Food & Culture

Seattle Magazine’s 2011 Fall Arts Preview: Must-See Events

By Brangien Davis and Dana Standish August 11, 2011




Part gymnastics, part pantomime and part Slinky, Pilobolus Dance Company always entices with its physical contortionism and brainy bravado. The Connecticut-based troupe got its start 40 years ago, using the shape of the human body to make statements about sexual politics, personal relationships and societal mores. Though it has since become a cultural institution, Pilobolus has never lost its edge. Whether in ads for Hyundai or in collaboration with Pulitzer-winning graphic artist Art Spiegelman, Pilobolus continues its ongoing search for ever more outrageous ways to reinvent its physical vocabulary. 10/6–10/8. 8 p.m. $48. Meany Hall, 15th Avenue NE & NE 40th Street; 206.543.4880;

Merce Cunningham Legacy Tour
Centralia’s favorite son (and former Cornish College of the Arts student) Merce Cunningham became an avant-garde powerhouse, in a career that lasted nearly 70 years and included choreography for more than 150 dances and 800 collaborative multimedia “events.” Shortly before his death in 2009, the Cunningham Dance Foundation announced the Legacy Plan, a means for preserving and continuing his work after his death. The Legacy Tour features works from different stages in Cunningham’s career and offers audiences the final chance to see these seminal pieces performed by dancers trained by Cunningham himself. 10/27 & 10/29. Times and prices vary. Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St.; 206.682.1414;

Pacific Northwest Ballet: Love Stories
Don a tutu, develop a deranged doppelgänger and sprout unwanted epidermal plumage—“Black Swan” is taking flight, along with other besotted ballet masterpieces. PNB offers a mélange of love’s mercurial moods, including the Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fée (by George Balanchine, with a little help from Stravinsky) and Jerome Robbins’ take on the Nijinsky classic Afternoon of a Faun (with music by Debussy). For those of you who require seduction and betrayal in your love stories, the bill will include Kent Stowell’s Marius Petipa–inspired pas de deux from Swan Lake. 11/4–11/13. Times and prices vary. McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St.; 206.441.2424;


Stacy Carlson
Seattle native (and current Oaklander) Stacy Carlson has written a beautiful new work of historical fiction based on P.T. Barnum’s spectacular (and spectacularly doomed) endeavor: Barnum’s American Museum, which thrilled and appalled visitors from 1841 to 1865. Through two museum employees—a taxidermist and a “giantess”—the novel chronicles the museum’s daily life, and in so doing reveals both the normalcy of so-called oddities and the strangeness of the norm. 9/7. 6 p.m. Free. Queen Anne Books,  1811 Queen Anne Ave. N; 206.283.5624; Also: 9/10. 6:30. Free. Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, 17171 Bothell Way, NE; 206.366.3333;

Calvin Trillin
In a twist on the children’s game of Backwards Day, Calvin Trillin has titled his new book Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin (as if there were such a thing). Trillin, the irrepressible poet (Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme); foodie (Alice, Let’s Eat: Further Adventures of a Happy Eater); novelist (Tepper Isn’t Going Out); and political pundit (Uncivil Liberties) can be counted on to unleash his distinctive brand of literary hijinks on an unsuspecting public. Please, sir, may we have some more? 9/22. 7:30 p.m. $5. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave.; 206.652.4255;

Art Spiegelman
In 1992, writer and cartoonist Art Spiegelman won a Pulitzer Prize for his comic-book biography, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, detailing his father’s Holocaust experience. In October, Spiegelman dives back into his hugely influential work with a fresh perspective and a new title, MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic. He’ll discuss his iconic works, old and new, with Seattle’s own Nancy Pearl. 10/8. 7 p.m. Free. Seattle Public Library, Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave.; 206.386.4636;

Stacy Schiff
She was one of the most beautiful women in the world. She was married numerous times and used her feminine wiles to bewitch influential men into doing her bidding, in an effort to solidify her empire. She married Richard Burton not once but twice—oh, wait, that was Liz Taylor! Author Stacy Schiff hasn’t gotten to her yet, but she has chronicled Liz’s most notorious alter ego, the Ptolemaic siren Cleopatra of Egypt. Pulitzer winner Schiff’s biography of the Queen of the Nile made everybody’s “best of” list for 2010. The Seattle Arts and Lectures audience may be treated to the inside skinny on Schiff’s next project. 10/26. 7:30 p.m. $5–$70. Benaroya Hall, 200 University St.; 206.621.2230;

