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Seattle Fall Arts Calendar 2018: Words, Music, Theater, Visual Art, Dance, Film, Venues, More

Everything you need to know about art in Seattle this fall

By Gwendolyn Elliott August 21, 2018


This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Seattle magazine.

This article appears in print in the September 2018 issue. Read more from the Fall Arts Preview feature story hereClick here to subscribe.

By Gwendolyn Elliott, Gavin Borchert, Danielle Hayden, Austin Iverson, Maggie Kerr, Alanna Wight. Portraits by Hayley Young & Alex Crook.


Take your pick of indie comics at short Run Comix & Arts Festival. Photo by Alida Bevirt

Short Run Comix & Arts Festival
More than 280 top-tier comic book artists, writers, illustrators and small-press publishers from around the world gather at Fisher Pavilion at the eighth annual Short Run Comix & Arts Festival, a celebration of what organizers call “the intimate experience of holding a book in your hands.” Among the exhibitors and presenters are award-winning children’s book author Jessixa Bagley, local comic artist David Lasky, Gramma editor Colleen Louise Barry (see here), and animator and artist Clyde Petersen. Performances, panel discussions, live screen-printing and more fill this beloved book-focused fixture of the fall season. 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Free. Fisher Pavilion, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.;

Ampersand Live
Land-conservation nonprofit Forterra’s Ampersand magazine hosts this annual “Bumbershoot” for nature lovers, tree huggers and science nerds (basically, Seattleites). Featuring music, dance and performance, this all-local live show (hosted this year by theater artist Jéhan Òsanyìn) brings the stories of the magazine to life; brass quartet The Westerlies, dance artist Zoe Scofield, wildlife photographer David Moskowitz and 2017 Seattle mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver are all scheduled to participate. 6 p.m. $15. The Moore Theatre, downtown, 1932 Second Ave.; 206.682.1414;

Alice Walker. Photo by Ana Elena

Reading Rodeo
Rounding up this season’s must-see author appearances

An impressive lineup of authors (and illustrators) visit Benaroya Hall this season (many brought to town by Seattle Arts & Lectures), including Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau (10/14) with his latest collection of strips, #SAD!: Doonesbury in the Time of Trump. Can modern society handle These Truths: A History of the United States, Jill Lepore’s new novel (10/12)? Political mediator Van Jones, author of Beyond the Messy Truth, offers a voice of reason (10/10). Neil Gaiman promises to “amaze, befuddle and generally delight” with all-around literary debauchery (11/18). La creadora de El Color Púrpura, Alice Walker shares new bilingual poetry, Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart (10/4). Barbara Kingsolver poses more new-age conundrums in her latest novel, Unsheltered (10/25). And David Sedaris gets personal (natch) with selections from his latest book, Calypso (11/19). Times and prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.215.4800;,

Neil deGrasse Tyson. Courtesy STG

Elsewhere, enter the conversation involving science and the military as Neil deGrasse Tyson and cowriter Avis Lang speak about their new novel, Accessory to War (11/26–11/27). 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Paramount Theatre, downtown, 911 Pine St.; 206.682.1414;

In Sally Field’s debut memoir, In Pieces, she reveals “the craft that helped her find her voice” (10/1). Expect Monty Python’s Eric Idle to expound on his own craft in his new autobiography, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (10/8). 7 p.m. Prices vary. University Temple United Methodist Church, University District, 1415 NE 43rd St.; 800.335.7323;

At Elliott Bay Book Company, naturalist Sy Montgomery will read from her new book, How to Be a Good Creature (10/6), about the animals that changed her life; Ben Fountain chats with Maria Semple about events in America that have changed our lives, explored in his new tome, Beautiful Country Burn Again (10/18); and Jonathan Franzen, in an appearance yet to be confirmed, discusses his new book, a subject on everyone’s mind these days, The End of the End of the Earth (11/19). Times and prices TBD. Elliott Bay Book Company, Capitol Hill, 1521 10th Ave.; 206.624.6600; – Maggie Kerr

Coming to Seattle: royal wedding cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Photo by Lars Borges


By Gavin Borchert and Alanna Wight

Earshot Jazz Festival
Seattle’s annual festival of jazz returns for its 30th year with a spotlight on the genre’s top female performers, including celebrated violinist Regina Carter, vocalist Jazzmeia Horn, British saxophonist YolanDa Brown, harpist Brandee Younger and composer Maria Schneider, among the event’s many others. This year’s resident artist is Brazilian jazz pianist Jovino Santos Neto. Times, prices and locations vary. 206.547.6763;

