Arts

Arts and culture

Team Totem

A long-lost treasure of Tacoma’s past will come bursting to life on the big screen this fall, if enough money can be raised to make it happen.

The silent film, “The Eyes of the Totem,” made in Tacoma between 1925 and 1928, was recently found. A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to bring the film, complete with newly composed music, to Tacoma’s Rialto Theater on September 18.

Norma Miller / Courtesy Photo

At 95, Norma Miller can still bust a move. “Swing baby,” says Miller, who will dance with a partner as she hums the Count Basie song “Shiny Stockings.”

That song, she explains, gets any Lindy Hopper dancing. Lindy Hop – that’s a type of dance borne from the Swing Era of the 1930s and ‘40s. It was the dance style that evolved in Harlem alongside all the jazz greats from Basie to Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. And Miller, who first stepped into Harlem’s famous Savoy Ballroom when she was just a child, is the last great Lindy Hopper from that era.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

A maritime festival taking place in Seattle this week is a good reminder of our city’s strong ties to the ocean. Thursday evening, an event called Stories of the Sea takes place at a pub at Fishermen’s Terminal. It’s like a story slam for fishermen, ferry captains and other mariners. 

For a taste of the event, I tracked down emcee John van Amerongen, who pulled out his guitar and sang his song, "Trip to the Bering Sea," a wry tale about a guy on a crabbing boat for the first time. The young man has an unfortunate encounter with the bait chopper, a machine that grinds up fish.

Photo: David Bazemore

There’s no question Ira Glass is talented. But among those talents, let’s just say that, according to him, he’s not the greatest dancer in the world.

Pike Place Market

A major addition is coming to the Pike Place Market. The $65 million dollar project includes a pedestrian connection to the waterfront. Monday, the Seattle City Council approved selling $34 million in bonds to help pay for it.

Paula Wissel

Volunteers spread out around downtown Seattle today carrying buckets filled with daffodils. Handing out the flowers on the first day of spring is an 18 year tradition.

Pike Place Market spokesman Scott Davies says it's a way for the market to celebrate spring.

“We share the floral love with people downtown," said Davies.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

When Lucas Smiraldo became Tacoma’s poet laureate two years ago, he had the spark of an idea. He wanted to get the people around him writing their own pieces and then share them through an interactive map.

Now it’s ready

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

March 2 is the birthday of Theodor Geisel, better known to readers everywhere as Dr. Seuss. He would have turned 111 this year.

KPLU's Kirsten Kendrick and Ed Ronco remembered the children's author during Monday's Morning Edition ... in full Seussian rhyme.

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

On a Saturday at the Pacific Science Center, life-size robotic dinosaurs roar. A giant video monitor shows a person sneezing as a spray of mist shoots down from the ceiling. Nearby, naked mole rats scurry blindly through a maze of tunnels.

And since it's all mud and rain outside, the place is packed with curious children and adults trying to keep up with them.

Loud noises, bright lights, crowded spaces: This is exactly the situation Mike Hiner tries to avoid with his 20-year-old son Steven, who is autistic.

Courtesy of Peregrine Church

Next time you’re walking on a sidewalk in Seattle and it’s raining, look down. You just might see a message reveal itself.

At least that’s the intention of a 21-year-old magician who has created unusual sidewalk art. His stenciled messages are only visible when it’s wet outside.

Read the story and see a map of the artwork on Quirksee.org >>>

Joel Ryan / Invision/AP Photo

Dame Edna brings her special brand of comedy to Seattle this weekend for the launch of her farewell tour. For nearly 60 years, the Australian housewife-turned superstar has entertained audiences around the world. Now, the character created by comedian Barry Humphries is saying goodbye to her fans. 

Courtesy of Ian Cheney. Copyright Wicked Delicate Films LLC. A Sundance Selects release.

Consider apple pie and how we regard it as quintessentially American.

Now, says Jennifer 8. Lee, consider Chinese food.

“How often do you eat apple pie versus how often do you eat Chinese food?” she asks.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Listen closely to the music playing next time you’re grabbing coffee at Starbucks. If it’s a relaxing piano piece, it might just be the work of Tacoma teenager Marc Estabrook.

Courtesy of Eric Frommer

December is an especially busy time for the members of The Beaconettes. There are loads of benefit events and holiday concerts, not to mention the annual Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition to perform in. There is also a whole heck of a lot of thinking that goes into just how decorative you’ll make your 15-inch, festooned-in-lights beehive wig.

Courtesy of Craig Downing

Helping people make new friends is one of the goals that inspired the creation of “Couch Fest," a one-day film festival that happens in homes across Seattle and all over the world this weekend.

Olson Kundig Architects

This weekend the Tacoma Art Museum is inviting the public to explore its new spaces. An addition was built to hold a collection of art that was donated by a German family with Northwest ties.

