Things to do in Seattle

Erin Kendig's "Cedar"

Detail from Seattle artist Erin Kendig's “Cedar,” part of her show ‘Giants’ at Ghost Gallery (Image courtesy Ghost Gallery)

Arts and craft galore at BAM ARTSfair. (Photo courtesy Bellevue Arts Museum)


Downtown Bellevue may be dominated by its malls, but the best time to shop the suburb is this weekend — at the Bellevue Arts Museum (BAM) ARTSfair. Now in its 73rd year, this expansive outdoor festival of arts and craft features 300 exhibitors showcasing handmade pottery, paintings, textiles, sculpture, photography, ceramics, glass and stuff made of who knows what. For anyone looking to augment an art collection, opportunities abound (and prices are a heck of a lot cheaper than they will be at the Seattle Art Fair next weekend). Indulge yourself, or check everything off your holiday shopping list and have a relaxed December. When your brain is bursting from too many booths, step into the calmer confines of BAM itself, which offers free admission all weekend, and several terrific shows by Northwest artists, including jewelry by local legend Ron Ho, a gorgeous school of glass fish by Joseph Rossano and a far-out (and adult-oriented) comics exhibit by Simon Hanselmann. –B.D.

If you go: BAM ARTSfair in downtown Bellevue, July 26-28, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Free — and free parking in the mall parking lots!)

Painting the Town Red: The Music of Billie Holiday

How about some sultry blues on a summer’s eve? Gifted Seattle jazz veteran Johnaye Kendrick evokes the musical spirit of Billie Holiday in this homage to the divine Lady Day at the Royal Room in Columbia City. With a backup sextet led by (Royal Room founder) Wayne Horvitz on piano, Johnson will dip into repertoire from Holiday’s early, classic recordings on the Columbia label. (Think: “Ooh…what a little moonlight can do …”) The evening begins with pianist-composer Simon Nabatov, performing a solo tribute to another pianist-composer: Herbie Nichols, an esteemed colleague of Holiday’s. –M.B.

If you go: The Royal Room, July 26. ($15-$20)

Choreographer Mark Haim
Strictly Seattle choreographer/instructor Mark Haim (Photo by Tim Summers)

Strictly Seattle

Velocity Dance Center’s revered three-week dance intensive may be called Strictly Seattle, but the dancers who attend each summer come from far and wide. They are beginning students who’ve always wanted to try their hands (and feet) at modern dance. They are accomplished ballerinas looking for a crash course in hip-hop. They are dance teachers looking to expand their skill set into dance films. And they are all in for a treat, because the faculty includes Seattle’s best choreographers, including Wade Madsen, Dani Tirrell, Kate Wallich, Mark Haim, Maya Soto, Pat Graney and KT Niehoff. But what’s in it for those of us who prefer to keep our dance moves inside the car? This weekend’s final showcase of performances — all developed and honed over the past month — serves as a joyous grand finale for students, faculty and audiences alike. –B.D.

If you go: Strictly Seattle at Broadway Performance Hall, July 26 at 8 p.m. and July 27 at 2 and 8 p.m. ($15-$50)

Erin Kendig's "Ferns Moss Maple Smoke"
Erin Kendig’s ‘Ferns, Moss, Maple, Smoke’ (Courtesy of Ghost Gallery)

Erin Kendig: Giants

Seattle artist Erin Kendig uses watercolor, gouache and an illustrator’s eye to create surreal paintings of Pacific Northwest flora. Trees, fungi, lichen and what she calls her “moss buddies” feature prominently in these delicate yet evocative works, which although inspired by nature, suggest something a bit sci-fi. Like pages in a beloved children’s book, the imagined landscapes tell a story that lingers in memory. Her recent work addresses climate change by way of burned forests, such as in pieces that reveal bright orange, green and yellow sprouts on black backgrounds of charred bark. In another painting, a red sun recognizable to those of us growing accustomed to wildfire smoke floats above a hazy forest. And in a series inspired by the Coal Creek Natural Area, leaves and buds emerge alienlike from the heavily logged region. It’s lovely work, rooted in a terrifying prospect. –B.D.

