Ampersand Art, Urban Adventure, and A Sunny Valentine

It’s been a little quiet around Pinned & Penned the last week; however, quite a bit has been happening behind the scenes!  I’ve been encountering some new art and music, which I am excited to showcase here soon, and whipping up some colorful cards.  As a result, I am facing a bit of an inspiration pile-up! I’d hoped to write this post before Valentine’s Day, but anytime is a good time to spread the love, right?

If you couldn’t tell, CASology really inspired me the previous week with their AND challenge.  Since then, everywhere I look, I seem to be encountering ampersands!  Today, we ventured to the Bellevue Arts Museum and I saw this sculpture, “Linkage, 2005” by Gyongy Laky:

Linkage, 2005; Manzanita, red ink

She incorporates materials from the natural world into much of her symbolic work, and according to her website, “As an environmentalist, her work often employs materials harvested from nature and agricultural sources with some recycled elements incorporated.  She is attracted to humble materials and simple, direct methods of hand construction that she associates with basic, grass roots, human ingenuity about making things.  Laky has been a strong advocate for the establishment of an environmental sustainability curriculum in design and art at UCD.  Other themes of her sculptures and site-specific works touch upon various issues including gender-equity and her opposition to the war in Iraq.”

Here is another ampersand of hers:


In downtown Seattle, one of the most famous ampersands can be seen at Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, which sits along the shore of Puget Sound, overlooking the Olympic Mountains.  It is a delightful place for an urban walk or run, and when I was teaching at a nearby high school, I often brought my creative writing class here for some visual inspiration and exercise, especially in those waning days of the school year when classroom confinement became a struggle!

Aside from Alexander Calder’s “The Eagle”, Roy McMakin’s “Love & Loss” is one of the more visible icons of the park from afar.  The neon red ampersand lights up the sky and can be seen rotating from West Seattle across Elliott Bay.

Roy McMakin, Love & Loss; Photo by Waymarking

Upon closer inspection, one notices that there is more to the installation than the ampersand.  Steps, seating and a table spell out LOVE and LOSS, as seen below.

Looking over the Puget Sound toward West Seattle and the Olympics. Photo by NYC Tom.

If you live in the greater Seattle area and haven’t made it to this park, or are traveling from afar, I recommend the following urban adventure on your way there.  This happened to be how we spent our Valentine’s Day!

1. Grab a coffee at Seattle Coffee Works, just outside the main entrance to Pike Place Market, and next door to the Green Tortoise Hostel.  Here you will find amazing, seasonal single origin coffees.  If you have time, enjoy your coffee prepared at the slow bar through a variety of extraction methods: Siphon, Chemex, Aeropress, Hario, or French press.

2. Sip your coffee as you make your way through the Pike Place Market and down Western Ave., toward the Olympic Sculpture Park.  On your way through the market, make sure to check out Lamplight Books and Left Bank Books, if you are in need of a good read;  Moon Valley Organics for some nourishing body products in gorgeous packaging; Fini, if you’d like some new jewelry or trendy accessories; and White Horse Trading Co. if you’re craving a quiet corner to read and sip a beer.  These are just some of my frequented spots in the Market!

2. Hungry?  There are so many choices, but I want to highlight one of my favorites. Before or after your walk around the market and park, stop at Le Pichet, a fabulous French restaurant just up the hill from the Market, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Consistent and authentic, a dining experience here transports you to a bistro in Paris tout suite. I dream of their rillettes de porc. Make sure to get a box of their homemade caramels before you head out the door!

3.  Don’t forget the flowers!  We picked some delicious tulips on Valentine’s Day after our equally delicious brunch at Le Pichet:

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Early tulips from Pike Place Market to bring some spring into the house! The gorgeous vase was a birthday present.

Well, I certainly hope your Valentine’s Day was as replete with delicious delights, colorful experiences, and love as ours was!

To honor my sweetheart, I created a somewhat non-traditional color-burst Valentine, inspired by the current CASE Study challenge.


Aside from the delightful Danielle Flanders’ card above, the design team and guest designers have whipped up some jaw-dropping work that screams spring happy!  Like these beauties from Chupa and May Park that I can’t stop looking at:

So here is my contribution:

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I absolutely love the Hero Arts floral die for its beauty and versatility.  I inlaid the various colored pieces into my “rising sun”.

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The sentiments are from Papertrey Ink’s Movers and Shakers series.

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I cannot get enough of this aquamarine blue lately; it is absolutely divine with the orange and yellow.  Paper Source provided the envelope; the orange and yellow cardstock is from Amuse Studio, white linen paper is from Ellen Hutson, and patterned paper is from October Afternoon.

In closing, I will leave you with two of my favorite ampersand cards from the CASology challenge.  These ladies have some awesome talent and provide me with eye candy on a regular basis, as well as some sweet comments and camaraderie in this crafting world of ours.

I hope you found some aesthetic and gustatory inspiration in today’s post!  Let me know; I love hearing from you!  And if you, or someone you know, happen to be visiting Seattle any time soon, drop me a line and I would be happy to help you with your urban adventures.

I will return tomorrow with my other entry to CASE Study’s challenge and some paper art that may make you faint!

Bonne nuit et bisous!