The Turn of the Screw
A small orchestra of just 13 musicians intensifies the creepy intimacy of Benjamin Britten’s 1954 opera, in which two children in an English country house are menaced by a ghost—or is their governess just going crazy? Or both? Times and prices vary. Seattle Opera, McCaw Hall, Seattle Center, 321 Mercer St.; 206.389.7676;

Marc-André Hamelin
with a musical curiosity as unquenchable as his technique is unsurpassable, this pianist’s eclectic recital program matches standards by Bach and Chopin with arrangements of songs by French pop chansonnier Charles Trenet. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Meany Center, University of Washington, 4140 George Washington Lane NE; 206.543.4880;

Sheku Kanneh-Mason
He caught the world’s ear when he played for Harry and Meghan’s wedding, and the Seattle Symphony snapped him up. The 19-year-old
cellist makes his U.S. debut playing Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo Variations.” Times and prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.215.4747;

Mateo Messina
This West Seattle native, now a busy film and TV composer, returns yearly with an evening of original orchestral music, plus surprises, to raise money for Seattle Children’s Hospital—$2 million to date. “The Feast” is this year’s concert theme, and Tom Douglas is just one of the food-industry guests. 8 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.215.4747;

Brooklyn Rider
Composer Caroline Shaw startled the classical world when she won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Music—both for the enrapturing oddness of her composition Partita for Eight Voices and because she wasn’t a white male over 60. Seattle gets to hear her twice this season: a new piano concerto for the Seattle Symphony next January and a new piece for her adventurous string quartet, Brooklyn Rider, which will combine it with Beethoven. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Meany Center, University of Washington, 4140 George Washington Lane NE; 206.543.4880;

Barrett Martin Group
Grammy-winning producer, composer and legendary grunge-era drummer Barrett Martin visits the Royal Room with his all-star avant-garde jazz ensemble, featuring Evan Flory-Barnes on bass and Thione Diop on African drums. His second album, The Quality of Fire, is set for release in January 2019. 9 p.m. $15. Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave. S; 206.906.9920;

Childish Gambino. Photo by Ibra Ake

Just the Hits
Notable pop and indie stars in Seattle this season

Florence and the Machine, 9/10: The firebrand English vocalist returns to Seattle with band and fourth studio album, High as Hope, in tow. 7 p.m. Prices vary. KeyArena, 305 Harrison St.; 206.684.7200; Childish Gambino, 9/29: He can sing, write, act, dance, produce and launch an endless stream of viral videos; what can’t the Grammy-, Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning Donald Glover do? 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. KeyArena, 305 Harrison St.; 206.684.7200; Beyoncé and Jay-Z, 10/4: In support of June’s joint album, Everything Is Love, hip-hop’s ultimate power couple returns to Seattle on their “On the Run II” tour. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. CenturyLink Field, 800 Occidental Ave. S; 206.381.7848; Neko Case, 11/29: The always exceptional alt-country crooner and onetime Seattleite visits in support of her seventh studio album, Hell-On. 8 p.m. Prices vary. The Paramount Theatre, downtown, 911 Pine St.; 206.467.5510;


By Gavin Borchert

And in This Corner: Cassius Clay
Although for a time he was literally the most famous man in the world, Muhammad Ali had to start somewhere, and Idris Goodwin’s play for ages 9 and older examines the early life of “The Greatest,” exploring how the ugliness he faced in Louisville, Kentucky, during the Jim Crow era forged both his magnetic flamboyance and his social conscience. Times and prices vary. Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Center, 201 Thomas St.; 206.441.3322;

It was Bartlett Sher, the Intiman’s former artistic director (and 2008 Tony winner), who made this 2017 Tony winner possible: He introduced playwright J.T. Rogers to Norwegian diplomat Terje Rød-Larsen, who had helped negotiate the 1993 Israel/PLO peace accords, inspiring Rogers to turn that dramatic story of human ambition and world-changing history into a play. Times and prices vary. ACT – A Contemporary Theatre, downtown, 700 Union St.; 206.292.7676;

