Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy 2011!

Stevie Ray Vaughan, Live Alive Tour 1987, on his famously beat-up '59 Strat
Stevie lays it down

My backstage pass

Carpe Diem! Seize the Day!

Recently, a good friend reminded me that life is short, and that it’s up to us to recognize miracles as they happen, and to participate, or not. In honor of the New Year and all its forthcoming opportunities and miracles, please allow me to reminisce:

I was reminded of a wedding I attended while living in Los Angeles in the mid-‘80s: Delaney Bramlett's wedding. Although Delaney has been dead now for 2 years, it seems like just yesterday. Music for the ceremony was provided by a young and spry Leon Russell, and singer Rita Coolidge. Several well-known musicians were in attendance, including my friend and blues harmonica great, John Juke Logan, and many of the cast of the TV show, Roseanne.

It was an inter-connected social web in L.A. back then. Bonnie Bramlett went on as a guest actor on Roseanne; my friend Juke played the now-famous harmonica line in the opening sequence of the Roseanne show. Around then Albert Collins was in town recording for Alligator Records. I met the executive producer of Alligator Records at a party, who invited me to meet Albert later on. At the time, I was working as a graphic designer for a small firm in Los Angeles, whose owner attended the same Musicians’ Alcoholics Anonymous as Stevie Ray Vaughan: we designed all of Stevie’s tour advertising and merchandise that year, even his Christmas card.

The Wiltern Theater was host to one of the greatest single displays of rock musicianship I’ve ever witnessed: Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble playing in front of 1,000 people in May 1987. Stevie was an absolute MONSTER on his beat up ’59 Strat, and, with tremendous authority, blew all our minds! Our design firm had the entire 10th row of the grand old vaudeville theater, and during intermission we went back stage to meet Stevie. We shook hands, and I was surprised at how small physically a person he was. I was wearing a backstage pass and was looking around for something he could autograph, and Stevie just took the Sharpie out of my hand with a smile and signed my backstage pass, right on my chest!

Around this time, Stevie was travelling so much, it’s a miracle he stopped over in L.A. to record, and even more of a miracle that I was in that place at that time. Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

After weeks of mixing the Live Alive album in Los Angeles, Vaughan and Double Trouble went on tour in Europe, where they were scheduled to play 28 shows. On September 26, the band shared the bill with ZZ Top at the Circus Krone Building in Munich where Stevie continued a downward spiral with drugs and alcohol. After spending two months in treatment, Vaughan and Shannon went back on the road with Double Trouble, playing their first sober show at the Towson Center in Maryland. They would often attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings while on the road. The tour took the band to Radio City Music Hall in New York City and Atlanta's Fox Theatre for a New Year's Eve show with Lonnie Mack. In January 1987, they played at the Fair Park Coliseum in Dallas, which was Vaughan's first sober performance in his hometown. The band appeared with The Fabulous Thunderbirds in New Orleans for a Mardi Gras television special on MTV.

In April, Vaughan made a guest appearance on a Cinemax television special called B.B. King & Friends: A Night of Red Hot Blues. Filmed at Los Angeles' Ebony Showcase Theatre in tribute to B.B. King, the special featured musicians Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Dr. John, and Albert King, as well as vocalists Etta James, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, and Billy Ocean.

Musicians such as Joe Bonamassa, John Mayer, Robert Randolph, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Colin James, Jonny Lang, Los Lonely Boys, Mike McCready, Eric Johnson, Orianthi, John Petrucci, and Doyle Bramhall II have cited Vaughan as an influence.

On August 27, 1990, after a sold out concert of 30,000 at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin, featuring an encore jam with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan and Robert Cray, Stevie’s helicopter crashed, killing instantly everyone on board. Stevie was 35.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Jar of Rain

Julio Posada on bass, John Thornburg on vocals, Russ Thornburg on lead guitar

John Thornburg tearing it up on the drums (photo from

Hot Young Band

I had the great pleasure of seeing Jar of Rain play at the new 88 Keys jam on Wednesday night, and Whew! These boys rock! They showed up on the radar about a year ago at the old Oddfellows jam in Redmond (by the way, how’s that Martini bar going??), and what a wonder a year makes.

John Thornburg has matured significantly as a musician, and at the tender age of 18 is already cultivating his explosive style of drumming. Sharp, powerful, and with unexpected artistry, he is a drummer to watch, now and in the years to come. His younger brother, Russ, plays a fine lead guitar, and to round out the sound, they’ve got sure-footed Julio Posada on bass.

