May 16, 2011
Last weekend I set out for Art Up Phinneywood, the Greenwood/Phinney neighborhood’s once annual art walk. Sadly, I missed Friday night’s festivities where the main drag is closed to traffic, bands perform, and the whole street is packed with people. However, I was determined to get out in Saturday’s glorious sunshine and better explore the main hub of my neighborhood.
The Greenwood/Phinney Ave strip is a great place for a leisurely stroll just about any time. Since it is located on a ridge, you can see views of the mountains in both directions while still enjoying all the comforts of an urban walking district. This corridor is positively packed with cafes, restaurants, bars, boutiques, and specialty food shops. It also has some unique, community-focused spaces like the Phinney Center, Toaist Studies Institute, and the two neighborhood churches. And last weekend all of these spaces — from the bank and bar to the barbershop and tattoo parlor — were packed with art.
Going on Saturday, while not as teeming with energy and free flowing with wine, was much more relaxing. I got to take in my art in peace and get some window shopping in too. We started off by checking out a few boutiques and the first works that caught my eye were at Allusia. They were these vibrant found paper collages of tropical birds.
Continuing down the street, we passed the packed patios of the 74th Street Ale House and Prost! and went into Santoros Books. Inside there were unique nature inspired pieces with feathers, shells, dried poppies, and other items attractively arranged almost like flowers or pressed insects in glass cases. Another great spot was Francine Seders Gallery, which felt almost church-like since it was so open and cool after walking around in the warm sun. A modern, minimalist collection of pieces upstairs caught my eye. It had a series of sculpted hooks hung in a grid on one wall with a painting series opposite in only 3 colors, black, white, and red, and a white ceramic watering can in the foreground. Together the paintings all looked like a group standing together discussing something they all had different attitudes about based on their different expressions.
After the gallery we turned around and started heading back up the other side of the street near Red Mill Burgers and stopped in at a few more places. My favorite pieces of the day were at In the Red Wine Bar. They were large, colorful, abstracts with a sensuousness to their shapes and patterns. As you may have guessed, I’m no art critic, but if I’m going to have something big hanging on my wall, I think I want something like one of these with nice, sunny colors. Next we went into A1 Piano, a great shop with dozens of unique, new and old pianos that you can buy or rent. It made me nostalgic for my childhood home where I had a piano and used to play. We lingered there a while looking at the pianos and some awesome peacock photographs. They also had snacks and drinks to help us re-energize.
Taking a break from art, we stopped in for quite a while at my new favorite secondhand shop, Labels. I’d been told about its awesomeness by one of my roommates, but was still wonderfully surprised by the selection and prices. It is like a Value Village visit, but without the hunt through awfulness and totally worn out clothing. Everything there is like-new and unique. My friend and I spent a good while hunting and trying things on, both coming out with some winners.
Before heading home, we made quick stops at two of the larger art exhibition areas: the Phinney Center, where there was a barter fair going on (got to love this neighborhood) and anime inspired paintings on display, and United Methodist Church, which had some intricate abstracts and nature photography. All and all it was a great afternoon and I can’t wait to continue exploring my neighborhood in the long, sunny summer days to come.