Sir Mix-a-Lot goes classical, celebrate your fro, Rebecca Solnit's wise words, a revolution of dance and more.
· denotes events that are $15 or less
AFROS: A Celebration of Natural Hair
Brooklyn-based photographer Michael July spent 5 years documenting natural hair in all its myriad ways: glam, stoic, sexy and just plain I-want-to-squeal cute. NAAM hosts an exhibit full of portraits of creative and political folk that span all ethnicities and ages (8 months to 80 years old). Later this month, you and your hair can show off at an Afropunk party hosted by DJs Riz Rollins and Tony Goods.
Terence Nance, one of hundreds of portraits in Michael July's "AFROS: A Celebration of Natural Hair". Courtesy of Fort Wayne Museum of Art Collection
If you go: AFROS: A Celebration of Natural Hair, Northwest African American Museum, Through Sept. 8. ($7); Afropunk party on June 28 ($15). — F.D.
Just Be Your Selfie
I’ve yet to see Echo (The Big White Head sculpture) now towering on the Seattle waterfront, but I will surely do so soon and I will properly whip out my cell phone to snap a selfie. Same goes with Dylan Neuwirth’s latest installation, a 25-foot neon sculpture now hanging from the trees in Occidental Park.
"Just Be Your Selfie" by Dylan Neuwirth, now hanging in Pioneer Square's Occidental Park. Photo: Tim Lennon
Neuwirth, who according to his Twitter feed had one heckuva time hoisting his “Just Be Your Selfie” creation, can now bask in the neon glow. Selfies are also a central theme in Tariqa Waters’ installation, those colorful acrylic mirrors now spread out throughout the park. A third installation by Sam Trout wraps light poles in colorful tape. They’re all part of ARTSparks, which kicks off with First Thursday.
If you go: Just Be Your Selfie, one of several interactive art installations, Occidental Park, Through September (Free). — F.D.
Closing out an exciting year of the Seattle Arts and Lectures Series is Rebecca Solnit, a writer whose topics span urban landscape, art, history and ecology, and whose works drift in and out of memoir and essay. She has a meandering, extensively researched approach through which you’re bound to learn a lot, including about yourself. Solnit’s bibliography (A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas) gives you a sense of the scope of her material. These nearly impossible undertakings are all driven by gorgeous, sometimes breath-holding-worthy, prose. From her newest book, The Faraway Nearby: “Not a few stories are sinking ships, and many of us go down with these ships even when the lifeboats are bobbing all around us.”
If you go: Rebecca Solnit, Town Hall, June 5 ($5-15) — N.C.
On The Boards’ 2014 NW New Works Festival
Two weekends of explosive creativity kicks off Friday night and seriously, this is the sort of event that you politely steer your wee-bit-boring friends to in order to hip them up. There’s dance (Linda Austin), dance+video (Anna Conner & Co.), music+dance (Pennington + Bischoff + Reker) and puppetry! (Kyle Loven). There’s also Sarah Rudinoff, whose 20-minute theatrical piece is all about identity. “I started with the idea of who we pretend to be and all the masks we wear and how that butts up against social media,” she says. Rudinoff’s a force and every time I’ve seen her, I cannot look away. An entirely different bunch of performers takes over both On the Boards venues next weekend, including Seattle dancer Amy O’Neal and performance artist Wayne Bund.
If you go: NW New Works Festival, On The Boards, June 6-8 and June 13-15 ($14-$30). — F.D.
Seattle Symphony’s Sonic Evolution
When maestro Ludovic Morlot moved to Seattle from France some two years ago, one of the first things he did was to get up-to-speed on the Who’s Who of the local music scene. And that included discovering musician Anthony Ray, better known in these parts as Sir Mix-A-Lot.
On Friday, Morlot and Mix-A-Lot will share the stage for orchestral versions of “Baby Got Back” and “Posse on Broadway.” The orchestrations were arranged by Gabriel Prokofiev (yes, Sergey’s grandson), who also happens to be a DJ and who will also world premiere a Mix-A-Lot inspired composition at this Friday night concert. “Classical music, orchestral music, it’s not just a stuffy thing,” says Morlot, who is now my favorite conductor for signing off on a concert like this. Which leaves me pondering -- Tell 'em to shake it (Shake it!) Shake it (Shake it!). Shake that healthy butt! – does that sound better rapped to strings or to horns? Local band Pickwick is also a special guest on this bill.
If you go: Sonic Evolution, Benaroya Hall, June 6. ($19-$35) — F.D.
Mark Oliver Everett — some call him “E” — is the mastermind behind Eels, and he isn’t one to shy away from his inner weirdo. He imbues his brand of alt-rock with ominous, intelligent flair and delivers his lyrics in a deadpan drawl that could go pound-for-pound with Beck. While many Eels songs are sedate, they insinuate just the right amount of fuzz and distortion. Their music isn’t as lo-fi these days, but it’s still definitely inspired by those sounds. Known also for his eclecticism, Everett’s songs also turn to violins, keys or even glockenspiels when the occasion warrants it. Eels is touring behind its latest LP, “The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett.”
If you go: Eels, The Moore Theater, June 6 ($27). — J.S.H.
Guided by Voices
This band is perhaps best known for amassing a discography that most groups couldn’t achieve in two lifetimes. They have somewhere in the neighborhood of 21 full-length LPs, 17 short EPs, a handful of collaboration albums, seven soundtracks and God only knows what else floating around in record stores and on websites. If you’ve ever listened to them, you’ll know this prolific urgency is extremely present in their music. Guided by Voices are seasoned masters of the two-minute punk blitzkrieg, and it’s truly amazing to see lead singer/principle songwriter Robert Pollard go that crazy on stage as he pushes 60.
If you go: Guided by Voices Showbox Market, June 8 ($35). — J.S.H.
The Mountain Goats
Several years ago, I saw Mountain Goats front man John Darnielle do a solo performance in Meany Hall. I had no idea who the Mountain Goats were, but his songwriting floored me. It’s the near-extinct kind of heart-on-your-sleeve confessional writing that isn’t maudlin. It’s kind of like the way many in my generation felt about Blink-182 when we were 12, and it’s nice to feel it again as adults. The Mountain Goats has progressed from lo-fi to folky poprock in the last two decades, and Darnielle’s bittersweet turns of phrase (“I’m going to make it through this year if it kills me”) get under one’s skin now more than ever.
If you go: The Mountain Goats, Showbox Market, June 10 ($22.50). — J.S.H.
Crosscut's arts coverage is made possible through the generous support of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.