The threesome play mostly their original material, which is also maturing. Is it loud? Yes. Is it raw? Yes. Does it show huge potential? Yes. Original songwriting is tricky; it’s partly craft and partly genius. These guys might just have what it takes.

In the meantime, when Jar covers a song, they take it further than it’s ever gone. Most young bands wouldn’t attempt the Beatles’ Come Together, or fall short in the effort, but these guys absolutely smashed it to the moon.

"Like" Jar's Facebook page to get posts about upcoming shows. Go see them in small venues while you can; rumor has it they are gaining interest with all the right people.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Jam Night at 88 Keys in Seattle

Powercell: Lynn Sorensen on bass, Doug McGrew on drums,
and Michael Johnson on lead guitar

Manuel Morais on lead guitar

Pete Butterfield on bass

Lynn Sorensen on electric violin

Eddie Mendoza on drums

Wednesday Nights at 88 Keys

It’s hard to overstate how gleeful I feel when I’m sitting in the audience at 88 Keys listening to the amazing Powercell, house band for the new jam at 88 Keys on Wednesday nights. I think to myself: Wow! I can’t believe I’m seeing/hearing this superb musicianship and rock music that I love, live and in person, 20 minutes from home!! Not to mention no cover, and free parking!

My favorite jams right now are at The Barrel in Burien on Tuesday nights, and the newcomer, 88 Keys in Pioneer Square, both 8-12p.m. Both jams are organized by the fabulous Doug McGrew, who is not only one of the finest drummers out there, but an unflagging promoter of live music. The new jam at 88 Keys on Wednesday nights is not to be missed. In an old wood and brick warehouse with high ceilings supported by huge ancient forest beams, the sound is clear and rich. And it’s great that the owners wired the place with the right equipment and enough juice to really crank.

Last night was no exception. Lynn Sorensen (of Magic Bus, and Bad Company) absolutely smoked on a gorgeous fretless bass (“Aww, I’m just goofing around,” he said later, modestly), then switched to his cherry-red favorite, and then electrified the room with his violin while Pete Butterfield grooved on the bass. They played some of Pete’s originals, which are screaming towards iTunes availability. ( can help with distribution.) Back on bass, Lynn took us to another world with Robin Trower’s Bridge of Sighs, then a rocked out a Guns n’ Roses song not usually my favorite, but when these guys play it, it just about takes the house down. Then Doug invited some notable locals up to play. Some surprises from Supertramp, Steely Dan, Stones, and Beatles from an ever-changing showcase of fine musicians. Among them was the Joe Satriani-meets-Stevie Ray Vaughn-meets Eddie van Halen—like awe-inspiring lead guitarist Manuel Morais, and the great Eddie Mendoza, both from the Aury Moore Band.

I can’t wait for next Wednesday at 88 Keys. From what I hear it’s going to be packed, with some very Special Guests playing, so get there by 8:00 for good seats.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Royal Fragrances From CREED

Rock your world.

In the past week, I’ve become aware of a natural and historical perfume that has rocked my idea of what “fragrance” is.

“CREED adheres to unrelenting high standards, using natural ingredients and methods of hand production instituted at the company's founding 250 years ago. For these reasons, CREED has a loyal clientele that includes royalty, Hollywood stars, political leaders, legends in business, sports, music and the fine arts, as well as discerning members of the public who value beauty and quality in scent.”

CREED was founded in London in 1760. It’s the world’s only privately held luxury fragrance dynasty, and has been passed from father to son for over 250 years. It’s one of the 100 oldest family businesses in the world! Today, based in Paris, CREED is led by the legendary Olivier CREED, sixth generation master perfumer and company chief.

The only two places to get CREED in Seattle are Nordstroms downtown, and at Niemans in the Bravern Bellevue.

Try one of these for a heady experience:

Love In Black, “evokes in dusk blooming wildflowers the enigmatic beauty of the 20th century’s most intriguing First Lady,” Jacqueline Kennedy.
Irisia, made with one of the most expensive raw materials in the world: oil derived from the root of the Iris. The Iris is the royal flower depicted in the famous symbol of imperial France, the fleur de lis.
• CREED’s mens’ fragrances are also sublime. My favorite is the royal and spiritual splendor of Original Santal.

You can shop online at
Or search “creed perfume” on Ebay.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Seattle Holidays

The view up 5th Avenue with the Monorail on the left.

