Ishbel Dickens is a soft-spoken woman. However, her quiet demeanor does not mask her life’s passions. It’s really obvious that she is fully committed to them.
Now retired, Ishbel has spent the majority of her working life as a legal aid attorney representing the owners of manufactured homes — an often-maligned group. She worked tirelessly with these low-income families to ensure that their legal rights were protected and enhanced.
As the mother of four and grandmother of eight, Ishbel is dedicated to her family. She glows when talking about her children and grandchildren. She is a valued friend, neighbor and member of our community.
However, for more than fifty years, one of her most enduring passions has been field hockey. Ishbel has been playing continuously since she was a young girl in her native Scotland. She and her twin sister Ailsa played against each other in their grandparents’ garden using their dad’s old field hockey sticks.
Thirty years ago, upon arrival in Seattle, Ishbel set about finding a local hockey team. Fortunately, Seattle Parks and Recreation had contact information for an ongoing women’s team that had been playing since 1953 and was originally the U.W. Alumni Club. She joined up immediately and now plays for and captains the Seattle Woman’s Field Hockey Team. They practice and play year-round at Montlake and Washington Park.
The team participates in tournaments in Canada and other parts of America. Additionally, they took a touring team to Europe several years ago. Although the Seattle team boasts over 100 members, there is a core of thirty players. The team has players from age 20 to 60s with the average ages being late 20s to 30s. Her husband, Markus Krueger, has been chosen for the U.S. 050 World Cup men’s team. Markus coaches the Seattle women’s team.
Ishbel describes hockey as an exciting game for all ages and abilities. She feels that the game requires more skill than soccer and ice hockey. She loves the outdoors and playing a team sport has allowed her to connect easily with new friends whenever she has moved to other cities in Great Britain and when she came to America over thirty years ago.
At 64 years old, (she’s by far the oldest member of her home team) Ishbel competed for a place on the U.S. World Cup O55 team. The tryouts took place in both California and Pennsylvania and she was selected to be one of eighteen team members to play in the Master’s World Cup in Spain against 055 teams from several other countries.
Although running and an individual fitness regime previously composed Ishbel’s primary training program, hip problems now have her in the pool for water aerobics and taking hot yoga classes. She trains diligently to stay in shape for future competitions.
Ishbel is also captain of Alliance — a women’s international team. She loves meeting and competing with players from around the world and the travel to distant lands. She has played with them in Scotland, Australia, and The Netherlands. She has also traveled to South Africa and will be in New Zealand this year playing in social tournaments.
Inspired? Ishbel encourages anyone with the desire to check out The Seattle Women’s Field Hockey Team. They are always welcoming to new players of all abilities and ages. You can find them (of course!) on Facebook.
The World Cup competition will take place July 25th through August 5th in Spain. Congratulations Ishbel on your remarkable accomplishment and best of luck in the games! Your community will be cheering you on!
Karrie Baas’s life working in the Arts is a success story. An artist by nature and profession, Karrie wanted to enjoy her love of painting without the constant pressure of financial concerns. She developed her gallery and framing business to support her artist self.
Karrie has been a Seattleite for over 30 years. When her partner, Margaret, received a coveted job offer, they decided to relocate here. In 1990, as Margaret settled into her new professional life, Karrie enrolled in Cornish College of the Arts. Five years of study yielded a BFA in Painting, printmaking, and photography. Initially, Karrie thought she would pursue photography and was looking for a space that could accommodate a dark room. However, with the advent of the digital age, the dark room seemed unrealistic and she abandoned the plan. Instead, she settled into a painting career.
By September of 1995, a few months after graduation, Karrie had signed the first lease for her Baas Art Gallery and Framing Shop, becoming a member of our Madison Valley community. “It’s a perfect location,” she explains. “So many people come along Madison Street on their way to other nearby destinations that we have a lot of exposure. The space is great as a gallery and has plenty of room for the framing work.”
In 1995, when Baas Art Gallery and Framing opened along East Madison Street, the business community was just beginning to polish its rough edges. The commitment to beginning a business here was a bold move.
