Local Art News
Political pressure is mounting to get the federal government to change the name of a lake in the North Cascades that is likely a racist slur.
The lake and connecting creek, which lie in the Stehekin River Valley in the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, are labeled Coon Lake and Coon Creek on federal maps. But a south Seattle man with ties to the area, Jonathan Rosenblum, convinced state officials that those names were likely racist references to a black prospector who worked claims there in the late 19th century. The state’s board of geographic names agreed, and officially changed the names to Howard Lake and Howard Creek after the prospector, Wilson Howard.
But the National Park Service opposed the name change, so on federal maps, databases and mapping software, Coon Lake lives.
“That’s shocking,” African American activist Eddie Rye, Jr. says about the Park Service’s decision. Rye played a key role in the hard-fought battle to change the name of Empire Way to Martin Luther King Way back in the 1980s. How does he feel about this issue? “To be honest, pissed off.”
Rye has met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C., to spur action. He’s frustrated that the feds didn’t make the switch years ago.
He is not alone. Fifty members of both houses and both parties of the Washington State legislature have now written to Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell asking them to intervene to “right this wrong.” The letter, sent on September 23, reads, in part:
“We are very disappointed to learn that the federal government has to date refused to ratify the state’s decision – normally a pro-forma matter. Howard Lake lies within the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, which is administered by the National Park Service (NPS). Since 2007, the NPS has steadfastly opposed the change from Coon Lake to Howard Lake, and has effectively blocked action within the U.S. Department of the Interior. … Today the NPS trail signs and maps in the North Cascades National Park point to ‘Coon Lake.’ In continuing to oppose the name change, the Park Service is failing to recognize Mr. Howard’s historical contribution to the area and is perpetuating a geographic name that is widely seen as pejorative given its specific origin in this case.”
The letter cites a recent Crosscut article that covered the name controversy.
Thirty-seventh District state Rep. Pramila Jayapal coordinated the letter, and got sign-off from her legislative colleagues, who represent both sides of the state. Interestingly, the only Republican state senator to sign is Auburn’s Pam Roach, a staunch conservative.
Rosenblum and others argue that the time is ripe for change. One reason is the Obama administration’s action this summer to switch the name of Mt. McKinley to Denali to match the wishes of the state of Alaska, a move long-blocked in Congress by representatives from Ohio who preferred the name McKinley. Denali is the widely accepted Native American name for the peak and the almost universally preferred name by Alaskans.
Another is that the Park Service, which is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2016, has been criticized for the low percentage of minority visitors to parks. Rosenblum, in a recent Op-Ed in the Seattle Times, says “our nation’s most treasured vistas and parklands are not seen as inviting places for many. People of color comprise 37 percent of the nation’s population, but only 22 percent of park visitors.”
This is a major issue in a country that is predicted to have a non-white majority by 2044. Appealing to a broader constituency is likely critical to the system’s long-term survival.
Seattle writer Glenn Nelson has launched a website called the Trail Posse, aimed at introducing and promoting the outdoors and parks to a more diverse population. He gained national attention with a New York Times editorial last July titled, “Why Are Our Parks so White?” He tracks the Park Service’s diversity efforts and says that there “is a lot of talk, but there’s not continuing dialog at the top.”
Nelson worries that stonewalling a name change like Coon Lake will create unnecessary ill will. “It feeds into the fear of going to national parks that people of color experience,” he says. “It’s shocking that you learn about something like that today, 50 years after the Civil Rights movement.”
In his New York Times piece, Nelson argued that “We need to demolish the notion that the national parks and the rest of nature are an exclusive club where minorities are unwelcome…” and that the National Park Service “is the logical leader to blaze a trail to racial diversity in the natural world. It has a high public profile, and its approaching centennial can serve as a platform for redefinition.”
Fixing the map would be one small step in that direction.
World-renowned ballerina Patricia Barker, a Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer for 20 years, is now making her mark offstage, just as she did onstage. Next week, she will be using her PNB experience, both as a dancer and as an instructor at PNB’s school, as she brings a Michigan dance troupe to Seattle for performances that reflect her roots and her ambitions to contribute to ballet’s future.
After her celebrated career as a performer here ended in 2007, Barker worked internationally staging George Balanchine’s works before becoming Artistic Director of Grand Rapids Ballet in 2011, a position she had held on an interim basis for a year. She was instrumental in preventing the regional company, which is Michigan’s only professional ballet company, from shutting its doors. And, under her direction, both the size of the company and the breadth of the works it performs have grown.
