Arts and culture

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Flenniken.

Washington state’s poet laureate Kathleen Flenniken has been awarded the Washington Book Award.

Flenniken’s new work of poetry, titled “Plume,” recounts her childhood in the nuclear-company town of Richland.


A new exhibit at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma explores the mystery and the legacy of D.B. Cooper, the infamous skyjacker who jumped out of a plane with $200,000 in cash more than four decades ago.

Courtesy of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest

Two chimpanzees living in the Northwest are competing in a national art contest. The chimps and their caretakers are trying to win a $10,000 first prize for their respective sanctuaries.

It's not quite a film festival. But a new series of films will play for free in Tacoma next month as a way to spark cultural conversations.

The "Film Forum: Advancing Cultural Dialogue" is sponsored in part by The Sundance Institute.

Florangela Davila

There’s something about art that has the power to heal, for both those performing it and those watching it.

That is precisely why Seattle’s Freehold Theatre Lab teaches creative writing to the women locked up in the Washington Corrections Center for Women at Purdy. The program helps the inmates weave their past and dreams into stories they perform on stage.

Prison isn’t exactly the most natural space for theater, says inmate Amanda Songer.

The mayor of Silverton, Oregon is one of a kind. Stu Rasmussen is the nation's only transgendered mayor. It’s a distinction that generated international headlines and even a protest by the anti-gay group, Westboro Baptist Church. Now, Rasmussen's saga has a new twist: A musical about his life. It’s hitting the stage in Seattle this summer.

In a small rehearsal room in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood, long-time actor Mark Anders is preparing for a role like none he's had before.

Josh Marshall / Josh Marshall Photography

Each year, 50 teens  from all over the country fly into Seattle to participate in a fast-and-furious film challenge. They have to produce short films in 36 hours, or "on the fly." Which is why the program is called "SuperFly."

Most of the participants are Native Americans, creating Native-themed films out on location on an Indian reservation.

Seattle filmmaker Tracy Rector and her Longhouse Media company launched the workshop 8 years ago.

Eliza Truitt

In all the films that she writes and directs, Lynn Shelton shines the spotlight on Seattle. 

Her latest project, "Touchy Feely", was filmed entirely in the city, mainly in the Central District and "all over Capitol Hill," according to Shelton. 

Jessie Hodge

Labor disputes have shut down performances across the country, but Seattle Symphony and Seattle Opera fans don’t have to worry about cancelations anytime soon. The musicians have agreed to a new contract. 

SIFF 2013 tickets on sale today

May 2, 2013

Tickets go on sale today for the 39th annual Seattle International Film Festival. SIFF is set to feature more than 300 films, special guests, and film workshops. 

Last month, it was Saturday Night Live. This month, Seattle rap duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis will perform at the MTV Movie Awards.


Washington State University now has its own cigarette machine, but it doesn't sell smokes.

Instead, the Art-o-mat vends artworks at $5 each. The machine aims to make art more accessible and affordable.

Seattle Art Museum

If you’re a Seattle arts and culture lover, you owe a lot to a man named Bagley Wright.

The Space Needle, Benaroya Hall, Seattle Repertory Theater — Wright helped build or create all of them.

Then there’s the art he’s given to the city.

Seattle’s own music sensation Macklemore has a message: “Don’t let being gay hold you back. If you’re straight, do not hold others back.”

Macklemore delivered the message in a video posted on, a website that promotes respect for all athletes regardless of their sexual orientation.

During World War II, a popular song called "Rosie the Riveter" turned female assembly workers into icons.  Women filled in at places like the Boeing airplane factory in Seattle and the Kaiser shipyards in Portland while the men went off to war. 

But one famous guitar company allegedly tried to hide the fact that it was using female replacements to keep making its musical instruments. Now, seven decades later, a Portland guitarist is helping tell that story.

Storefronts Seattle

A nonprofit arts group is looking for art installations to feature around town. 

Storefronts, a program which showcases artworks in empty storefronts, is accepting applications for the year.

Teens will be the first to complain that no one listens to them. But Seattle's ACT Theatre is doing precisely that. 

For a dozen years now, the theatre has been offering playwrighting classes to young people, in and out of school time. From some 400 submissions, eight young playwrights were chosen to have their words heard in the upcoming Young Playwrights Festival. 

Vivian Maier / Jeffrey Goldstein Collection

Vivian Maier is an artist who is considered one of the greatest street photographers of our time. She was a nanny who lived in Chicago. She never talked about her work when she was alive and became famous for it after she died. That’s when thousands of her negatives were discovered and developed. Some of her work is on display right now at The Photo Center Northwest in Seattle.

