Friday, October 07, 2005

Our two cities

The artwalk last night was worthwhile, although there was nothing that knocked any of our socks off. Or even got us mildly excited, really. The great thing is that we're in a real, live city--where there are old warehouses made into studios and something of a downtown scene.

I just got back from taking Samer lunch down where he works by Pike Place Market, and after sitting in the park eating and watching the ferries pass by, Iss and I took off for a spin (in his super stroller) around downtown. Sure, many of the people milling about were tourists, but there's still a bit of a downtown scene--and downtown is an amenable place with stuff to do.

Most downtowns here in the States are, I suppose. It's funny, because in Jordan, not too many people in our neighborhoods ever make it downtown. It's too "lower class" for their taste, and not filled with shiny stores like out in the western parts of the city. Samer's studio was in an ancient building downtown, and we often hung out down there, checking out rugs, drinking tea, buying fruit smoothies. But to most people there we looked out of place, and we were generally assumed to be tourists.

It stinks that everything in Amman has to be so segregated by class. Downtown is wonderful in many ways, but it often feels like it's dying. Not any real restoration to the old buildings (which often get torn down or the Amman version of glitzed up) and there's not much more than a handful of places that attract a handful of people from the western parts of town. Everything's out in the neighborhoods, which don't have any real distinctive features or raison d'etre.

Seattle has a wealth of neighborhoods, and each with a quirky and distinctive personality. Because the city feels very alive and diverse, I'm often surprised at how uncosmopolitan it is. And here I'm not thinking about population diversity (because it doesn't feel less than super white in most of the areas of town), but the way in which the neighborhoods have an evolved and multi-faceted vibe.

The Seattle art scene is one area that could certainly benefit from a little contact with the outside world. Samer and I have checked out nearly all the galleries here and are generally shocked at the pedestrian level of stuff that's shown in the reputable places. The second-tier places show stuff that's so frighteningly bad it's unbelievable.

So what's the deal? There definitely doesn't seem to be a dearth of people interested in art. There were tons of people out last night on the artwalk. Perhaps we'll figure it all out the more Seattle-ified we become.

Issy was driving us nuts last night--super grouchy and basically a handful. We finally allowed him out of his stroller and shortly afterward, he walked up to a photo that was suspended from some wires hanging from the ceiling. There were some people around (and Samer, who was "keeping an eye" on him), and he banged it with his hand to see it swing. It was pretty embarrassing, but I kind of cracked up in spite of it when a very noisy collective gasp rang out in the room. Yep, these people like art. Too bad it's all crappy art.

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