Tag Archives: seattle

The HempenRoad (1997) ~ Documentary about industrial cannabis and medical marijuana

The HempenRoad

A travel documentary about commercial hemp industry in the Pacific NW in 1996-7

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Available in full length (83 minutes) online on Youtube and Vimeo.

With legalization in Washington and Oregon, and an ever-changing landscape in BC, this film shows the roots of a movement going from society’s fringes towards mainstream acceptance by exploring economic and environmental benefits.

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Produced, written and narrated by DaveO, directed by Eiji Masuda, the HempenRoad is an experimental, multi-media roadtrip exploring commercial hemp businesses and conferences in the Pacific northwest. The film explores many uses of cannabis including fiber, paper, fuel, food, beer, medicine, as well as delving into the political and environmental issues around legalization.

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Beginning in the clearcut Olympic peninsula, the film follows narrator Dave “Uncle Weed” Olson as he visits a variety of colourful personalities and interesting businesses.

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Stops include: Victoria, BC; Eugene and Portland Oregon; and, Olympia and Seattle Washington, before finishing with exclusive footage of the groundbreaking Commercial Industrial Hemp Symposium in Vancouver, B.C.

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Note: made in 1996 using footage captured by 16mm, Super 8, Hi8 tape, scans, 35mm stills, web video and editing with Adobe Premiere 1.0 on a 200Mhz Mac-clone and a 9Gb harddrive.

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The HempenRoad features:

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Victoria, British Columbia
* Ian Hunter (RiP), Sacred Herb & Victoria Mayoral candidate
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* Sarah Hannah Bedard, Sacred Herbsarah
* Odette Kalman, Ecosource
* Padra Almadi, Earthenware
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* Eric Hughes, Zima foods
* Alice Bracegirdle, Zima foodsalice

Eugene, Oregon
* Todd Dalotto, Hungry Bear
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* Rose, Hairy Truth
* Carolyn Moran, Living Tree Paper
* Bruce Mullican, So Much Hemp
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Diedre Mullican, So Much Hemp

Portland, Oregon
* D. Paul Stanford, CRRHpaul_s
* Cheryl Kolander, Aurora Dye Works
* Chris Iverson, HempWiezen beer

Olympia, Washington
* Charles Tomala, Jay Stewart, Scott Orr, OlyWa.net
* Bob Owen, WHEN
* Dennis Peron, Prop 215 (California) activist etc

Seattle, Washington
* David Edwards, Earthgoods
* S. David Stunda, Earthgoods
* Cory Brown, Fremont Hemp Co.
* Rob Jungman, Manastashmanasnow
* Khamphy S., Panther Manufacturing
* Tom Cluck, Belltown Hempery
* Fred Martin, Belltown Hempery
* Jill Etherington, Belltown Hempery
* Kristina Lynch, Belltown Hempery
* Aloha, Macrame

Vancouver, British Columbia
* Mari Kane, Hempworld
* Mosse Mellish, Greenman paper
* Geof Kime
* Jace Callaway
* Mark Parent
* Ryszard Kozlowski
* John Stahl
* Brian McClay
* Brian McLay
* Alexander Sumach
* Jean Peart
* David Watson
* Brian Taylor
* Sotos Petrides, Wiseman Noble
* and other speakers and audience members at the Commercial Industrial Hemp Symposium

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HempenRoad Soundtrack includes:

* Phat Sidy Smokehouse
* JahWah
* Elemental
* Chris Sullivan
* Bread Mountain
* 420 Love
* Chris Jacobsen
* Old Time Relijun
* Collective Shoe
* J. Williamson Ensemble
* Systolie Diastolie
* and more . . .

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Digitalized for the web by Bread 420.

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Seattle: HempenRoad Production Journal

Another drizzly morning and we head up to Seattle. There’s plenty to see there as Seattle has kind of become the hemp-metropolis of America. A big-league city with an awkward mix of high-tech, red-neck, enviro-activism, loud guitars, gearhead REI yuppies and an international dose of everything else.

First off, we find the Beemis building on the shady side of the Kingdome. Apparently this classic building used to be a paper bag factory and it now houses artist and professional loft/suites. There is a neat Vespa out front and a intimidating freight elevator inside. We head up stairs to visit Earth Goods.