Next week, the Eastern Washington native is reaching another milestone. She’s bringing Grand Rapids Ballet’s 33 dancers to the Pacific Northwest for a five day run of performances. “I’m going home and bringing my dancers to Seattle,” she says. While the company is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Barker and husband, Michael Auer, have kept their Seattle home and return a few times a year.
Although Barker brought the company to Bellevue for performances at the Meydenbauer Center in 2014, this will be Grand Rapids Ballet first Seattle appearance in its 44 years. Getting here took a lot of hard work.Patricia Barker Credit: Grand Rapids Ballet
One of the biggest challenges Barker faced in her new position was rebuilding Grand Rapid Ballet’s repertory, the collection of works it performs. GRB’s previous artistic director, also a choreographer, had taken the rights to his works with him. For Barker, this meant putting together a whole season in a matter of weeks. When asked how she managed to do this, she says, “You call your friends. You ask for favors and help.”
Twyla Tharp gave her rights to Nine Sinatra Songs. Internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer Mario Radacovsky choreographed a new, full-length Romeo and Juliet. The George Balanchine Trust, for which Barker still serves as a stager setting Balanchine’s works on companies around the world, gave her Who Cares?
While she was dancing with PNB, Barker had the fortunate experience of learning many of Balanchine’s works from Francia Russell, PNB’s former artistic director. Russell had been both a dancer and a ballet mistress – learning all of the roles in a ballet in order to be able to teach them to the dancers – with New York City Ballet under the great Balanchine. Barker considers herself “a grandchild of the group.”
Russell had recommended and promoted Barker to Balanchine’s trust to stage his works. Russell says, “Patricia truly knows and understands the ballets we worked on together.” Today, the Grand Rapids Ballet has four Balanchine works.
Yet, Barker has gone beyond yesterday’s choreographers in creating her new company’s repertory. She is committed to having her dancers work with contemporary choreographers and to giving today’s dance-makers opportunities to bring their ideas to life.
Seattle’s Olivier Wevers, also a former PNB principal dancer and dancing partner of Barker, is one such choreographer. Today, Wevers is the artistic director of his own contemporary dance company, Whim W’him.
Next week, GRB will give three performances of Wevers’ full-length ballet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which he made specifically for the company. While Seattleites may be familiar with Balanchine’s ballet of the same name, Barker says, “This [Wevers’] is nothing like it.” Wevers tells a new tale using the characters of Shakespeare’s play. The central character of Wevers’ ballet is Nick Bottom, a young boy who dreams of being President of the United States. Wevers uses events from his own childhood to develop this character. The ballet also includes the ingenious use of sets.
The other program that GRB will present next Saturday and Sunday, is a mixed bill of four choreographers, called MOVEMEDIA. Two of these choreographers, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Penny Saunders, have had other works presented in Seattle last year. The others are Mario Radacovsky and well-known contemporary American choreographer David Parsons.
While Barker credits many people with helping her to succeed in her new role, her mentor, Francia Russell, provided her with a role model for being an artistic director. Barker says of her experience, “It was inspiring. I wanted to be like her one day.”
Of course, the mentor-mentee relationship goes two ways, and Russell is proud of the director Barker has become. She said via e-mail, “Both her artistic values and her strong, personal management of her employees are true to the principles Kent and I had wanted to instill in her all those years she was with us at PNB. Nothing could make us more proud than that.”
Barker has given herself another big challenge – to expand GRB’s reputation beyond its region. She told Pointe magazine earlier this year, “What continues to drive me is not only helping this organization to thrive and be noticed, but for us to become Michigan’s number-one arts export.” Touring is now an important priority. Given her demonstrated perseverance and determination, it won’t be surprising if she manages to bring the Grand Rapids Ballet to the ranks of the top ballets nationally. First stop, Seattle.
Genius | 21 Century | Seattle *
The Frye, Seattle’s gem of a museum, presents arguably its most ambitious show ever: more than 60 artists from all disciplines who have been deemed “geniuses” by The Stranger and other creative folk. I love this kind of a show: packed, different, boldly spotlighting all kinds of perspectives.
