10 things to do in Seattle

Installations from Katie Miller's 'Presence of Absence' seen at Mad Art in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood, July 9, 2018. (Photo by Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

Katie Miller: The Presence of Absence

Seattle installation artist Katie Miller has spent her summer constructing wooden corrals and cutting countless tiny windows in oversized sheets of heavy paper. It’s all in the name of creating an abstract microcosm of our city’s explosive growth, housed inside Mad Art Studio in South Lake Union. “There are so many things missing now,” Miller says, of the city’s changing landscape. “There is a presence to the things we’re missing.” Read our full story. B.D.

If you go: Katie Miller, Opening event July 20, 6 p.m. Artist’s talk July 29, 2 p.m. Installation runs through August 18

Farm Fest

Celebrate Seattle’s largest urban farm, Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands (RBUFW) all day Saturday at Farm Fest. The festival highlights many of RBUFW’s offerings — from educational cooking demonstrations (spring rolls and healthy Ethiopian food) to blueberry picking in the food forest. Plus, there will be farm tours and herb crown crafting. They’ll be partnering with nonprofit The Common Acre to lead pollinator demonstrations as well as featuring live music and food trucks Where Ya At, Matt? and Frelard Tamales will be onsite. Head south on the light rail to Rainier Beach and get inspired by this Seattle treasure. —N.C.

If you go: Farm Fest, Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 21 (Free)

ARC Dance Company

Every summer, Marie Chong, artistic director of ARC Dance, assembles professional dancers from across the country for a two-weekend event called “Summer Dance at the Center.” This year most of the returning dancers are from Ballet Idaho and the Oakland Ballet, while guest choreographers hail from Canada (Wen Wei Wang, Paul Destrooper), San Francisco (Marika Brussel) and Seattle (Bruce McCormick, Jason Ohlberg). The program includes five world premieres, more than any previous line-up. At a rehearsal last week, the fare looked fascinating. McCormick’s “Palatial Vestiges” is a rhythmically complex, haiku-inspired study in simultaneity, with 10 dancers sometimes following their own idiosyncratic paths, only to connect unexpectedly in duos or trios, or snap — however briefly — into group synchrony. Brussel’s “Skin of the Sea” (inspired by Stevie Smith’s great poem “Not Waving But Drowning”) explores watery motifs in rippling, wavering movement. —M.U.

If you go: ARC Dance Company, Leo Kreielshiemer Theatre at Seattle Repertory Theatre, July 20-21 and July 26-28 at 8 p.m, July 22 at 5 p.m. ($20-$40)

Sea to Shining Sea

Seattle native Maximón Monihan wrote, directed and stars in this amiable movie about a pair of aging skateboarding friends who make a cross-country road trip. Stops along the way include the Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and a haunted house deep in the woods of Pennsylvania. The highlight here is Monihan’s co-star, Dutch-Surinamese actor Robert Boerleider, a “multiphobic person” who has very odd takes on the world. Whether he’s gamely sampling “Alien Fresh Jerky” in Nevada or proposing that all of humankind could live in peace if they’d just wear clothes from Old Navy, Boerleider is a hoot. The film zips along a bit too briskly for some of the heavier points it wants to make about poverty in America and the wisdom of turning tragic sites (the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot) into tourist attractions. But Lowell A. Meyer’s cinematography is gorgeous and the lilting, trippy harpsichord-funk soundtrack (courtesy of Sun Ra and His Intergalactic Infinity Arkestra) is a treat. —M.U.

If you go: Sea to Shining Sea, Northwest Film Forum, July 23 at 3 p.m. (Filmmakers are expected to attend.) $7-$12

Three Sacks Full Pop-up

Chef Michael Tsai and Sommelier Matthew Curtis bring their pop-up project Three Sacks Full to Capitol Hill’s Bar Ferdinand this Monday with a night of dishes celebrating locally-sourced ingredients, heavy on wonderful summer produce. Partners Tsai and Curtis are recent transplants from the Bay Area, who’ve been popping up around town since February. While the menu varies, it most recently starred dishes like pork shoulder with coal-roasted onions and ugly noodles with English peas, little turnips, Tokyo bekana greens, aioli and mint. Tsai’s dishes, inspired by the farming that’s centered him for nearly the past decade, are paired with Curtis’ wine selections, chosen as much for flavor as they are for where they come from. It’s scheduled to be another hot one and crisp vegetables expertly prepared by someone else sounds just like what we all need.—N.C.