Earth Goods is the international business run by two guys named Dave or David which isn’t surprising as I’ve been meeting a lot of guys named Dave recently. The focus of Earth Goods is to make contemporary high-end fashions from naturally dyed hemp. No use dumping chemicals on a piece of organic cloth they figure.

The selection of garments for women and men are made and dyed in Thailand, overseen by another guy named Dave. The idea however, was conceived while were living between Boulder and then Japan where they heightened their sense of aesthetic and marketing.

The duo had just returned from European travels, styling in Venice where they showed off their fancy threads on the same runway that Giorgio Armani was pushing his own hemp designs. While they have been working hard to reach the public, they welcome the competition and figure any expansion of natural standards is to the net benefit to the Earth and the vitality of the industry.

Things are really starting to move for this sharp company as they create a solid niche with their hemp/silk, softened hemp, and hemp/cotton fancy/casual clothing line. They make especially nice vests.

Enjoyed talking about Japan and learning natural dye names in Thai, spent a nice morning in the Beemis building. Unique view, a sort of backdoor look of the city from giant windows. High ceilings, so high that a guy from the Sonics lives right up stairs.

So we head across to the University district to check out Rob Jungman and his new Manastash store.

Rob started with an idea for a small wallet that you wouldn’t loose even after a rough day on the beach and rougher night on the town. After a roadtrip brainstorm, the “Chenga” became. After a few batches of those, Rob made up some bigger packs, accessories and gear. All designed for action sports and having fun.

After spreading his line around the US, Rob took the show to Japan where he is hooking up all the hempster gearheads over there. This is particularly interesting to me as I research the history of cannabis culture in Japan. The possibilities of selling hemp in that massive consumer market is head-spinnin and Rob has got the goods to do it.

Rob headed out on Hemp Tour all summer. Traveling the land with a couple vans to concerts, mountain bikes races, rock climbing comps., festivals and wherever. . . letting athletes and adrenaline junkies test out his gear and put hemp to the test.

Instead of taking it easy when he returned, he decided to make a store right on Seattle’s infamous University strip. The store is loaded up with gear from a variety of hemp makers so we had a chance to preview some upcoming hempen road filming stops.

Business seems brisk both at the store and with getting the line of Manastash Mountain Products on the rack at outdoor stores. The horizon sees a couple new stores opening in Japan and new products coming out real quick.

As for the Manastash products, they are made across town at Panther Sports which Rob operates with his partner Khampy, a textile production designer from Vietnam. They run a nice facility, comfortably employing a rotating staff of about a dozen.

As part of a government job training program, the factory helps new immigrants learn a trade, make a fair wage, work in good conditions, improve language skills and gain positive work experience. Most move on to higher paying jobs at bigger factories after they are experienced. This is all part of the process and it certainly looks successful as we laughed and goofed with the sewers who were lucky enough to have hooked up with a great organization. The Manastash products are made with care in a local, international community atmosphere , a real working model of positive production and what is a great alternative to synthetics made in deplorable sweat shops both here and abroad.

By the way, Manastash is the Yakima tribe’s name for a mountain range in eastern Washington which translates to New Beginnings.


Dale the Weaver helped us out with the segemnt by provided random inspiring comments and hairstyles to urge us along. He is quite a motivator, ol’ Dale, and he is weaving and knitting some nice potholders and Christmas tree ornaments.

So after exploring the neighborhoods and eating some interactive Thai food recommended by Christian at Crop Circle clothes who we didn’t get a chance to hook up with cause he was in Las Vegas wooing a client. Right on, I can see Wayne Newton in a hemp tux. Christian seems to have the marketing and promotion game down and I hope to check out his products down the road.

That evening we were hosted again by the Dave duo at the Beemis Building. A exclusive gathering of hempsters, business people, store owners, buyers and friends sharing Christmas cheer and tasty beer.

Upstairs, some new friends put us up for the night in their loft which was decorated with some exceptional acrylic on plywood paintings.

