11 things to do in Seattle

Asaf Gam Hacohen’s “A Star Plant,” part of a group show of Israeli photographers at Winston Wachter gallery. (Photo courtesy of the gallery.)

Soraya Chemaly
Soraya Chemaly speaks at Seattle Arts & Lectures (Photo by Karen Sayre)

Soraya Chemaly: Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger

Soraya Chemaly begins her acclaimed 2018 essay collection with a vivid image: her own mother silently hurling her prized wedding china off the veranda. As a young girl, the activist and writer knew her mother was furious, but as her mother never said a word about what happened, she learned the lesson many women do — find a coping mechanism for your anger, then box it up and stow it away like special occasion dinnerware. In Rage Becomes Her, Chemaly digs deep into the reasons we squelch rage, and the ways, once freed, it can be used to promote positive change. She’ll speak about all of the above during this appearance at Seattle Arts and Lectures, so attend if, oh, you know, you have something you’re feeling mad about these days. –B.D.

If you go: Seattle Arts and Lectures at Benaroya Hall, Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m. ($35-$60)

Aaron Dixon: My People Are Rising

Two years after the original chapter of the Black Panther Party was born in Oakland, California, came the second — right here in Seattle. Among its founders was Aaron Dixon, a Chicago-born teenager who had recently graduated from Garfield High School in the Central District. With the blessing of Panthers leader Bobby Seale, Dixon and his fellows opened the Northwest regional BPP headquarters and for the next 10 years organized free breakfasts for kids, free transportation to visit family members in prison and a free neighborhood medical clinic. These days Dixon lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is visiting Seattle to discuss his memoir My People Are Rising, along with his vision of “what Black radical imagination might look like in the 21st century and beyond.” –J.Z.

If you go: Northwest African American Museum, Jan. 31 at 6:30 p.m. (Free)

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Kinesis Dance by John C. Robinson
Kinesis Project Theatre Company, during a summer waterfront performance featuring a rip-stop dress designed by Seattle artist Celeste Cooning. This weekend’s event, called Wake, will include 50 umbrellas designed by the same artist. (Photo by John C. Robinson)

Viaduct closing/tunnel opening public celebration and Wake performance

This weekend marks the official changing of Seattle’s waterfront-infrastructure guard — just as our long-awaited (and long-hated) tunnel opens, our beloved (and rickety) viaduct closes. Tickets for the bicycle ride and tunnel/viaduct walk are sold out, but you can still head down to celebrate (or shout your frustration into the Salish Sea). Friends of the Waterfront Seattle are presenting Wake, a large-scale, brightly colored, site-specific dance performance by Kinesis Project Dance Theatre, which will employ oodles of umbrellas designed by Seattle artist Celeste Cooning. -B.D.

If you go: Pier 58 (between the Seattle Aquarium and the Great Wheel), Feb. 2 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. (Free)

Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery: Grand Opening

A new gallery in White Center is having its grand opening pachanga this Saturday. The Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery will be an “alternative space in which to live, heal, function, and create,” according to its website. (Nepantla means “space in the middle” in the Aztec Nahuatl language.) Founded by Chicano artist Jake Prendez and his partner Judy Avitia-Gonzalez, the space — painted concha pink and teal — has been in the works since last summer. The inaugural exhibit, Love Without Borders, features 13 artists, including Prendez himself. His work includes portraits that recall Loteria cards and religious paintings of saints, except instead of Europeans his subjects are Latinx people with thick braided hair, hoop earrings and faces sometimes painted in the style of el Dia de Los Muertos. –A.P.F.

If you go: Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery. Grand opening Feb 2. From 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. Exhibit runs through Feb. 28. (Free)

Children’s Film Festival

Kids deserve to know there’s more to movies than Disney princesses and Marvel remakes. And there’s no better place to expand their silver screen experience than Northwest Film Forum’s annual Children’s Film Festival. Featuring more than 100 shorts, docs, animation and foreign films, the fest is refreshing and incredibly fun. On Saturday, check out the “Sieze the Day” shorts program (for kids ages 5 and older), featuring flicks about a cat that plays checkers, a witch working on her cackle and two robots trying to save a whale. –B.D.