If you go: Ghost Gallery, artist talk July 27, 4-6 p.m. Exhibit continues through Aug. 4. (Free)

Movies at the Mural
The summer ritual known as Movies at the Mural (Image courtesy Seattle Center)

Movies at the Mural

What is it that’s so appealing about watching a movie outdoors? Maybe there’s something left over from our caveman brains that recalls marveling at the stars against a dark sky. While that may be tenuous science, there is something magical about packing a picnic and joining the crowd at Seattle Center for the Movies at the Mural series. This year’s lineup includes some old chestnuts (The Princess Bride, Dirty Dancing) and some newer fare as well (Crazy Rich Asians, Bohemian Rhapsody and Black Panther). But whether the plot is fantasy, romance or rock ’n’ roll, everything looks better with the Space Needle in the background. –B.D.

If you go: Movies at the Mural, on the Mural Amphitheatre lawn, Saturdays July 27-Aug. 24, screenings start about 9 p.m. (Free)

Butoh performer Joan Laage
Butoh performer Joan Laage at the Seattle Japanese Garden (Photo by Jim Coleman)

Wandering and Wondering in the Japanese Gardens

Butoh, the powerfully meditative Japanese dance idiom, should be right at home at South Seattle’s Kubota Garden this weekend. In this peaceful oasis, a free, site-specific performance amid trees and natural wonders will unfold to live music over three hours. It is directed by butoh master Joan Laage of Seattle-based Kogut Butoh. (Feel free to waft in and out, as your garden wanderings permit.) And those who get hooked on butoh are in luck: next week, as part of its monthly First Thursday cultural celebration, the contemplative Seattle Japanese Garden will host another performance by Laage and her dancers, as well as a new photography exhibit depicting the art of butoh. –M.B.

If you go: Wandering and Wondering: Kubota Garden, July 28, noon-3 p.m.; Seattle Japanese Garden, Thursday, Aug. 1, 3:30-6:30  p.m. (Free)

The Events

After the 2011 mass shooting at a Norwegian summer camp, where a xenophobic terrorist killed dozens of people, Scottish playwright David Greig became compelled by the ways in which people who witness and survive horrific violence are also victims of it. The massacre inspired his play The Events, which delves into the mind of a survivor of an imagined but similarly racist shooting at a community center. In his take, a religious leader struggles to comprehend and cope with trauma, guilt and anger, and also how to mourn members of her church’s multicultural choir who perished during the tragedy. The play is unusual in its format, which features two actors and a local community choir. (Participating groups alternate in the show, including the Northwest Firelight Chorale, the Seattle Labor Chorus and the Everett Chorus.) The production, staged by Paul Budraitis, inaugurates Intiman’s new free-for-everyone admission policy. In an effort to become more accessible to patrons of all budgets and backgrounds, the company will not charge admission to its 2019 shows — but will happily accept donations. –M.B.

If you go: Erickson Theatre through Aug. 10. (Free, though reservations are strongly encouraged)

Blown Away
Seattle glassblower Janusz Pozniak, a contestant on ‘Blown Away’ (Still from Season 1 trailer/Netflix)

Blown Away

It sounds like a joke — a reality show about glassblowers competing against each other to be named “Best in Blow.” (Do they hurl molten glass at each other during the customary fits of pique?) But, in fact, it’s a real reality show, called Blown Away, currently streaming in its entirety on Netflix. The glass smackdown features two local competitors: Janusz Pozniak, who hails from Seattle and boasts 30 years of experience, and Edgar Valentine, from Tacoma, the youngest competitor at age 22. Both have spent time at Pilchuck, the globally esteemed glassblowing school in Stanwood. No spoilers here, just word that while the premise is boilerplate reality show (with harsh judge assessments, such as saying a piece looks like something “out of a gift shop”), the content has a nice built-in tension — turns out glass creations smashing to the floor are just as exciting as cakes collapsing. But even more alluring than meeting the quirky characters is watching those glowing globs of hot glass shape shift into solid forms. –B.D.

If you watch: Blown Away, streaming on Netflix. 

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About the Authors & Contributors

Misha Berson

Misha Berson

Misha Berson was the chief theatre critic for The Seattle Times for 25 years, now working as a freelance writer and teacher.