The next morning we spent some time filming the curious community of Fremont. You know, it is the center of the Universe. Rocket ships, walking pizza, statue of Lenin, and Fremont Hemp Company. Run and designed by Cory Brown, entering the Fremont Hemp Co. shop is like leaping into a spendy magazine spread. It is exquistely detailed with luxurious items. Body care products, household accessories and dried flowers. It really is something different than Joe Q. Public’s perception. I expect to see Ralph L. and Laura A. models posing in the corner.

Not surprisingly, Cory’s background is in retailing and related arts. Everything down to the wrapping paper is done just the way he wants, no compromise. Beauty and functionality are tucked comfortably in together.

The building itself was once a Gas Station and the transformation is complete as Fremont built it up from a blank canvas. Spiral staircases go up to a loft and give a view of the courtyard out front. The design is slightly manic and comfy at the same time. A huge Masonic painting and a statue of Vlad offset the elegant yet utilitarian garage facade. A row of large letters along the top, tell you where you are. Fremont center of the hempiverse!

If Fremont is center of the Universe, than Belltown is center of Universal Hemp. Universal Hemp is the new enterprise of several experienced hemp industry workers. These are the men and women who have been pulling the weight at other companies in Seattle and have now jumped into making the new Belltown Hempery.

It is certainly not a regular hemporium, its more of an outlet for independent artists, crafters and makers to market their gear. There is a wide variety of stuff but its not the same as you’ve seen around.

One of the difficult things about trying to build a business is finding a decent, fair outlet to vend your product to start generating operating capital. Consignment generally doesn’t work, wholesaling doesn’t fit for home based, small time operators and winter is a lousy time to be out hustling at arts and crafts fairs. Ask me, I know. I wish I could’ve found an outlet like Belltown about 4 years ago when UncleWeed backpacks and dog collars, hempy sacks etc were being made in a tent and sold on street corners and festivals.

While it is a new business, there is plenty of room to expand. Plans for papermaking workshops, soap, candles, dyeing. Basically if it can be done to hemp on a workshop scale, they’ll be doing at one point or another. With space, enthusiasm and a plan, a lot can happen.

I tried on a fine hat and a fleece/hemp jacket and we hauled a little rolling sign to Pike Street market to explore the Seattle city center and check out people’s reaction as we walked around with our hemp clothes and mobile billboard.
Pike street market must of been brilliant about 50 years ago. It is still super cool, just a whole load of humans and not enough hemp. If you like salmon, get there.

We finished off with a few 16mm shots of the harbor and sailboats and actually even with all the concrete, it’s still pretty. Water, trees, mountains, sigh.

Taxi Cab Annotations to Toronto ~ Choogle On #86

En route to Toronto on a red-eye flight, Uncle Weed shares flashbacks from the Big Smoke from Summer of 87 and recounts gaps in memory from SXSW including poolside broken legs, bar-b-q trips, bike shops and grand hotels and recaps a trip to SubPop Records HQ in Seattle including meeting Mark Arm of Mudhoney and fore-shadowing adventures in T.O. Featuring music by Mudhoney “Overblown” plus various street musicians.

Hop in for Taxi Cab Annotations to Toronto ~ Choogle On #86 (15:00, .mp3, 15MB)

Choogle on album art by bread the producer
Episode art by Bread the Producer from photo by Uncle Weed

Crappy photos from SubPop tour

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I use Koss SterophonesM-Audio MicroTrack IIM-Audio Solo audio interfaceGriffin iMic and Sony Microphone – in case you were wondering.

For Goodtimes, Point Southward: A Train Trip to Microbrews

Originally published in Uncle Weed’s Dossier at Vancouver Observer on Jan. 7, 2010. Republished here intact for posterity.

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Amtrak Cascades Mud Bay Surrey BC, photo by Stephen Rees
First thing you learn is you always gotta wait
— Lou Reed, Waiting for my Man, Velvet Underground

Usually when mentioning train travel in Canada you have to cue Gordon Lightfoot but as Canada has apparently forgotten that the iron road made the country and relegated train travel to a slim segment, I move my gaze to the south. While the rest of the civilized world may chuckle at the hype around the USA’s long overdue plan for high speed rail, I am just happy you can take a trip southwards on a train at all I don’t mind the slow rolling, but as Lou Reed explains, the waiting is a drag.With the impending Olympix invasion, February might be a good time to hop the rails and meet your Cascadian neighbours to the south. You may likely find you have more cultural similarities than our compatriots spread across 5-1/2 time zones. Get your passport ready cause I’ve got your route planned out for a proper visit – and each stop involves beer from Bellingham to Portand (or even Eugene).