Karrie was a founding member of the Madison Valley Merchants Association and continues to participate as an important voice for the organization. It was the work of the Merchants that gave Madison Valley its current identity. Previously, our community was just a neighborhood between Madrona and Montlake. Dilapidated buildings, drug dealing and general scruffiness lent an unwelcoming and sometimes frightening atmosphere here. She and others worked tirelessly to upgrade the business corridor into the pleasant experience we enjoy today.
Karrie says the framing side of her business is rewarding. “It’s a great feeling of accomplishment to begin and finish a project on one’s own. To stand back and see how the framing complements and enhances the art is wonderful!” She explained that it takes at least a full year of training to become a proficient framer. Baas Framing has a terrific staff of three professional picture framers: Julia Ricketts, Peter Kelleher and Heather Wehman. They enjoy a generous benefit package. A teen internship is offered during the summer.
In addition to the framing business, Karrie hosts works from local artists on consignment and provides exhibitions. Everyone benefits—the artists receive much deserved exposure, and community members are able to appreciate their talented neighbors. Karrie has a pleasant place for patrons to browse and get to know her business.
Karrie says that it was difficult to ride out the last recession. Several businesses were forced to close. However, she has a loyal clientele that trusts her eye and she was able to survive. Experiences like the recession have deepened Karrie’s commitment to patronizing small, local businesses. She is an avid proponent of seeking out independent merchants that survive on their community’s appreciation of great quality and service.
Karrie Baas has had an integral hand in the development of our vibrant shopping district. As a community, we applaud her work for the betterment of everyone in the neighborhood. Thank you, Karrie!
Ned Porges has never recovered from missing the deadline for becoming an Eagle Scout. One badge shy of the requirements, he turned 18 and aged out. He doesn’t do well with incompletion. For the last two years, Ned has worked doggedly to complete his education. At the age of 76, he received his PhD from the University of Washington, 38 years after beginning his studies there.
Ned’s educational trajectory did not flow easily. As an undergrad at the University of Denver, he didn’t finish his degree in hospitality/tourism but learned enough to be hired in the industry. A few years later, family encouraged him to complete the last few quarters. With his newly minted B.S. degree in hand, he hopped aboard his motorcycle and hightailed it for California.
In Los Angeles, Ned landed a job with the food service department of United Airlines and got married. He followed his new wife to Virginia for her MSW studies and decided to pursue a MBA degree. Part of his experience in grad school was working as a teaching assistant for the 101 business class and he realized teaching was a good fit.
Family in Seattle beckoned the couple and Ned began his teaching career. Initially, WSU hired Ned as an assistant professor for their Seattle extension and later he moved over to Highland Community College. He would stay there for 16 years. During this time, the college insisted on a PhD to continue in his position. The University of Washington admitted him as a doctoral candidate and he began his studies anew. However, life intervened. With 4 kids and a mortgage he could not finish his degree. Ned had completed all of his course work but was lacking the dissertation.
After a time, Highland discontinued the program he was teaching and Ned found a new career in Real Estate. Twenty-two more years passed.
As Ned journeyed into his 70s, he began to look at his life’s legacy. He compiled a bucket list of goals. One seemed insurmountable: the completion of his PhD. Undaunted, he spontaneously met with UW Dean Marty Howell and found a supportive advocate. The College of Education accepted his previous coursework and formed a doctoral committee to guide him.
Although UW waived the usual requirement of seven years limit for doctoral completion, Ned was given no additional special treatment. He toiled endlessly with revisions for two very long years. He struggled with the limited stamina of older age. He learned that students no longer used index cards and yellow stickies to organize notes. Microsoft Office was a mystery. Guided through a tutorial by his daughter, Norah, he finally got onboard as a “Modern Student.”
On June 6, 2017, Ned, accompanied by his supportive wife, Phyllis, presented his dissertation to his committee. His research paper looked at the political impact of international travel as an educational experience. Specifically, he studied “The Grand Tour” of Europe popular in the 1800s, the Birthright tour of Israel, and the experience of World’s Fairs. He was grilled with questions and comments and then told to wait outside while they discussed their decision.
Ned and Phyllis paced the hall with nervous anticipation. The door opened. His advisor, Dr. Joy Williamson-Lott smiled. “Please come back in Dr. Porges.” He had done it.
