Art of Our City

Trimpin and Ludovic Morlot
Courtesy Seattle Symphony

Trimpin is the kind of artist who defies neat description.

The German-born artist is a sculptor. He uses found objects to create large installations that move.

But Trimpin doesn’t just create kinetic sculpture. His artworks are musical; he uses wildly disparate objects -- a line of wooden shoes, huge bamboo cylinders -- to make artful instruments that perform his own compositions.

Spectrum Dance Theater unveils a new "Carmina Burana" dance performance this month by its artistic director Donald Byrd.
Courtesy Spectrum Dance Theater

You may not know it by name, but you've likely heard Carl Orff's 1937 cantata, "Carmina Burana."

Chorale groups present it, commercials and films use it in soundtracks, and choreographers make dances to it. 

This spring, two Seattle dance companies will present works set to "Carmina Burana."

Donnie Wilburn, who is blind, and her husband Bob Wilburn observe a depiction of the Battle of Little Bighorn at the Seattle Art Museum with the help of a vivid description from museum docent laureate Suzanne Ragen.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Read this description, then imagine the art:

It’s a large ceramic jar, created in the 12th century by the Anasazi people who lived in the Southwest and the Colorado plateau.

The decoration on the jar is black and white, and there are stripes, likely to represent rain. Jagged embellishments could mean lightening.

“Then strange little hands, some with five fingers some with six fingers,” says docent Suzanne Ragen, who leads tours for the visually impaired at Seattle Art Museum. She has led tours at SAM for 50 years. 

A still from the music video Mississippi Misfit by Seattle band INLY.
INLY / Vimeo

The camera pans across four bathroom stall doors, revealing a set of legs in each.

It stops at the last stall, where no legs are visible. Instead, a muscular arm reaches down, and Seattle musician Mindie Lind lowers her body to the floor, to the beat of the tune she wrote, “Mississippi Misfit,” performed by her band INLY.

It’s part of Lind’s not-so-secret strategy to create a public conversation about what she calls “Crip Culture” – the issues that people with physical disabilities face every day.

Ohio-based artist Ann Hamilton has a $1 million grant from the city of Seattle to create art for Piers 62 and 63.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Visions of a post-viaduct waterfront graced with million-dollar art are rising above Seattle’s stalled tunneling project.

Justin Huertas, center, and fellow "Lizard Boy" cast members William A. Williams and Kirsten deLohr Helland.
Courtesy Seattle Repertory Theatre / Andry Laurence

Justin Huertas is one of those people who seemingly can do everything.

Only in his mid-20s, he’s already been a musician with the national tour of the hit Broadway show "Spring Awakening." He’s also performed Shakespeare and musical theater.

Jennifer Zeyl
Courtesy of Jennifer Zeyl

Jennifer Zeyl cheerfully confesses that she knows her own mind. She's got a strong vision and she doesn't hesitate to make that vision a reality.

"I found when I first got out here, because I'm from the East Coast, people would react to me like, 'Whoa!'"

She starts to laugh, then turns serious.

Edna Daigre, center, teaches a class for older dancers in Seattle's Central Area.
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

Doris Tunney doesn’t even pretend to be offended when you ask how old she is.

“I’m 86,” she says proudly. “I’ll be 87 on March 26.”

Tunney is petite, with cinnamon brown skin, short, curly white hair and perfect posture. Dressed in denim capris and a long-sleeved cotton shirt, this octogenarian is ready to dance.

photo by Teri Pieper

When you think about a dance performance, you may envision something grand and expansive, like “Nutcracker.” Or maybe a sparkly ballroom competition comes to mind, something akin to “Dancing With the Stars.”

Whatever the dance style, these performances are about bodies moving in space. In this case, big spaces.

Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready with Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot.
Courtesy Seattle Symphony Orchestra

Mike McCready, the lead guitarist for Pearl Jam, gave his first performance for the Seattle Symphony when he was just a kid.

"I was 12 years old," he says laughing, "and my band Warrior played a Symphony fund-a-thon underneath the Monorail."

Now McCready gets a chance to make music with the orchestra.

lelavision
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

When Ela Lamblin was a little boy in Oregon, his father said he wouldn't buy him any toys. Instead, Lamblin's father offered to help Ela build anything he wanted.

Fast forward several decades. Ela Lamblin still builds things at his Vashon Island studio. He and his wife, Leah Mann, landed in the Seattle area more than 20 years ago after they finished art degrees in Atlanta.

Lamblin is a sculptor, but his artwork doesn't just sit there. Most of Lamblin's creations move. And they can be played like musical instruments.

Seagull Project company members in Uzbekistan.
Courtesy of the Seagull Project

When a Seattle theater troupe decided to make the long journey to Tashkent, Uzbekistan last spring, the artists had no idea what was in store for them.

"We had meetings with the American embassy that helped us get over there," says director John Langs.

"They basically said don't do anything or say anything in your hotel room that you wouldn't want your grandmother to hear or see, because you will be bugged."

Karel Cruz, principal dancer at the Pacific Northwest Ballet, ended up in Seattle after being rejected by the Cuban National Ballet for being too tall.
Pacific Northwest Ballet Photo/Angela Sterling

Seattle ballet dancer Karel Cruz remembers exactly how he felt when President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would begin to mend its relations with Cuba.

"It’s one of those things you don't think is ever going to happen," he says. He shakes his head, still a little overwhelmed. "You look to the sun and say, ‘Is this happening right now?’"

Cruz, 36, lives in Seattle now, but he was born in Holguin, Cuba.  His family moved across the island to the town of Pinar del Rio when he was 8-years-old.

New Seattle Opera General Director Aidan Lang
Facebook/Seattle Opera

The first sign that change has come to Seattle Opera is on the walls.

Many of the temporary partitions that for years divided the Opera's administrative office into a warren of cubicles are gone. The cramped room feels bigger, or at least roomier. There's space to breath.

New General Director Aidan Lang has performed a similar surgery on his corner office. Gone is predecessor Speight Jenkins' couch and stuffed animals. In its place are a neatly organized desk and a business-like round table and chairs.

Poet Nora Giron-Dolce at a Seattle bus stop.
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

If you live in King County, you're surrounded by public artworks: murals, sculptures, fountains — you name it. Art is everywhere in this region.

That's due in large part to the county's One Percent for Art Program, one of the oldest in the nation. One percent of public construction project budgets are set aside for art or integrated design for those specific projects.

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