John Hodgman
Whether you know him from old commercials as the “I’m a PC” guy or from his hilarious compendiums of fake knowledge (The Areas of My Expertise and More Information Than You Require), you know John Hodgman is an extremely funny person. Hear him wax comedic about his brand-new book, That Is All. 11/7. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave.; 206.652.4255;

Tess Gallagher
Tess Gallagher brings a spiritual slant to subjects as diverse as art, illness and aging to confront the tumultuous state of being alive. Author of numerous works of poetry, fiction, essays (and widow of short-story demigod Raymond Carver), Gallagher will read from her latest oeuvre, Midnight Lantern. The book includes some of the greatest hits of her 40-year career, with new odes to the changing landscape of her native Pacific Northwest. 11/10. 7:30 p.m. $5. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave.; 206.652.4255;

Hugo Literary Series: “While You Were Sleeping”
Sleep deprivation, cell regeneration, things that go bump in the night and other manifestations of creeping existential angst—this latest installation in the Hugo Literary Series asks prominent writers and musicians to pen original new works based on the theme of nocturnal neuroses. Featuring always unpredictable 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award winner Sherman Alexie, Portland-based writer,
editor and publisher Kevin Sampsell and poet (and Pushcart Prize nominee) Nicole Hardy, with original music by Seattle’s own Rachel Flotard of Visqueen, this lineup promises a dose of literary No-Doz. 11/18. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary.
Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave.;


Travelers: Objects of Dream and Revelation
An impressive group of contemporary artists take on the meaning of “travel” in this exciting new show that features a 9-by-5-foot (horseless) carriage made of rock sugar. Watch for the work of local artists Robb Putnam (animals made from found materials) and Marc Dombrosky (meticulously embroidered detritus). 8/26–12/31. Times and prices vary. Bellevue Arts Museum, 510 Bellevue Way NE; 425.519.0770;

Carolee Schneemann
This retrospective features multidisciplinary artist Schneemann’s seminal works from the past four decades, exploring the sometimes
taboo intersection between the personal and the societal body. Schneemann’s performance art, painting, photography and video installations (which, in the past, have included such innovative materials as raw meat and live chickens) are calculated to make viewers consider the complicated relationship between eroticism and gender politics. 9/24–12/30. Times and prices vary. Henry Art Gallery, 15th Avenue NE & 41st Street; 206.543.2280;

Painting Seattle: Kamekichi Tokita and Kenjiro Nomura
Kamekichi Tokita and Kenjiro Nomura, prominent Japanese realist painters in Seattle in the 1930s, painted landscapes and cityscapes that presaged work that came to be known as the Northwest School while incorporating characteristics of Japanese woodblock prints. Though Nomura was featured in one of the first shows at SAM when it opened in 1933, and both Nomura and Tokita were part of the distinguished group of artists that included Mark Tobey and Walter Isaacs, both were incarcerated at Minidoka Internment Camp in Idaho at the onset of World War II. 10/22–2/19/2012. Times and prices vary. Seattle Asian Art Museum, 1400 E Prospect St.; 206.654.3100;

Katy Stone
Katy Stone’s delicate, oil-on-steel sculptures and ephemeral paintings on Dura-lar (a type of thin plastic sheet) appear to be both arachnid and orchid, simultaneously creeping up the wall and shimmying back down in a dance of light and shadow. Stone’s work, like the fungus forms and crystal structure it suggests, explores the relationship between the fleeting and the eternal, and the undeniable intertwining of beauty and decay. 11/17–12/24. Times vary. Free. Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Ave. S; 206.624.0770;

Isaac Layman
Like the creators of palimpsests, those ancient manuscript pages from which the text was scraped until only a ghostly vestige of its essence remained, local genius Isaac Layman uses layering to increase the meaning and mystery of his photographs. He starts with multiple shots of mundane items—his plate-strewn kitchen sink, a box fan—and layers them on the computer, painstakingly removing the portion of each layer that is out of focus, until the entire image is sharp, no matter how deeply you look. The result is a mind-bending look at the quotidian, whose perfect depth of field keeps you ever off balance. 11/19–1/29/12. Times vary. Free. Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave.; 206.622.9250;