The "Bon Marche" Star and the Tree Lighting at Westlake Center.

The Paperboys at Triple Door

It’s official: we’re in The Holidays.

The Day After Thanksgiving is always a holiday in itself. That’s when the Tree Lighting happens downtown, and it seems like the whole city is celebrating. I like meeting for cocktails at the Fairmont Olympic in the afternoon. Built in 1924, this venerable old hotel used to host bear hunters visiting the northwest. Its splendid Italian Renaissance-style colonnade and vast high-ceiling lobby make it the perfect festive meeting place. The 25-foot Noble Fir, centered in the grand living-room like lobby, is probably one of the most beautifully decorated trees in the world. You can purchase one of the other, smaller contenders, artfully decorated trees up for auction, placed around the lobby.

Amidst the busy shoppers coming and going, friends meet for signature cocktails and honor the tradition. I like the Olympic Gold martini with a little infused ginger. The Glacier Blue Martini is festive and icy. Or the “Absoluley” which gets harder and harder to say.

A half hour before show time, we bundle up and walk the few blocks over to Westlake Center. There we join thousands of revelers to watch local newscasters MC the old-style variety show of musicians and carolers, and we sing along as they perform favorites like “Silver Bells” and “Here Comes Santa Claus…Vixen and Blitzen and all his reindeer, pulling on the reins...”

And then the star on the top of the old Bon Marche (now Macy’s) building starts to glow…and the rays light up one by one, and then, the crescendo, the star is lit, the Big Tree is lit, and the fireworks go off! !!!

That’s the signal to find a great place for dinner. We sample the exceptionally good food from the Wild Ginger kitchen while seeing the entertaining Vancouver-based The PaperBoys at Triple Door. What they may lack in originality, they make up for in sheer verve and enthusiasm.

It’s great to be home for the holidays!

Stay tuned: a new weekly Jam Night at 88 Keys in SoDo this coming Wednesday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New World Music

Music Genres-in-a-Blender

There’s a new kind of music that’s popping up all over the place. I’ve seen a few bands recently that exemplify this genres-in-a-blender sound: Handful of Luvin’, Still Time, Railroad Earth, and coming up on Thanksgiving weekend: Vancouver-based The Paperboys at Triple Door in Seattle.

Where do these guys get off, saying things like, “we’re Irish Jigs and Reels and a good dose of Country and Bluegrass, with healthy servings of Ska, Soca and African Highlife, White Boy Reggae, strains of Soul, Pop and Funk, mostly accoustic although electric, Pop music, Good music.”

Well, from personal experience, I can say that most of these bands deliver. It’s only in the past few years I’ve seen a real love for--and resurgence of--electric violin, mandolin, and yes, even the sometimes scary Banjo (“Run! Run away!") It’s interesting to hear young musicians master these nostalgic instruments. And create soulful, original music that yet somehow harkens back in Time.

In fact, with just a bass and a banjo, Bubbles and Fog take old rock classics from the likes of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd right into the bluegrass arena with their amazing amalgams. If you get a chance, catch them Wednesday nights 7-10 p.m. at the Old Village Pub in Lynnwood, corner of 76th and 196th.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Average White Band

Average White Band members: Onnie MacIntyre; Klyde Jones;
Rocky Bryant; "Freddy V" Vigdor; Alan Gorrie

Alan plays soulful guitar as well as holding down the Bass line

Versatile, talented Klyde Jones--there's no instrument he can't play

Klyde and Alan with the boys at Jazz Alley

Play that funky music, White Boy!

AWB has been around so long. The only original members are Scotland-born Alan Gorrie, vocals and (rockin’) Bass, and Onnie MacIntyre, lead guitar and vocals.

Last week, during their annual run at one of my all-time favorite venues, Jazz Alley in downtown Seattle, AWB tore it up with classics like Cut the Cake and Work to Do. A shout-out to Klyde Jones on, get this: Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, and Vocals. Is there anything the guy can’t play excellently?? And of course, my fave, Alan Gorrie, with James Bond-like savoire faire, who makes playing his 5-string bass look and feel smooth and easy. He soooo reminds me of dinosaur rocker, Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople fame, who crossed over into punk and new wave, and later played bass with Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band.