Ned and his advisor, Dr. Joy Williamson-Lott at his graduation
It’s not widely known that the Rautureau family lives in our neighborhood. Yes, the husband in this family is Thierry Rautureau, the famous “Chef in the Hat” and with his wife, Kathy, owner of the restaurants Luc and Loulay. The couple have lived in Madison Valley for 30 years and raised their two sons here. Their contributions to the community extend far beyond the restaurants.
Although Kathy is a homegrown American from L.A., Thierry, as everyone knows, is French. He has had an adventurous life on his journey to Seattle.
In France, at the age of 14, one chooses a career path: academic or trade. Thierry chose cooking. He worked in three restaurants learning the necessary skills and then he was off to serve his mandatory stint in the army. By 19, he was done. What to do next?
Thierry was raised in a very rural and poor part of France. His grandparents were farmers at a chateau and his parents worked locally. Although romanticized by many, rural France can be a confining environment for a curious young man. Thierry wanted a broader experience. An opportunity awaited him.
A sponsor gave him some money for travel and Thierry arrived in Chicago with $12 in his pocket. A job was waiting and he worked and lived illegally for 3 ½ years. Thanks to the other restaurant employees, Spanish became his second language. Although initially he hadn’t planned to stay in America, an opportunity to travel west and explore prompted him to obtain his green card.
He and a friend bought a car for $500 in San Francisco and began a fun-filled California road trip. He worked for a pittance in his first job in Los Angeles, where wages were too low to pay his rent. Next, he landed at an Italian restaurant and there his fate was sealed. The pretty waitress asked him out and he and Kathy have been together ever since.
Kathy was dabbling in school and learning the flower trade. She was supporting herself with waitressing while developing a flower arranging business. Today, she’s become an accomplished designer with natural talent.
In 1987, they came up to Seattle to visit friends and ate at Rover’s in Madison Valley. It was a serendipitous event. Rover’s owner was looking to sell the restaurant. Thierry and Kathy obtained funding from a partner, bought the restaurant and moved a few blocks away.
The convenience of living so close to the restaurant was wonderful for family life, but they were particularly drawn to the neighborhood. They loved the diversity and the vibrancy of Seattle. L.A. hadn’t felt like the right place to raise a family.
When the couple’s two children entered school, they were able to squeeze a bit of time from the 24/7 restaurant obligations to lead fundraising efforts. The first Auction/Dinner at McGilvra elementary raised $140,000. They continued fund raising efforts at Washington Middle School and Garfield as their sons progressed through public education.
Thierry works tirelessly giving back to Seattle. Coming from such modest means in France, he expresses amazement at his lucky life. This insightfulness keeps him going. He is a member of the Food Lifeline board and supports many other efforts to assist Seattleites experiencing food insecurity. Hunger relief is very dear to him.
Thierry is a member of the Alliance Françoise to promote French culture and has been knighted by the French government. He actively participates in Madison Valley community life through the Madison Valley Merchants Association. He is always willing to donate to neighborhood events. His many involvements in the Seattle food scene are simply too numerous to list here!
Nowadays, Rover’s is closed and the new (7 years, already!) café, Luc is their neighborhood baby. Three years ago, Loulay opened downtown. Thierry oversees the food, etc. Kathy designs all the flower arrangements and you can find her as Luc’s hostess on Friday and Saturday evenings. She continues to design flowers for weddings and other special events though her company “Flowerworks.” You can check her out online for your next party!
And, by the way……What’s with the “Chef in the Hat” handle?
Kathy explains: Looking for a different Christmas gift one year, she happened upon a nice Fedora in one of the neighborhood consignment shops. Thierry loved it. Wearing it as he emerged from the kitchen at Rover’s to greet his guests, as is his custom, someone called out: “It’s the Chef in the Hat”! The hat has become his trademark since that day.
It’s wonderful, of course. Thank you, Kathy! And thank you both for being such great neighbors.
Several years ago now, Pippa Kiraly had a remarkable experience. Accompanied by her brother, she went hiking in the Himalayas. Although for most of us a trip to the Himalayas would be remarkable enough, for Pippa it was a miracle. Pippa has experienced a life-long battle with severe, life-threatening asthma. This condition would have made such an adventure impossible to even contemplate for most people living with asthma. However, acting upon the advice of her doctor, Pippa participated in a specialized breathing program that has set her free of most asthma symptoms and medications.
