|The Adkins Harris Wedding, Rainier Club, Seattle, ©2012 by Sam Day. Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches.|
The Rainier Club is the oldest, and arguably the most important private club in Seattle. Founded when the city still had mud streets, the club hosted the first trade delegations from Japan to the United States. A century later, a US president broke bread here in Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings with Japan, China, and other Pacific Rim nations— the first APEC meetings in the United States. Lesser events within these walls are too numerous to mention, with the notable exception of the Adkins-Harris wedding of August 25, 2012.
The architecture is appropriately grand. Designed by Kirtland Cutter in 1904, in what was later called the Jacobethan style— a mixture of Elizabethan and Jacobean architecture; in short, a mash-up of everything. There are curvilinear parapet gables on all facades. The exterior is flash-fired clinker brick. And in room after room, one finds homage to a different age. In this one, ten solid Doric columns as thick as a Douglas Fir are illuminated on the west by peaked, gothic church windows, and on the east by a walk-in fireplace big enough for a half a cord of wood to be stored in the shadows (no longer used). The east walls are painted a dark crimson/Venetian red, from which the clinker brick of the fireplace recedes. But the other walls are a glowing Georgian yellow, trimmed in cream. The Doric columns are a glossy Van Dyck brown, looking chocolate in sunlight, and nearly black at night.
The art collection is one of the best in the city. The lobby has the usual Northwest Masters such as Morris Graves and Kenneth Callahan, as well as living masters like Alden Mason. The halls are lined with photogravures in their original Art Nouveau frames by Edward S. Curtis, the famed photographer of Native Americans who lived in the club for a time, and paid his rent in original prints. There’s an Albert Bierstadt oil painting of Mount Rainier in the room where dinner was served. Among period seascapes, an incomparable portrait of Emma Frye hangs in the room where this couple was married.
It is into that room that we glimpse on the right side of my painting, and from which the couple emerges to join their guests.
The bride, a high school classmate of mine, wore a gown of pure sunlight refracted by something much softer than sequins— designed by Reem Accra—, and carried a bouquet by Aría Style. The groomsmen wore carmine colored orchids; the groom’s was white.
On the far left of the painting, the groom’s daughter sits at the Steinway, effortlessly embellishing Beatles songs. His son stands tall in the center with hereditary aplomb, next to the bride’s sister and the father of the groom. The genial best man and his wife are in the lower left, and a niece and nephew hold up a pillar with great interest. The mother of the bride is seated (in white) in mid distance in a room crowded with friends and family.
Along the north wall the band A New Groove belted out 70s R&B and rock classics, and Geoffrey Castle, a soloist on six string electric violin, fused musical styles with unparalleled virtuosity.
It was a great evening, in a great place, with great people. It was great to be there, and a privilege to paint it.