Art of Our City | KUOW News and Information

Art of Our City

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.

Courtesy of Annex Theatre/Shane Regan

When Rachel Atkins was 7, she and her sisters got a new stepfather. Atkins loved this man, but when she and her family went out in public, they raised a lot of eyebrows.

Courtesy Spectrum Dance Theater/Nate Watters

When choreographer Donald Byrd first presented "The Minstrel Show" more than 20 years ago, he wasn't ready for the way audiences would react. He recalls one performance in La Jolla, California, when people started yelling at each other across the theater.

Velocity Dance Center/Jacob Rosen

When you ask Seattle dance insiders which young artists they've got their eyes on, 24-year-old Kate Wallich's name almost always rises to the top of the list.

Courtesy of Beth Sellars

Standing in the middle of the main gallery at Cornish College of the Arts, you're surrounded by color: Artist Robert C. Jones' large paintings are vivid swaths of red and green, yellow and blue; punctuated by black lines or circles.

From Seattle Repertory Theater's Facebook page

Playwright Samuel B. Hunter was never a fundamentalist Christian, but his boyhood experience at a Christian school was the inspiration for his new play, "A Great Wilderness."

Courtesy of John Ulman

Stephen Black remembers the moment he decided to bring a play called "The Normal Heart" to Seattle.

KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

On the first Thursday of every month, Pioneer Square transforms itself into a festival of visual art. Most of the commercial galleries in the neighborhood throw open their doors to welcome the moving feast of art lovers who flit from shop to shop, sipping wine and perusing the wares.

courtesy of Radio Raheem

Seattle is a town full of music. From indie rock to folk to rap, the city boasts a bevy of thriving scenes. These days, those scenes tend to cross-pollinate. And that can result in something powerful, especially when a traditional gospel singer is part of the mix.

Flickr Photo/Kryziz Bonny

Washington State Vaccination Rates
During the 2008-2009 school year, Washington state kindergarteners were the least vaccinated in the United States. The opt-out rate of at least once vaccine was 7.6 percent. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control, the opt-out rate has decreased to 4.6 percent. It’s a marked improvement for sure, but Washington state still has the seventh highest vaccination opt-out rate in the country. How have public health officials tackled this issue? Why is Washington state such a likely to place for parents to opt their kids out of vaccinations?

Art Of Our City
Religious leaders often talk about the role of devotion in their work, but what about artists? Or just regular people? Seattle writer Rebecca Brown has invited a range of Seattle-area folks to contemplate devotion. The result is an exhibition at the Hedreen Gallery at Seattle University. What does devotion mean in your life?

Pacific Northwest Ballet Artistic Director Peter Boal
Eight years ago the leadership changed hands at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Peter Boal came to Seattle to assume the role of PNB’s artistic director. The former New York City Ballet principal dancer was committed to PNB’s focus on the work of choreographer George Balanchine. But Boal has expanded PNB’s repertoire, bringing in much more new work and focusing on such choreographers as Twyla Tharp and Christopher Wheeldon, hot shots of contemporary dance making.

Pinball: History You Play!  
Everyone has played pinball, but do you remember that it was once banned? Producer Katy Sewall visits the Seattle Pinball Museum to find the stories behind the fun. Why was the “tilt” invented? What recurring themes show up year after year? How has the sound of pinball changed through the decades?

Flickr Photo/Felipe Fortes

Providing Equal Health Care
The Human Rights Campaign released its 2013 Healthcare Equality Index. The HEI is a survey of how health care facilities treat patients from the LGBT community. Both UW Medicine and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance were recognized for being  a “leader in LGBT health care equality." What does it mean to provide LGBT patient-centered care? Nicki McCraw, the assistant vice president of human resources for UW Medicine explains.  

Art Of Our City
This year could be the last time audiences see Seattle Opera’s current production of the Ring Cycle.  The four-part opera marathon is the story of Norse gods and goddesses, love and greed. The final opera, “Twilight of the Gods," ends with the destruction of the world as the gods and goddesses know it. What does it take to end the world?  Seattle Opera technical director Robert Schaub knows. He’s the man who helped turn the artistic vision into stage reality. Schaub took Marcie Sillman behind the scenes and then sat down to talk about theater magic.

The Interfaith Amigos On The Role Of Ritual
All of us have rituals we engage in.  Maybe you eat lunch at the same restaurant every day.  Maybe you celebrate the holidays each year in a similar manner.  How important is ritual to the human experience? The Interfaith Amigos muse on this subject.

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