The program that assisted Pippa to this state of freedom is known as the Buteyko Method of Breathing Modification. During an intensive ten hour, five-day course, she learned to modify her breathing patterns such that within a few months she was untethered from her “rescue” inhalers. With the help of her doctor, she was then able to taper off the steroids that had controlled her life. The process took 10 months which is much longer than most for most people due to the many years of disease. Pippa estimates that14 years ago she was saving over $3,000 a year in drug and prescription insurance costs.
Pippa was so enamored with this breathing modification program that she decided to take an advanced teachers’ course. She is now a certified Buteyko Educator. It is a joy for her to teach others how to free themselves from the stress of asthma and other breathing difficulties.
Care giving comes naturally to Pippa. Originally from England, she was trained as a nurse in London. After immigrating to America in 1959 and marrying, she settled down to be a wife and mother. Her husband, Bill, a violist, was a member of the Cleveland Orchestra. Drawing from her innate writing skills, she became a freelance classical music critic for the Akron Beacon-Journal. She thrived in this environment.
In 1991, following the death of her husband, Pippa relocated to Seattle. She immediately felt at home in our Pacific Northwest. Originally, she was recruited to write an article for the Seattle Youth Symphony. She continued her journalism career with the Seattle P.I., Seattle Times and, for several years, the Seattle Weekly. Twice a month she submits previews and reviews for City Arts. Far from a lucrative income source, Pippa receives complimentary tickets and a small stipend. It doesn’t matter. She loves it. “2016 has been an especially stellar year!” she exclaims. “There are many wonderful events each week. I limit myself to two per week to prevent feeling jaded by too much to take in”.
In addition to her writing career, Pippa has been a long time volunteer with Providence Hospice of Seattle. Initially she specialized in bereavement counseling listening to each individual over a period of 13 months. Both her nurses’ training and the personal loss of her husband provided her with the skills necessary to assist others through this difficult passage. She is considered to be one of the most committed and skilled bereavement volunteers at Hospice of Seattle. These days, she assists with Camp Erin, the summer bereavement camp for children as well as in ongoing Grief Support services for both children and adults.
At home, Pippa is a dedicated gardener. Her garden is fairly bursting with abundant produce. “This year I grew a row of immense purple cabbages and quantities of zucchini and summer squash as well as trees-full of blue plums and apples. For the first time I took some baskets of produce to St Mary’s Food Bank on 20th south of Jackson and felt so pleased!”
Pippa’s passion, the Buteyko Method of breathing modification, has ignited a new career path. Undaunted by what many others consider an “advanced” age; Pippa, now at 81, has marched headlong into her new vision.
Pippa emphasized that her breathing reeducation trans- formed her life so dramatically that she has been thrilled to offer the method to others. Service to her community has always been at the heart of her motivation. As a nurse, she has been following her commitment of offering comfort and support wherever it is needed. As example to us all, Pippa’s philosophy has been to greet each day as a new beginning and an opportunity for personal growth.
To explore the Buteyko Method of Breathing you may contact Pippa at:
Charles McDade was the vice president of the Greater Madison Valley Community Council (GMVCC) for 20 years. That term must be some kind of a record for voluntary community service! For Charles, service and kindness to others are the guiding principles of his life.
Charles grew up on a family farm in Winnfield, Louisiana during the 1940s. He found life extremely difficult during this period. His family struggled financially, racial tensions were stressful, and corporal punishment was a household norm. He was miserable. Even as a child, Charles frequently contemplated death as a deliverance from what he viewed as a hopeless existence.
Then one day, Charles had an experience that changed his life.
At the age of 11, Charles had a vision of a great tree falling and crushing him into the ground. Over the next two years, he had this exact vision on multiple occasions. He began to think that perhaps this was the death and release for which he had yearned.
When Charles was 13, he was helping his brother chop down a tree on their property. Suddenly, the tree snapped prematurely and came crashing down towards him. He recognized it as his vision and felt the weight of his whole life, both past and future. Instead of embracing the death he had sought, Charles leapt from harm and saved himself. He describes this experience as an epiphany. In that instant in which he chose life, Charles matured and felt in control of his destiny. “I decided then to start living. I had a realization that if I led a life of kindness towards others that everything would go well for me.”
