Artscape

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

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.

Alison Marcotte / KPLU

Have you ever bought a pair of shoes that truly made you happy? Unlike jeans or a bathing suit, the one part of an outfit most women don’t dread putting on are shoes. According to a poll by ShopSmart magazine, 19 percent of women have purchased shoes to put them in a happier state of mind.  

If you want to see shoes that have been uplifting women’s moods and their physical stature over the last 10 decades, a treasure trove of heels, pumps, boots and stilettos is currently on display at the White River Valley Museum in Auburn. The Sole Obsession exhibit features more than 100 pairs of women’s dress shoes from 1910 to 2010 that are lit like movie stars and ready for their close-ups.

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.

Chris Bennion

After running out of money and shutting down last year, Intiman Theatre is back with a groundbreaking summer festival.

"Groundbreaking" because the theater has a new repertory format: a cast of 17 actors -- Intiman's Class of 2012 -- staffing all four summer productions.

For audiences, that means a chance to see an actor stretch in various roles: "Romeo and Juliet" one day; a drag queen take on Helen Keller the next.

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.

Dean Wong

An old five-and dime store that helped Seattle's Japanese community rebuild itself after World War II is being celebrated in a new way: in a permanent exhibit by the Wing Luke Museum in a local gift shop/art gallery.

The exhibit features a variety of old store merchandise from a business that lasted 96 years. There's also an assortment of personal items from two generations of the Japanese-American Murakami family.

A new exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum invites us to experience Australia like we never have before: through the eyes of Aboriginal artists whose culture is considered to be one of the oldest in the world.

More than 100 paintings, sculptures and photographs are featured in this first-of-its kind show on the West Coast. The exhibit is called "Ancestral Modern," a title that relates to the fact that Aboriginal culture is at least 50,000 years old but the artwork on display is no more than 40 years old.

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.

Jessica Martin

On stage at ACT Theater is a play about two inmates and their different outlooks on life. One man is on Death Row and has found God. The other is facing attempted murder charges and has lost faith.

The play is called "Jesus Hopped the A Train." It was written by Stephen Adly Guirgis and world premiered in New York in 2000.

Now it's in Seattle, in a production by a Seattle company called Azeotrope that thrives on material that's edgy and provocative.

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