Fleet Foxes
Phew! Turns out Seattle’s alt-folk phenoms The Fleet Foxes weren’t just a flash in the pan. Their much anticipated second album, Helplessness Blues (released in May) proved beyond a doubt that the group’s talent is true, and has us falling for them all over again. 9/6–9/7. 7:30 p.m. $34. Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St.; 206.682.1414;

Blue Scholars
It’s another case of local guys made good, as the much adored hip-hop duo Blue Scholars heads off on its first-ever nationwide tour. Sabzi and Geo will perform songs from the highly acclaimed new album, Cinémetropolis—the production of which was fully funded by fan donations. Rest assured those supporters will be singing along in the audience. 9/17. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave.; 800.745.3000;

Seattle Symphony: Rite of Spring
French youngster Ludovic Morlot has been tapped as the new conductor of the Seattle Symphony, replacing 26-year veteran Gerard Schwarz—and what better way for him to cut his teeth than Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, that most complex of all musical pagan rituals? The piece is said to have been met with jeering, catcalls and audience riots when it debuted in 1913, due in part to its complicated structure. Let’s hope Seattle’s notorious politeness will rule the day when we greet our new conductor. 9/29 & 10/1. Times and prices vary. Benaroya Hall, 200 University St.; 206.215.4747;

Seattle Opera: Carmen
Bizet’s sexy Spanish thriller got a 135-year jumpstart on modern-day tabloid stories, with the bonus addition of toreadors. Carmen, a mercurial Gypsy, flirts with the inexperienced corporal, Don José, who risks everything to have her. This sets into motion a seemingly inevitable course of events, culminating in Don José’s murder of his fickle love. Seattle Opera’s general director, Speight Jenkins, describes Carmen as being at the same time one of the most popular and one of the most elusive operas. Sí, sí. 10/15–10/29. Times and prices vary. McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St.; 206.389.7676;

Death Cab for Cutie
Our beloved Bellingham boys are back, with a new album, Codes and Keys, and so much fame that the only Seattle venue that can hold them is the KeyArena. Go and see if Ben Gibbard and the gang’s signature melancholy, low-fi vibe can rock the rafters. (Local music bonus: The Head and the Heart are opening!) 10/22. 7 p.m. Prices vary. KeyArena, 305 Harrison St.; 206.684.7200;

Evan Flory-Barnes
Native Seattleite and composer Evan Flory-Barnes wows audiences with his innovative bass playing, which blends jazz, classical, hip-hop and whatever moves him at the moment. For this event, Acknowledgement of a Celebration, Flory-Barnes invites 35 musicians and 10 dancers to join him in performing recent compositions—a “celebration,” indeed. 10/22. 8 p.m. $22–$25. Kirkland Performance Center, 350 Kirkland Ave.; 425.893.9900;

Jason Webley
Here’s one last chance to see Webley, lead instigator of the Monsters of Accordion tour, whose devotion to pushing the envelope (or at least the bellows) of the accordion has led him to exploit the music-making properties of various vegetables in concert, as well as a vodka bottle full of coins. In other words, this is not Lawrence Welk’s squeezebox. Webley’s iconoclastic troubadour style, honed on the street corners of Seattle, has led to a worldwide following. Alas, he says this show will be the beginning of a “long break” from touring. 11/11. 8 p.m. Prices vary. The Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave.; 206.467.5510;


A Lie of the Mind
Seattle magazine 2009 Spotlight Award winner Ray Tagavilla stars in A Lie of the Mind, Sam Shepard’s award-winning story of two families simultaneously drawn together and torn apart by spousal abuse. The troubling but riveting tale is the first production by new Seattle art collective Collektor. Local theater veteran Rob West directs, with what’s sure to be a stunning set by esteemed local designer Etta Lilienthal. 9/8–10/1. Times and prices vary. ACT, 700 Union St.; 206.292.7676;

