Crying About Architecture

There are some who feel earthquakes liberate the fabric of a city, quashing some buildings, hastening the banishment of others. Japan's greatest living architect, Tadao Ando, actually praised the 1995 Kobe quake for "letting the city breathe again."

Surely, last Wednesday's quake did liberate some repressed architecture: I am thrilled, for example, that Icon Restaurant's overblown façade was hurt. They were just begging for it, with that pompous marquee. Likewise, the horrific awnings of the Fenix were assailed by their very own building! And anything that hurts that ugly Starbucks crown atop the Sodo building is an act of God's good grace.

But there are petty tragedies, too. Some buildings painted with historic advertising--Dexter Horton, the Bush Hotel--were especially hard hit, which is worrisome: Huge writing, shouting such amenities as, "Modern, Fireproof!" remind our city of its prior manifestations.

And lastly, one major tragedy: The OK Hotel has had to close its doors under orders from the building owners. "Our building is not even red-tagged," lamented booker Diane Podelac (red tags mean no entry). "But the owners said they're not going to do any work, and gave us about a week and a half to relocate." Perhaps this wonderful institution will liberate itself into a new home (it is actively looking), but I will feel nothing but sadness every time I recall that dark wood, that eternal shadow cast by the viaduct, the stained tin of the ceilings, and the creaking glory of that back room. JAMIE HOOK

Shaken-up Art

So we lost some buildings. But what inquiring minds want to know is, how much art was broken in Earthquake 2001? In Arts News jogged from gallery to gallery on First Thursday to find out.

Rich Eyre, co-owner of Eyre/Moore Gallery, described the event as a "battle royal among the art," in which sculptures fell through canvases, resulting in about $15,000 worth of damage. The art fared pretty well at James Harris' gallery, but the structural damage was so severe that the visibly distressed Harris is considering closing down the space until it can be fixed; Greg Kucera has stepped in with an offer for Harris to use his back gallery until then. At the Seattle Art Museum, two Tang dynasty ceramics broke, but both are considered "reparable."

The granddaddy of all reports came from the William Traver Gallery, which specializes in studio glass. The work on exhibit survived, but in the gallery storerooms at least $400,000 worth of art was destroyed. Under the artists' contracts with Traver, the gallery and the artists share responsibility for damage to unsold work resulting from natural disasters; this means that the gallery loses income from hypothetical sales, and the artists eat the rest. EMILY HALL


In Arts News bids adieu to Seattle Times film critic John Hartl, who recently chose to take an early retirement after 35 years of service. Mr. Hartl will be fondly remembered for his dedication to the art of moving pictures, and his unswerving support of Seattle's local film community. His outstanding attention to detail (he seemed always to know when a local film was playing at some out-of-town festival or other), coupled with his energetic generosity (he covered literally everything!), played a huge role in establishing this city as one of the nation's preeminent film towns. Every struggling filmmaker, festival director, or backroom presenter owes Hartl a heartfelt thanks: It took him 15 years to build up enough influence to be able to give ink where he saw fit.

Sadly, it took the Times leadership less than a month to take it all away. With its killing of the MovieTimes section and its increased emphasis on big-budget releases and wire-service reviews, we may reasonably expect the future of The Seattle Times' film coverage to frankly suck. JAMIE HOOK