From AWB's website: “AWB are widely regarded as one of the best soul and funk bands in the history of music. Though perhaps best known for their timeless instrumental mega-hit Pick Up the Pieces the band's strength actually lay in their consistently accomplished song-writing, stretching across several gold selling albums and multi-Grammy nominations for the legendary Atlantic Records. Somewhat incongruously, given their Scottish roots, the six piece took the influences of their R&B heroes - people like Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Donny Hathaway and others - and developed their own 'authentic' sound which was eagerly adopted by black audiences in the US and elsewhere.”

And, I might add, eagerly adopted by white audiences. They continued the cross-over accelerated by Motown, bringing Soul and Funk to some white audiences that might not otherwise have grooved on it. Luv, Luv, Luv these guys!

Monday, November 15, 2010

More Favorite Things

Barbara Bixby, Jewelry for Rock Stars
I can’t help marveling at this fabulous line of jewelry from Barbara Bixby. The silver work is amazing, and I especially like her inventive use of materials: coordinating clear stones with opaque, interesting color combinations, and popping little 18k gold elements here and there, which is her signature.

Barbara is a lifetime groupie, married to a musician who is well known in the rock and recording circles, Frank Carillo. He’s an accomplished guitar player, and has played with many greats including members of Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, J. Geils Band, Cheap Trick, Van Halen, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. As a songwriter, his list of collaborations is equally impressive.

You wonder if Barbara needed something to do while Frank was on the road—well, she got busy and the world discovered a superb jewelry designing talent. Her aesthetic is very Rock n' Roll, with whimsy and castles and gypsies thrown in. I’m not as fond of her Indian-inspired bodhisattva pieces as much as the stunning silver chains and gorgeous, architectural pendants and rings. I can see groupies and rockers of all ages wearing her designs! Check out her couture line, too.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rock Star Architecture in Seattle

Steel Stair, DeForest Architects,

Port Townsend Residence, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Architects,

Coleman Triplex, Workshop AD Architects,

Suncrest Residence, Heliotrope Architects,

Bodega Residence, Cutler Anderson Architects,

The AIA (American Institute of Architects) Honor awards can sometimes be a yawn, especially when they beat the deader-than-dead horse of Sustainability. But at this year's ceremony on November 8, the S-word wasn’t even mentioned; instead, the focus was on beautiful, useful design that honors the soul of its inhabitants.

Maybe it had something to do with the soulfulness of the multiple-award winning judges, all formidable architects in their own right:

  • Jim Jennings, from San Francisco, “quintessential bay area modernist”
  • Sheila O’Donnell, Hon. FAIA, from Dublin, whose watercolor studies, which explore and develop architecture concepts from landscape to material, have been widely published and exhibited
  • Gilles Saucier, from Montreal, whose work as a photographer has fine-tuned his approach to architecture

The honored projects ranged from single-family homes to large commercial buildings. My favorites are the homes that embed themselves into the fabric of the landscape upon which they are sited. There is no real distinction between “inside” and “outside” in the experience of being there. I imagine myself living in these airy, clean spaces, enjoying rich woods, and modern concrete, steel, and glass. The silent peacefulness of being one with a place in time and space.

The real stand-out of the evening was the see-through staircase. It turned the typical aesthetic upside down: usually the stairs themselves are solid, while the railing is see-through. In this delicious design, it’s the reverse: the stairs are made of steel mesh that you can look right through, and the railing is a solid sheet of steel defining and constraining the core. The owners wanted to be able to see their art through the stairs. Mission accomplished!

The AIA can help you find a Seattle architect to build your dream home.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Favorite Things

Heidi Daus designs this dramatic necklace, with faceted jasper beads
and carved onyx scarab.

Rachel Zoe's fun faux is "Major for Fall"

Kathy Van Zeeland's Rock n' Roll handbags.

Judith Ripka's spectacular sterling curb bracelet.

With the holidays coming, maybe you'll forgive me for featuring some of my favorite finds and gift ideas. In my travels I’ve come across some real treasures that give me joy whenever I wear them, and I’m constantly asked “Where did you get that?” My good friend R.A.B. and I laugh, but we’re serious when we say we’re no longer buying anything that isn’t Rock n’ Roll.

A few years ago, I discovered some beyond-great crystal jewelry designed by Heidi Daus. It’s exquisitely crafted, in a heavy bronze finished metal, and conjures Art Deco and flora and fauna in all their sparkling majesty. Amazingly, she features a line on HSN that’s priced at a fraction of what it would be out in the retail market. Heidi is passionate about her work, and it shows in every beautifully-crafted jewel. These pieces have whimsy and “POW!” all at once. Serious star power and Rock n’ Roll glam.

