, each about two miles long and all were well signed, maintained and enjoyable for an afternoon’s hike. He was also happy to see several bird species that he had never seen before.

A waterfall in  Yangmingshan National Park .
Watch out for not just any owl, but a Scops owl.

Watch out for not just any owl, but a Scops owl.

If I could be in two places at once I would have joined him, but I enjoyed missing this outing to stay in and work on my blog.

In the middle of the night, I woke up after being attacked by the local critters. I had forgotten that insects love me and I was walking around with bare legs and no bug repellant. Insects like to eat me. Somehow, I can be with a crowd of people, and no one else would be attacked by insects, except me.  

No more going ‘au naturel’ for me.  I have committed to my new best traveling partner, Ben. He and I have a lot of traveling to do together. There are a lot of parks, and trails, and natural areas to explore and I made a promise to him that I won't forget to bring him along.  

Ben, I won’t wander without your wipes.

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Where to Wander?

Wondering About 2019

Flashback 2006: “Cindy Blogs the Sierra.” This in’t my first rodeo.

Flashback 2006: “Cindy Blogs the Sierra.” This in’t my first rodeo.

When I worked for the Forest Service, one of my best friends was my list of goals.

If I was frustrated, lost, overwhelmed, or just a bit confused I would stop and look at my goal page. That one page in the back of my planner would remind me to find my purpose and it gave me focus.

But, now I don't work. I’m “retired.”

In my dreams, not my real job.

In my dreams, not my real job.

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." Lewis Carroll is correct. I don't want to go just anywhere. Even in my retirement, I want to go somewhere and not all roads lead where I want to go. So, I am going back to creating my annual list of goals.

Here are my Whelan on Walkabout Goals for 2019.

1. Visit Amazing Places. I want to do more of what makes me happy - travel. Being in a new place, learning, looking, seeing, and trying new things gives me energy. Traveling opens my mind and my heart. I am fortunate to have the time and the resources to travel far and wide. This year, I would like to spend half of this year in Olympia, Washington, and half of 2019 someplace else.

2. Create Better Content. I write to understand myself and share the stories associated with my photography. I know that “content is king” so I will continue to improve my skills in photography and writing. In 2019, I want to take two writing classes and write a blog post every two weeks. "Perfect practice makes for perfect performances." I'm not a good writer, but I can become a better blogger. I’m not a professional photographer, but I can work on making professional quality images.

Goal: create better images and write better stories.

Goal: create better images and write better stories.

3. Put It on a Wall. I like projects. In the last 12 years I averaged about one photo exhibit a year. Last year I had two individual exhibits, one at Fresno City Hall and a second at the Community Media Access Collaborative. This year I want to make an effort to find one juried show to enter and work to participate in one individual or group exhibit.

My Cone Collection  exhibit at M Street Gallery, August, 2018 in Fresno, Calif.

My Cone Collection exhibit at M Street Gallery, August, 2018 in Fresno, Calif.

I love to travel with my family. I love to travel without my family. It is all good.

I love to travel with my family. I love to travel without my family. It is all good.

4. Learn It All. In May, I will be attending the 3rd annual Yellowstone Photo Symposium, in West Yellowstone. Thank you Perfect Light Camera and the Nature Photographers of the Pacific North West. I won a gift certificate to cover the tuition and I plan to make the best of it. I love Yellowstone and I want to learn everything that are going to teach.

This is my ‘Be Fearless’ photo. “Alien” from the Museum of Popular Culture in Seattle.

This is my ‘Be Fearless’ photo. “Alien” from the Museum of Popular Culture in Seattle.

5. Be Fearless. This year I commit to being there, wherever I am. I am going to be present in the awesomeness of the world and I want to feel alive. Fear of failure is a roadblock to doing what I love. I will write and photograph without fear because life is too short. (This really isn’t a measurable goal, but I want to put it on the list.)

6. Attend OCC, NWCCC, NPPNW. Translation: I want to meet with other photographers to share, learn, and socialize. The Olympia Camera Club (Shout out to OCC! Love you guys.) is a great bunch of photographers and fun people. Maybe I will even make a few friends. I enjoyed the two conferences I attended last year, the North West Council of Camera Clubs (NWCCC) and the Nature Photographers of the Pacific North West (NPPNW), and if there is another photography or gathering of writers, I'm going to be there.

A portrait lighting demonstration at an Olympia Camera Club meeting.

A portrait lighting demonstration at an Olympia Camera Club meeting.