The show will continually change but what’s up now (and what I’m eager to go back to and take in some more) includes Victoria Haven’s Studio X video installation about a changing South Lake Union; zoe|juniper’s dance performance projected onto floor-to-ceiling circular “curtains;” the massive weavings and macramé of Nep Sidhu that hang to a soundscape created by Shabazz Palaces; the giant red neon arrows that violently erupt from the floor by SuttonBeresCuller and an especially poignant short story about death, the memory of one’s father and a Wendy’s hamburger by Sherman Alexie. There are scores of special events and performances—durational dance, live music, theater—making the Frye a not-to-be-missed-or-you’ll-be-kicking-yourself venue this winter.
If you go: Genius|21 Century|Seattle, Frye Art Museum, through Jan. 10 (Free)—F.D.
The Great Pumpkin Beer Fest
This week, Hillary Clinton took a firm stand on Starbucks’ pumpkin lattes. Correctly, she’s not into them. Their calorie content was her explanation, which is fair. But in a pretty glaring omission, she failed to mention they’re good for about five sips, after which their temperature drops a bit and you realize they taste like a syrupy approximation of Thanksgiving’s premier dessert: pumpkin pie. And that’s sacrilege, people.
But if there’s a pumpkin beverage that’s worthy of the seasonal hype, it is pumpkin beer. Some prefer just a hint of the flavor, like in a mellow pumpkin porter. Others prefer a full-on onslaught, as found in Elysian Night Owl. But whatever one’s palette, the 11th Annual Great Pumpkin Beer Fest is a must-visit this weekend. Over 80 pumpkin beers will be offered – 8-0! – and potential rewards await those who dress in orange, and particularly orange costumes. So find yourself a decorative gourd costume, and don’t miss out on one of Seattle’s best fall traditions. While sold out online, there are typically some extra tickets at the door for the truly dedicated.
If you go: The Great Pumpkin Beer Fest, Elsyian Airport Way Brewery, Oct. 2-3 ($28) — D.A.
Pop-up: Harvest Moon Ramen
Chef Jason Harris brings his love of and experience with Japanese cuisine to Pike Place Market in this one night celebration of the flavors of autumn. It’s a set menu, but kick-off autumn with a lazy deviled egg, delicate salads or Japanese style pickles. The ramen is next to come, and it includes roasted Scarlet Kabocha squash, black garlic oil, and a sake-cured egg (among other additions). For dessert, Harris serves up Moonstone Plum Sake jelly, Calpico cream, orange zest, and five spice. Harris is the former chef and owner of the Ballard restaurant Bloom. Look for more regular Japanese pop-ups by checking out his blog Taste and Vision.
If you go: Pop-up: Harvest Moon Ramen, Pike Place Atrium Kitchen, 7 p.m. Oct. 1., ($22) —N.C.
My introduction to Todd Barry came via the inimitably brilliant show Louie, on which Barry plays himself, a wry comedian friend taking his time through life and jokes. Last year, Barry embarked on a seven-show tour, which can be enjoyed on Netflix as the totally worthwhile, fun documentary The Crowd Work Tour. The shows are sans jokes, but more representative of his strengths as a comedian: slow paced with quick wit. Barry returns to Seattle with a few jokes (and hopefully some crowd work?) this Friday.
If you go: Todd Barry, El Corazon, 8 p.m. Oct. 2, (Tickets start at $18)—N.C.
Orchestra Seattle| Seattle Chamber Singers
The new season kicks off with Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, sung in English and commemorating the 25th anniversary of Germany’s reunification. “War and Peace” is the title of this concert, which also includes Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem. A free “Behind the Music” discussion at 6:30 p.m. precedes the performance.
If you go: Orchestra Seattle | Seattle Chamber Singers, First Free Methodist Church, 7:30 p.m. Oct 3 ($25)—F.D.
Local Sightings Closing Night: Ahamefule Oluo Presents Police Beat
Ahamefule Oluo is a local gem – trumpeter in jazz quartet Industrial Revelation, writer, comedian, and husband of beloved writer Lindy West. In the finale of this year’s Local Sightings Film Festival, Oluo creates a live soundtrack to the 2005 Police Beat, written by Charles Mudede. He says he chose this film for the Puget Soundtrack series because, “Charles Mudede and director/co-writer Robinson Devor take these real universes built out of a few words and translate them into such beautiful imagery that is lush while never seeming quite healthy, never letting us become aware of the mortality of all, the ridiculous futility of everything.”
