Pike Place Market: 20/20 Project-an exhibit at craftworks coffee seattle 2017











Love you see you Sunday Dec. 3, 5-8 at Craftworks Coffee:




20-20 Project by Paul Butterfield


 · Hosted by Melody Biringer


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Photography Show at Local Color–Cards at Venue–Prints for sale on Website

During December and January I’m showing at Local Color in the Pike Place Market.  This is the third time Sydne the owner was had me in.   All photos were taken at the Market, presented in a variety of styles and prices.  If you’re in the Market over the holidays check them out!  Local Color is next to Beecher Cheese.

Local-Color local-color-photos

Diane Macrae, the owner of Venue in Ballard, encouraged me to create some greeting cards with my Pike Place Market photos.  Project up and running at Venue with 12 images featured.


Finally, if you’ve never been, go check out the Buy Prints section on my website.  Lots of signed, numbered, limited edition prints for sale (unique gift idea?), plus my Pike Place Market CONCIERGE (pdf) for only $9.95, or free with print purchase.


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Pike Place Market Photos–Window Views

This is a selection of Pike Place Market photos  around the theme of windows.

window-1   window-2

window-4   window-3

window-8   window-7

window-5    window-6

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Savor Seattle Pike Place Market Tour

Savor Seattle’s food and cultural tour at Pike Place Market is a great reminder how special Seattle and the Market are, from a food standpoint.  Since its first day in 1907 the Market has been all about food.

This tour focusses on tasting foods and beverages that are fresh, local, organic, seasonal, and sustainable.   It ranged from our first “sweet” visit to Daily Dozen Doughnuts, to the final “savory” helping of crab cakes at Etta’s Seafood Restaurant.

As a native Seattleite and Market veteran (operated Biringer Farm there for 15 plus years), I’m a tough customer to keep interested in Market stories and info.  One of the benefits of age however, is learning there’s always something new and interesting to learn…confirmed again on this tour.

Our guide Carla did a great job telling the story of the Market, both in historical details, and also capturing that “soul of the city” theme that makes it such a special place for us.  We learned the history of each place we sampled from (with no lines) on our two hour journey.

Carla explaining the gum wall.

Carla explaining the gum wall.

I liked the “backstage pass” access we got, especially at Pike Place Fish and Chukar Cherries.

As we sampled smoked salmon at Pike Place Fish, Ryan told us stories of his 11 years working there.  These included being hit by a bat, helping lost kids, and breaking up fights.  Even though they have a routine, every day at this job is unique.  Why’d they start throwing fish?  Beside being about the best “retail theater” on the planet, its origins had a more practical purpose.  The owner, John Yokoyama, started throwing so he could sell fish faster.  By throwing to an employee for wrapping and transaction processing, he could stay out with the customers.

At Chukar Cherries we did a lot of sampling, with product descriptions and business history from an employee.  The fun for me was doing this behind the scenes in back of the sales counter.  There’s a non-stop sea of people passing by from this vantage point.

Back of the counter view at Chukar Cherries.

Back of the counter view at Chukar Cherries.

Carla took us to the Urban Garden, a new addition to the Market located on an outdoor patio area behind Market Spice Tea.  This is a volunteer maintained project, with produce going to the Senior Center, and Market Food Bank.  It has revitalized an under used space, and includes a panoramic view of Elliot Bay.

She told the story behind the Song of the Earth mural by artist Aki Sogabe, that hangs at the main entrance to the Market.

Song of the Earth mural.

Song of the Earth mural.

In 1941 two-thirds of the farmer’s stalls at the Market were operated by Japanese Americans.  Executive Order 9066 changed that forever, when these farmers were interned during WWII and never returned to the Market.  Song of the Earth honors their memory.

More sampling and stories at Pike Place Chowder, Beecher’s Cheese, and Piroshky Piroshky.  Go on this tour with an appetite!

We also received a discount card good at 47 restaurants and specialty food shops in the Market and Capital Hill,  including five Tom Douglas restaurants and Frans Chocolates.

Angela Shen is a self proclaimed “food evangelist” who quit her corporate job, and envisioned her Savor Tour business after just one visit to the Market.  It continues to grow, and consistently receives top ratings from Trip Advisor and Yelp.

Look for their bright pink Savor Seattle umbrellas next time you’re in Pike Place Market!



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Pike Place Market’s Urban Garden

The Pike Place Market’s Urban Garden is a new addition (2013) to the Market.  It’s located on an outdoor patio space behind Market Spice Tea.  Going to either the right or left past Market Spice will get you there.