A People’s History
The new solo show by Mike Daisey, muckraking enemy of conventional wisdom, is actually 18 shows: a series of evening-length monologues based
on Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and examining the reality behind what your high school textbooks told you. Times and prices
vary. Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center, 155 Mercer St.; 206.443.2222;

A Bright Room Called Day
In Tony Kushner’s play—presented by The Williams Project, a local theater ensemble producing work by and akin to Tennessee Williams—the dangerous rhetoric of a newly elected president and his dismantling of democratic institutions spur a group of artists to consider their consciences and how to resist. It’s set in Berlin 1932. Why, when did you think it was set? Times and prices vary. Hillman City Collaboratory, Hillman City, 5623 Rainier Ave. S;

My Ántonia
Book-it transforms Willa Cather’s lyrical tale of a Czech farm woman and the idealistic young man who tells her story. It should make for interesting discussions of what it meant for Cather—who, growing up, liked to be addressed as “William”—to view a female character through a male narrator’s eyes. Times and prices vary. Book-It Repertory Theater, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.; 206.216.0833; g.b.

Zinzanni Rides Again

Seattle’s celebrated dinner cabaret opens its 20th-anniversary season with new cast members, new acts and a new world headquarters in Woodinville. Not going anywhere are its high-flying aerialists, hoop artists, quirky storylines and a menu curated by James Beard Award–winning chef Jason Wilson. Season opens 11/1. Times and prices vary. Teatro ZinZanni, Redmond, 4025 21st Ave. W; 206.802.0015;

Dueling Jane Eyres
How this season’s two versions are different

Book-It is going feminist: “Jane is not defined by the men in her world, nor does she accept the limiting doctrines and social norms of her day.” 9/13–10/14. Times and prices vary. Book-It Repertory Theater, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.; 206.216.0833;

ArtsWest, presenting Paul Gordon’s 1995 musical version, is going romantic: “Strange voices from the attic and dark secrets from the past spark flames of fate that could consume them all. With sweeping music…Charlotte Brontë’s classic love story soars to life.” 11/15–12/23. ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery, West Seattle, 4711 California Ave. SW; 206.938.0963;

Come from Away returns to Seattle this fall. Photo by Matthew Murphy

The Really Big Shows
Charting the season’s Broadway-conquering musical offerings

Come from Away was born in Ontario, but Seattle created it and sent it off to circle the globe. It’s the poignant and uplifting story of what happened when 38 international flights were diverted to a small Newfoundland town on September 11, 2001. The musical, which has been playing on Broadway since February 2017, is returning home for a 10/9–11/4 run at The 5th Avenue Theatre, where it was first workshopped in 2014 (it was last staged in the city in 2015 in a co-production with Seattle Repertory Theatre). It’s a high point in the 2018-2019 season’s packed calendar of musical theater.

Our other picks: Waitress, in which singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles’ songs illuminate a story of bad decisions, big dreams and pie baking (9/11–9/16; Paramount Theatre, downtown, 911 Pine St.; 206.682.1414;; In the Heights, a high-energy slice of Bronx life by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda (11/23–12/30; Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center, 155 Mercer St.; 206.443.2222;; Matilda, based on Roald Dahl’s loopy fantasy about a girl who fights school tyranny with telekinesis (11/8–12/30; Village Theatre, Issaquah, 303 Front St. N; 425.392.2202;; Dear Evan Hansen, the winner of multiple Tony Awards for its acclaimed exploration of social alienation and suicide (1/23–2/2, 2019; Paramount Theatre, downtown, 911 Pine St.; 206.682.1414;; Urinetown, a Weill-esque satire of corporate rapaciousness—and of the musical genre itself (4/6–6/9, 2019; ACT – A Contemporary Theatre, downtown, 700 Union St.; 206.292.7676;; and West Side Story, in a collaboration between the 5th Avenue and Spectrum Dance theaters saluting Jerome Robbins’ and Leonard Bernstein’s dual centennials (5/31–6/23, 2019; 5th Avenue Theatre, downtown, 1308 Fifth Ave.; 206.625.1900;

SAM’s Peacock in the Desert features this 1853 opaque watercolor and gold on paper hunting scene. Courtesy Neil Greentree