If you go: Puget Soundtrack series: Ahamefule Oluo Presents Police Beat, Northwest Film Forum, 8 p.m. Oct. 3 ($20)—N.C.PNB pianist Allan Dameron and soloist Elizabeth Murphy in Jerome Robbins’ The Concert. Photo by Angela Sterling.
Pacific Northwest Ballet
If you’ve never thought ballet could make you laugh then you’re in for a treat watching “The Concert,” a Jerome Robbins’ work about a group of people who take in a piano concert in plein air. Both piano and pianist are on stage (playing Chopin). Then one by one, the audience members arrive: a woman who oh-so-dramatically embraces the actual piano; a man with his nagging wife (the man then starts falling in love with someone else); a group of dancers overcome by the music, but they can’t seem to fall in step with one another. Who hasn’t daydreamed when hearing beautiful music played live? It’s part of a triple bill that includes Balanchine’s “Prodigal Son” and Christopher Wheeldon’s “Tide Harmonic.”
If you go: Pacific Northwest Ballet, McCaw Hall, Through Oct. 4 (Tickets start at $30)—F.D.
* events that are under $15
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Many were the intriguing topics covered Tuesday during the introductory press conference of new Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto, also attended by the man who chose Dipoto, club president Kevin Mather. Believe it or not, most answers were reasonable, even enlightened. I know, I know: I see your eyes rolling from here.
The community skepticism surrounding the Mariners is already at least as dense as a cubic mile of lead. Deservedly. But I choose today not to dig into it. My pick long ago broke.
Instead, I pass along answers to two questions that helped me in deciding whether to take this latest leadership change seriously.
I asked Mather whether he asked Dipoto if he knew the current Mariners roster was ill-suited to the home ballpark.
“I didn’t have to,” Mather said. “He told me.”
This news represents a breakthrough. For seven years, Dipoto’s predecessor, Jack Zduriencik, kept building a roster of home-run hitters for a stadium than played slightly smaller than Belgium.
The result this season was a team fifth in the American League in home runs, yet out of playoff consideration by the Fourth of July. After weak drafts and mediocre player development, the thick, square pegs in Safeco’s round hole were a critical reason that Zduriencik’s teams missed the postseason in all seven seasons of his tenure.
The Mariners roster should look a lot more like the 2014-15 Royals than the 1965 Yankees. Saving runs via pitching and defense are nearly as important as making runs. In running down a ball in the massive Safeco outfield, there’s not enough time to hitch up the Conestoga wagons to the oxen.
The second question was directed to Dipoto. I asked why he failed to convince his former boss, Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno, that he should NOT sign addiction-plagued outfielder Josh Hamilton to mega-contract in the winter of 2013 — unless Dipoto thought it was a good idea.
The reason is relevant to the Mariners because Zduriencik was in the middle of the same free-agent foolishness, waving his checkbook at Hamilton, who failed miserably in Anaheim despite the red flags that were seen from the International Space Station.
Dipoto explained that the owner screwed up. He didn’t use that phrase, but I caught his drift.
“Every decision you make is a collaboration. Josh was a free agent. I met with his wife and family. Obviously, Arte and upper management were heavily involved in what we were doing. Rightly so. That decision was the owner’s decision to make.
“As I understand it here, my position here is to manage what I’ve been given. That’s what I do. With the Angels, we did our best to put a team as good as we could around the core players. As Arte told me at the time, ‘My decision [on Hamilton] is mine.'”
Whew. One of the worst free-agent signings in recent major league history apparently was not Dipoto’s idea.
Now, some will say he’s lying, or that he’s dodging responsibility. I’m going with the idea that anyone operating off more than his medulla oblongata understood that Hamilton was a great talent but unworthy of a $125 million risk.
Where that puts Zduriencik, who was the driver on Seattle’s pursuit of Hamilton, I don’t know. But he’s under the bus now, so nobody cares.
Asked about the Hamilton episode, Mather said, “I would suggest that [Dipoto’s] previous employer was much heavier-handed than our ownership. We defer to our general manager.”
Then he cringed: “I’ve probably said too much.”
It’s our secret, Kevin.
But the episode reveals that Dipoto is experienced in ownerships that don’t know baseball. The skill won’t show up in his bio, but might be as important as any other asset in Seattle because of the other key news Tuesday, this from much-criticized CEO Howard Lincoln.