Courtesy of the Burke Museum

Just where did the Seattle Seahawks’ logo come from?

Amid the fever pitch of last year’s Super Bowl run, one of the art history classes at the University of Washington got curious.

Zac Davis Photography

Zac Davis has lived all around the Puget Sound region — Issaquah, Bellevue, Bremerton, Bainbridge Island. But about six years ago, he moved to Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood.

He was drawn to the vibrancy of the area, pulsing with different languages and cultures. He describes this as we walk down the street, past African women with their heads covered and moving smoothly in their long robes.

“In my cul-de-sac alone, there’s probably four languages spoken, and yet we manage to have a block party every summer,” he said. “It makes us stronger.”

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

The Seattle City Council is marking a cultural anniversary Monday: 40 years of legal busking in the city. Seattle musician Jim Page was behind the ordinance that legalized street performing back in 1974.

Page said he was playing guitar and singing one day in front of Oliver’s Meats, near Pike Place Market.

“I’m just singing along, and a motorcycle police officer pulled over,” Page said. “And he shouted at me over his motor and said, ‘Do you have a permit?’ I said no. He said, ‘Next time I see you,, I’ll give you a ticket.’”

Page said he offered to get a license, but was told he couldn’t do that, since he was not blind.

Daniel D. Morrison

As a boy growing up in the 1960s and ‘70s, Alex Tizon was well aware of a racial hierarchy that existed, a hierarchy that put him, a Filipino immigrant, at the bottom. 

His parents admired white Americans and all things western. Tizon once caught his father massaging and pinching his nose to make it sharper and narrower, and less round and Filipino-looking.

“I took it a step farther,” Tizon said. “I used to put clothespins on my nose.”

Alison Marcotte / KPLU News

Three sets of oversized orange headphones have arrived at Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park.

They’re parts of  “YOU ARE HEAR,” a temporary installation by Seattle sound artist Trimpin that will be unveiled Saturday.

Luis Sinco

Lily Tomlin calls for our interview just before lunchtime.

She's on the road, driving through Beverly Hills. I ask her to park before we start in on the questions, because I don't want to be the guy who distracted Lily Tomlin while she was behind the wheel.

Courtesy of London Tone.

A Northwest record label has made it a little easier for musicians to launch their careers.

London Tone has signed contracts with 52 mostly unknown artists for just one song, and allowed them record the single at the famed London Bridge Studios in Shoreline.

This year’s Seattle International Film Festival features a movie set and shot in Seattle by a Seattle filmmaker. 

Director Megan Griffiths' film “Lucky Them” kicks off the Renton portion of SIFF Thursday night. 

Matika Wilbur

Can you name and count the Native American tribes in our state? Photographer Matika Wilbur thinks everyone should be able to. She has set out to visit and photograph each of the 566 federally-recognized tribes in the U.S. 

Wilbur is on a mission: "Changing the way we see Native America. That is the goal."

Shikha Jain

In 1996, playwright Eve Ensler reclaimed a word that had mostly been relegated to medical textbooks and grade-school jokes. In her piece, “The Vagina Monologues,” she adapted interviews with women about their sexuality and turned them into performance art. The play has inspired women around the world to talk more openly about their bodies.

Here in Seattle, it inspired some South Asian women to reclaim the word “yoni.” That’s the Hindi word for vagina.

Instead of performing Ensler’s piece, these women write and perform their own stories. And there’s much to explore. They come from a society that’s grabbed unwelcome headlines in recent years for brutal violence against women. Even here in Seattle, South Asian women say they battle repressive attitudes within the expatriate community. 

Martin Schmitt / Flickr

In the 1800s, a Polish doctor wished there was an easy way for his polyglot neighbors — and everyone, really — to communicate. So, he invented a language: Esperanto. About 130 years later, it’s still around, including in the Pacific Northwest.

Jennifer Bondelid started learning the language when she was 11 years old. This week, she’s hosting workshops on Whidbey Island to promote theater and film in the language. Saturday night, she and 10 cast members will perform a play called “Connected” for those attending the 34th regional conference. I had to ask: Why?

Seattle Deaf Film Festival

People who are deaf or have hearing loss often find themselves misunderstood, says Patty Liang. It happened to her once on a plane. A representative from the airline labeled her as disabled, which resulted in someone meeting her at the gate with a wheelchair.

Seattle Public Library

Bragging rights on the soccer pitch aren't the only thing at stake in this weekend's Sounders match against the Portland Timbers; major nerd points are on the line, too.

The staff at Seattle Public Library has challenged their Portland-area "rival," the Multnomah County Library, to a Twitter battle of book recommendations ahead of Saturday's faceoff.

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