Visual Art

By Gwendolyn Elliot and Alanna Wight

Quenton Baker, Ballast
Prize-winning Seattle poet Quenton Baker has created this provocative exhibit which considers the successful 1841 slave revolt aboard the slave ship Creole. (The enslaved Madison Washington commandeered the vessel, bound for Louisiana, to the British island of Nassau, where slavery was outlawed, gaining 135 people their freedom.) This spectacular story is explored using pages from the Senate document concerning the case, marked up to obscure or reveal select passages, creating what the Frye museum describes as “a layered text-and-image environment that amplifies a sense of oscillation between legibility and illegibility, and of loss or un-speakability within fragmented historical narratives.” Times vary. Free. Frye Art Museum, First Hill, 704 Terry Ave.; 206.622.9250;

Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India
SAM’s major fall exhibit collects exquisite royal artifacts—jewels, textiles, weapons, paintings, furnishings, wedding regalia (including elephant howdahs, or saddles) and more (most of which have never before left India)—spanning four centuries from the Marwar-Jodhpur kingdom in northwest India. Themes of this landmark traveling exhibit, which originated at Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, explore the connection of the royal family to its subjects, the role of artists and women in the culture, and how traditions changed over time. Times and prices vary. Seattle Art Museum, downtown, 1300 First Ave.; 206.654.3100;

Edgar Arceneaux: Library of Black Lies
11/17–Summer 2019
Los Angeles–based Arceneaux calls this house-like installation a “library and a labyrinth.” Entering the structure, viewers encounter a book library with titles that speak to “the ways we acquire knowledge…how America likes to share its history…how translation and transcription are always inherently interpretive.” Arceneaux explains that the piece is different from a maze because, while mazes are “designed to get lost in, labyrinths are designed for you to find yourself in the middle.” Times and prices vary. Henry Art Gallery, University District, 4100 15th Ave. NE; 206.543.2280;

BAM Biennial 2018: Glasstastic
This time, the Bellevue Arts Museum’s biennial showcase explores the one medium forever linked to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. But move over, Venetians and sea forms, this is glass like you’ve never seen it: an army of glass-beaded combat soldiers; angular, prismatic, see-through sculpture. Forty-eight emerging and established artists were selected to participate in this juried show with one awarded the top prize of $5,000 and a future solo exhibition at the museum. Times and prices vary. Bellevue Arts Museum, downtown Bellevue, 510 Bellevue Way NE; 425.519.0770;

Borealis Festival of Light
The Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) hosts this first U.S. festival at Lake Union Park, featuring the work of international and regional light artists working in video projection, neon, experimental modes and more. Approximately 20 installations comprise the event, punctuated by concurrent light-focused exhibits around town, such as Maja Petric’s We Are All Made of Light at MadArt Studio, which runs 10/5–12/1. Starts at dusk. Free. MOHAI, South Lake Union, 860 Terry Ave. N; 206.324.1126;

Margie Livingston, Sculpture
The founding member of Seattle artist collective Soil, Livingston pulls away another layer from her ever evolving process (she is a painter, sculptor and performance artist, among other roles) with this collection of acrylic-coated string and mixed-media sculptures and painted canvas frames she has taken to dragging across the city and through fields, strapped to her back with a harness. Times vary. Free. Greg Kucera Gallery, Pioneer Square, 212 Third Ave. S; 206.624.0770;

Georges Rouault, Miserere
You would be correct to think that this collection of the French, latter-day Impressionist’s prints are gloomy. The late New York curator Monroe Wheeler once wrote of them, “The message seems to be: Man’s fate upon earth is tragic. It is very hard for him to be sincere…. As a rule, his hope is folly.” These images, however, are rare, and their stark and graphic imagery indicative of a powerful time of contemplation. Times vary. Free. Davidson Gallery, Pioneer Square, 313 Occidental Ave. S; 206.624.7684;

Sarah McRae Morton
Animals—often oversize creatures, such as bears and whales—are the focus of many of this artist’s pieces, oil-on-canvas works whose feathery brushstrokes pull the viewer into dreamlike, mythical realms where horses ride men, canines take a seat at the table, and an imagination inspired by the natural world and its inhabitants goes on forever. Times vary. Free. Foster/White Gallery, Pioneer Square, 220 Third Ave. S; 206.622.2833;

Karin Stevens of Karin Stevens Dance performing earlier this year. Photo by Michelle Smith