“I don’t have any plans to retire,” said, Lincoln, who showed up to the presser and took numerous questions. “I’d sure like to retire after we win the World Series … or make the playoffs.”
That’s a fairly wide target, but the lower end of Lincoln’s spectrum offers some optimism to the legions who hold him chiefly responsible for the Mariners’ 14-year absence from the playoffs, baseball’s longest drought.
As well as experience managing up to lightly informed owners, Dipoto has experience managing down to lightly informed managers. The Mariners manager, Lloyd McClendon, is a lot closer to the Angels’ field boss, Mike Scioscia, in terms of acceptance of advanced statistical analytics. As in, almost no acceptance.
The issue was said to be the reason Dipoto unexpectedly resigned the Angels GM job in July. Scioscia was said to have resisted deploying the information inDipoto’s reports. The argument was won when Moreno sided with his 16-year manager.
But Mather claims that was not the issue.
“It’s really ironic that that media thinks Mike and Jerry got sideways on analytics,” he said. “Jerry’s not an analytics guy. He has people who show him stuff that he uses.”
Whatever happened in Anaheim, Dipoto is here now, experienced in dealing with oddball owners and stubborn managers. He’s also a former major league pitcher, a scout, and a personnel director. He’s a polished personality and talker who delivers perfect sound bites to please TV, such as:
“My baseball philosophy is to build flexibility, build versatility, create balance, and that will lead to sustainability,” he said. “I believe that starts today.”
So, yes, he gets how the job works. Dipoto and this change are worth taking seriously. But will Mather, Lincoln and ownership persist in compromising their help?
Mather, Dipoto’s new boss, recalled being part of the pre-game ceremony in August celebrating Jamie Moyer’s entry into the club’s Hall of Fame that drew 39,000 to Safeco. He said he leaned over to Lincoln and said, “‘Think of what would happen if we put a winning product on the field.’ We once drew 3.5 million people [2002, leading baseball].
“This sounds crass, but there’s money in this town. People buy tickets, food and beverage and merchandise. We just need to put a winning product out there. Our ownership is tired of losing. They look at me and say, ‘You gotta treat the fans better,’ and then they kick me under the table and say, ‘Don’t forget ownership. You gotta treat us better.’
“I’m going to put more resources to Jerry’s end of the table than maybe Jerry’s used to.”
There you have it: Spend money to make money, and hire the right people and get out of the way. Two axioms to which anyone with a lick of business sense would stand up and say, “Duh!”
This organization has been breathtakingly slow on the uptake. Change comes when they know how long they’ve been wrong. Sounds as if they know.
During a recent afternoon rehearsal with her five dancers, choreographer Pat Graney was discussing timing, dresses, and poultry–specifically where one might procure a Cornish game hen.
This was Graney, one of Seattle’s most admired and respected dance makers, finessing her first full-length work in seven years. Girl Gods premieres this week at On The Boards and if a peek at the work in progress is a good indicator, it promises to be both aesthetically memorable and emotionally challenging. In other words: classic Graney.
The work focuses on a favorite Graney subject—women—but this time it’s women and the idea of rage. (The poultry, for example, serves as a prop in a segment about the ritual of domestic work but it’s slated to be anything but cutesy).
Graney, 59, has received some of the highest accolades locally and nationally for her work. Her contemporary dance pieces have included large-scale installations as well as performance workshops for incarcerated women and girls. In conversations after rehearsal one recent Saturday at On The Boards and then over the phone, Graney weighed in on stuffing one’s emotions, the radical act of unleashing rage, and the insecurity she still feels even though she’s in her 36th year of creating work:
On how one unexpected act of rage set off an inquiry into the subject:
Years ago, I was in the basement storing things. And I was trying to pull out one of these chairs, a family heirloom out from a cramped area. I pulled and pulled and I got so enraged I threw it against the wall and I saw it splinter all over the place. And I wrote about it, taking apart that moment, slowing it down, going back. The explosiveness of anger, uncontrolled anger; that dark side we’re not allowed to show. There’s so much material that’s unformed, that’s beautiful, in rage.
On collaborating with her dancers:
My experience growing up was a solitary one, a world of fantasy, of books and dreams. That’s where I lived. To share the world (of creating) is terrifying. It’s a great challenge for me artistically. … [But] including people in the process means they have authorship and ownership; having ownership makes the performance very different. It’s a great experience as a director to make people feel like they’re on board.
