Artscape

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

duncan C / Flickr

Seattle thinks it knows its coffee. After all, it's the birthplace of Starbucks, and neighborhoods with two or three coffeehouses per block are not uncommon.

So you’d think the new director of Seattle Opera, Aidan Lang, would be happy. He’s a self-described coffee lover. But Lang says what we’re missing is a drink that’s taking the world by storm called a "flat white."

So we set out to find out what a flat white is, and where we can find it in Seattle. Click play below to hear what we found.

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.

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.

Courtesy of Christopher Monsos / Intiman Theatre

  

Twenty years ago, Seattle’s Intiman Theater was the first regional company in the country to produce “Angels in America.” The 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is a sweeping tale about the deadly AIDS epidemic from the 1980s.

It’s a cathartic story about politics, sexuality, religion and forgiveness. The protagonist in the story is a young gay man who is fighting AIDS, is abandoned by his boyfriend and becomes a prophet after being visited by an Angel of God.

Considered an American masterpiece, the play has been adapted into an HBO mini-series as well as an opera.But those who have seen a live production will tell you it’s meant to be seen on stage.

Andrew Swanson

The Westerlies are a new young brass ensemble based out of New York City. They’re an all-over-the-musical-map group whose first album is already garnering critical praise.

And this first bit of success could have something to do with their Seattle roots. All four musicians, all in their 20s, grew up in Seattle where they absorbed much of the local music scene. They’re the product of two of the best high school jazz programs in the country: Garfield and Roosevelt high schools. And their debut album, recorded in a family friend’s cabin on Lopez Island, is a reinterpretation of an eclectic mix of compositions by Seattlelite Wayne Horvitz.

© Brandon Patoc

Speight Jenkins is stepping down as general director of Seattle Opera after 31 years. And among the things he’s most proud of are the productions of two successful Ring cycles, surviving the economic recession by not resorting to just producing popular operas and advancing the opportunities for African-American men.

Light in the Attic Records

Back in the day — we’re talking the 1960s, '70s and ‘80s — local Seattle bands played funk and soul music in the city’s dance clubs.

The music was the soundtrack of a black-owned radio station operating out of the Central Area called KYAC.

Florangela Davila

At 6-foot-3, Garry Webberly is a towering figure with a head of white hair and a matching mustache. The 76-year-old Webberly's musical tastes run from classical to classic rock. But for the past 48 years, he’s taken to the stage to perform in volunteer productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

“It’s good music, great dialogue. I love it all,” Webberly said about the operettas that are known for their wit, their absurdly complicated plots and technically-challenging songs.

Courtesy of the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery

There are so many ways we can listen to music. Usually the easiest these days is playing tunes on a digital gadget such as a phone or laptop. It wasn’t that long ago when we had to make a trip to the local record store to stock up on the latest hits.

The current exhibit at the Henry Art Gallery, The Record: Contemporary Art And Vinyl, shows how the flat black disk and the sleeve that holds can do so much more than just play music.

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

Many experts call him the greatest iconoclast of 20th-century music.

The avant-garde composer John Cage is perhaps best known for his pioneering use of silence in music. He also broke ground with the use of everyday objects as instruments, electronics and chance in composition.

He was born in California and died in New York. But some of his most formative years took place in Seattle.

A political tale of the little guy going up against the establishment that happened in Seattle more than a decade ago is now on the big screen in movie theaters.

The film Grassroots tells the mostly true story about former monorail champion Grant Cogswell running against incumbent Richard McIver for a seat on the Seattle City Council in 2001.

Katherine Banwell / KPLU

The new LeMay Car Museum in Tacoma is a dream come true for car lovers. But it’s also worth a visit if you’re into art. The color and shape of the vehicles is a feast for the eyes, and there’s art history too, if you consider such things as hood ornaments and how they’ve changed over time.

Listen to this week’s Artscape by clicking the listen button above to get the full picture.

Sean Porter

The film "Eden" tells the story of human trafficking through the tale of a Korean American teen in New Mexico. It's part horror film and part survivor's tale and it's based on a true story.

It's Seattle director Megan Griffith's third feature film.  And it's a project she was drawn to because of the actual narrative:

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

A tiny space with big ideas. This is the motto of the Telephone Room in Tacoma. It claims to be one of the smallest places in the world where artists display their work.

Michael Brunk / NWLens.com

The ideas of freedom and repression have played out around the world for thousands of years. The Spanish playwright, Frederico Garcia Lorca, explored those themes in "The House of Bernarda Alba."

The play was the last thing the Spaniard penned before he was assassinated in 1936, after General Franco and his military regime took power in that country.

The House of Bernarda Alba will be performed in Seattle by an all-female cast.

1928 Model T Fords, top hats, and thousands of people spilling out onto 9th and Pike. It's the opening of Seattle's Paramount Theatre (originally called the Seattle Theatre). Now that rich history is archived in the new, fourth-floor Paramount library. 

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