By Gavin Borchert

Nrityagram Dance Ensemble
as much a commune as a dance company, the women of Indian classical dance collective Nrityagram live and study together in a holistic approach to dance training. As The New Yorker’s Joan Acocella put it, at their performances, “You get sensuality and majesty, emotion and philosophy, holiness and a good time.” 8 p.m. Ticket prices TBD. Meany Center, University of Washington, 4140 George Washington Lane NE; 206.543.4880;

Solo: A Festival of Dance
Beattle’s main locus of innovative performance presents this new festival exploring choreographic solo work performed by local and national artists. Times and prices vary. On the Boards, Queen Anne, 100 W Roy St.; 206.217.9886;

Karin Stevens Dance: Lily/Lung
This Seattle choreographer presents two works with collaborator and composer Kaley Lane Eaton: first, a remount of their disconcertingly lovely, self-described “electroacoustic” 2017 opera Lily, then the premiere of Lung, exploring the one aspect of performance musicians and dancers share: breath. Times and prices vary. Erickson Theater Off Broadway, Capitol Hill, 1524 Harvard Ave.; 206.329.1050;

Kate Wallich and The YC. Photo by Charlie Schuck

Kate Wallich and The YC
This Seattle dance maker revisits Industrial Ballet, her 2016 fantasia of elegantly contorting bodies, lurid red and blue lighting, and darkly assaultive rock—“the transgressive industrial music of the ’80s and ’90s,” as she puts it. 8 p.m. Prices vary. The Moore Theatre, downtown, 1932 Second Ave.; 206.467.5510;

Savion Glover
Both a pathbreaker and a keeper of the flame, Glover is considered by many as simply the greatest tap dancer ever. His new touring show, “All Funk’d Up,” brings six musicians and a company of dancers for an evening of hard-hitting, dazzlingly suave rhythm. 8 p.m. Prices vary. The Moore Theatre, downtown, 1932 Second Ave.; 206.467.5510;

Whim W’Him
1/18–1/19 and 1/25–1/26, 2019
Alongside work by company founder Olivier Wevers, this split bill sees the Whim W’Him debut of two choreographers: Yin Yue, from New York City, whose work combines folk and contemporary elements (dubbed the FoCo Technique); and Seattle’s Zoe Scofield. 8 p.m. Prices vary. Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, Seattle Center, 201 Mercer St.; 206.726.5113;

Other Dance Highlights

Although two Seattle dance companies were still finalizing fall lineups as we went to press and details were sparse, we now know that Spectrum Dance Company’s fall season includes the Merce Cunningham-inspired Occurrence #5 (11/9–11/11) & Occurrence #6 (12/6–12/8), and Iolanta, a performance billed as a “family friendly dance theater experience.” (12/13–12/16). 

Highlights from Velocity Dance Center’s fall season includes its annual high energy Fall Kick Off (9/28–9/30), as well as Kate Wallich’s exploratory dance workshop YC2 (9/20–9/23) and dance company Hypernova’s Bitter Suites (11/8–11/11). Times, prices and venues vary.,

Read more from Seattle magazine’s 2018 Fall Arts Preview here.


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Dark Emotions, Lighthearted Interactions

Dark Emotions, Lighthearted Interactions

Whim W’Him presents two emotion-inducing premieres to close out the season

Last weekend, choreographer Olivier Wevers stood on the stage at Cornish Playhouse, asking the audience to drop their preconceived notions and open their hearts to art...

Abrupt Write Turn

Abrupt Write Turn

Zachary Kellian’s decision to pursue a new career nets him recognition

Zachary Kellian ditched a career he loved, as he puts it, “to live out a dream.”

Finding Place in Pictures

Finding Place in Pictures

Artist Sky Hopinka’s first solo museum exhibit in the northwest showcases his creative approach to language and identity

“I had cassette tapes and workbooks, but it was hard because I was living in Washington, and my tribal language has roots in Wisconsin,” Sky Hopinka says. Learning alone, he could listen to prerecorded Hocak phrases and practice writing letters and words, but an essential component was missing — another person to speak with. Photo

Feeding Ghosts to Free Them

Feeding Ghosts to Free Them

Artist Tessa Hulls creates a revealing graphic novel to help her deal with childhood trauma

Seattle artist Tessa Hulls’ new graphic novel Feeding Ghosts is a deeply stirring narrative of loss, mental illness, and intergenerational trauma. She says that she wrote it to answer this question: What broke my family? Much of the book is about repetition, and how three generations of women in Hulls’ family were emotionally crippled by