If you go: Three Sacks Full Pop-Up, Bar Ferdinand, 5 p.m. July 23

Carrie McGee, “Insect Wings” (2018), rust, acrylic, oil & metal leaf on transparent acrylic
Carrie McGee, “Insect Wings” (2018), rust, acrylic, oil & metal leaf on transparent acrylic (Photo courtesy of the artist and Patricia Rovzar Gallery)

Carrie McGee: Balance

Glowing and floating, yet meticulously tidy, the wall installations of artist Carrie McGee are contemplations of color combination that also explore “variation within repeated forms” (McGee’s words). Those forms are small, one-inch-thick panels of acrylic. There are between three and a dozen panels per piece, some square, some rectangular. Using oil paint, acrylic paint and rust, McGee creates vaporous, fluid patterns within each panel. Her aim, she says, is “to create luminous works that emanate a meditative pulse.” Each installation draws and holds your eye, but their titles steer you in a variety of directions. Some are abstract (“Light Play,” “Blue Vibration,” “Innermost”). Others allude to natural phenomena (“Shoreline,” “Poppies in Bloom”) as if to stretch the possibilities that abstraction can encompass. “Insect Wings,” for instance, prompts you to think of the hues and patterns of those encountered in everyday life. Rigid form sits in pleasing tension with swirls of warm, subtle color throughout the show. This is gorgeous, mysterious work. —M.U.

If you go: Carrie McGee, Patricia Rovzar Gallery through July 25

Jonathan Happ, “Slip” (2017), oil on canvas PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of the artist and Blur Gallery/Linda Hodges Gallery
Jonathan Happ, “Slip” (2017), oil on canvas (Photo courtesy of the artist and Blur Gallery/Linda Hodges Gallery)

Jonathan Happ

In the oil paintings of Seattle artist Jonathan Happ, it always seems to be nighttime. Yet the subjects he depicts — especially lone male figures in pale hoodies — are weirdly aglow. Happ may be young (born in 1988) but he already has a distinctive and immediately recognizable style. In image after image, his subjects are steeped in a sense of isolation as they make their way through deep woods. Some kind of color-draining spotlight is trained on them; their faces are always turned away from us. Dark paint, thinly applied with a sheen on it, creates images that look photograph-derived but mind-distorted. Even when his young men have company (as in “Trail” and “Duet”), they appear to be studies in estrangement. “Slip” is the most unsettling piece in the show, with a bending male figure seemingly trying to disappear by merging with a curving, illuminated tree trunk. This is eerie, beguiling work by a painter who has complete command over his chosen medium. —M.U.

If you go: Jonathan Happ, Blur Gallery at Linda Hodges Gallery through July 28 

Femme Fatale

Can Can Cabaret’s latest burlesque production re-imagines the story of Mata Hari, the Dutch exotic dancer who was convicted of being a spy for Germany during WWI and executed by firing squad in 1917. The Can Can Dance Company is accompanied by the live sounds of Seattle’s exquisitely artful retro band, Prom Queen (“Doom-Wop”), in this tale about “an infamous dance superstar whose use of love, sex, corruption and deceit sees no limits.” Expect some lovely ’60s-style vocals from Seattle singer Celene Ramadan and buff and/or lissome scantily clad bodies performing some unusual routines in this celebration of “the mother of modern feminism.” Can Can regulars JonnyBoy and Shadou are joined by dancers JJ Jones and, making his Can Can debut, Jordan “Hot Cakes” Taylor. —M.U.

If you go: Femme Fatale, Can Can Culinary Cabaret through Sept. 30 ($35-$65)

Shows You Can Still Catch!

Jono Vaughan

Current winner of the prestigious Betty Bowen Award, Seattle artist Jono Vaughan is creating 42 garments honoring 42 transgender lives lost to violent crime. Her process is both high-tech and age-old: She pinpoints the location of each murder using Google maps, abstracts the image into a graphic design, has the design printed onto fabric and then, with her team of collaborator seamstresses, painstakingly sews a garment as a way of “returning the humanity to that person.” You can see several of these garments at Seattle Art Museum (through August 5). B.D. Read our profile of Jono Vaughan.

RYAN! Feddersen

Tacoma artist RYAN! Feddersen is on the rise, making work that challenges the misconception that Native American art is something of the past. Participate in her Post-Human Archive, an interactive pop-up at Seattle Art Museum that documents museum visitor “types” just as photographer Edward Curtis documented Native Americans (through September 9). Or check out In Red Ink, a show she curated for the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner, composed entirely of work by contemporary Native American artists (through September 23). B.D. Read our profile of RYAN! Feddersen.

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About the Authors & Contributors

Michael Upchurch

Novelist Michael Upchurch (“Passive Intruder”) has written about books and the Seattle arts scene for the past 30 years.