Arts

Arts and culture

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.

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.

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.


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