1. One of the things I love about W3 – The Denny Stairs
    November 20, 2012 by Walden3

    The Denny Stairs are not a thousand concrete steps that runners climb up and down to the beach and back for a really great cardiovascular workout. There are only 19 of them and they exist inside Walden Three, between the first avenue ground floor and the artists bazaar one level down. It is a broad wooden staircase, 18 feet across, with painted stripes and numbers on the treads like a high school basketball court. What I love about these stairs is not their stripes or width or the design of the handrails (though they are a nice industrial touch), but the different functions the stairs employ.  It is an inviting, easy access to the artists bazaar, bringing light and bodies into the 3,500 square feet of artists booths. We get a lot of foot traffic from the neighboring Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, and local and tourists alike that are looking for something well outside the conventions and watered-down wears of other tourist-oriented markets. I’m really quite impressed with the quality of the artwork on display – paintings, small sculpture, handmade clothing, jewelry, small press books and local zines, photography, smart industrial design products and of course a fair amount of Walden Three merchandise. And more often than not there is a DJ spinning what they sell – another cool idea, as I’ve walked away with more than one record wandering through the booths talking to friends and seeing what is new.

    But back to the Denny Stairs. Back to the lines painted on the heavily varnished treads. The staircase is also the seating for the Denny Art School, and those lines indicate seating and aisles to make sure shoppers can still pass by and access the bazaar. The stairs can seat 150 people, and face the “students” towards the raised platform, podium and 18′ x 18′ projection screen used for presentations, lectures and, in the evenings, to showcase other digital media. The Denny Art School hosts at least two lectures a day, one over the lunch hour so office workers can eat their lunch and learn about art history, what regional artists are working on, and a host of other interesting topics. And there is always a “happy hour” class at 6:00, for catching the downtown crowd before they head home (granted a lot of them end up in the bar after class). There are two full time art educators employed at W3, and when they aren’t presenting their own lectures, they are curating other discussions from leading artists, thinkers and creative types – all of which are filmed and live-streamed over the Walden Three website. The two W3 educators also program studio art classes on the main floor, but these stairs are exciting – as classroom seating, as the portal to the bazaar, as a way to inform and educate not only the people of Seattle, but to provide a free online educational content on a global platform – it’s space well used. Oh, did I say that classes cost a dollar? Classes cost a buck. Not a bad deal at all…