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Jashin Seattle opera
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Credit: Mike Davis / KUOW

Mike's adventures in art: Seattle Opera celebrates Afghan art

If you are looking for some tips on how to experience art in the Seattle area, you are in the right place. In this weekly post, KUOW Arts Reporter Mike Davis gives you tips on what to do around Seattle over the weekend so you can have your own adventures in arts and culture.


Seattle Opera is home to "Jashin: A Celebration of Afghan Arts." This is my pick of the week.

I had a sneak preview of an art exhibit by Artlord, an artist-activist group that started in Kabul, creating murals and art in blasted walls in the city. While this art has been mostly destroyed by the Taliban, photos of the art and original recreations will be on display Saturday.

But that's not all! This event will feature a performance from world-renowned rubab player Homayoun Sakhi. Also, a presentation from film director Roya Sadat who is currently stage director for "A Thousand Splendid Suns," which will premier at the Seattle Opera Feb. 25. My sneak peek included some time watching rehearsals for this production. It will definitely be on my list of picks later this month.

The idea behind the festival is to celebrate Afghan culture and showcase their arts. Their culture has been linked to ours for decades, primarily through war, and this festival is a chance to showcase Afghan beauty, arts, and culture.

"Jashin: A Celebration of Afghan Arts" is at the Opera Center (363 Mercer St.) Feb. 11, 1-5:30 p.m.

"Thick as Mud" is a new exhibit at Henry Art Gallery. Eight artists explore the relationship between people and earth. Their work includes sculptures, audio recordings from swamps, paintings, and more. Mud is the theme that ties it together, but each artist interprets that connection in their own way, creating a cohesive exhibit that tells the story of people and place.

"Thick as Mud" is showing at the Henry Art Gallery Feb. 4 through May 7.


"A History of Theatre: About, By, For, and Near," is playing at the ACT. I went for opening night and was pleasantly surprised to see the play was plot-driven and not styled like a lecture or strictly a history lesson.

The strength of the play was in the device used to transport a company of Black actors through time where they embodied historical African American performers. Powerful moments included Bert Williams, the legendary minstrel performer, speaking in his own voice about his art, how society influenced his art, and the way he used his performances to reclaim power of the image of African Americans.

At times, groups of historical figures talked amongst themselves and the veil of the original company fades, and we are left observing the internal thoughts and inspiration between these legendary performers — some of whom are relatively unknown today.

The weakness of this production is in the story itself. The actual plot is often lost as actors transform between personas. But the rich cultural history and the emotion displayed in the performances push this production forward and make it worth seeing despite the deficiencies of the plot.

"A History of Theater" is showing at A Contemporary Theater Jan. 28 through Feb. 12.

The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, is playing at the Erickson Theatre. Written by Lorraine Hansberry, who also wrote A Raisin in the Sun, this play centers around Sidney, a news paper writer, and his wife Iris, a struggling actress. The heart of the play is Sidney and Iris' struggling marriage, but the driving force of the production are themes of race, political involvement, relationships, sex, and community. These themes are explored through dialogue and monologues as we meet a cast of characters representing different slices of American life in 1960's New York. The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window is showing at the Erickson Theatre Feb. 7 through Feb. 25.

Mike's arts and culture picks for this week were first featured on All Things Considered with KUOW's Kim Malcolm.