Saving Aimee
Book and lyrics by Kathie Lee Gifford. Additional music by Kathie Lee Gifford. But don’t let that stop you from giving Saving Aimee a gander. This new musical is based on the true story of 1920s religious revivalist and media-savvy evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. While McPherson was the definition of a buzzkill (smoking, dancing, reading novels and playing cards could be cured only by a four-day revival meeting), her unconventional life and early understanding of the power of media is compelling. 9/30–10/30. Times and prices vary. 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave.; 206.625.1900;

Circle Mirror Transformation
Newbie East Coast playwright Annie Baker hits the touchy-feely jackpot with this charming Obie-winning comedy about an unlikely cadre of adults who end up in a creative drama class in small-town Vermont. In spite of several stock characters (a sardonic ex-hippie, a divorced carpenter), Baker scores with this pitch-perfect exploration of what it means to find oneself via role-playing theater games. 10/21–11/20. Times and prices vary. Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St.; 206.443.2222;

Double Indemnity
Fresh off his success directing Sarah Ruhl’s racy Vibrator Play, ACT artistic director Kurt Beattie teams with beloved local actors David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright in this world-premiere adaptation of James M. Cain’s classic 1935 novella of murder, adultery and deception in the sordid underbelly of Los Angeles. As in all escapist endeavors, this play will make you feel better about your own life: Spend an evening with characters whose greed and lust drive them to make more poor decisions than you could ever dream up! 10/21–11/20. Times and prices vary. ACT, 700 Union St.; 206.292.7676;

Annie Get Your Gun
Set aside your niggling concerns about gun control and belly up to Irving Berlin’s classic Wild West musical—a sharp-shootin’ love story and firm reminder that despite what you may have heard from Sarah Palin, “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun.” 11/9–12/31. Times and prices vary. Village Theatre, Issaquah, 303 Front St. N; 425.392.2202;


Modern Views: A Conversation About Northwest Architecture
One of several films screening during the Seattle Design Festival (see page 157), Modern Views is a must-see documentary for fans of Seattle’s seminal structures. The film reveals the forward-thinking strategies of five acclaimed Northwest modern architects whose heyday spanned 1940–1960: Arne Bystrom, Wendell Lovett, Gene Zema, Ralph Anderson and Fred Bassett. Bonus: You’ll get to experience the long-awaited SIFF Film Center. 9/25. 2 p.m. $5–$10. SIFF Film Center, 305 Harrison St.; 206.464.5830;

Heart of Darkness: The Film Noir Series
Didn’t know the Seattle Art Museum screens movies? It does! Namely: the “world’s longest running film noir series,” Heart of Darkness, now in its 34th year. This hard-boiled festival of broads, boozehounds and bean shooters includes The Long Goodbye, A Place in the Sun and Kitten with a Whip. Meow. 9/29–12/8. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Seattle Art Museum, Plestcheeff Auditorium, 1300 First Ave.; 206.654.3121;

Jane’s Journey
You think you work with a bunch of monkeys? Jane Goodall spent 45 years studying wild chimpanzees in Africa. This new documentary traces her journey from animal-loving kid to to iconic primatologist to globe-trotting environmental activist. Bonus: Goodall will attend the 10/12 screening! 10/7–10/13. Times and prices vary. Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave.; 206.829.7863;  


AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! These events kick and scream against any categorization. All the more reason to check them out.

5K: Don’t Run
When is a 5K not a run? When the city won’t give you a permit! No matter, it’s easier to experience art at a slower pace, anyway. Artist Klara Glosova, who opens her Beacon Hill home to the public for exhibits of local art on a regular basis as NEPO House, has organized an extravaganza of visual art and performance spanning 5K between Occidental Square and NEPO House. Start in Occidental Square, where you’ll obtain maps and “artistic licenses,” witness a performance by Vis-à-Vis Society, meander through exhibits in Pioneer Square galleries, then make your way to the International District, wander into new installations in Hing Hay Park and the Storefront Seattle spaces, and mosey up to Beacon Hill, where live music awaits, as well as acres of art at NEPO House. Along the way, expect a variety of live performances. The only rule? No running. 9/10. Walk: 2–6 p.m. NEPO House art show: 6 p.m.–midnight. Free.