Charles moved with his family to Portland, Oregon when he was 18, and then on to Seattle a couple months later. He began work collecting garbage for a Seattle disposal company and quickly became a favorite among the customers. One couple offered him a job with their advertising company. His facility with people enabled him to assist the company as a worldwide representative. He traveled not only for business but was able to visit many countries for pleasure. These experiences served to confirm his belief that we are all one people and deserve only kindness from each other.
After other employment and retirement, Charles sought community service in his neighborhood as a means to practice his beliefs in kindness. He boldly confronted sex workers, violent gang members, and drug dealers, asking them to take their business out of the neighborhood. He has offered assistance to the elderly and has helped organize block parties. His calm presence has often been requested at the bedside of a dying neighbor. He is well loved and appreciated by all who know him.
As our community council vice president, Charles served as a voice for all volunteers. He reminds members that service as a volunteer does not mean overextending yourself or stressing about projects. Our responsibility is to serve as a forum for neighbors to come together and to create interest groups in order to accomplish goals together.
After the 16 years of service, this reporter hypothesized that Charles would be our vice president for life. Alas, this was not to be. He served us in that capacity for another four years and then: Enough!! He now enjoys himself with friends and family but does keep up with community issues.
Gratitude is an inadequate word for our heartfelt feeling for Charles.
You got to admit, it’s kind of cool: teenage clerk grows up to become the shopkeeper. Yep. That’s the classic American dream and Adam Hagan is living it. Adam is the latest owner of historic Madison Park Hardware.
In 2010, Adam purchased the store from the McKee Family who had served the community for over 54 years. Lola McKee, the unofficial Mayor of Madison Park, had a very specific vision for the continuity of the family’s business and Adam fit the bill perfectly. He is a fourth generation Madison Park resident and attended local public schools and the University of Washington. He worked for many years during both high school and college as a clerk in the store. When Scott McKee, Lola’s son, died; Adam stepped right in to help out. After much thought, Lola and daughter Jeri came to the decision that the business was too much for the two of them to manage and it was time to sell. Adam was there to take up the reins. It was a smooth transition.
Adam understands his community and is committed to preserving the store’s familiar and beloved persona. It’s still a family business. Adam’s dad pops in at lunchtime to give everyone a break and his mom keeps the books. Girlfriend Christine is there during the busy Saturdays. Everything one could possibly need is available: gardening supplies, kitchen gadgets, light bulbs, hardware, paint and the uber-popular central aisle full of delightful classic children’s toys including Legos. Customer service is unmatched anywhere in the universe.
Adam describes the community response to the transition:
“When I purchased the business, I think the community was keeping a close eye on what was going to happen with the store. If I were not the new owner, I would have been doing the exact same thing, so I appreciated hearing people’s perceptions. I got questions about inventory as we moved a few things around and found a designated place for everything. People were also curious if we were going to carry the same kinds of things, or if we were going to add any major lines of products. One man even said that he hoped we were not going to put down floor tile to make the store ‘more formal.’ People would come in and say, ‘I don’t know what it is, but something’s different over there,’ as they gestured to an area of the store. In reality, very little has changed. The lighting is better, the store is cleaner and there is a daily effort to keep things organized. We manage over 8,000 different items, so this is a necessity for me. For the most part, people like the more organized look, although some still miss the old way, which was more like a treasure hunt in some areas of the store.”
Adam says that one of his challenges lies in the smallness of the space. Many suppliers require minimum orders that are not in keeping with his business. Still he seems to keep the customers satisfied. At the request of many, he has begun stocking jugs of vinegar to be used as a “natural” cleaning product and herbicide. Requests for earth-friendly products are a trend. Adam tracks customer requests and when they have a source for something and space allows, they try to add the item.
And again, there’s that customer service. Regulars feel comfortable with long-term clerk, Richard, and equally at home with Kim, who works part time. Both are friendly and seem to possess unlimited knowledge about everything the store has to offer. Why would anyone even consider struggling in one of those huge, impersonal and confusing mega-stores?
Although famous in Madison Park proper, perhaps the store is less well known in the wider community of Madison Valley, Montlake, Madrona, and Leschi. It seems that the majority of businesses proliferating in our neighborhoods tend to be banks, restaurants, and gift shops. It is a delightful wonder that a small business, which caters to our everyday needs, still exists.