Ok, when did Fur become cool again? I’m sorry, I know they’re already dead, but I wouldn’t even wear a vintage genuine fur. Why would you carry that bad Karma when you can own fabulous faux creations that look better than the real thing, for pennies on the dollar? Rachel Zoe, famous celebrity stylist, has a great line of “fur” vests on QVC that are so cute and fun to wear. I like the shorter “Fox” ones with the luxurious collar and hidden pockets. I also like Kathy Van Zeeland's handbags; if you live in Dubai or Paris you're in luck, or you can shop online and save thousands of dollars.

I’m going to need to hide my credit card from myself, because QVC strikes again with the famous and ridiculously successful Judith Ripka sterling jewelry. As if her two stores on Madison Avenue weren’t enough. I really think her exclusive line of sterling jewelry for QVC is some of the best, most versatile jewelry available today. It’s very “Uptown” while still Rock n’ Roll.

So, Girlfriends (and Guys—hint, hint!), go easy on the plastic, and have some fun getting glamorous things for the holidays. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bob Rivers, Seattle Radio Icon

Friends and fans show their appreciation

Bob Rivers sits in on keyboards; Dudley Taft on lead; Terry James Young on bass

Spike says a few words of thanks

When the news started leaking out that Bob Rivers’ contract was not being renewed by CBS, it turned Seattle radio upside down. For more than a decade Bob Rivers' morning show on KZOK 102.5FM has been as much a part of our mornings as my double espresso hazelnut latte. He's practically an institution, and has been an important supporter of our local musicians' careers. Blatherwatch says, "This is big. He's big. The word Iconic comes to mind...this starts all manner of speculation: will he go to KIRO?"

Cory Dietz’ Radio Blog notes how Bob began to gain notoriety with song parodies he called "Twisted Tunes" for WAAF in Boston. They were so clever, ABC Radio offered to syndicate them in 1987. And he's been rocking entire cities ever since.

For me and the rest of his fan base, it’s been a few weeks of parties and farewells and celebrations of new beginnings. Spike and the Impalers, Magic Bus, Dudley Taft, Terry James Young from Rail, Roger Fisher from Heart, and many other local musicians have been paying tribute with appearances around town, including gigs at Snoqualmie Casino and other cool venues. One of my favorites was the bash at King Cat Theater last Thursday, a groovy '60s former movie theater, with swank lobby and interesting angles, and a big raked movie theater-cum dance floor.

Another event, the Bob Rivers Listeners Appreciation Night, happens 7pm Thursday Nov. 4 at Tulalip Casino, with Magic Bus featuring Lynn Sorenson on bass, Lloyd DeBar on lead guitar, and special guests.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Love at First Bite

The Glamorous Hotel DeLuxe in Portland

Rustic-Chic at Irving Street Kitchen

Pearl District Deco

Fall Colors in the Pearl

When Tom Douglas, Seattle Chef extraordinaire and one of the greatest chefs in the world, gives you three recommendations for dinner in Portland, you go. To at least one of them.

Taking the Amtrak “Coast Starlight” to Portland is the way to fly. A quick cab ride, a 10 minute wait, and whoooosh, you are gliding south along the river. Tom Douglas was sitting right next to us, so of course I had to pick his brains about Food. I was not surprised to see how technologically savvy he is, as he wrangled iPhone, iPad, and blueberry muffins along the way. When asked for his recommendations for Portland restaurants, he said, “You’ve come to the right city for great restaurants: Pok Pok [Thai], Genoa [Italian], and Le Pigeon [French].”

I got busy and Googled all three of them, and was excited by the reviews, my mouth watering. The Hotel Deluxe was on the Portland Cocktail Week circuit, so the place was hopping. Barely time to take in the glamorous Hollywood decor, swank lemon-colored upholstery, mirrored Moderne style, and huge black and white photos of stars like Greta Garbo and James Stewart. A few hours of shopping in the oh-so-chic Pearl District, and it was time for the Big Decision.

