Seattle's Child

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David the docent the blue house

Photo by Cheryl Murfin

David the Docent: A trip to the blue house

An artist demonstrates art can come from anything

David the Docent

Just a block from the center of West Seattle’s Alaska Junction, there is a blue house. It’s covered in avant-garde and abstract art that tickles the funny bone, makes you scratch your head, and causes you to pause and think and smile. It happens whether you are an adult or a child. 

For a family with kids—especially one with a young artist—the blue house is a must-see. It demonstrates that art can come from anything—paint and brush, old toys, kitchen tools, pots and pans, words. The artist, who lives at the blue house and is known only to her neighbors and walkers who discover her by chance, utilizes whatever she finds along the sidewalks of her village to continue her work. The house is her canvas, the neighborhood her medium. 

Like all good artists, she rethinks and repurposes the objects she uses from their ordinary purposes to create completely new and different expressions— a doll, a bottle, a hubcap. She turns what might be garbage into fantasy.

Art is play

Artists make art because they can’t not make it. Some turn their work into a paying business,  but most do not. The blue house artist says she makes it because her creative soul was not stopped just because she grew up. But I am sure that she was always an artist, but that’s another reason to find this house with your kids: to remind them that the best artists play and think like kids. I’m always struck by that saying from Picasso: all children are artists until society causes them to forget how to make art. I’m paraphrasing, of course.

Every day, people walk past the blue house. They stop, look, and look closer, often laughing and usually taking selfies. There is a spot in the yard designed to make that happen. Children linger, tilt their heads, and work to understand everything they see.  They get it and sometimes explain it to their grownups. 

The blue house sunsets

Photo by Cheryl Murfin

Look for these

Here are just a few things you will see on display:

  1.  An arrow pointing to the west that offers free sunsets. 
  2. A plastic superhero toy standing on a piece of industrial equipment with the head of George Washington. 
  3. A Ken doll who wears a Barbie wedding dress riding a dinosaur who in turn has turned the wheels and axel of a toy truck into a prom coach.  Notice Ken’s earrings that look like chandeliers. 
  4. A rocket ship made entirely from kitchen tools ready to launch into orbit. 
  5. A magic mirror that invites you to look inside to see a kind person.
  6. A pizza pan that reminds you to believe women. 
  7. A football and a platter that promises that “you’ll be back cul de sac.” 
  8. A joke and an introduction to poetry we all remember: “I see England, I see France, I see grandma’s underpants.” 
The blue house tiles

Photo by Cheryl Murfin

Talk about the art together

Finally, a word of advice. This is the perfect opportunity to teach the first rule of museum etiquette: “Look but don’t touch.” 

Play the look, see, and say game. What is that? What is it made of? How is it now different? What does it mean? Why do you think the artist has transformed her yard into a gallery of art?

You’ll find the house just south of the Junction True Value hardware store at the junction. I’m keeping the address a secret. You’ll find it if you walk and seek. It’s blue.  

Don’t bother the artist, she’s busy making art.  

Then go home, whether you’re big or small, and make art yourself.

The blue house rocket

Photo by Cheryl Murfin

Read more from David the Docent: 

Docent tips: How to visit a museum with a child

About the Author

David Turner

David Turner is an art lover, an art maker, a writer and volunteer docent at Seattle Art Museum where he leads tours and inspired kids to think and feel when they look. His favorite artwork in the museum changes with every tour.