Dual Train Action

The problem with the train isn’t speed – it’s timeliness and reliability – both of which hinder your ability for a successful and efficient diplomatic mission. Customs delays, mudslides derailments, waiting at sidings, labourious boarding check in, and a secondary immigration clearing mean you can’t rely on traveling by train for anything *important* but there is reason to hope and rejoice. The reason is there are now twotrains a day. Used to be one train with a bunch of “train buses” – which is Amtrak way of saying a fckin Trailways bus. I rode it many times with baffled tourists who dreamed of rolling the coast starlight gazing at the brilliant Puget Sound on, you know, a train – not a bus. Quite different indeed.

The second train was hard fought as the Canadian Customs held out for $10k for clearing each train. Seems at odds with encouraging a sustainable, tourism-based economy but I digress … Since about half of you are probably charting course to get outta town during this arts, sports culture consumer jamboree imminently approaching so I’ve plotted some ideas to where to go, and how to do it – you just hafta figure out how to get to Main St. station by 6 am, (which is of course, basically impossible if you live across a bridge or tunnel) so set your alarm for 5am and talk someone into driving you ~ a great way to start a trip indeed.

There are two trains and each has a different name and route, the Cascade goes from Vancouver to Eugene, Oregon but only once a day but twice if from Seattle (confusing i know) while the Coast Starlight ventures all the way to LA but starts in Seattle and offers sleeping compartments to help you feel like a Euro-rail backpacker.

Since you aren’t driving, and will be waiting a lot (and likely be annoyed that the thrill peace and magic of riding rails is replaced by unfounded paranoia and obtuse security), let’s get your pints lined up.

Micro Mission

Used to be we Canadians could brag without hindrance about our superior brews … until the mostly west-coast microbrew revolution. Now the Cascadia region is dotted with excellent breweries laden with culture and tasty pints – and i’ve found the finest.

Beers at Boundary Bay BrewpubBellingham is no longer Smelligham as we called it on trips southwards in the glory days of toxic pulp mills. Now there are ample opportunities to spend a few hours well away from Bellis Fair mall starting at Boundary Bay Brewery. With a handy location in the Fairhaven area (the old town), this popular hangout is close to the train station and the Alaska ferry if you wanna head into the wild. The pub is top shelf with outdoor beer gardens, award winning brews, guest taps and hearty grub.

A wee stretch further south on your train roll is the valley village of Mt Vernon and Skagit River Brewery. Stop in for a variety platter including 2 stouts (one on nitro) and a barleywine. Last visit, I left with a pint glass decorated with their award winning Skuller’s IPA insignia.


Enjoying some sample beers with Kris and Francis at Skajit River Brew Pub in Mt. Vernon, Washington en route to Gnomedex. We riff about various styles of beers (barleywine, stouts, porters, IPAs etc) and try to be pleasant.

Everett is worth stopping in to catch a hockey game at their new rink (home of the WHL Silvertips) but not oozing with culture (that i’ve found anyhow – please correct me as needed). Of course, Seattle is next but you’ve already visited there right? If you find yourself stranded in the Emerald city – step away from the train station and go to the crazy Experience Music Project – the weird looking building next door to the Space Needle for rock n’ roll history adventure (and a beer inside). It’s easy to find a solid pint but some maximum pleasure, head to the neighbourhood of Ballard, find a bar, tell them you are from Canada and let the wild rumpus begin as they treat you like a foreigner from somewhere exotic. (Hint: Find a Hale’s Cream Ale).

If you happen into Tacoma, avoid the industrial aroma and instead visit the stellar glass art museum (Dale Chihuly is a local hero) and find a bar called The Swiss – from which you might never leave.

