This Fall’s Most Buzzworthy Arts and Culture Events
All the events in art, music and more you need to know about.
By Gwendolyn Elliott, Max Rose, D. Scully, Stephen Strom, Caroline Craighead
September 6, 2017
We enter another bustling arts season, and like so many others, it’s filled with exciting performances and can’t-miss openings to fill our calendars clear through December. Even as the events unfolding on the political stage grow wearisome, new works and compelling ideas presented within the arts arena offer a look at the world that feels especially vital and fresh.
In a world of so much noise, it’s with some relief that we can turn to artists, makers and writers for the clarity of vision their work can reveal, and the wisdom found in their inspiration. When art moves us, there’s transcendence in that—a respite we hope each of you find this fall.
THE BEST IN VISUAL ARTS
In this show, titled Equivalence, the Seattle-based photographer and artist blends interior and exterior landscapes in color prints, using light, shadow and symmetry to blur the line between real and surreal worlds. Times vary. Free. Greg Kucera Gallery, Pioneer Square, 212 Third Ave. S; 206.624.0770
Zaria Forman’s Antarctica shines a light on planet Earth’s most unforgiving continent (to which she had a front row seat during a four week art residency on the National Geographic Explorer). Her lifelike drawings of the fluctuating landscape and massive slabs of ancient ice capture the magnificence of the rapidly changing ecosystem. Times vary. Free. Winston Wächter Fine Art, South Lake Union, 203 Dexter Ave. N; 206.652.5855
Notions of Home
As more people face housing issues in Seattle, the notion of “home” has become uncertain for many. In this exhibit, locally and nationally acclaimed photographers—such as Corey Arnold, Lisa Kereszi and Will Austin—document what home means to them. Times vary. Free. Photographic Center Northwest, Capitol Hill, 900 12th Ave.; 206.720.7222
Meditations on Paper features 19 images from Czech Republic–based photographer Hana Hamplová, whose work, inspired by a story by Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, is based on the importance of the written word and emphasizes how easily documents, and with them, generational knowledge, can be lost. Times vary. Free. Frye Art Museum, First Hill, 704 Terry Ave.; 206.622.9250
In his first Seattle exhibition, this Denver-based painter shows two series: “The American RevolutionRevolution” and “The American __tier,” both featuring classical 18th- and 19th- century style portraits juxtaposed with modern-day verbiage typically found on the internet and social media (think “LOL” and “OMG”). The two series question how technological advancements affect our values as American citizens. Times vary. Free. Foster/White Gallery, Pioneer Square, 220 Third Ave. S; 206.622.2833
A SAM exhibition explores the painter’s life and work
Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Wyeth’s birth, and this show looks at the artist’s 75-year career—the first to do so since his death in 2009. A recluse and self-described “secretive bastard,” the artist cut his own path as an American painter who challenged various notions of realism throughout his life’s work. This exhibition, says curator Patricia Junker, will help illuminate Wyeth’s defining role as one of the most recognized American painters of the 20th century, even though he wasn’t always seen that way. “Fifty years ago, Wyeth’s art was considered old fashioned in contrast with abstract expressionist painting. But we’ve come back to figurative art in a big way, recognizing how the face and the figure engage us on a deeply human level,” Junker explains.
The show is chronologically structured and features 110 works, from the artist’s greatest paintings, such as “Christina Olson” (1947), to lesser-known work, created during the significant phases of his life. The exhibition also includes rarities, such as Wyeth’s final painting, completed just before his death. “The goal was to show that this unrelenting realist evolved and changed, sometimes quite dramatically, over time,” Junker says. “If you think you know Wyeth’s art from the examples we see reproduced and hanging in the well-known museums, I feel certain you will come away from this exhibition totally surprised.” Times and prices vary. Seattle Art Museum, downtown, 1300 First Ave.; 206 625.8900
Walter McConnell’s unique, unfired clay installations address the relationship between nature and culture. In this exhibit, Itinerant Edens, McConnell shows molded clay sculptures of himself, his father and his nephew. The figures in each life-size sculpture have been created from live models using a full-body 3-D scanner. Times and prices vary. Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, 510 Bellevue Way NE; 425.519.0770
CoCA Marathon & Auction
For a 24-hour period, more than 20 artists will gather at Pioneer Square’s Elysian Fields to produce more than 100 new works of art (you can watch the artists at work while having a beer) for the Center on Contemporary Art’s (CoCA) 25th annual art marathon. The following day, each piece will be auctioned at the same venue after a sumptuous seated dinner. Times and prices vary. Elysian Fields, Pioneer Square, 542 First Ave. S; 206.728.1980; cocaseattle.org
The Time. The Place. Contemporary Art from the Collection.