7. Back it Up. "A photo doesn't exist unless it is saved in three places." I use Carbonite backup cloud service, and I have an external hard drive, but my iMac computer can no longer work as a storage device for my photographs. All my photos and blogs are going onto a Drobo storage device that has the built-in redundancy to keep everything safe. I don't take pictures to lose them on a failed hard drive. I take pictures for keeps. I need to back that up.

You may ask, “Whelan on Walkabout, why are you sharing this on your blog?”

My point is: life needs purpose, even in “retirement.” I don't work, but I still have my goals. I'm going to wander, photograph, and wonder about what to blog about in 2019.

I ask, what are you going to do? What is your purpose this year? I hope you find it.

Winter Solstice, night photography in Tacoma, WA.

Winter Solstice, night photography in Tacoma, WA.

Playing with Glass

Museum of Glass, Tacoma,Washington

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Just a few blocks from the Tacoma Dome, on the shore of the Puget Sound, just over from busy industrial shipping docks, sits the Museum of Glass.

It is hard to take photographs in the rain, but in this museum, it is part of the fun. Visitors are allowed to photograph anything and everything. They do request the usual courtesy of no flash photography, and no tripods within the museum.

One of the display plaques speaks to me:

The Psychologist's Perspective by Dr. Susan Linn: "Hands-on creative play is dismissed as old-fashioned these days, yet it is the foundation of much of what's worthwhile about being human, including divergent thinking, constructive problem solving, and the capacity to wrestle with life to make it meaningful. It is inextricably linked to creativity. At the heart of any finished creation are the moments when the artist plays, becoming lost in a process, taking risks, exploring, and experimenting without fear of repercussions."

In that spirit, I was inspired to play with my camera and my blog. I agree. Play is good.

I spent my time in the Hot Shop, Art Alley - Kids Designing Glass, and the two main exhibits "Raven and the Box of Daylight" by Preston Singletary and "Foraging the Hive" by Sara Young and Tyler Budge.

In the land of the famous Chihuly glass sculptures, the museum map and brochure says it well, “It doesn’t get any hotter than this.” When entering Hot Shop, you feel the heat even before you see the glow of the furnaces. The cone ceiling towers 90 feet above into darkness and the place has a certain smell about it. The audience in the bleachers watch as the gooey glass is melted, molded, tested, twisted, cut, folded and flamed. Small broken pieces sparkle, scattered about the floor under the artist's feet. "That must have made a delicate un-settling crash when it broke.” And I am reminded how much 'trial and error' is an important part of play and making art.

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The Art Alley is displaying works designed by kids and created by the Museum of Glass Hot Shop Team. Children drew items and made a short statement about the object.

All of the figures were bright, happy and expressing a unique perspective.

Mr. Popsicle “is British and likes to take ice baths.” Hamburger cowboy is something the artist read about.

Mr. Popsicle “is British and likes to take ice baths.” Hamburger cowboy is something the artist read about.

Foraging the Hive by Sara Young and Tyler Budge floats through the gallery. Some items in the swarming tubes are familiar, some are foreign. Some items are brightly colored and others appear mostly empty. Visitors are invited to fill a test tube with a unique personal message and 'join the swarm.' The whole room gently sways with the air movement from visitors inspecting at various angles.

I filled a tube and it will soon join the swarm.

I filled a tube and it will soon join the swarm.

"Raven and the Box of Daylight" by Preston Singletary was my favorite. It is a very personal depiction of Raven's journey of transforming the world. The Tlingit (“People of the Tides”) story is captivating and the glass work was mesmerizing. I wanted to look into the eyes and speak with the souls affected by raven's enlightenment of the world.

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The beauty of their message changed as I looked up, down and around the crowd. Faces glowing with life though shadows. Eyes darkened and moved as I moved. Textures blended with color, light, and shapes.

They spoke to me.

They were trying to say something that deserved respect.

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The bear, the frog, the salmon, the river, and the raven all had a message. I wanted to tell each "thank you for being here to share your story with me." I tried to take them all with me as photographs. I did, of course, first ask for their permission.

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Afterward, we walked in the rain over the Chihuly Bridge of Glass to the old Union Station building that was also full of Chihuly glass works.

"The mission of the Museum of glass is to ignite creativity, fuel discovery, and enrich lives through glass and glassmaking."

I think the mission of the museum should be to have fun. Wrap yourself in the colors and shapes of light. Look beyond, get lost, find something new, and take it with you.

Playing with glass is good.

https://www.museumofglass.org/visitmog/

Excerpt from the “Chihuly Bridge of Glass, Seaform Pavilion.”

Excerpt from the “Chihuly Bridge of Glass, Seaform Pavilion.”

#museumofglass, #play, #glass