Jeffrey Goldstein is a collector and owns the negatives of the photos that are on the walls. We are looking at a black and white picture taken by Vivian Maier. It shows girls, young women, laughing and playing in the shallow waves of Lake Michigan near Chicago in the late 1960's. You can almost feel their joy as they splash each other in the hot sun.

“And this is the north shore, with wealthy households and girls who have most things that they want and they are having fun, with bikinis and they are splashing water and here is Ingar, looking out towards the water and she’s the only one with a white bathing cap on."

Ingar Raymond is a chubby girl. She’s about six or seven years old and Vivian Maier was her nanny. In this picture, Ingar is the only person with her back turned to the camera.

"The lightest areas in the photograph are the clouds and Ingar’s cap. And she’s almost like one of these clouds. Just floating out there in the water by herself."

The number one song in the country right now is "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, a rap group out of Seattle.

Their claim to fame: They got the song to the top of the chart by themselves, without being signed by a major label.

This interview was originally broadcast on April 13, 2011.

Tina Fey grew up in a household with parents she has described as "Goldwater Republicans with pre-Norman Lear racial attitudes."

But, she says, her parents were always supportive of her career, even when she told them she was moving to Chicago to start a career in improv.

This interview was originally broadcast on June 25, 2012.

For seven seasons, Alec Baldwin has starred as the TV executive Jack Donaghy on the NBC hit sitcom 30 Rock, which will have its final episode on January 31. Jack Donaghy is a far cry from Baldwin's more dramatic roles in the '80s, '90s and 2000s, when he starred in movies like The Hunt for Red October, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Departed and The Cooler.

This interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 22, 2009.

This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 3, 2008.

Tina Fey's impersonation of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin helped draw record audiences to Saturday Night Live in the fall of 2008. The former head writer for SNL opens up about politics, satire and her Emmy Award-winning sitcom, 30 Rock, which will have its series finale on January 31.

It turns out that if you ask the Academy at large who are the best directors, you get a very different answer from the one you get if you ask the Directors Guild of America (DGA). The DGA nominations a couple of days ago went to Ben Affleck for Argo, Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, Tom Hooper for Les Miserables, Ang Lee for Life Of Pi, and Steven Spielberg for Lincoln.

National Geographic last week announced the winners in its annual photo contest. According to the contest website, they received more than 22,000 entries from amateur and professional photographers around the world.

Here's a selection of the winning images, including editors' picks, viewers' choice and honorable mentions. You can see the rest on their website.


Tomorrow is a big day for Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry. The museum is hosting a grand opening at its new location near South Lake Union in the former Naval Reserve Armory. The museum will be free all day, with special events like musical performances and craft activities.

Leonard Garfield, executive director of the museum known as MOHAI, says they’ve greatly expanded their collection.

Some books paint pictures with words; others use pictures to render us speechless. No matter the method, you'll lose yourself in the best possible way leafing through the volumes in this year's list of recommended gift books. If pages were like musical notes, these titles would produce a pretty great mashup. Envision one of photographer Cindy Sherman's crones in the forest of a Brothers Grimm tale. Set one of graphic novelist Chris Ware's "building stories" inside, say, the curvaceous contours of an architectural masterwork by Frank Gehry.

Jeremy Lange / Pike Market Senior Center and Food Bank

The streets of downtown Seattle are filled once a year with hundreds of people singing Christmas carols, or a wacky version of them, for the annual Great Figgy Pudding Street Corner Caroling Competition. Thirty-nine teams are competing for various titles tonight, Friday. Nearly 10,000 spectators came to the event last year.

Some of the teams change the lyrics of traditional tunes to sing about everything from the joys of coffee to solar power. At least one team, the Emerald City Cloggers, dances to Christmas songs.

This past Sunday, the Old South Church in Boston made a decision that cuts to the heart of not only the congregation's history, but to the very beginning of this country's founding.

With an overwhelming 271 to 34 vote, the church decided to give its board the power to sell one copy of the Bay Psalm Book, the first book ever printed in British North America.

Only 11 of the original 1,600 copies of the book printed in Cambridge in 1640 remain. And of those, the church owns two.


Capturing and playing back video of your kid’s first steps or a few minutes of concert footage is almost too easy with smart phones. The immediacy kind of makes you forget how much effort it was to break out the Super Eight camera and project it later in your living room. 

This week as the Association of Moving Image Archivists hold their annual convention in Seattle, we are reminded that sometimes there is value in hanging on to outmoded technology. Hear to KPLU’s Monica Spain story by clicking the listen button above.