This is a volunteer maintained project, with a produce going the the Senior Center, or Market Food Bank.  The Urban Garden has revitalized a little used space of 2,000 square feet, and includes a panoramic view of Elliott Bay.    The Seattle Urban Farm Co.  website has additional info.


They are growing 18 types of vegetables in the Garden!  Pay a visit next you’re at the Market.


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Pike Place Market Artwork

Ever taken a guided tour in your own city?  We’re all creatures of our own “hood,” beating down the daily routine path of our life.

Even the Market, where I’ve been a regular visitor for decades, was worth touring with a  guide.  On August 29th I had a great experience on the Friends of the Market tour.  It’s a low cost ($5 senior ticket for me), highly informative journey through the history and less traveled corners of the Market.  They offer Saturday morning tours from June through September, limited to 10 people per date.

This tour was particularly informative for me about the variety and mediums of Pike Place market artwork.  The guide pointed out several, and told the story behind each.


Short Cut, 2010, Artist: Dan Webb
Location: From top of Hill Climb continuing down stairs to Western Avenue

stair lamps

The Squid, 2001, Artist: Pat Wickline
Location: Ceiling, Economy Building Atrium


Market Memories, 2011, Artist: Billy King
Location: Level 4, Leland Building, near Hillclimb stairs, south wall.


Hill Climb Seats, 1995, Artist: Brian Swanson
Location: Stewart Street, northwest side between Pike Place and 1st Avenue

Self-Watering Vertical Planter, circa 1999, Artist: Lewis “Buster” Simpson
Location: Northeast corner of Post Alley at Virginia Street


The Market Art Project was undertaken by volunteers from the Friends of the Market organization in 2012.  In addition to historic signs and neon, they identified 33 artworks in the Market.

Visit the Market Art page on their website for a complete listing, with artists, dates, mediums, and photos.

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Cut and weave photos from the Market

Borrowed this idea from an art show I saw several years ago in a restaurant in Vancouver.  The cutting and weaving took a bit of practice and a lot of patience to come out square and hold together.  The cobblestones are echoed in the patterned texture.  The Pike Place Market Creamery signage (taken June 2008), was on an old beat up delivery van they used to have.

Farmers Market Weave

Market Creamery weave

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Pike Place Market-Daily Exposures

I’ve got a computer full of photos of the Market, it’s my hobby.  Sometimes I think about all the millions of visitors each year, and their snapshots.  What would that add up to all the way back to 1907?  Is there a math wiz who could get that number in focus?

Switching out the macro lens for a micro, here’s some images of the popular photo op sites:  Starbucks, Pike Place Fish, Rachel the Pig, and the gum wall…

sbucks 2 sbucks 1

fish 3 fish 2

p-9 p-12 2

gum 2 gum 3

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Pike Place Market-Off The Beaten Path

By regulation, a business in the Market must be unique and owner operated; an anti-mall approach to retail.  As a business incubator the Market created the likes of Starbucks, Beecher Cheese, and Sur La Table as brand names.  The Market is basically a startup venue for several hundred entrepreneurs.  As a result, there’s some truly “one of a kind” places worth a visit.

Next time you’re showing a visitor around, venture off the beaten path:  photo at original Starbucks, buy bouquet of flowers, watch the fishmongers toss a salmon, stand by Rachel the Pig, check out how big the gum wall’s gotten.

I’m starting this off the beaten path series with a visit to Ugly Baby and LA RU www.uglybabyandlaru.com


I like it it for three reasons.  First, it’s on Western Ave. (1430), which no one thinks of as part of the Market.  There are half a dozen shops on Western worth a visit.

Second,  great name!  They used owner Rosalie Gale’s husband’s actual “ugly baby” day of birth photo for the name and logo graphics.  Letters from co-owner LAuren RUdeck’s name were added.

Third, it has a great mix of unique, original products.  All items are hand made by the owners in a tiny upstairs loft area.  Rosalie specializes in waterproof shower art.  Artist Lauren has a variety of products with her hand drawn illustrations.  They offer belt buckles, necklaces, and D.I.Y. crafts by local artists.  Since opening in Fall 2012, they have a loyal clientele for distinctive gifts.


I asked Rosalie about the challenge of people finding them in such an obscure corner of the Market.  One creative effort they’ve made is sidewalk chalk drawings of their shop graphics, with an arrow pointing the way down several flights of stairs to their door…starting at the Gum Wall.  It works!

ugly baby 1 ugly betty 2 ugly betty 3 ugly betty 4

ugly betty 5 ugly betty 6 Ugly 7 ugly betty 8

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Pike Place Market Bookstore Mecca

Little known fact:  the Market has the largest concentration of bookstores in Seattle.  For an “analog” like myself, this is an added bonus when I go.   It’s also interesting to note how long they’ve all been in business (exception Chin Music-just a year old).

