Art of Our City | KUOW News and Information

Art of Our City

Gerry Tsutakawa's Mitt, at the north entrance of Safeco Field
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

If you’re a Seattle Mariners fan, you’ve probably been to Safeco Field. And if you’ve been to the Safe, you’ve probably seen the large bronze sculpture near the north entrance.

It’s a nine-foot baseball glove with a circle cut out of its middle, fittingly titled "The Mitt." The sculpture has become a beloved spot for selfies, family portraits and meet ups.

Dancers from the Seattle troupe Bailodores de Bronce, in performance
Courtesy Bailodores de Bronces

Adrian Olivas is a small, soft-spoken man who makes his living as a horticulturalist, nurturing plant life of all kinds.

But three evenings a week, Olivas swaps his garden tools for a pair of dancing shoes. That's how he nurtures his soul.


Seattle poet Azura Tyabji has been writing poetry since eighth grade. Her big dream is to publish a book.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

When Azura Tyabji stepped up to the microphone at a community forum this spring, most of the audience members had no idea what to expect.

photo by Naomi Ishisaka, courtesy Intiman Theatre

Seattle’s Intiman Theatre has a simple mission: To present work that is relevant to our times and as diverse as the community itself.

Intiman recently hired a Broadway producer to help them achieve that goal.

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 sales tax to fund arts and culture in King County will not go to voters this summer after all.

King County Council member and budget chair Dave Upthegrove has pulled the proposal from consideration by his committee because he believes it is fundamentally inequitable.

Seattle Opera General Director Aidan Lang
Facebook/Seattle Opera

Earlier this month, Seattle Opera general director Aidan Lang met with scene shop manager Michael Moore and dropped a bombshell.


Couresy of Seattle Opera/Rozarii Lynch

Bill Radke speaks with KUOW arts and culture reporter Marcie Sillman about the Seattle Opera's plan to close their scene shop in Renton.

A couple of weeks ago, Seattle Opera announced it was making budget cuts. Among them was closing the opera’s scene shop. It is a custom-made building in Renton where they build the sets.

The opera says it needs to be fiscally responsible to its donors. But whenever you tighten the purse strings, somebody feels the pain. In this instance, it’s the artisans who build the scenery for the opera.

Left: Replica of totem pole carved in early 20th century by Kwakwaka'wakw artist Charlie James in Stanley Park, Vancouver B.C. Right: A track suit produced by Adidas, design adapted from Charlie James' totem pole. Click through for more examples.
Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) and Courtesy Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, Burke Museum, University of Washington

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 makes it illegal to knowingly sell non-Native made goods as authentic Native American art or craft. More than 600 fraud cases have been filed since the law's enactment.

But the IACA doesn't apply to the more widespread practice of borrowing and adapting Native imagery, themes, or traditional cultural expression on a range of commercial products.


Artist and entrepreneur Louie Gong, inside his Pike Place Market shop
Photo by Ken Yu, courtesy Louie Gong

Traces of Seattle’s Native American heritage are everywhere, from the Seahawks logo to totem poles at the Pike Place Market.

After all, Seattle is the only major American city named for a Native American chief.

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.

Teatro Zinzanni, on lower Queen Anne in Seattle
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

Update: Teatro Zinzanni announced this week it will give its final performance in the Queen Anne location on Sunday, March 5th. The dinner/cabaret theater has been actively seeking a new location in central Seattle.

Zinzanni founder and director Norm Langill wrote a letter to supporters this week to break the news of the temporary closure. 

Seattle Opera declined an offer of $8 million dollars from the developer who's buying the land; an Opera spokeswoman says work on its new headquarters must begin this spring so the Opera staff can move in before the lease on its current offices expires in 2018.

Original story:

Seattle Opera will move ahead with the sale of property it owns on lower Queen Anne hill. 

That means long-time tenant Teatro Zinzanni will have to leave the square block.

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.

Firefighter by photographer Marsha Burns.
Courtesy of Marsha Burns

In the 1980s Marsha Burns prowled Seattle's streets, looking for people to photograph.

“I was doing pictures of edgy people, people who didn’t fit into the society.” Burns says. “When I would approach them and say, ‘I’d like to make your picture,’ they were thrilled." 

Burns used a large format Polaroid camera, too large to carry with her. If she found somebody who intrigued her, she'd invite them to her studio to sit for a portrait.

A scene from the movie Captain Fantastic, which was set in Washington state.
Bleecker Street

You may have seen the movie Captain Fantastic.

This week, actor Viggo Mortensen got an Academy Award nomination for his work in it.


Jacob Lawrence in the Studio, 1983
Photo/Mary Randlett, courtesy UW Special Collections

I first met the artist Jacob Lawrence in his attic. That was more than 30 years ago, on a gray day, not so unusual for Seattle. 


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.

A ribbon of resistance by Ellen Sollod.
www.sollodstudio.com

After the November election, many people started wearing safety pins on their lapels.

It’s a visible sign of their support for people who might feel threatened by the Trump administration.

In Lucia Neare's world, a horse can deliver balloons via rowboat
Photo by Michael Doucett

When Seattle artist Lucia Neare heard who won the election last month, she was despondent. 

Neare walked out of her home in the Central District and across the street to a traffic circle. There, she unleashed a full-throttled howl of despair into the night.

Artist Sara Porkalob in her Queen Anne apartment
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

Jose Abaoag has an eclectic resume.

Singers Taylor Raven, right and Jorelle Williams rehearse for the upcoming Seattle Opera production of "As One"
GENEVIEVE HATHAWAY, COURTESY SEATTLE OPERA

When Aidan Lang took over the helm of Seattle Opera two years ago, he faced the same challenge as every other nonprofit arts group in the city:

How to make both his organization and its art form relevant in the digital age.

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.


The Seattle International Film Festival's director and chief curator, Carl Spence, is stepping down after more than 20 years with SIFF.

Spence joined the organization in 1994 as an assistant to the festival founders.

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