Asked about what he wants the community to know about the store, Adam says “Just that we’re here, we love to keep our customers happy, and we have three parking places in the back that are always available.”
Ahh! Parking! Let’s see. I need twine, a new measuring cup, light bulbs…
Madison Park Hardware
1837 42nd Avenue East
(at the corner of E Madison and 42nd Ave E.)
Open: Monday–Saturday, 9AM–6PM
Dear Neighbors, when I was editing the Valley View Newsletter 10 years ago, I wrote a popular column titled "One of Our Neighbors." The articles told the stories of the everyday accomplishments and interests of our own people. As an effort to rekindle some enthusiasm for knowing about our neighbors, I am revitalizing the column for the Madison Valley Facebook page and the Madison Valley website. They should appear monthly or thereabouts. Please contact me if you know of someone who would agree to be featured! —Cathy Nunneley
Those of us who have lived in the neighborhood for many decades know Jerry Sussman as a community icon. He has worked as a social activist for most of his 89 years. Jerry was the founding co-president of the current Madison Valley Community Council and savior of the Harrison Ridge Greenbelt. He organized our traditional annual spaghetti dinner and rummage sale. Together with his wife, Peggy, the Sussmans were the “go-to” people for getting anything done in the neighborhood. Their home was a hub of community activity for all of us. What dinner parties we had!!
Many of those efforts are in the past. This year Jerry transitioned from a post he has held for many years.
When he retired from a long career in schools around the Puget Sound, Jerry Sussman thought he was through with teaching. However, a call for volunteers caught his attention and he was once again immersed in the class- room. After over twenty-five years, and at the age of 89, Jerry has said a poignant farewell to his students
In the early 1990s, the Soviet Union dissolved and our country was flooded with Russians, many of them Jews desperate to flee the ensuing chaos. The United States primarily honored visa requests from applicants who were joining other family members. Many of these immigrants found themselves in Seattle and were anxious to begin life again as useful citizens. However, the Russians lacked an integral factor for an independent life: English language skills. Jewish Family Services put out a request for “English as a Second Language” (ESL) teachers and Jerry volunteered.
Jerry had had previous experience teaching ESL in our public schools and also taught high school history. His grandparents were Jewish Russian immigrants and this coupled with his extensive knowledge of that country’s history helped him establish a bond with his students.
Initially, the students were young adults eager to join the work force with acceptable language skills. As they found employment, this population gradually gave way to an older group who wanted to function well in the new society but for many reasons were unable to find jobs. Many of the older immigrants were professionals who did not have acceptable credentials to resume their past jobs in this country. Physicians, musicians, engineers, and scientists were among Jerry’s pupils.
Jerry found that all his students had some English language education in the Soviet system. They knew the alphabet and understood the basic structure of English. However, they lacked vocabulary and grammar skills and their heavy Russian accents made it difficult for them to be understood.
To build vocabulary, Jerry encouraged discussion of the students’ experiences in the Soviet Union. They had great fun recounting their childhoods. More seriously, the men told stories of World War II and their time as soldiers in the Red Army fighting the Nazis. Everyone had a tale to tell of life in the Soviet era. Education and housing were guaranteed but they all experienced widespread anti-Semitism. Fear of the secret police made any political discussion dangerous. There was no tolerance for dissent.
Life in the American city of Seattle has also been a topic of great amusement. The students were often baffled by American liberalism especially concerning the upbringing of children. As with many other immigrant cultures, the Russians felt that Americans are too lenient and that the young are far too independent.
Jerry and the students read books together, especially ones that chronicle immigrants journeys in American. They appreciated the shared experience and the points of discussion it engendered.
After 25 years, Jerry has grown old along with his students. Several have passed away. The few remaining students are now all in their late 80s and beyond, and the group has become an extended family to each other. Children, grandchildren and life’s everyday tribulations are shared. In this way, their lives have become intertwined.
The Russians’ “school year” coincided with the Seattle district’s and Jerry’s students put on a great lunch in June to celebrate the end of each term. The women cooked a multitude of traditional dishes loading the table with Russian specialties. The musicians played their old favorites and sang folk songs. This festive luncheon was their way to pay tribute to Jerry for his steadfast commitment to them over the years.
He had become one of them.