Washington’s capitol city (the town Time Magazine called the hippest in the west + High Times bestowed additional dubious accolades) is Olympia. The station is located way out of town (in Lacey) and not handy to get into downtown but worth the trip if you can hang for a while. With artesian acquifers wells producing perfect brew water, Oly is famous for beer. Now the tradition has migrated from mass production of swillable stubbies to organic Fishtale Ale. In their intrepid Fish Bowl pub, you’ll spot grey ponytails plotting Cascadian secession or just eating fish tacos or a ploughman’s platter.

Wander a couple blocks down to 4th and find the Eastside Club Tavern – a real life Mos Eisely cantina with 30+ micro handles and a sweet jukebox (say hi from Uncle Weed). Then step next door for frog leg lunch from Cajun chef Billy at A2 and wander down the street to browse the eclectic Last Word Books. Finish with live music at a handful of bars or an art house flick at Capitol theater for a perfect day out. Can’t stop? See the Go with the Flow movie instead.

The next wide spot south is Chehalis and Centralia, but which i can never figure out which is which – just check your map and make sure to stop at the new Dick’s Brewery. Sadly, Dick “Danger” Young rode his Harley to the big party in the sky in 2009 but leaves legacy of 20+ brews. My faves in order: 1) Belgain Double; 2) Danger Ale; 3) Irish Ale; 3) Cream Stout; 4) Workingman’s Brown. If you are feeling dangerous (which you are since you are riding the train), try ’em all to find your fave.

This old logging town is a fine place to end up your trip as there is a McMenamin’s old-timey hotel called the Olympic Club (wait! isn’t that name illegal somehow ;-)) where a bank robber holed up and you can too.

Continuing on? Good, just roll right past the older, but less shiny, (Fort) Vancouver as you’ll get confused and think you are home. Instead, cross the mighty Columbia and embark into fantasy land for beer aficionados (and enthusiasts of no sales tax), Portland.

Beside the neatest bar you’ve ever seen on every block, Portand has stellar street markets, great dim sum, more cool McMenamin’s retro-hotels (try the Kennedy School) and theaters (like the Baghdad). In fact, with great transit (light rail hurrah!), “exotic show lounges” and cannabis clubs, PDX feels more like Canada than Canada sometimes.

Not enough? The end of this line is Eugene – the spiritual home of hippies and athletes alike. I can’t talk about Eugene without a Grateful Dead concert flashback so I’ll spare us both before i begin rambling about that show with Little Feat and the blotter paper…

That’ll do ya – you’ve gone far enough. If not, repeat the visits on the way back up. Of course, you can’t get all of these into one trip so pick a few stations and make a long weekend (or play hooky while you “work from home”) to make the circuit count.

Load em up

While Amtrak soldiers on – buoyed by Obama’s fresh visions – Canada keeps doing it like they’ve done since the trains were new. I’ve rolled the fine style and liesurely pace of the Queen’s own VIA Rail in fancy “Silver and Blue” style with my sweetie through the Rocky Mountains – the views were stellar but my indoor observations do not bode well for the future as we musta been the only ones under 65 on the train (aside from a few young families).

VIA in McBride BC en route to Jasper
All good though, there was a bar serving Caesars on-board (and we ended up partying with the train staff in a Jasper bar) – but for the cost of the ticket, seems like you could drive an RV to Newfoundland. How VIA ended up this expensive when most the trains were made in 1950s I don’t know. How do other countries manage? And not just Japan and Germany, Russia has trains too – I’ve seen them in Dr. Zhivago.

What’s missing from rail service on this continent isn’t speed, it’s the ability for spontaneous travel encouraging relaxation, reflection and conversation. Further, there is a public desire to reduce carbon emissions and contribute in some way to the greater good with a greener-ish footprint – but we all need a way to travel to see Grandma on the holidays without causing air-travel-like pollution (especially since we humans must self-regulate after Copenhagen’s implosion). I think more trains are part of the answer, but for now… I’m rolling on with what we got – even if the rest of the world chuckles. Are you coming along? Good, you can buy me a pint of Danger.