In celebration of 90 years, join the Henry Art Gallery for its first museum-wide contemporary art exhibition. The artworks, by more than 50 international artists, vary in mediums from photography, video, sculpture and drawing, all exploring the conditions of contemporary social and cultural life. From images of street-filled Vietnam War protests to Wild West interiors, this exhibition emphasizes time and place. Times and prices vary. Henry Art Gallery, University District, 4100 15th Ave. NE; 206.543.2280
Seattle on the Spot: The Photographs of Al Smith celebrates 65 years of the late Seattle photographer’s documentation of the Central District and Seattle’s African-American community. Take a peek at the city’s rich African-American history through his intimate perspective. Times and prices vary. Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), South Lake Union, 860 Terry Ave. N; 206.324.1126
THE BEST IN THEATER
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
The best-known work of author and poet Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings chronicles her journey into adulthood through childhood abuse, her experience of racism and ultimately, her triumph as she finds her voice. This Book-It Repertory Theatre production is adapted by founding co-artistic director Myra Platt and directed by up-and-comer Malika Oyetimein (of Intiman’s recent, well-received Barbecue). Times and prices vary. Center Theatre, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.; 206.216.0833
Into the Woods
In James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award–winning musical, the stories of Little Red, Cinderella, Jack and Rapunzel are turned upside down. The charm and strength of this production lie in the humorous, nuanced dimensions of these iconic fairy tale characters. Directed by Tony- and Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal). Times and prices vary. Village Theatre, Issaquah, 303 Front St.; 425.392.2202
Pride and Prejudice
This world-premiere production promises to breathe new life into a classic love story, while keeping the era’s extravagant Regency-era costumes intact. “This isn’t your grandmother’s Austen (although your grandma might like it),” says playwright Kate Hamill, who created this new adaptation. “I wanted to make [Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy] slightly more human, two slightly socially awkward, slightly too-clever people who fall in love.” It’s directed by Amanda Dehnert of critically acclaimed productions at Rhode Island’s Trinity Repertory Company and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Times and prices vary. Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center, 155 Mercer St.; 206.443.2222
Arthur Miller’s 1953 classic is a partially fictionalized retelling of the Salem witch trials in the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the 1600s and a thinly veiled critique of Joseph McCarthy’s Communist witch hunts of the late 1940s and ’50s. Its themes of false accusations and mass hysteria are timeless, whether applied to tactics used during “the red scare” or today’s “alternative facts” political climate. The cast includes 2017 ACT core company members Khanh Doan, Anne Allgood and Ray Tagavilla, as well as former ACT artistic director Kurt Beattie and his wife, actor Marianne Owen. Times and prices vary. ACT – A Contemporary Theatre, downtown, 700 Union St.; 206.292.7676
Photograph by Mark Kitaoka. A cinematic flop that earned a loyal following, Newsies, The Musical comes to the Village Theatre in November.
Newsies is perhaps the least likely Disney musical to be adapted for the stage (it was a commercial flop when it opened in 1992), yet since that time, the movie has gathered a solid and loyal following. Its songs are by Alan Mencken (who also composed music for the movie), and the book is by Harvey Fierstein. The show will run in Issaquah and Everett using the same cast, production team, actors, sets, costumes and some of the same crew. Times and prices vary. Village Theatre, Issaquah, 303 Front St., 425.392.2202; Everett, 2710 Wetmore Ave., 425.257.8600
Adapted from the smash film of 1992, this musical revolves around Frank Farmer, a former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard who is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron. Kevin Costner and Whitney Huston may not be a part of this production, but The Bodyguard’s best-selling song, “I Will Always Love You,” will be. Starring Grammy Award nominee and R&B superstar Deborah Cox, whom many know from her 1998 hit, “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here.” Times and prices vary. Paramount Theatre, downtown, 911 Pine St.; 206.682.1414
Winner of the 2016 Tony Award for Best Play, The Humans is Stephen Karam’s hysterical and heartbreaking take on our modern age of anxiety as the audience eavesdrops on the Blake family over the course of a family Thanksgiving dinner in a lowly Manhattan apartment. Karam is the author of Speech & Debate, columbinus and Sons of the Prophet, a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and the recipient of the 2012 Drama Critics Circle Awards for Best Play. The production was directed by Joe Mantello (Wicked, Take Me Out, Assassins) and produced as part of the official Broadway national tour. Times and prices vary. Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center, 155 Mercer St.; 206.443.2222
Howl’s Moving Castle
The world premiere of a new musical production based on Diana Wynne Jones’ well-loved fantasy novel that was made into an Academy Award–nominated, 2004 animated feature by Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro), this staging promises a special brand of whimsy. The Book-It Repertory Theatre production is adapted and directed by founding co-artistic director Myra Platt, with music and lyrics by Justin Huertas (the mastermind behind the semiautobiographical musical play Lizard Boy). Times and prices vary. Center Theatre, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.; 206.216.0833
Photograph by Brigitte Lacombe. The Humans’ original Broadway cast, including Reed Birney, Sarah Steele, Jayne Houdyshell and Arian Moayed, star in Seattle Repertory’s production, beginning November 17.