The Market’s history with books goes back to 1922, when the Seattle Public Library opened a branch there.  It was located in the basement of the “downunder,” next to a doughnut shop and above a lard rendering plant.  It had 1000 books, and 350 new card holders in the first two months.  It became the most used location in the whole library system.


Bookstores at Pike Place:

BLMF Literary Saloon-Downunder #322

Opened by James Johnson in 1996, BLMF has stacks of moderately priced used books in classics, history, literature, popular and historical genres.  An eclectic selection mixes with genial attention.  It’s a strangely well organized chaos.  The owner’s brain is the database;  ask for what you want and he will know if he has it.

What’s the name about?  Before he went in business, someone commented that Johnson’s book lined house had “books like a motherf—er.”


Chin Music Press-Downunder #329

Chin is a media company and book publisher that recently (2014) opened a retail showroom in the Market.  Their titles include works on contemporary Japan, China, and New Orleans.  Products include books (very curated-about 25 titles), chapbooks, posters, and zines.

About their name and mission they say:  “Chin Music” is a play on Mark Twain’s phrase describing a preacher’s sweet way of talking, and a baseball term for a high pitch that backs a batter away from the plate. With that in mind, our books would not only be risky, they would be beautiful. Designers Craig Mod and Josh Powell employed Japanese aesthetics to create “literary objects” — books that are a pleasure to touch as well as read. NPR describes them as “a triumphant kick in the pants for anyone who doubts the future of paper-and-ink books.”

Chin also features an interesting mix of artwork and craft products.  It is on my personal list of “hidden gems” at the Market.  View their website and blog at Chin Music Press – home

Chin Music Chin Music 2

Lamplight Books-1514 Pike Pl. (behind Three Girls Bakery and the Creamery)

Lamplight offers a wide selection of gently used paperback and hardcover, with an emphasis on literature, art, history, and children’s books.  Opened in 2003.

Lamplight Lamplight 2

Left Bank Books-92 Pike St.

Left Bank has been in the market since 1973.  Owned and operated by its workers as a not-for-profit “collective,”  it is the oldest of its kind in North America.  It specializes in providing books to prisons.  It stocks over 10,000 titles, both new and used.

“We specialize in books on anti-authoritarian, anarchist, independent, radical and small press titles. Our interests span the literary and scholarly spectrum.”  -from their website Left Bank Books | Independent Since 1969

Explore the two upper loft levels when you visit…edgy books and good conversation!

Left Bank 2 Left Bank

Lion Heart Book Store-Downunder #432

Lion Heart opened in 1999, and stocks over 12,000 hard and paperbacks, specializing in cookbooks, religion and history. David Ghoddousi, the owner, has a real passion for books, is upbeat and genuinely cares about his customers.  All the yelp reviews are 5 star:  “He’s funny and often recites poetry by Rumi.”  “I would love to come back to Seattle just to see him again.”

Lionheard 1 Lionheart 2

Metsker Maps-1511 1st Ave.

Metsker is a family owned business, and has been a fixture in Seattle since about 1950.  Their Market store opened in 2004.  The shelves and loaded with travel books, tour guides, and atlases.  There’s an emphasis on recreational books for the Pacific NW.  Pocket-sized phrase books are stacked on the counter.  www.metskers.com


Golden Age Collectables-Downunder #401

Since 1971 the Northwest’s largest comic book store, and claims to be America’s oldest comic book shop.  Lots of vintage titles.  www.GoldenAgeCollectables.com

Golden Are Commectables

Magazines and Newspapers at Pike Place:

Old Seattle Paperworks-Downunder #424

It has been located in Pike Place since 1976.  Offering a wide variety of vintage magazines and other paper ephemera.  An interesting history of this store, its owner, and his Market experiences is at: http://www.oldseattlepaperworks.com/history.html

Old Seattle Paperworks

First and Pike News-93 Pike St. Corner of 1st and Pike.

It’s an old-fashioned news stand with an international twist.  Papers and magazines from across the country and around the world.  You can get the London Times and European fashion magazines,  which share the shelf with university and literary journals.  Best selection of magazines in Seattle, and remains a throwback to another era when someone stood on the corner and hawked the newspaper.  Opened in 1979 as “Read All About It.”  They have a wonderful collection of photos at  http://firstandpikenews.tumblr.com/


On your next visit, check out a Pike Place Market bookstore.

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