Thursday, May 18, 2017

Smelly old Pallets as Art

We recently bought a new chunk of limestone to replace our broken fireplace hearthstone.  How it came to be broken is a mystery clouded in the mists of a household that then contained teen-aged children. 

The new hearthstone, some 300 pounds of it, was delivered on the ubiquitous wooden pallet — a particularly scruffy instance of it.

While preparing to break it down into pieces that would fit in the trash pickup bin it reminded me of an art project I saw a few years ago.

At that time, the county’s Arts Commission had a small gallery space in the venerable Smith Tower — a wonderful old  1914 office building complete with marble staircases, brass filigree gates over the elevator doors and human elevator operators.  The gallery was (and, in its new location about a block away, still is) one of the stops on my frequent gallery strolls through Pioneer Square.

On one such visit, very shortly after the opening of the monthly show, I found the gallery full of scruffy wooden pallets.  They were stacked, as I recall, three wide by six across and nearly all the way to the ceiling.  There was room to walk around the stacks of pallets but that was about it.  The pallets were accompanied by an artist statement so baffling that I began to doubt that it was actually written in English.  My visit to the gallery that month was rather brief.

A few days later there was a small item in the Seattle Times about it.  A few days after the opening, tenants of the nearby office spaces began to grumble to the building maintenance folks about a, well, unpleasant odor coming through the ventilation ducts.  The building staff tracked the source of the odor to a stack of wooden pallets that were unexplainably in the building.  With a suspicion that a huge stack of tinder-dry wooden objects arranged with plenty of space around them for air circulation might constitute a fire hazard they asked the safety folks to take a look.  The pallets were outta there the following day. 

I was apparently one of the few admirers that saw the exhibit except for those that came to the opening.