Robert Perlman entered the Art Life at a tumultuous, strident point and place. Born in 1942 in New York City, he came of age as the post-war boom made Manhattan the capitol of the western world concerning painting and sculpture. Although Jackson Pollock had driven into a tree in 1956, others of his generation — DeKooning, Rothko, Still, Guston, Newman — were blue chips in the art market. Second-generation abstractionists like Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, and Frank Stella, and brash upstarts such as Rauschenberg, Johns, and the emerging Pop artists were available to Perlman just as he emerged into adulthood, and the impressions that were left upon him were to be deep and lasting.
Robert Perlman. Number 6, 2003; Number 3, 2003
He took his education in graphic design at City College of New York. His fastidious and elegant nature was well suited to design, and an innate sensitivity to the vertical, geometric, urban environment in which he lived gave his natural facility the necessary depth to excel at his chosen vocation.
Robert Perlman. Number 1, 2007
After gaining his BA, Perlman studied at the School of Visual Arts with Milton Glaser, one of the most significant designers and teachers of post-war America. Perlman recalls that time, “I remember an exchange with Milton about who would be more significant to art history, Pablo Picasso or Marcel Duchamp. I believe he was leaning toward Duchamp; I know I was enthusiastically in the Picasso camp.”
Robert Perlman. Number 6, 2012
In 1963, Midtown Manhattan was an enormous hothouse of abstraction; one could bumble from one space to another and bask in fields of color and tone. The young Perlman studied and worked here, strolling to the Whitney Museum during his lunch breaks, or to the leading galleries.
Robert Perlman. Number 3, 2014
Saturdays found midtown crawling with artists and scenesters out to keep up with the new work on view. Perlman was doing so one afternoon, when he was hit up for a match. Unfortunately, he had none to offer; and so Mark Rothko had to turn elsewhere to have his cigarette lit.
Perlman had already encountered Rothko in a much more poignant way, “I first saw one of his very large maroon paintings at the Museum of Modern Art some time earlier. That moment has etched itself into my memory as one of the early, unforgettable museum experiences. I really didn't know what I was looking at, I just knew it was thrilling standing in front of that enigmatic, dark painting. As a lot of people are likely to tell you, it felt awesome … perhaps even a bit religious.”
Robert Perlman. Number 4, 2016
Today, Perlman’s Madison Park home is filled with his art. His paintings hang in agreeable conversation with one another, while the horizontal surfaces of the room are covered, sometimes three-deep, with his sculptures. He constructs these from urban debris, implements, tools and fragments, mostly iron and steel, always decayed. His sculpture is fundamentally closer in nature to his graphic work: tight, elegant, perfectly solved problems.
Robert Perlman. Fork Figure, 2004; Flute Player, 1969
Robert Perlman. Thunder Head, 2009; Arrow Head, 2007
On the other hand, Perlman’s paintings are clean and his palette tranquil, colors bright, even when their subtlety occasionally renders them difficult to place on the color wheel. Coupled with the brilliant responsiveness of his drawing hand, Perlman’s color sense is an ongoing dialogue that is as rich as a fifty-plus year conversation ought to be.
Robert Perlman. Number 4, 2008
Robert Perlman is a genius of painted color. He uses matte acrylic paint on paper. Rectangles are subdivided into evocative geometric shapes; some of the paintings suggest landscapes, others figures, occasionally figures in landscapes seem to appear; the ogee curve of a grand piano is a regular presence. The drawings from which his paintings emerge are as delightful in their modesty as the finished pieces are. But his use of color adds a depth of immersion, making the pieces into well solved, beautifully proportioned puzzles of his own invention.
Robert Perlman. Number 1, 2006; Number 1, 2014
Perlman’s palette is distinctly New York in flavor, and the forms he chooses are ones of well-digested modernism. His compositions have evolved into a syntax distinctly his own. Over time the colors have become more saturated, the compositions more dynamic. They look like work done by an artist at the height of his powers, one who deserves to emerge from the decades-long isolation of his studio. Robert Perlman has dedicated himself for a half-century to the Art Life, and now he is beginning to enjoy a place in the art world.
Robert Perlman. Number 1, 2016
Perlman in his studio; Number 3, 2015
Robert Perlman’s paintings and sculptures are for sale, and can be seen at his website: http://robertperlman.com. Mr. Perlman is represented by ProGraphica KDR, and you can read an interview with him on their site.
