Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The "dolls" of Maryhill Museum

The "dolls" at Maryhill Museum of Art
I first visited Maryhill Museum, a wonderful eclectic museum in southcentral Washington, when I was five or six years old. It was the first museum I'd ever visited, and even today remains my favorite.
What I remember most about that visit was the "dolls." Well, I thought they were dolls, but they really weren't. They were fashion mannequins put together by French houses of fashion toward the end of World War II to let the world know that French fashion was very much alive, thank you.

The mannequins are 27 inches high, made of wire, and are dressed in the latest French fashions of that day. Even the accessories, such as shoes, jewelry and handbags, were made by the finest fashion designers Paris had to offer.

After being in storage for a number of years, they ended up at Maryhill where a third of them are on display every year. The mannequins have a special hall to themselves, and they deserve it. Maryhill also has a fascinating collection of chess sets from around the world and Native American artifacts, and memorabilia belonging to the royal family of Romania, but it is the dolls that have always held my interest.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Downtown Kennewick art

Pants statue
The Parkade in downtown Kennewick, Washington,  is a mini outdoor art gallery. There are statues on street corners that reflect interests of the downtown area. A statue of a paper boy stands on the corner that leads to the daily newspaper office. My favorite is a statue of a pair of paint-splattered paints standing next to a can of blue paint

On a nice day, it is pleasant to walk along Kennewick Avenue just to see the art. This area used to be the main shopping area in this southcentral Washington town, but then the malls came and drew the business several miles away with the big box and chain stores.

But the businesses in the Kennewick Parkade still breathe life. Boutiques, restaurants and taverns, art galleries and antique stores now fill the void. It's an eclectic mix of businesses that makes the area so interesting.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Toppenish murals

If you're like us, you whizz by Toppenish, Washington, on Interstate 82 between Ellensburg and the Oregon border. But the next time you make this trip, get off the freeway and drive into Toppenish to see the murals. It's a detour well worth the effort to make.

The "artist" working on the mural is part of it.
The Old West lives in Toppenish, particularly the downtown area with its Western style buildings, many of which are adorned with murals. The murals pay homage to the city's pioneer and Native American heritage. Tens of murals decorate the sides and fronts of buildings, and a new mural or two is added each year.

Some of the murals are quite realistic. We made a special trip to Toppenish last year just to see the murals. I'd stopped to take a picture of one when my husband spied a man on a ladder painting a mural on a wall about a block away. He encouraged me to go interview the artist so I could write an article for an online magazine. I started off across the parking lot and had almost reached the mural when I realized the "artist" was part of the mural.

The easiest way to view the murals is to park your car downtown and then walk around. I think you'll agree with me downtown Toppenish is pretty special.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pasco Farmers Market

The farmers market in Pasco, Washington, opens this weekend, running on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until the end of October.

It's the oldest and biggest farmers market in the area. Besides fruits and veggies, you can find crafts, baked goods and plants on sale. The produce offerings depend on the time of year. There's usually not too many vendors in the opening weeks, but as the summer moves on, more farmers show up.

I visit the market several times a summer, but I usually don't buy anything. I think the prices for fresh produce are too high, sometimes higher than what you'd pay in a supermarket, but then supermarket produce is not as fresh as what you can find at the Pasco market. However, the contract farmers have with the market require them to charge prices that are comparable to what grocery stores charge.

I go mainly because the farmers market is a good place to catch up with friends I haven't seen in awhile. I also go to take photographs of all the fresh produce on display.

I used to really love shopping for produce at farmers markets, but that was until I moved to China for a couple of years. There, instead of shopping at farmers markets just occasionally, I shopped for produce on a daily basis at street stands. One might sell just tomatoes, another celery, and a third apples. Each stand usually only sold one vegetable or fruit. When you have to shop like this all the time, farmers markets lose their allure.

The Pasco farmers market is open from about 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., though many farmers leave as soon as they sell out, so the earlier you go the better. It's located at Fourth Avenue and Lewis Street in downtown Pasco.