Seattle Weekender: Northwest poetry and beer, the Americanization of India, and an old German man paints

Crosscut's guide to a culturally enriching weekend in the city. Or at least some fun.

Crosscut archive image.

Godfrey Daniels performs at the Moisture Festival

Crosscut's guide to a culturally enriching weekend in the city. Or at least some fun.

Akash Kapur: A Portrait of Modern India

The son of an Indian father and American mother, writer Akash Kapur says he grew up considering the two countries home, despite the fact that they were physically and culturally on opposite sides of the planet. Since the early ’90s, when India liberalized its economy, Kapur has watched with excitement and apprehension as his Eastern home came closer and closer to resembling his Western one. In his book, India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India, which came out just last week, Kapur explores the Americanization of India’s economy and society, offering what The Economist calls “a corrective to a simplistic 'new, happy narrative' of a rising India.”

Kapur offers countless observations on India’s tangible Americanization — software complexes rising out of farmland; young Indians referring to their colleagues as “dude”; the plans recently announced by Starbucks and Amazon to enter the Indian market. But most interesting are Kapur’s observations on India’s intangible Americanization: the culture’s adoption of what he sees as a distinctly American can-do ambition and entrepreneurial spirit. American influence has shaken up the order of Indian society, Kapur explains, perhaps not without consequence. “The American promise of renewal and reinvention is deeply seductive — but, as I have learned since coming back home, it is also profoundly menacing.”

If you go: Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Avenue, Mar. 23, 7:30 p.m., $5 more info 

Gerhard Richter Painting

For German artist Gerhard Richter, “Painting is a secretive business.” The reclusive, 79-year-old artist allowed filmmaker Corinna Belz to become a fly on his wall, documenting his creation of a series of large scale abstract canvasses. The film intersperses footage of the artist planning exhibitions and attending museum shows with scenes from inside his studio — watching Richter apply large brushstrokes of primary colors, drag the paint across the canvas with a giant squeegee and then scrape off layers in thick lines.

While Richter’s process may not be as energetic as the paint-throwing Jackson Pollock, critics find in his technique a certain mesmerization — there exists an element of chance but it is a slow and decisive one. The film offers a look inside the secretive studio of a man many call the greatest artist alive today; the perfect opportunity for those interested in the creative process—and a nice follow up to the Seattle Rep’s ‘Red’. “You get the feeling the paintings are staring at you,” says Belz. “I wanted the viewer to become immersed in the subtly suspenseful cycle of the process.”

If you go: Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave, Mar.23-Mar. 29, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. daily, $6 members; $7 seniors, students, children under 12; $10 general, more info

The Moisture Festival

Every year for the past 9 years the Moisture Festival has been reminding Seattleites that the city they live in is crawling — or, rather, soaring, tumbling, and free-wheeling — with aerialists, jugglers, magicians, hula-hoopers, fire-eaters, dancing bears, and even a specialist in “facial contortion and pogo stick straight jacket escapology.” Touted as “the world’s largest Comedy/Varieté Festival,” the four-week-long fest features more than 100 performers, so check the site’s calendar to decide which shows to attend.

A returning crowd favorite is Godfrey Daniels, a gangly puppet-like clown who plays gently with large, floating balls. If you read anything inappropriate into that last sentence, the Moisture Festival is definitely for you. Bawdy humor is a welcome staple, but don’t let that deter younger attendees — matinee and earlier evening shows are family-friendly. Innuendo will soar over their heads like a terrier on a flying trapeze.

It may not be a spiegeltent, but Hale’s Palladium provides the rustic atmosphere of a barn overrun by rowdy circus revelers. This year the vaudevillian invasion also extends to the Georgetown Ballroom and the Broadway Performance Hall, with several sign language interpreted shows. Seattle theatre personality Kevin Joyce MCs two shows on Sunday, with musical accompaniment by the band from SANCA (the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts), the city circus hub largely responsible for the upbringing of the next generation of Seattle’s circus folk.

If you go:  Hale’s Palladium, 4301 Leary Way NW; Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway; Georgetown Ballroom, 5623 Airport Way S, through April 8, $10-$25, more info

Great Beer and Poetry

Wine has long been characterized as the intellectual poet’s beverage of choice, but, as Seattle microbrew fans know, there are whole volumes of poetry contained in just one glass of what Edgar Allan Poe called that “mingled cream and amber.” Happily for beer drinkers and poets alike, Richard Hugo House is teaming up with Breadline performance series to bring us a new take on their Cheap Wine and Poetry Series: Great Beer and Poetry, this Saturday at SPLAB (SPoken word LAB). The evening is part of SPLAB’s Cascadia poetry festival, which gathers poets from California all the way up to the Alaska panhandle and over to Western Montana, in an effort to explore the culture of the region and forge connections between its inhabitants.

The entire festival is worth checking out, but if you find yourself caught up in other activities (all inspired by this document, I imagine) this is the one to attend. A $5 suggested donation gets you access to readings by a slew of talented and award-winning Northwest poets, as well as free beer from the award-winning Elysian Brewing Company. In the words of the late, great Charles Baudelaire: “Don’t be martyred slaves of Time,/ Get drunk!/ Stay drunk!/ On beer, virtue, poetry, whatever!”

If you go: SPLAB, 3651 S. Edmunds St, March 24, 9:30 p.m., $5 suggested donation, more info

Brahms’ Violin Concerto

If you still haven’t seen conductor Ludovic Morlot perform since he took up his post at Seattle Symphony in September, then ce weekend, c’est le moment. Especially because we’re now sharing Morlot with prestigious European opera house La Monnaie/De Munt, and this weekend’s performance of Brahms’ Violin Concerto will be his last in Seattle for the next few months. Morlot will be conducting world-renowned violinist Jennifer Koh, who has been internationally praised for her technical mastery and the sense of adventure she brings to her performance.

As author and music critic Bernard Jacobson will explain in a pre-concert lecture, the three works presented reflect the power of orchestral music to tell stories. In addition to Brahms’ piece, the program includes selections from Schubert’s Rosamunde, and Janácek’s Taras Bulba, named after the historical romance by Russian novelist Nikolai Gogol, which tells the story of a man and his two sons who set out to join other Cossacks in the war against Poland. If you needed one more reason to go, the show is part of the symphony’s Family Connections program, which offers free companion tickets for up to two children between the ages of 8 and 18.

If you go: Benaroya Hall, 200 University Street, Mar. 24 at 8 p.m., Mar. 25 at 2 p.m., $17-$110, more info 


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