Bonus

PS If Amtrak or VIA feel I’ve missed something about their service, i’d be pleased to be their guest and document my journey comprehensively – get me via dave (at) uncleweed (dot) net

Slow Train Coming – Talking Cascadia Trains in Vancouver Courier

from the article by Robert Alstead, Oct. 22nd, 2008
from the Vancouver Courier article by Robert Alstead, Oct. 22nd, 2008

I was interviewed (and used loquacious quotes like “super lame”) for an article about train travel in the Vancouver Courier.

I am including my quotes and a few other snippets about my pet-rant – inadequate train travel between here and points south as well as the photo by Dan Toulguet so it doesn’t disappear into the internet tubes like my previous photo appearance in this local newspaper. By the way, if someone could pick me up a paper copy, i’d be very pleased.

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Slow train coming

Robert Alstead takes a journey north by rail from California and wonders if Canada’s vanished passenger trains will once again carry us from coast to coast – Robert Alstead, Vancouver Courier
Published: Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Print version of Slow Train Coming
Web version of Slow Train Coming

Dave Olson, who works in marketing for Gastown web design company Raincity Studios, travels six or seven times a year by train, on business and pleasure. “I don’t care for jet travel because of the incredible hassle and huge eco-footprint,” says Olson. Like many, he would take the train more if he could. “I like the pace and not having to drive, I like the rhythm and the scenery you normally don’t see, the rail yards and seashores and forgotten neighbourhoods. I find the train-riding experience somehow charming, even poetic and certainly creativity stimulating,” he says.

However, he complains Amtrak’s evening train south is hardly convenient for trips to Olympia or Portland, seeing as travellers must make an overnight stopover in Seattle. The Amtrak Cascades is also infrequent and often booked up. Amtrak does offer several “train buses” which Olson has found “super lame” with long border waits. He’d rather take the car if there are no seats on the train, although it did mean a $124 parking bill and a chipped windshield on a recent three-day trip to Seattle. “I know we would’ve enjoyed some work or playing cards or meditating on the train,” he rues.

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However, the Amtrak Cascades offers a good example of the difficulties faced in enhancing rail services.

For years, Amtrak has wanted to add a second roundtrip train between Eugene and Vancouver. However, congestion due to heavy freight movement on track this side of the border meant that a new siding needed to be added to allow trains to pass. For six years, Canadian and U.S. officials and railroad owners Burlington Northern Santa Fe had been unable to hammer out a deal over who should pay for the upgrade.

That means that a second Amtrak Cascades has been running only as far as Bellingham. Then in March of last year, spurred on by the onset of the 2010 Olympics, B.C. transportation minister Kevin Falcon announced that he was committing “up to $4.5 million” (reportedly 57 per cent of the upgrade cost) to build the siding.

In June last year, Premier Gordon Campbell marked the new service on the platform at King Street Station in Seattle by exchanging a large symbolic train ticket with Washington Governor Chris Gregoire in a photo op.

The siding was completed months ago. Amtrak is ready to go. But the service hit the buffers due to complications with the Canadian Border Services Agency, which reportedly wants $15,000 per day to clear the train.

Graham says the matter is in the hands of the B.C. government. A spokesperson for the province says it’s a federal government issue. Faith St. John, spokesperson for the CBSA, said she could not comment on the matter “because we are in discussions.” But she did say that “decisions to provide CBSA services at a new location or to expand current services take into account human resource requirements and the ability to provide security and service to the public.”

She could not say when the matter would be resolved.

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Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso (and others) in Seattle via OlyBlog

Source: Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso (and others) in Seattle | OlyBlog

My buddy Cosmo – and knowing that i am an enthusiast of Vincent Van Gogh and modern-ish art in general – passed along an Olympian article (now that i live in North Vancouver, i thankfully don’t read it much ;-)) about a exhibition in Seattle put on by the friendly billionaire Paul Allen.

In short, the exhibition will juxtapose works of art from different eras in an attempt to emphasize the similarities of concept or intent despite the apparent differeces in medium or technique (i.e. Monet next to Jimi Hendrix). In other words, art is art is art unless it is not art.

Here’s the roster (BTW, I am totally gonna see this stuff and try to resist my art thief impulses).

More about The DoubleTake: From Monet to Lichtenstein via Seattle PI.