Artscape

KPLU's weekly feature about art in the Pacific Northwest.  Available online every Sunday and played on-air on Monday mornings and afternoons.

Tacoma Art Museum, Haub Family Collection

Images of the American West line the walls of a brand new addition to the Tacoma Art Museum. The collection, a gift from a German family with ties to the Northwest, is a once-in-a-lifetime acquisition that is raising the museum’s profile.

Timothy Aguero Photography

After a seven-year hiatus, 4Culture has resurrected the “Poetry on Buses” program. The public art project, funded through Percent-for-Art funds, aims to elevate the ordinary bus commute.

Four buses in King County Metro Transit’s RapidRide fleet will be outfitted entirely with homegrown poetry and no ads. Another 109 buses will feature one poem each. Poems will be featured on select bus shelters. And there’s also a website that offers a new poem every day for the next year.

Michelle Bates

When you signed up for band in middle school, you probably didn’t have the option of playing the rumitone, the stamenphone or the violcano. These are the names of some of the one-of-a-kind instruments dreamed up and forged out of metal by Ela Lamblin.   

Lamblin is the musical genius behind the performance group Lelavision. His wife, dancer and choreographer Leah Mann, animates Lamblin’s instruments on stage. When you see one of their shows, you are witnessing the best of the couple’s talents working together.

Photo: Jenny Graham

Editor's note: A previous version of this story erroneously said Lyndon B. Johnson was forced to resign in 1969. LBJ chose not to run for re-election in 1968. 

Leave it to a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright to find something epic about a controversial figure in U.S. history.

“When we say somebody is ‘Shakespearean,’ he really was that,” says Robert Schenkkan about President Lyndon B. Johnson. “Outsized, not just physically but in his virtues, his vices, his ambition, his hunger, his success, his failures, in his flaws and ultimately, in his tragedy."

Courtesy of Jason Tang

When Scott Teske, a classically trained upright bass player, was in his early 20s, he stepped away from the regimented world of classical music to see what playing in a rock and roll band would be like. Teske picked up the electric bass guitar and joined his first band. It didn’t go so well.

“It was really jarring at first,” recalled Teske. “I really loved it. But just the way the rock-'n-roll world operates is really almost challenging in a way. People are late for rehearsal. They’re not prepared. After that experience I thought, 'Hmm, I really like this rock-'n-roll thing but how can we take these classical values and apply those values to the rock world?”'

Sometimes when the club you want to belong to doesn’t exist, you have to be the person to invent it. This is what Teske did in 2008. The end result is Seattle Rock Orchestra. It’s a laid-back world where the free spirit of rock mixes with the discipline of a symphony.

Chona Kasinger

A new show at Seattle's Henry Art Gallery invites you to do something museums usually forbid: Touch the art and take it home.

Four galleries are filled with photographic images printed on tablets of newsprint. Visitors are invited to tear off the images. That means the galleries are in constant flux, and, at some point, they could be entirely left void.

TM & © Bruce Lee Enterprises, LLC. All Rights Reserved

As someone whose job it is to pay attention to the history and legacy of Asian Americans, Cassie Chinn, deputy director of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, had, of course, heard about Bruce Lee and knew some basic things.

She knew he had been a groundbreaking star in Hollywood: a Chinese face cast in the 1966-1967 TV series “The Green Hornet.” She knew he was a legend in martial arts circles. She knew that following his death at age 32 from a swelling of fluid in the brain, he was buried in Seattle at Lake View Cemetery.

Photo: Florangela Davila

For the first time in 30 years, Seattle Opera is beginning its season with a new person in charge. Taking the place of Speight Jenkins, who retired, is Aidan Lang, an Englishman by way of New Zealand.

Lang is 56 years old. After a long history of freelance directing, leading music festivals in England and serving seven years as the general director of New Zealand Opera, he’s ready to forge ahead on what he says are Seattle Opera’s two big priorities: financing for both new administrative offices as well as a new Ring cycle.

If you spend enough time in Drew Christie’s world, you’ll learn about everything from an invasive rodent living in Lake Washington to “holiday demons” that scare children in Europe. Christie digs deep into various subjects through short animated films that are packed with well-researched information and a heavy dose of dry humor.

Courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery

A trio of Seattle artists has taken a unique approach in an attempt to “undo three-quarters of a century’s worth of polluting”: canning and selling dirt.

The “premium-quality hand-canned dirt,” which are available for $25 a can, are a commentary on how a community can share in the responsibility of cleaning up a contaminated urban site.

The artists’ work focuses on one specific site, a brownfield in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Once home to a gas station, it is now choked with blackberries, littered with drug baggies and covered in contaminated soil.

Read the full story on our companion site, Quirksee.org >>>

Courtesy of Jan Johnson, the third owner of the Panama Hotel

The muse behind Steve Grigg’s musical project is a brick, six-story, century-old building that stands in what used to be Seattle’s Japantown.

The Panama Hotel, on the corner of Sixth and Main, remains a working hotel. But the historic building is also a time capsule. It features belongings left behind by Japanese Americans who were forced into internment camps during World War II.

Griggs’ project, called “Panama Hotel Jazz,” weaves in music with narration to tell the story about the incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans in 1942.

Courtesy of Stephanie Mallard Couch.

What if Don Quixote, the famous character from 17th century Spanish literature, was reimagined as a homeless man living in Seattle? That’s the premise behind a new bilingual play being premiered by eSe Teatro, a local Latino theater company at ACT Theatre.

Jennifer Wing

The clouds hang low over the water along a quiet stretch of gravelly beach in the Strait of Juan de Fuca near Sequim, Washington. A sailboat silently glides past and a clear creek runs into the strait. A gang of seagulls stands at the watery crossroads, preening their feathers.

Perched on a grassy overlook capturing this on a small canvas of balsa wood is plein air artist Sandy Byers. Painting en plein air is the French term that simply means painting outside — something artists have been doing for hundreds of years.

Courtesy of Michael July.

One of the first things you notice about someone is the hair. How people wear the hair can say a lot about their politics, religion and even their health.

A photo exhibit currently on display in Seattle focuses entirely on individuals who choose to wear their hair in one type of hairstyle: the afro. This halo of high hair has gone from a symbol of black power to a fashion choice that challenges conventional ideas of beauty.

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