Arts

Arts and culture

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.

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.

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.”

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.

Denver Art Museum; The Roath Collection

The Denver Art Museum has made good on its Super Bowl bet and delivered the Frederic Remington "Broncho Buster" sculpture to the Seattle Art Museum for a three-month exhibit.

Imagine getting a job — but in doing so, replacing a friend whose firing prompted more than 1,200 people to sign a petition calling for his return. 

That was the situation Kate Becker faced as she took over the city of Seattle’s Office of Film and Music.

Bellevue Arts Museum, Collection of Cathy and Michael Casteel

Where does the creativity come from that fuels a work of art?

For Seattle woodcarver Daniel Webb, it comes from the dialogue he has with centuries-old wood as he carves into them.

Webb uses mostly reclaimed wood, much of it more than 200 years old. His first solo exhibition opens today at Bellevue Arts Museum, where you can see how he transforms discarded stumps and I-beams into objects as delicate as a shimmering balloon, a wispy dandelion or child’s pillow. 

Undated photo via The Associate Press, courtesy of SAM

The movie “The Monuments Men” spotlights a platoon of real-life U.S. soldiers who rescued artistic masterpieces from the Nazis during World War II. 

Overall, there were approximately 350 men and women from 13 nations who fought to preserve art from the ravages of war. Two of them came from Washington state.

Sherman Lee, who was born in Seattle, was an expert in Asian art who served as associate director at the Seattle Art Museum in the late 1940s.

For centuries, people have been making a 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain known as the "Way of St. James" or El Camino de Santiago, and among them is a growing number of people from the Pacific Northwest.

The pilgrimage was traditionally made for religious reasons. The route ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela where the remains of  St. James the Apostle are believed to be buried.

But Portland filmmaker Lydia B. Smith, whose documentary "Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago" is opening in Seattle this weekend, says there are many reasons people take on the challenge.

"A lot of people do it for the adventure or to ease a transition without looking for something specific," she said. "There really is no right or wrong reason to do the Camino."

Neil Giardino

Most people see the lion dance, at most, once a year on Lunar New Year. But for the dancers, the art is no occasional matter. Whether they practice the Chinese style or another version of the popular Asian dance, they practice year-round to perfect their moves for their annual performances.

Carlo Allegri / Invision/AP Photo

Seattle’s Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have seven shots at a Grammy Award on Sunday. The hip-hop duo is nominated for Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song, Best Rap Album and Best Music Video.

Local pop music critic and writer Gene Stout says that’s an impressive list of nominations.

“A lot of people think of Macklemore and Lewis as an overnight success, but they’re not,” Stout said. “Macklemore’s been at it for 10 years. Certainly what they’ve done with two chart hits is extraordinary. And for a duo, it hasn’t really happened since the ‘90s.”

5th Avenue Theatre

"Oliver!" tells the story of a young orphan's misadventures in London, from the workhouse to a den of thieves and, finally, to a family that loves him. The musical, on stage now at the 5th Avenue Theatre, is based on the novel "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens.

Albert Evans, artistic and music associate at the 5th Avenue Theatre, who says the character of Oliver was one of many Dickens created and used over the years to call attention to societal ills, and to portray London as he saw it.


Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons

The city-operated Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute (LHPAI) will soon be its own self-sustaining nonprofit organization.

Under a five-year plan, Seattle plans to hire a transition coordinator, help LHPAI secure nonprofit status and gradually decrease its financial investment in one of its oldest cultural institutions.

Roosevelt High School senior John Otten discovered the trumpet as a fourth grader.

"I thought, 'It’s only three valves. It wouldn’t be that hard. I bet I could do it,”’ he said.

Turned out, it was hard; he couldn’t even get a sound out that first month.

Fast forward eight years, and Otten is headed to the Grammys as the only student from the Pacific Northwest selected for the Grammy Band Jazz Session program.

American Booksellers Association

Head to an independent bookstore on Saturday, and you might find a local author working behind the counter.

One thousand authors at some 400 bookstores will be participating in a one-day national program called “Indies First”, which aims to draw shoppers to independent bookstores on Small Business Saturday.

Florangela Davila

Meet Nathan Cummings, a senior at Mercer Island High School and one of five chosen National Student Poets.

"It's like a crazy fever dream," said Cummings of having been awarded the highest recognition of its kind for young literary minds. 

 The awards are part of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. They're administered by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Cummings flew to Washington, D.C. last month for the ceremony where he met Joyce Carol Oates and Michelle Obama.

The film scene in the Northwest has become more prominent over the years thanks, in part, to the Northwest Film Forum. The small art house theater in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood is an incubator for local talent that is getting noticed nationally. Many of these artists got their work in front of an audience for the first time at the Film Forum's annual Local Sightings Festival, which takes place over the next week. 

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