Artistic architect

Patrick T. Kerr sketches Seattle

Architects today seldom hunch over drafting tables and T-squares - they create on computers, like most of us. But some of them miss the tactile sensation of drawing lines on paper and giving life to forms directly, through their hands. The old way, somehow, seems more like art.

And it's art, decidedly, that Seattle architect Patrick T. Kerr creates to sell in his small Pike Place Market gallery. His pen-and-ink drawings of Seattle landmarks buzz with energy that grows out of meticulous, uncanny detailing. He'd draw at the molecular scale if he could.

"Most of [the drawings] have taken a couple of years to finish," Kerr says. "I have four kids, and I'm lucky to be able to squeeze in an hour or two on the drafting board at night."

Kerr does it the hard way. For his portrait of the city's Italian Renaissance revival-style St. James Cathedral, he parked his van nearby "about 100 times," sketching the raw forms and juggling proportions until he was satisfied. At home, working from photographs, he inked in the building's lavish ornamentation. Because the work is so intensive, he never sells his originals. Except for some fantasy-futurist skylines that regress to his childhood absorption with comic books, most of the drawings celebrate Seattle landmarks: the cathedral, the Space Needle, Smith Tower, Husky Stadium.

Remarkably, Kerr says he suffers from attention-deficit disorder, but his passion for architecture is so compelling that he can stare at a building for hours, mentally dissecting it. Then again, maybe that attention to detail is something he was born with. "My room was always spotless," he says. "I was a pretty disciplined kid." - Lawrence Cheek

Kerr for collectors

Prints of drawings by Patrick T. Kerr are sold at Pike Place Market #323 (206/903-0993).

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