Save the Date
Although we’re only heading into fall, it’s not too early to start thinking about next season’s biggest show—Hamilton—and how you might score tickets to see it. The smash Broadway musical about American founding father Alexander Hamilton will visit the Paramount Theatre (downtown, 911 Pine St.; 206.682.1414; stgpresents.org) as part of its U.S. tour February 6–March 18, 2018. Season tickets—the only way to guarantee tickets—are sold out and it had not been announced at press time when (or if) more tickets would be released, so we suggest joining Seattle Theatre Group’s weekly enews blast (stgpresents.org/enews/signup) to be notified when tickets become available.
THE BEST IN DANCE
Velocity Fall Kick-Off
Velocity Dance Center’s fall season kicks off with a weekend of innovative contemporary dance, featuring multidisciplinary performer KT Niehoff, choreographer Kate Wallich and members of local ensemble Whim W’him. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Velocity Dance Center, Capitol Hill, 1621 12th Ave.; 206.325.8773
One of the first pioneers of vertical performances, Oakland, California’s Bandaloop turns the dance floor on its side—literally. Known to perform on skyscrapers, bridges and monuments, Bandaloop brings its gravity-defying company to Seattle, with work set to music by composer Gabriel Prokofiev. 8 p.m. Prices vary. Meany Hall, University of Washington, 4140 George Washington Lane NE; 206.543.4880
Joanna Kotze and two other dancers will perform her piece “It Happened It Had Happened It Is Happening It Will Happen,” which explores themes of order, structure and classification, along with what’s billed as “the character of the unnamable, vulnerable and imaginable.” 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Velocity Dance Center, Capitol Hill, 1621 12th Ave.; 206.325.8773
Her Story, performed by the Pacific Northwest Ballet, combines the work of three renowned female choreographers: Twyla Tharp’s raw and breathtaking “Afternoon Ball”; Jessica Lang’s “Her Door to the Sky,” inspired by a series of Georgia O’Keeffe paintings; and Crystal Pite’s “Plot Point,” a ballet set to Bernard Herrmann’s soundtrack for the Hitchcock classic Psycho. Times and prices vary. McCaw Hall, Seattle Center, 321 Mercer St.; 206.441.2424
The critically acclaimed Israeli dance company L-E-V presents “OCD Love,” a new creation about love out of sync. The expressive and fiercely talented ensemble is accompanied by the music of techno DJ Ori Lichtick. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. The Moore Theatre, downtown, 1932 Second Ave.; 206.467.5510
Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba
This 25-year-old, Havana-based dance and orchestra outfit presents Cuba Vibra! a series of dance vignettes that capture the essence of Afro-Cuban dance as it has evolved from the 1950s to today. 8 p.m. Prices vary. Meany Hall, University of Washington, 4140 George Washington Lane NE; 206.543.4880
THE BEST IN READING/TALKS
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner Mike Love, of The Beach Boys, will sign his memoir Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy, which details the group’s rise from California roots to international fame. 7 p.m. Free. University Book Store, University District, 4326 University Way NE; 206.634.3400
Dinner at the Center of the Earth, a political thriller that takes place in the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is the latest offering from Nathan Englander. The Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of the PEN/Malamud Award for short stories will be visiting Seattle to promote the novel. 7 p.m. Elliott Bay Book Company, Capitol Hill, 1521 10th Ave.; 206.624.6600
The Atlantic writer Franklin Foer will discuss his book World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech, which explores the history of computer science and argues that large corporations like Amazon, Google and Facebook are threatening intellectual privacy and leading to the homogenization of social and political life. 7 p.m. Elliott Bay Book Company, Capitol Hill, 1521 10th Ave.; 206.624.6600
Nicole Krauss—named as one of Granta magazine’s Best Young American Novelists—discusses her newest work of fiction, Forest Dark, which details the crossing paths of two Americans, one a young mother and novelist, and the other a retired lawyer jaded from his recent divorce, as they travel throughout Israel. 7 p.m. Elliott Bay Book Company, 1521 10th Ave.; 206.624.6600
Named as one of the 12 new faces of black leadership by Time, author and TV show host Janet Mock will discuss her life as a transgender woman as detailed in her second memoir, Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me, as a part of Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Women You Need to Know series. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.621.2230
Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh
Bring your sweet tooth to this talk by British chef Yotam Ottolenghi—whose cookbooks have won two James Beard awards—and his co-chef, Helen Goh, as they launch their new book, Sweet, which includes 120 recipes for desserts and baked goods. Times and prices vary. Stroum Jewish Community Center, Mercer Island, 3801 E Mercer Way; 206.232.7115
Art Garfunkel, half of the Grammy Award–winning folk-rock duo Simon and Garfunkel, will be in Seattle to celebrate his newly released memoir, What Is It All but Luminous: Notes from an Underground Man, which tells of his life before and after the duo’s success. 7:30 p.m. $34. Neptune Theatre, University District, 1303 NE 45th St.; 206.682.1414
With nine collections of poetry that have won six Pushcart Prizes and a 2014 Pacific Northwest Book Award, celebrated poet Robert Wrigley—who studied under famous Seattle poet Richard Hugo at the University of Montana—will read from his latest work, Box. 7 p.m. Free. Open Books, Wallingford, 2414 N 45th St.; 206.633.0811
Novelist Armistead Maupin—whose series of novels, Tales of the City, is set in San Francisco and alludes to many famous figures, such as Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson—will speak to The Seattle Review of Books cofounder Paul Constant about his work as a writer and activist as detailed in his new memoir, Logical Family. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.246.6040
Famous for capturing touching stories on his popular portrait blog, Humans of New York, and in his book of the same name, Brandon Stanton will share his insight on storytelling, the power of social media and his own personal story. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.246.6040
Author Amy Tan, whose touching works of fiction, such as The Joy Luck Club, delve into relationships in Chinese-American immigrant families, will speak about her childhood, family history and the inspiration for her newly published memoir, Where the Past Begins. 7 p.m. Free. Seattle Public Library, downtown, 1000 Fourth Ave.; 206.386.4636
Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Eugenides, famous for his fiction, which includes Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides, will read from his new collection of short stories, Fresh Complaint, which explores a variety of people in the midst of personal change. Presented by The Elliott Bay Book Company and the Seattle Public Library. 7 p.m. Free. Seattle First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill, 1111 Harvard Ave.; 206.624.6660
Adding to his 11 books, Kevin Young—the poetry editor of The New Yorker magazine—will delve into his latest nonfiction work, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, to investigate the newest phenomenon of post-truth American politics. 7:30 p.m. $10. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.621.2230
2017–2018 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Lily Baumgart’s top picks on Seattle’s literary scene this fall.
Baumgart calls Nikki Giovanni—winner of seven NAACP Image Awards and named one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 Legends—“an inspiration to aspiring poets.” Giovanni visits Seattle in support of her newest poetry collection, A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter, for a discussion led by novelist and poet Sherman Alexie. 10/27. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.215.4800; lectures.org
Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose 2015 book, Between the World and Me, won the National Book Award, will discuss his new collection of essays on Barack Obama’s presidency, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy. Coates, a memoirist, comic book writer and journalist, “is a great example of not being confined to one genre,” says Baumgart. ”I hope that he touches on what it is like to write in such different capacities.” 11/5. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.215.4800; lectures.org
Prolific Chilean-American author Isabel Allende—awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014—will speak of her literary career and her commitment to empowering women worldwide through her foundation. Baumgart likes reading Allende’s work as a break from reading poetry. “I think that it’s important for writers to read all types of writing,” says Baumgart. “I just started [Allende’s novel] La isla bajo el mar to help me keep up with my Spanish.” 11/28. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.215.4800; lectures.org
THE BEST IN MUSIC
Lang Lang in Recital
Award-winning composer and pianist Lang Lang’s genre-hopping collaborations range from Metallica and Herbie Hancock to renowned conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle and Christoph Eschenbach. But he really likes the classics, so expect some Liszt and Chopin, too. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.215.4747
Photograph by Crackerfarm. The Humans’ original Broadway cast, including Reed Birney, Sarah Steele, Jayne Houdyshell and Arian Moayed, star in Seattle Repertory’s production, beginning November 17.
