Art of Our City | KUOW News and Information

Art of Our City

Seattle Symphony violinist Mikhail Shmidt came to the U.S. as a refugee from the former Soviet Union.
Courtesy of Mikhail Shmidt

America has been called a nation of immigrants.

If that’s the case, then Seattle Symphony is a quintessentially American orchestra.


A Seattle third grader auditions for Pacific Northwest Ballet's Dance Chance program.
Pacific Northwest Ballet/Lindsay Thomas

Last fall the National Endowment for the Arts awarded almost a million dollars in grants to 34 arts groups across the state, large and small. 

That money funded everything from King County’s Creative Justice Program, an alternative to youth incarceration, to a project that brings professional theater artists to rural Davenport, near the Colville reservation in eastern Washington. A significant portion of the NEA awards went to projects targetted at youth, community outreach, or rural touring programs.

The NEA also funds some of Seattle’s big arts groups.

KT Niehoff's newest performance explores extraordinary human experiences with their own bodies
Courtesy of KT Niehoff

Seattle artist KT Niehoff and her good friend Michele Miller moved to Seattle 25 years ago. They came west from New York to dance with acclaimed choreographer Pat Graney.

They had youthful enthusiasm, a passion to perform, and not much else.

Artist John Feodorov in his West Seattle home
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

John Feodorov is Native American. And he’s an artist. But don’t call his work “Native American art.”

“Not everything I want to say needs to be adorned with beads and feathers,” he says.

Ade Connere, at home on Seattle's Capitol Hill
KUOW photo, Marcie Sillman

Ade Connere doesn’t have a personal gender pronoun preference.

“It usually depends on what I’m wearing!”

KUOW Photo/Lisa Wang

Ten days after President Donald Trump’s inauguration a group of Seattle-area artists and arts supporters came together to share experiences and build community. KUOW set aside a space for them to record personal messages. Their reflections express the conflict of the moment, marked by fear and hope, uncertainty and renewed determination.

Sara Porkalob, right, and her grandmother, the inspiration for Porkalob's one-woman show Dragon Lady
Dangerpants Photography, courtesy Sara Porkalob

When Seattle theater artist Sara Porkalob was a kid, her family didn’t have much money.

But they did have unconditional love for the little girl who lived to entertain them.

Ibara-Sandys' take on Mexican nichos, or small shrines, inspired by Dia de los Muertos imagery.
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

Amaranta Ibara-Sandys was 18 years old the first time she traveled to Seattle from Mexico City.

The year was 1992; teenagers from around the world were flocking to the Pacific Northwest, enticed by Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and other Seattle bands.

“I loved grunge,” Ibara-Sandys says. “I loved the music!”

Artist Mary Sheldon Scott of Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

We live in a culture that values being young and hip, but there’s something to be said for age and experience.

Just ask Seattle artist Mary Sheldon Scott.

Seattle police approach man on the street, part of the group show, We are still here, at Gallery4Culture.
Delino Olebar, courtesy Creative Justice Project

Gentrification and housing affordability are hot topics in Seattle right now.

They affect everyone, but typically politicians or media-savvy types dominate the public debate.

Black Lives Matter national co-founder Patrisse Khan Cullors
photo by Inye Wokoma, courtesy Intiman Theatre

In September 2014, Patrisse Khan-Cullors was still bowled over by the recent police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Brown's death pushed Khan-Cullors and two fellow activists to start the Black Lives Matter grassroots movement. Khan-Cullors herself is credited with conceiving #blacklivesmatter.

Musician Yirim Seck.
YouTube

Seattle musician Yirim Seck straddles two cultures. It’s been a tricky balancing act.

Seck’s father is Senegalese; his mother is from Arkansas. They met and fell in love in New York, then moved to Seattle.


Some of the artists represented in "30 Americans" pose beneath a neon artwork created by Glenn Ligon.
Courtesy Tacoma Art Museum

The traveling exhibition "30 Americans" has finally arrived at the Tacoma Art Museum after four years of planning.

"30 Americans" actually features the work of 31 African-American artists, primarily drawn from the private collection of Florida art patrons Mera and Don Rubell.

Pacific Northwest Ballet's corps de ballet dancers in George Balanchine's 'Nutcracker.'
Courtesy of Pacific Northwest Ballet/Angela Sterling

Rock stars have back up bands.

Most Broadway musicals have a chorus.

The ballet version of these supporting artists is the corps de ballet; "corps" is French for body.

Banda Vagas entertains the audience in Seattle's South Park Duwamish River Festival.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Only a whisper of a breeze drifts off the water on this scorching August afternoon, but temperatures in the 90s don’t wilt the South Park crowd.

Older couples, young parents with their children, even gum-cracking teenagers wait patiently in the shade for the main musical attraction of this year’s Duwamish River Festival: Banda Vagos, a Mexican big band that performs a traditional style of music known as banda.

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