Artscape

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

Photo by John Ulman

Frank Boyd admits he is neither a jazzhead nor a jazznerd. He’s a newcomer to appreciating the music — music that he says has a public perception problem.

Jennifer Wing

At Peter Miller Books in Seattle, 'tis the season of tomato cans.

For the last 20 years, Miller has been giving away cans of quality tomatoes to his regular customers. What makes these tomatoes unique is Miller’s original poetry glued to the front.

Mark Kitaoka

Seattle actors Jessica Skerritt and Dane Stokinger have played opposite one another before. There was the time last year in Arizona, when they were in a production of “Xanadu, the Musical.” He played some roller-skating guy and she played some sort of Greek goddess.

They actually met in a production at Village Theater; he played Elvis and she his girlfriend. But for the first time, the two are playing what they are in real life: husband and wife.

Photo by Florangela Davila

One of the stars in the latest production of Seattle Children’s Theatre is the perfect example of how theater can be something magical. The performer’s name is “Trueheart.” She has a carved head, a sweet personality and by the show’s end, everyone wants to nuzzle her.

Trueheart is one of the title characters in the current production, “Dick Whittington and His Cat.” And he’s a scrawny but amiable creation of puppet master Annett Mateo.

Kelly O

Ahamefule J. Oluo was not doing well. After seven years of marriage, he was divorced, a single father and living in a basement apartment. He had a day job he hated. And though his night job of trying to make it as a musician and as a stand-up comedian was much better, all the juggling was wearing him down.

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 >>>

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