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 Seattle Opera

You don't expect to find a banjo in the orchestra pit at Seattle Opera. But there it is, getting warmed up by John Patrick Lowrie, a half-hour before showtime for "Porgy and Bess."

From the first day of rehearsal, Lowrie made an impression upon the orchestra.

Charla Bear / KPLU

Native Americans have struggled to hang onto their cultures for decades. On August 20th, a local tribe will have a new resource to help.

The Tulalips are opening a cultural center on their reservation. It not only shares history the way the tribe sees it, but bridges the past with modern-day life.


When "West Side Story" opened in 1957 on Broadway, the audience's reaction was silence. Followed by applause.

"No Broadway musical ended with these deaths and this very sad young woman walking off the stage with her head bowed. That was just, 'Whoa!'" author Misha Berson explained.

Shizuka Yokomizo / Collection of Leslie Cohan, Minneapolis

The desire to be on the public stage is on display right now at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. It’s called “The Talent Show.” The exhibit raises a lot of questions ranging from how much should we put on display to what happens to our images once they are out there.

It’s easy to forget how much effort went in to trying to be seen by the public eye.

Photo by Florangela Davila

What inspires bands to make music? For Recess Monkey, it’s the lives of kindergarteners and grade schoolers.

All three musicians – Drew Holloway, Jack Forman and Daron Henry – in the band teach at Seattle elementary schools. And they're having anything but a sleepy summer: playing gigs and promoting their latest CD, "Flying" is on their agenda.

Florangela Davila / KPLU

Seattle’s Occidental Park is a leafy oasis in the middle of the city. It’s now also the site of a whimsical installation where all 27 trees and 16 lamp posts and 57 short poles are dressed up in yarn.

Bo Nash / Flickr

Memphis, Tenn., is known as the birthplace of rock 'n roll. But KPLU's Nick Morrison says it should also be known for the blues.

Nick gives five examples of how Memphis and its neighbor, West Memphis, Ark., rank right up there with the Mississippi Delta and Chicago when it comes to launching the careers of influential blues artists.

Photo by Chris Bennion

Seattle playwright Yussef El Guindi usually delves into heavy stuff: racial profiling and terrorism.

But his new play, "Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World," which is having its world premiere at Seattle's ACT Theatre, is a romantic comedy.

Musa is an Egyptian immigrant who picks up a woman named Sheri in his cab on a late night in New York City.

Photo by Florangela Davila

There's a downside to hanging out at the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA) and that is, you start to feel really boring.

There's Nickolai Pirak, an expert juggler. And Erica Rubinstein, who basically juggles people.

"If you can imagine a 12-foot-long bar that’s kind of like a beam and a trampoline, but supported by people. Our flier stands in the middle of the bar," Rubinstein says.

Charla Bear / KPLU

It’s been more than nine months since a Seattle police officer killed First Nations woodcarver John T. Williams, and tensions are still running high among Native Americans. They say the shooting brings up the long history of brutality Native people have faced.

The anxiety has also affected children, who’ve had a tough time putting Williams’ death in perspective.

This coming weekend, a local theater group will debut a performance to help young Native Americans move forward, starting with a look at the past.

The art of disaster

May 29, 2011
Charles Krafft

When you think of porcelain, your grandmother’s fancy dishes might come to mind. The ones that are taken out of the cabinet only for Thanksgiving and other special holidays. Or maybe you own a beautiful china vase.

There are a lot of delicate dishes and trinkets in the home of Seattle artist Charles Krafft. But his pieces go beyond pastels and pretty flowers.

Krafft has made a career out of messing with our expectations of ceramic art. Pouring tea from one of his teapots or eating from one of Krafft’s plates might make you lose your appetite.

Florangela Davila

If you’re crazy about films, then this is the time of year when you’re over the moon. Over 25 days, the Seattle International Film Festival shows 450 movies at 20 venues in and around Seattle.
Among the ordinary festival-goer is a special type of film fan: those who don’t sleep, mow the lawn, or spend time with friends or family unless they’re with them at the movies.

These are the approximately 400 folks who have a full series pass, who may see around 100 films or so per festival.

A few tips if you wish to be this die-hard:

Courtesy of Hedgebrook

On Whidbey Island, among the evergreens, sits Hedgebrook, a writers retreat solely for women. Nestled on 48 acres, women writers, like feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem, have been seeking solitude at the property since 1988. It's a piece of land that many say is a source of creative power.

Recently, young women playwrights have been honing their works with only the sounds of the surrounding forest to interrupt their writing. They've been invited to Whidbey Island to join in the Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival.

For  KPLU's weekly Artscape series, I travelled to Hedgebrook to talk to two of the writers about their work.

Florangela Davila / KPLU

Throughout Seattle, on any given night, you can find some place hosting karaoke, which means “empty orchestra” in Japanese.

There’s karaoke in friendly community halls in Greenwood; in swanky clubs on Capitol Hill; in private rooms underneath cutesy bubble tea houses in the I-D.

Ursa Waz

Modern life can be difficult to live without help from our smart-phones and other gadgets. Apple is at the forefront of this technology and its users are often incredibly loyal. But a new show by monologist Mike Daisey at the Seattle Repertory Theater raises the point that all of this beautiful design and convenience comes at a cost to factory workers in China.

The production is called “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.”