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New exhibit showcases Washington’s mark on the world

by Brian Zylstra | August 30th, 2013

Nirvana by Anton Corbijn (09)

Members of Nirvana, from left: Krist Novoselic, Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl. (Photo by Anton Corbijn)

A free, privately funded exhibit opening next week in the State Capitol does more than just celebrate the many triumphs in business, science, technology and music that put Washington on the global map. “Grand Coulee to Grunge” is a good reminder that, as a state, we’ve been making it big for more than a century, and continue to do so. The image-based exhibit will be on display for a year before traveling around the state. If you can’t see it in person, you can view it online here.

The Washington brand is all around us. When you see a passenger jet, it likely was built by Boeing. If you eat apples, cherries, pears, potatoes or some other produce, chances are good they were grown right here in Washington. When you use your laptop or desktop computer, it probably has Microsoft software.

Many homes are built with lumber coming from trees logged by Weyerhaeuser. We aren’t nicknamed The Evergreen State for nothing.


Weyerhaeuser tree fallers in action. (Photo courtesy of Weyerhaeuser)

Thanks to Starbucks, many of us are accustomed to plunking down $5 on a coffee drink that can seemingly take a minute just to order.

We’ve done pretty well in music, too.

Washington native Bing Crosby set the standard for singing and acting fame going back to the early ‘30s. Born in Tacoma and raised in Spokane, the crooner remains one of the best-selling recording artists of all time, with almost (paging Dr. Evil) ONE BILLION records in circulation around the world, and 41 No. 1 hits. His version of “White Christmas” alone has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide (50 million as singles), making it the best-selling single of all time.

Just as Crosby is a legend for the Greatest Generation, another Washingtonian,  Jimi Hendrix, remains a cultural icon for many Baby Boomers. Thanks to classics like “Purple Haze,” “Hey Joe” and “Fire,” the groundbreaking and influential guitarist from Seattle energized rock music during his short career before dying in 1970 at age 27.

In  1991, a three-piece band from Aberdeen named Nirvana exploded on the rock scene with its “Nevermind” album, helping make grunge the hottest sound in rock. Other Seattle-area bands like Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden also reached stardom during that time, making the Emerald City the center of the rock world.

Bing, Jimi and Nirvana all are featured in the new exhibit. In fact, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic is scheduled to speak at the exhibit launch’s reception Sept. 4.

There are many other notable musical artists and groups with Washington ties, from The Sonics and The Wailers to Kenny G to Macklemore today. Another source of local pride: Composer/producer Quincy Jones and classic rock group Heart were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this spring.

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