SuttonBeresCuller: TBD
By the time you read this, the TBD of the title may have been determined, but at press time, local installation artists SuttonBeresCuller (John Sutton, Ben Beres and Zac Culler) were still plotting. Last summer, the men were given the keys to performance venue On the Boards and permission to transform the entire space however they chose. If you’ve seen any of SuttonBeresCuller’s previous work, you know this means a lot more than rearranging the furniture. In 2005, they stranded themselves on a homemade island in the middle of Lake Washington. In 2006, they built an exact replica of a Chinese restaurant inside Lawrimore Project. In July, for Mad Homes, they bound two Craftsman homes together using two miles of red webbing. What will On the Boards look like when they’re through with it? (And will they be able to put it back together in time for OTB’s first fall show?) We can’t wait to find out. 9/15–9/18. Times and prices vary. On the Boards, 100 W Roy;

NANDA: The Jacket
If the Flying Karamazov Brothers had a pack of love-children with the cast of The Matrix, they might look something like Nanda. The Port Townsend raised quartet of young performers—Chen Pollina, Kiyota Sage, Misha Fradin and Tomoki Sage—blends kung fu fight scenes (dubbed “kung faux”), dance, acrobatics, seriously impressive juggling and slapstick comedy to create one-of-a-kind stage shows that appeal to all ages. In The Jacket, four men struggle for control of a mysterious garment that conveys magical powers (and Jackie Chan style moves) upon its wearer. See them here first—before this talented bunch goes big time. 10/6–10/23. 8 p.m. $12–$25.Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway;

Seattle Symphony: Sonic Evolution
Seattle Symphony’s new music director, Ludovic Morlot, is starting out with classical guns blazing—conducting Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring—but we’re most excited about his innovative new program called Sonic Evolution. Designed to bring Seattle’s past and present music scene into a symphonic setting, the first installment of Sonic Evolution features local indie darlings Hey Marseilles, who will perform new songs with the full symphony. In addition, the orchestra will play newly composed works inspired by the music of Seattle stars Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones and Nirvana. Here’s hoping this idea gets an encore. 10/18. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, 200 University St.; 206.215.4747;

Color Me Obsessed
We’re all familiar with how a rock documentary works: concert footage, talking-head interviews with band members, shots of album covers, backstage shenanigans, including a few juicy intraband fights and, of course, a soundtrack full of music by the band in question. But this new rock doc about ’80s sensation The Replacements takes an entirely different approach: none of the above. Indie filmmaker and author Gorman Bechard—an admirer of the band for 30 years—focuses instead on the fans, asking devotees (famous and non) what it was about The Replacements that made them precisely so awesome. The trick works so well it might just birth a whole new film genre. 10/21–10/23. Times and prices vary. Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave.; 206.329.2629;



FILM: Local Sightings
Experience new narrative, short, documentary and experimental work by up-and-coming local filmmakers. Don’t miss: A screening of the animated film History Is Us, by Drew Christie, a Seattle mag 2010 Spotlight Award winner. 9/30–10/6. Northwest Film Forum; and

DANCE: Velocity Dance Center Fall Kickoff
Immerse yourself in Seattle’s thriving contemporary dance scene with performances by local dancers and choreographers, including Donald Byrd, Catherine Cabeen, Mark Haim and Kate Wallich. Don’t miss: The Bing Bang Remix (9/24) when more than 30 artists will perform simultaneously. 9/23–9/25. Velocity Dance Center;

DESIGN: Seattle Design Festival
In a city full of design nerds, it’s hard to believe this is the first-ever Design Festival. Architectural walking tours abound, plus talks on what future Seattle will look like. Don’t miss: Films about architecture and design, screening at SIFF’s brand-new Film Center (9/23–9/25). 9/16–9/25. Venues vary;

MUSIC: Seattle Symphony Day of Music
Dozens of local music groups—including the symphony, Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, Seattle Women’s Chorus and the Sounders FC Band—perform in six different corners of Benaroya during this daylong community celebration. 9/18. Benaroya Hall;

VARIOUS: Arts Crush
Thanks to a smashing inaugural success last October, Theatre Puget Sound is bringing back Arts Crush—the monthlong, multidisciplinary festival of free and pay-what-you-can arts events at local arts venues. Don’t miss: The GeoCrush arts treasure hunt (10/3). 10/2011. Venues vary;


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