Art of Our City | KUOW News and Information

Art of Our City

Former PNB dancer Ariana Lallone at Teatro Zinzanni.
Courtesy of Teatro Zinzanni/Michael Doucett

She may kill me for revealing her age, but what the heck? 

Ariana Lallone is 47 years old, and she’s as striking and vibrant as the first time I saw her dance with Pacific Northwest Ballet 20 years ago.

Gordon Hirabayashi, a sociology student at the University of Washington, violated curfew set for Japanese Americans in Seattle.
Historylink.org

When Jeanne Sakata was growing up near Watsonville, California, her parents never talked about what happened to them during World War II. Like thousands of other Japanese-Americans on the West Coast, Sakata’s family had been forcibly removed from their home and sent to an armed camp.

Madeline DeFrees in 1967. The poet, formerly a nun, would tuck an envelope and pencil into the deep pockets of her habit to write when she had time.
Lee Nye via MadelineDeFrees.com

Madeline DeFrees published her first poem at the age of 12.

It was called “Sympathy,” written for a Portland newspaper poetry contest.

Seattle artist Fay Jones created this mural in the Westlake bus tunnel in the late 1980s.
Metro King County

Even if you don’t know her name, you’ve probably seen artist Fay Jones’ work.

She created one of the giant murals on the walls of Seattle’s underground Westlake Transit Station. It's a 10-foot-high, 35-foot-long fantasia of men, women and fish.

Artist Lois Thadei in woven hat, photographed at Ginger Street in Olympia during Art Walk.
Courtesy of Kay Shultz

Lois Thadei’s full name is Lois Chichnikoff Thadei.

But everyone calls her Louie. She says white people have a hard time pronouncing her name.

Moises Castro, Reginald André Jackson, and Riley Shanahan in an Intiman workshop of 'John Baxter Is a Switch Hitter'  at the Intiman.
Photo by Jeff Carpenter

  Intiman Theatre’s Andrew Russell remembers exactly how he felt in 2011, when the venerable Seattle company shut its doors in the middle of an artistic season.

“Well, heartbreak. Absolutely heartbreak,” he says. “And confusion and anxiety and all of those things that happen when the human body faces something that’s unexpected.”

Leija Farr, Seattle's new youth poet laureate, calls poetry a form of "self-healing."
KUOW photo/RadioActive staff

Seattleites love their poetry. The city is home to one of the nation's few poetry-only bookstores, Open Books, in the Wallingford neighborhood.

The Washington state poet laureate, Elizabeth Austen, is a Seattle resident. And the city recently decided to create a Seattle poet laureate position.

Seattle Playwright Yussef El Guindi.
Courtesy ACT Theatre

Seattle-based playwright Yussef El Guindi was born in Egypt. But he feels more at ease in his adopted home.

"Egypt is always going to a part of my background, my heritage," he says. "But I've been here 30 years now. I definitely consider myself American."

Lara Davis is the arts education manager for Seattle's Office of Arts and Culture
Seattle.gov

Once upon a time, when you were young, you probably painted pictures, sang songs and danced yourself dizzy.

Many artists and arts educators believe that making art is second nature to humans. And they believe it helps kids learn. But somehow, by the time children reach their teens, many lose their enthusiasm for creative activities. Experts say that lack of arts curriculum in schools may be to blame.

PNB soloist Kiyon Gaines in Twyla Tharp's "Waiting at the Station."
Courtesy PNB/Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Kiyon Gaines says he didn’t find ballet -- ballet found him.

The Baltimore native didn’t start dancing until he was 10. He studied tap and jazz. Somebody told him that ballet lessons would help him with how he carried his arms. So his mother enrolled him in a local class.

Artist C. Davida Ingram's exhibition, "Eyes to Dream: A Project Room," is a rumination of what it means to be black and female in America in 2015.
Courtesy of C. Davida Ingram

The smell.

That's the first thing you notice in C. Davida Ingram's exhibition at the Northwest African American Museum.

It smells like the sea: fishy and briny, with a sort of musky undertone. You can trace those aromas, in part, to a white dress that's hanging on the gallery wall. Thousands of tiny fish that look like minnows or sardines are sewn onto the fabric.

Eli and Oliver Abrahamson at home in 2012.
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

Memorial Day weekend in the Seattle area means barbecues, camping trips and the annual Northwest Folklife Festival.

This four-day festival of folk traditions convenes again Friday, May 22, at the Seattle Center. Attendees can experience everything from do-it-yourself drum circles to square dancing to a bevy of string bands.

Three years ago, we introduced audiences to the Oliver and Eli Abrahamson, two boys who got their musical start busking at Folklife. At the time, they and their parents performed together as the Smalltime String Band.

Meditators at Seattle's Frye Art Museum during a recent weekly session.
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

Five years ago, Frye Art Museum senior deputy director Jill Rullkoetter was casting about for the perfect public program to accompany an art exhibit called "Seance" which featured the work of German artist Albert Von Keller.

"He depicted images of women in seances, and kind of having these out of body experiences," Rulkoetter explains.

She wanted to create some kind of participatory event that would bring museum-goers into the spirit of this artist's work.

courtesy ACT Theatre

Any way you slice it, a half century is a milestone to celebrate.

And that’s exactly what Seattle’s ACT Theatre plans to do this 50th anniversary year.

But celebrations can be bittersweet.

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.

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.

The people behind "Now I'm Fine," a performance that melds music, comedy and storytelling at On The Boards this week.
On The Boards

It was 2006, and Ahamlefule J. Oluo was not fine. 

"I was very young, in my early 20s," he says. "I had just gone through a divorce." 

His Nigerian father, a man he'd never met and only spoken with once on the telephone, had died before Oluo got to fulfill his wish of forging a relationship with him.

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