Art of Our City | KUOW News and Information

Art of Our City

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.

A scene from "All the Way," a play about President Lyndon B. Johnson by Seattle playwright Robert Schenkkan.
Seattle Repertory Theatre

For those of us who came of age in the 1960s, Texas Democrat Lyndon Baines Johnson was larger than life. 

Johnson had years of Congressional politicking under his belt when he was thrust into the presidency after John F. Kennedy's assassination. He used that political experience to change America. The Johnson administration ushered in a new era for civil rights, as well as environmental protections, among other cultural paradigm shifts.

Courtesy Cornish College of the Arts

What do acclaimed dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham, drag performer par excellence Jinxx Monsoon and conceptual art darling Sutton Beres Culler have in common?

They are all graduates of Seattle's Cornish College of the Arts.

Courtesy Tacoma Art Museum/Lisa Terry

When we think about blankets, we usually conjure comforting images: babies swaddled in flannel wraps, colorful afghans hand knit by loved ones, puffy quilts that we snuggle under when the weather is cold.

When artist Marie Watt thinks about blankets, she sees the raw materials for sculpture.

Courtesy Book-It Repertory Theatre

Seattle’s Book-It Repertory Theatre is like the "Little Engine That Could."

Courtesy On the Boards

Amy O’Neal is a formally trained white dancer who feels more at home with hip-hop culture and movement than with she does with Western European contemporary art.

Seattle Repertory Theatre/Nate Watters

  Acclaimed playwright Cheryl West’s work has been seen on stages from Washington state to Washington, DC. She’s written for the big screen and for television. This woman knows her stuff.

Courtesy of Seattle Opera/Brandon Patoc

Speight. That's the name that conjures Seattle Opera for tens of thousands of fans.

photo by Benjamin Benschneider, courtesy Seattle Art Museum

It's a Monday afternoon in June, and Seattle Art Museum Director Kimerly Rorschach leans on a metal railing near Elliott Bay at Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park. The sun is shining, seagulls are whirling overhead, and Rorschach is eavesdropping.

photo by Ben Van Houten, courtesy SSO

Russian-born composer Igor Stravinsky's career spanned most of the 20th century, but chances are you know him best for a piece of music he wrote when he was just starting out: "Rite of Spring."

Courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet/Lindsay Thomas

Most people see only the sparkly side of ballet: the live performances, with dancers in costume, pointe shoes tied, orchestra in the pit. Whether it’s the annual holiday production of “Nutcracker” or an edgier, contemporary work, many of the dancers at Pacific Northwest Ballet see performances as a reward for their hours of rehearsal.

Pacific Northwest Ballet Photo/Lindsay Thomas

Pacific Northwest Ballet Principal Dancer Kaori Nakamura remembers the day she got her first pointe shoes.

Seattle Repertory Theatre/Alan Alabastro

After almost three decades on the job, Seattle Repertory Theatre Managing Director Ben Moore will retire at the end of June.

Flickr Photo/Vikalpa

At 22, Joshua Roman became the Seattle Symphony's youngest-ever principal cellist. With his mop of curly brown hair and his baby face, Roman was a distinctive presence at Benaroya Hall.

But just two years after the young musician took up his post, Roman decided to leave the orchestra to carve out his own career as a concert performer.

Flickr Photo/~C4Chaos

Matthew Richter has his dream job. For the past eight months, he has served as Seattle's Cultural Spaces Liaison. But when you ask him to tell you what a cultural space is, he laughs.

"That's the million dollar question,” Richter said. “It's like pornography (you know it when you see it)."

Courtesy of Seattle Art Museum/Jennifer Richard

Seattle Art Museum's waterfront Olympic Sculpture Park was still a work in progress when SAM Education Director Sandra Jackson-Dumont arrived here in 2006.

"The Neukom Vivarium, that big log in the glass case, it was up in a hoist," she recalls. "It looked like some kind of living UFO."

Courtesy of ACT Theatre/John Cornicello

Seattle has a nice reputation. We are squeaky clean, we compost and recycle, and rumor has it we have more people trained in CPR than most cities our size in America.

But a new cabaret show at Seattle's ACT Theatre aims to show the shady past underneath that shiny image. Seattle is a port city, and like every port city, it has had its share of vice, corruption and not-niceness.

Courtesy of Seattle Shakespeare Company/John Ulman

Oscar Wilde is one of those people: You've heard of him, even if you've never read his novels or seen one of his plays.

Successió Miró/Artists Rights Society

Seattle Art Museum contemporary and modern art curator Catharina Manchanda calls Joan Miró one of the great avant-garde artists of the 20th century. But audiences on the West Coast of the United States have never had a chance to see a comprehensive exhibition of Miró's art, until now.

Courtesy of Teatro Zinzanni

Across from the Seattle Center on Mercer Street, there’s a white, pre-fabricated, nondescript building with a couple of flags outside. The exterior is really camouflage for a 100-year-old velvet tent imported from Belgium.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Ellen Forney. Reprinted by arrangement with Gotham Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.

When Ellen Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 16 years ago, her first concern was for her creative future. The award-winning cartoonist prided herself on the artwork and stories she'd come up with during periods she described as manic. Right after her diagnosis, Forney was reluctant to try the drug treatments her psychiatrist prescribed for her. Would she lose her creative edge on lithium? But after a serious period of depression, Forney set out on the ongoing journey to achieve and maintain a state of mental balance.

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