On the recordings that comprise some of the soundscape (by Amy Denio) for the piece:
The dancers all interviewed their moms about power and being able to get angry or not—what was allowed and acceptable and what was not. It’s really interesting to hear women talk about feminism; the younger moms felt much more empowered—they feel like they were born into it compared to some of the older moms who felt like they didn’t have that same opportunity.
We created a place to share. We created our own family in making this work and we’re mining all these different experiences. It’s a rich palate. Some of the material is really awful and some of it is so awful it’s actually funny.
On the importance of looking back at history, specifically women’s history:
As a group, we really identified female icons and your mother is an icon, whether you want her to be or not. It’s important that we look at and address the shoulders of the women that we stand on—all these women who have done so much amazing work.
On stage, I really wanted to have a sense of generations. So I have an older woman and a girl. We pay homage to what’s come before and what will come after in this work.
On how becoming a mom in her 50s (her daughter is 6 years old) now informs her work:
It makes one more conscious, more acutely aware of generational things. It changes up the game and the way you perceive yourself and the way you perceive others and families.
On the influence of her Keeping the Faith/The Prison Project program that she started in 1992 and remains one of the longest-running prison arts programs in the country:
It’s been a huge influence on my work. I’m not the same person I was when I started working on it. Keeping the Faith is about looking at women and facilitating their voices so they can be heard, which is so important to me.
Pat Graney’s Girl Gods plays at On the Boards from Oct. 1 – 4. Tickets are $25. Find more info here.
The Female Gaze: Creating something new with Ann-Marie Stillion! Open Studio Magnuson Park–October 18 from 1 to 5 PM. NSFW
Flatcolor Gallery Presents Dark visions of the whimsical and macabre — Ego “The time is Never” + Grady Gordon “Been Seeing You around Lately” – First Thursday! October 1st, 2015!
ARTSWEST Presents: AMERICAN IDIOT — Three Added Performances Friday, October 2nd at 10:00 PM Friday, October 9th at 10:00 PM Sunday, October 11th at 7:30 PM
Gallery 110 Presents: October Exhibition and Opening! First Thursday Opening: October 1, 2015, 5p – 8p
First Thursday! Rebels of the Floating World: Jonathan Wakuda Fischer + Louie Gong @ ArtXchange Gallery!
Hot Art Wet City! Vancouver! THIS SATURDAY NIGHT 12th Annual HOT ONE INCH ACTION from 7-11pm at Hot Art Wet City!
As far as dinner shows go, this one’s a total winner, what with live classical music, flying fairies, a Sarah Bernhardt character who strips and assorted absinthe-tinged beverages to imbibe. Seattle’s uberly creative couple Mark Siano and Opal Peachey have teamed up to deliver this oh-so-entertaining show about Antonin Dvorak (Siano), the ghost of Frederic Chopin (Peachey) and a friendly bottle of absinthe. You can choose how to watch the show: without dinner, with dinner (oxtail goulash, which is quite good), with an apertivo (Don’t miss the meatballs) or with VIP service, which includes all of the aforementioned as well as special cocktail/fairy table service.
If you go: Bohemia, Café Nordo’s Culinarium, through Sept. 27 (Tickets start at $25)—F.D.
Local Sightings Film Festival*
This annual film festival celebrates northwest talent, showing films by artists throughout the region accompanied by lectures and performances. Even better, the festival heavily draws on my two surefire picks for a fun, eye-opening experience: shorts and animation. The Northwest Animation Showcase takes place from Sept.29 to Oct. 2, and each night is curated with films of a certain theme, from the union of animation to the role of nature. There’s something for everyone at this festival, and each year, it becomes clearer that the Seattle film scene isn’t just burgeoning — it’s burgeoned.
If you go: Local Sightings Film Festival, Northwest Film Forum, through Oct. 3 (Tickets start at $6) — N.C.
Star Wars: The Party Strikes Back
Did Han shoot first? Is Obi Wan Kenobi more boring in the original Star Wars, or in the prequels? Is Jar Jar Binks really just a misunderstood and troubled soul, his manic behavior only an attempt to distract himself from the universe’s infinite number of injustices? If you have an opinion on any of these issues, there’s no excuse not to spend Saturday night at the Experience Music project, for the closing party of Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume. In what sounds like an incredible evening for any fan, the bash will include lightsaber duels, the Star Wars String Quartet, a roaming R2D2, a youth costume march, bars of both oxygen and alcohol, trivia, and much more. On top of that, this is one of your last chances to see some of the original costumes from the films, and take a selfie with Darth. Doors open at 7pm, so use the force and get yourself there.