“I’m never going to make anything other than a country record,” Simpson said in response to criticism of his 2016 self-produced, funk-inflected album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, recorded with the brass section of Sharon Jones’ The Dap-Kings. When he’s not deflecting flack, his many fans tend to think he’s the best thing to happen to country music in decades. 7 p.m. Prices vary. Marymoor Park, Redmond, 6046 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy. NE; 888.929.7849
Barber of Seville
Gioachino Rossini’s iconic opera, which some consider to be the boisterous prequel to Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, finds young Figaro helping Count Almaviva whisk away the beautiful Rosina. Full of colorful costumes and sets that capture the spirit of southern Spain, the enduringly funny Barber of Seville brings Lindy Hume, renowned international director from Australia, back to Seattle for this production. Times and prices vary. McCaw Hall, Seattle Center, 321 Mercer St.; 206.389.7676
The Canadian indie rock supergroup, known for its soaring melodies, propulsive rhythms and stratospheric harmonies, visits the Key on its Everything Now tour, named for its fifth studio album released in July. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Key Arena, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.; 206.684.7200
He’s been compared to Mel Gibson because of his looks, but he also rivals the actor’s penchant for antics (he’s known to outfit the ladies of his entire Johann Strauss Orchestra in Disney princess-style gowns). Take in the quirky conductor’s style and a suite of sumptuous Austrian waltzes when the maestro visits our sister city to the south. 8 p.m. Prices vary. Tacoma Dome, Tacoma, 2727 East D St.; 253.272.3663
11/17–11/19, 11/21–11/22, 11/24–11/26
The blues legend visits Seattle for his annual Thanksgiving residency, this time without his erstwhile tour companion Keb’ Mo’ (the pair brought their TajMo tour to Benaroya Hall this past June). But at 75, Taj can still hold his own and remains nimble with his picking skills. He’ll be joined by the usual suspects, Bill Rich (bass) and Kester Smith (drums), as he has been for decades. Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, downtown, 2033 Sixth Ave.; 206.441.9729
Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn
Dubbed the “king and queen of the banjo” by Paste magazine, this musical duo shares a love of the four-string and a marriage. Fleck, a 16-time Grammy Award winner, and Washburn, who has redefined the down-picking style of the clawhammer banjo, will perform in support of their 2016 Grammy Award–winning Best Folk Album, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn. 8 p.m. Prices vary. The Moore Theatre, downtown, 1932 Second Ave.; 206.467.5510
In light of its upcoming seventh studio album, Sleep Well Beast, the award-winning indie rock band from Cincinnati kicks off its world tour in Ireland before making its way to Seattle, with frontman Matt Berninger’s iconic, brooding vocals leading the way. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. The Paramount Theatre, downtown, 911 Pine St.; 206.682.1414
Points of interest on the city’s music radar
Ballard’s annual Macefield Music Festival, which usually takes place on the first weekend of October, has shifted focus from its neighborhood-wide weekend takeover of haunts like the Tractor and the Sunset taverns to a series of “Macefield Presents” shows, in preparation for a “refined, revamped” 2018 Macefield Fest, according to organizers. Details about the shows were still sparse at press time.
When Hotel Theodore opens downtown in November, look for a floor designed with a Light in the Attic Records theme—a nod to the Seattle-based reissue label (which operates its retail record store in KEXP-FM’s gathering space). The label is known for re-releasing cult albums by Lee Hazelwood, Rodriguez and others.
Longtime KEXP-FM DJ Sharlese Metcalf has teamed up with Seattle-based music promoter Levi Fuller on his Ball of Wax local music-compilation quarterly, which will issue its 50th volume sometime in the late fall. Songs and projects by women are the focus. Metcalf, who hosts the station’s weekly showcase of local music, Audioasis, says local female and female-identifying artists “need more platforms to be uplifted.”
Former Canlis pianist Walt Wagner—who retired last fall after 20 years behind the keys at the iconic Seattle restaurant—is releasing Live at Canlis, by Sub Pop, in November. The album was recorded during the pianist’s final show and features his covers of Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, Prince and others. “This won’t be your grandmother’s Walt Wagner,” his website promises.
Fleet Foxes—the Seattle-based group that arguably launched the indie folk revolution of the mid- to late aughts—will visit the Paramount for two shows (9/14–9/15; 8 p.m.; ticket prices vary; stgpresents.org) in support of its new album, Crack-Up. It’s a milestone for the group: its first release in six years since front man Robin Pecknold put the group on hiatus and former drummer Josh Tillman left (to emerge as Father John Misty); it’s also the band’s first release on the Nonesuch label, and marks the band’s second Seattle appearance in that time (the first was back in May).