If you go: Children’s Film Festival at Northwest Film Forum through Feb. 9. (Times and prices vary)

Uncle Vanya in rehearsal by The Seagull Project
Peter Crook and Alexandra Tavares of The Seagull Project, in rehearsal for ‘Uncle Vanya.’ (Photo from Facebook) 

Uncle Vanya

It's Super Bowl weekend! But since a couple non-Seattle teams are playing, we advise avoiding the hype (and the halftime show) and doing something completely different. Perhaps an afternoon with Anton Chekhov? Local theater company The Seagull Project is so obsessed with the Russian playwright that over the past eight years it has staged all his major works. (In football circles, that’s akin to painting your belly in team colors every weekend.) For this final edition, it presents Uncle Vanya (1898), the classic tale of drama that erupts when a citified professor comes home to the country with plans to sell the family estate. You won’t see a read-option or an onside kick, but there is a dramatic hail mary of sorts. –B.D.

If you go: ACT Theatre, Feb. 1-14, times vary. ($32-$52)

Civic Saturday

Civic Saturday is the kind of radically inclusive public event that sounds a little weird going in, but feels so right on the way out. Part secular church service, part civic pep rally, these ongoing events have been happening in neighborhood venues throughout Seattle since 2017 and are the brainchild of Eric Liu, a prolific local author and public speaker who worked in the White House under President Bill Clinton. Liu and his team are intent on fostering constructive civic engagement from regular folks whose main qualifications are common sense and caring about the world. Expect spoken word from resident poet Naa Akua, a stunningly reasonable sermon from Liu and a couple of awkward but adorable group singalongs. –J.Z.

If you go: El Centro de la Raza, Feb. 2 at 10:30 a.m. (Free)

The Cumbieros

Limber up your hips and shine your dancing shoes — The Cumbieros are back for a night of live music and dancing in Columbia City. This Seattle-based group of musicians hailing from Chile, Brazil and North America play cumbia, a popular form of dance music that originated in Columbia but evolved from its traditional form as it spread across Latin America. The soul of cumbia’s sound can be heard in anything from Selena’s “Baila Esta Cumbia” to more contemporary artists such as Khruangbin. The style played by The Cumbieros is “new cumbria,” as they mix the traditional music with ska, psychedelic guitar and rock and roll. The best way to hear what it sounds like? Go dancing. –A.P.F.

If you go: The Royal Room, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. ($10-$15)

Medical Rx DJ set

Shout-out to Pony, the Capitol Hill dive bar and gay nightclub, for helping keep Seattle weird. And shout-out to Medical Rx doing its part, too, supplying Pony-going partiers a monthly dosage of scuzzy, sleazy, irresistible dance music. Medical Rx brings timeless jams — dark, disco-fied and ecstatic — that span all manner of synthesizer-heavy dance-floor freakouts, from the 1970s to the day before yesterday. Having DJs spin actual records in on trend at local bars, but few of them are as focused or as skilled as this bunch, all aligned with Seattle’s premier synthwave label Medical Records. Along with regulars Dr. Troy, Lord Phatrick and DJ Sh1-tr, tonight features DJ Mr. Snatches, all playing all vinyl all night. –J.Z.

If you go: Pony, Feb. 2 at 9 p.m. (No cover)

From Where I Stand: Israeli photography

Looking at Asaf Gam Hacohen’s photos is a bit of a brain teaser. The bright, highly manipulated images are clearly city scenes, which your mind automatically wants to make into places you know. Isn’t that just down the street? But that’s not likely the case, unless you’re familiar with Israel’s urban centers. Hacohen’s work is part of a group show organized by Tel Aviv native and Seattle resident Arit Gordon, whose aim is to increase local understanding of Israeli artistry. (Also on view is work by Yair Barak and Gidon Levin.) Step closer to Hacohen’s photos and you begin to see people, plazas, buildings — things that shared reiterate our human reality. –B.D.

If you go: Winston Wachter through March 2. (Free)

Cherdonna Shinatra
Cherdonna and her dance company Donna, performing in ‘Ditch’ at Frye Art Museum. (Photo by Jenny May Peterson)

Cherdonna Shinatra: Ditch

Cherdonna Shinatra, aka Seattle dancer and performance artist Jody Kuehner, has been causing audiences to crack up, cringe and contemplate gender roles for over a decade. As a queer woman playing a man in female drag, her act has layers upon layers — and the same goes for her makeup, which takes eyes and lips to sparkly extremes. Her newest work, Ditch, would seem the logical extension of her look and loose-limbed physical comedy, as she becomes a full-on clown sporting a romper in Day-Glo colors. She performs at the Frye Art Museum (in a stunning run of 80 consecutive shows), with an alleged goal to make people happy in unhappy times. But as with most clowns, the result is more disturbing than delightful. –B.D.

If you go: Frye Art Museum, shows daily except Mondays through Apr. 28. (Free)


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About the Authors & Contributors

Agueda Pacheco Flores

Agueda Pacheco Flores

Agueda Pacheco Flores is formerly a reporter at Crosscut, where she focused on arts and culture.