Editor’s Note: This has been adapted from Mr. Hurley’s original profile. The full article can be read here.
Each year, Seattle Parks and Recreation recognizes outstanding volunteers with its Denny Award. One nominee in 2015 was Madison Valley’s Catherine Nunneley.
Nunnelly was recognized for her service as the Forest Steward of the Harrison Ridge Greenbelt. The urban forest is located on 32nd Ave E between E John St and E Denny Way. She has been working to preserve the greenbelt for the last seven years.
Urban greenspaces are endangered by housing development. Catherine and other volunteers plant native trees and shrubs that will grow into healthy forests that support local wildlife and the natural ecosystem. The process of planting, weeding, and mulching takes several years before the new flora are established.
These open spaces, she explained, are beautiful when maintained, add value to the housing market, and provide a habitat for birds and other animals.
To read more about Catherine Nunnelly’s work on the greenbelt, see this excellent Madison Times article.
Artist Sandy Haight is a resident of Madison Valley. In addition to having her design being selected for the Tulip Festival poster in 2016, she designed the banners that were previously hung along East Madison Street in Madison Valley.
“Last year I was chosen to create the artwork for the 2016 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival poster,” Sandy said. “They honored me in a big way, as this painting creates the identity for next spring’s festival. This kind of attention is an unusual occurrence for artists and illustrators who usually hide quietly and invisibly behind their work hoping someone notices the 6-point byline credit on a painting’s border. I was interviewed by the Skagit Valley Herald before the ceremony. Here’s the story they published the next morning about the event.”
The original painting, a 20″ x 24″ watercolor, is on display at the Tulip Festival offices in Mt. Vernon, WA.
The Madison Park Community Council is offering a series of talks from people in the neighborhood who have or have had interesting careers. The program is called “Meet your Extraordinary Neighbors.” The next talk is by actor Tom Skerritt, who lives in Madison Park.
Tom has starred in 44 movies, including Alien, Contact, Mash, A River Runs Through It, and Top Gun. He has also been in innumerable TV shows, including Bonanza and Gunsmoke. He will talk about his movie and TV experiences and his current passions.
The event is free and all neighbors are welcome to attend.
Wednesday, Nov 12, 7:30 pm
Park Shore Retirement Community
1630 43rd Avenue E, just south of the Madison Park beach.
Now showing at Baas Framing Studio, Carla Dimitriou's recent work in encaustic painting and mixed media on tar paper features a cast of animal, human, and mythological creatures. The raw, visceral textures create give these characters a strong visual presence that is at times both dark and humorous. Carla Dimitriou is a graduate of Cornish College of the Arts and the Vermont College of Norwich University. She is also co-owner of Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, a landmark Seattle jazz venue.
An artist of rare intelligence, Dimitrious mixes empathy, ethics, and wit to create sumptuous images that provide ample food for thought. Her work can be found in numerous private collections throughout the Northwest and on her website.
Happy Hour at the Crowbar
Bird on Brain
Yesterday Hans Riechsteiner opened a new chocolate store, Ascona Chocolat Suisse. Many of us know Hans as the founder of the Arosa Cafe, and the gentleman to thank for bringing those tasty waffles to the Valley. Many years ago Hans sold his Madison Valley cafe, and went on to open another Arosa on First Hill. Now he’s returned to Madison Valley, this time with the world’s finest chocolates.
Hans is importing Läderach chocolate from Glarus, Switzerland. When I asked him why Läderach, his answer was simply, “It’s the best chocolate in the world.” The Swiss native isn’t new to the chocolate business, either — Hans owned seven chocolate shops back in the ’80s.
The new store, named after Ascona, a posh resort town in Switzerland, is a beautifully designed space with a wide range of chocolate flavors, including Orange Dark, Divine Red Calvados, Pistachio, Champagne, Hazelnut, Naugatine, and Cognac. Assortments of chocolate come in three box sizes: Prices are $18, $38, and $48.
When asked about his favorite part of this new business venture, he said, “I found the exact job I want for the rest of my life. Hopefully, another twenty years.”
Ascona is open Mon–Sat, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. The shop is located on the bottom floor of the Madison Lofts condominium building. 2914 East Madison Street, Suite 103. 206 329-0153