If you go: Star Wars: The Party Strikes Back, Experience Music Project, Sept. 26 ($30 general public, $20 youth 5-17, free for children 4 and younger) – D.A.
Eat Out in Capitol Hill
Eat for a good cause! Hooray for the annual return of Eat Out in Capitol Hill, when an array of great local venues, all contribute to an even greater resource: The Country Doctor Community Health Clinic. The CDCHC has a special place in my heart because they were there when I didn’t have insurance, and they continue to be there for anyone in need, providing affordable and attentive comprehensive health care. Supporting a great cause coupled with your love of eating out makes for a great Thursday night. Stop by Café Vita, Broadcast, Ada’s, or Victrola for coffee, head to Coastal Kitchen or Skillet for brunch, enjoy happy hour at the Bimbo’s or Poppy, or have a nice dinner at Smith, Ba Bar, or Quinn’s. Only have time for a mid-day treat? Head over to Molly Moon and Hello Robin. A portion of everything you spend goes to CDCHC.
If you go: Eat Out in Capitol Hill, various venues, Sept. 24 (Prices vary) — N.C.
An Evening with Saul Williams*
Another exciting season of Seattle Arts & Lectures has begun, with Alison Bechdel and Anthony Doerr to look forward to. Thursday night, SAL presents “poet laureate of hip hop,” and one-of-a-kind all-around artist Saul Williams. Williams will read from his latest collection of poetry US(a.), in which he works through his thoughts of what it means to be an American — the fabric of race, identity, gender, capitalism, superheroes (and so much more) that make up our country. Williams brings it in everything he tackles, whether it be poetry, music, acting, or giving a lecture, and this night will be no exception.
If you go: An Evening with Saul Williams, Town Hall, Sept. 24 (Tickets start at $10) — N.C.
SOUNDRyan Schlecht and Lindsay W. Evans in a publicity photo for SOUND.
What’s at the top of my own list this week is Azeotrope’s latest production, a bilingual play that’s a first for the company: the hearing actors are working with deaf actors in a show that’s about a young girl and cochlear implants. A deaf father and his hearing ex-wife argue over the issue in present day Martha’s Vineyard. The drama also weaves an historical narrative about Alexander Graham Bell and his quest to invent the first hearing aid 130 years earlier, also on Martha’s Vineyard.
In a press release about the production, the company refers to a 2012 City Living Seattle article that notes 180,000 hard of hearing people live in the greater Seattle area. “We want to help create visibility and room for Deaf artists where Deaf culture is at the center of art-making in a prominent venue and bring opportunities for Deaf audiences,” says co-artistic director Richard Nguyen Sloniker.
I’ve been impressed by the small Seattle theater company, ever since it put on a remarkable production of Jesus Hopped the A Train years ago. This is a gutsy company that likes to embrace issues and characters who are on the margins; it challenges both its actors and its audiences and I try hard never to miss whatever it’s ushered onto the stage.
SOUND is written by Don Nguyen and performed in American Sign Language and in English.
If you go: SOUND, ACT Theatre, through Oct. 4 (Tickets start at $25)—F.D.
Pablo Helguera: Librería Donceles*Courtesy of Pablo Helguera
Quick, name a local bookstore teeming with titles in Spanish. Each time New York artist Pablo Helguera has installed his Librería Donceles — in New York, San Francisco or Phoenix — it’s served as the only used Spanish-language bookstore in that particular city. Now la librería and its 20,000 literary offerings have been installed at the Henry Art Gallery where visitors can purchase one book for the price of their own choosing. Each book, in fact, was initially collected by the artist in exchange for an artwork. The bookstore will serve as a meeting place and as a site for related events. The next one: A discussion about the acoustics of books by Zackery Belanger on Oct. 3. Helguera is scheduled to perform a history of Uruguayan writer and pianist Felisberto Hernández on Oct. 15.
If you go: Pablo Helguera: Librería Donceles, Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, through Jan. 3 (Free; $10 for artist performance on Oct. 15)—F.D.
* events that are under $15