We decided to dine at the Irving Street Kitchen (sorry, Tom!). It came highly recommended by several other people along the way, and the location, online reviews and website finally swayed us. It was the right choice. I’ve never seen a more beguiling menu! Apparently the James Beard restaurant critics ranked Irving Street Kitchen right up there with Pok Pok, so we were in the right league. The full menu is incredible. Some of our picks for a festive Fall dinner:

Sweet Potato & Fennel Soup, Butternut Squash, Aged Blue Cheese
Seared Shrimp & Dungeness Crab Ragout, Bienville-Bread Pudding, Pickled Okra
Grilled Bone-In Pork Chop, Southern Dirty Rice, Persimmon-Sage Compote
Butterscotch Brulee topped with Crème Fraiche, Fiddle Faddle, and Roasted Peanuts

The service was impeccable and fun; Patrick made the experience joyful as he shared his in-depth knowledge of the source, preparation, and potential wine pairing of each dish. The restaurant sits up a half floor above busy Irving Street, in a concrete floored warehouse, with impossibly but successfully paired rustic country and urban chic décor, steel beams, lovely linens, and an omni-present mason-jars fetish. All the better to savor a “Low Country” with Ransom Old Tom Gin, Fernet Branca, Sage Peppercorn Syrup, and Reed’s Ginger Beer.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chrissie Hynde, Not Pretending

59 and Fabulous Chrissie Hynde

JP Jones

The band signed the set list

Chrissie Hynde and the Fairground Boys

Chrissie Hynde and the Fairground Boys played the Showbox at the Market in Seattle on Wednesday night. A good review appeared in the Seattle Times today.

Chrissie looked absolutely great. She's always been slim and cat-like, but to think she is 59 years old is pretty mind-blowing. Her voice was as good as ever, and I was struck yet again by her rock star charisma, her easy and total command of her guitar and of the band.

Apparently she is in love with her lead guitar player, JP Jones, and they had a December-May relationship that they ended and chronicled on their album together, Fidelity. Steamy is right. The setlist was primarily from the album. Only 70 minutes long, the set was tight, powerful, and bittersweet. You could feel the love.

Hats off to the Showbox, too; the sound was excellent, and we had no problem getting right up to the stage. Chrissie's "no cameras" rule was violated by cellphones, but it didn't detract from the lovely ride she took us on. I got the feeling from the crowd that no one wanted to come back from their "Fidelity" world, most especially the lead singer.
Set List photo courtesy Diane Brooks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Proliferate, Poetic, Picasso

Entry to the SAM exhibit

The Musee National Picasso in Paris

Picasso's "Jester" Bronze

You guessed it, this is a cubist "Guitare"

Man Playing Guitare

Picasso Exhibit, Seattle Art Museum, October 8 – January 17

Amsterdam, May 1988. A friend says, “If you’re taking the train to Paris tomorrow, you MUST see the Picasso Retrospective at the Center Pompidou before it closes tomorrow night.” So I did. A genius curator had arranged the massive proliferation of Picasso drawings, etchings, paintings, sculpture, and ceramics in chronological order, through a vast maze of halls and galleries. You could actually step through the years of Picasso’s development as an artist. It wasn’t until that day in Paris that I fully registered his true genius and his impact on Art. (The Seattle Art Museum show is a smaller but no less interesting version of that.)

So, the day after that, I had to visit the Musee National Picasso which is a museum in a grand old mansion in the heart of Paris dedicated entirely to works by Picasso. The mansion is surrounded by a grove of old trees, and it’s not until you enter the driveway that it opens onto a large gravel parking de la region where they used to bring up the horse-drawn carriages. Many of the thousands of works in the museum were bequeathed by the artist from his own personal collection. It is from these works that the Seattle Art Museum’s exhibit is drawn. The SAM exhibit also includes some wonderfully obscure found-object sculpture, and a nice sampling from the other various mediums. And, we're spared the endless shelves of ceramics endured at the Musee National.

Did you know Picasso created on average three works of art per day? And that he lived to be 92? You do the math! Whether it was a drawing, a vase, sculpture, or painting, the guy was busy! And it’s not widely recognized what a superb draftsman he was. Many skeptics believed he defaulted to "primitive" cubism because he couldn't really draw. But, his early studies of nudes and hands easily rival those of the best renaissance artists. He was also a great mimic: you can see nods to the impressionists Cezanne, Degas, and Manet, as well as sculptural references to DuChamps, and African primitive art, and psychedelic morphings a la Dali.

Of course, the innovation that indelibly stamped Picasso on the art map was his kaleidoscopic cubism; he was a litmus of his times--the machine age--and he was the first to capture instantaneous views of the same object on one canvas, forcing us to see in a new way.

Some of his later works are very political, or even strongly psychedelic. A bit like an IQ test, it’s fun to stare at some of the paintings and wonder, Hmm, how did he get a guitar out of that?

Photos, except Musee National Picasso, courtesy of John Best.