Art of Our City

Musician Wayne Horvitz.
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

When Wayne Horvitz moved to Seattle, he was looking for a quiet place to chill out between road trips.

He never imagined himself in a symphony hall.

Seattle mystery author J.A. Jance.
KUOW Photo/Michael Clinard

On a damp gray morning, J.A. Jance sits inside the Seattle Mystery Bookshop. Her cheery yellow blazer stands out in all the gloom.

Jance chuckles as she points out a large shelf devoted to her books.

If you read mystery novels, chances are you’ve run across one of them. Jance has published 51 novels, along with novellas and short stories. They’re divided into four distinct series; three are set in Arizona, where Jance grew up.

"Welfare," by Billy Shire. This denim jacket has metal studs, crystal beads and a call bell on the back. The jacket won the 1974 Levis Denim Art contest. In the background, a photo by Sam Haskins.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Tie-dye. Macrame. Fringes and beads.

If you came of age in the 1960s, you’ll recognize these in the signature look of the era.

Maybe you turned your old jeans into a skirt, or embroidered colorful mandalas onto the back of a faded work shirt. In the 1960s and '70s, clothing was as much about personal expression as it was protection against the elements. But did you know you were creating art?

Composer Wayne Horvitz.
Courtesy of Nica Horvitz

Seattle’s Richard Hugo House is a literary center in a large wood-frame house, just east of Cal Anderson Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The center’s namesake, the late poet Richard Hugo, might be taken aback by the trendy restaurants and modern condo buildings that now vie for space in one of the city’s hippest and most expensive neighborhoods.

Roger Shimomura's "American in Disguise"
Courtesy Tacoma Art Museum

Roger Shimomura wasn't even three years old when he and his family were sent to the Puyallup Assembly Center in 1942. He celebrated his third birthday there.

That's one of his earliest memories.

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.

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

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

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.