Things to do in Seattle: Sept. 5 - 11

A toy rabbit representing endangered species floats above the Carina Nebula in ‘Hat Trick.’ ©2019 Barbara Noah, all rights reserved. Background image courtesy of NASA, ESA, N. Smith (U.C. Berkeley), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA). (Image courtesy of Davidson Gallery)

Jed Dunkerley's Mark and Joshua
‘Mark and Joshua’ by Seattle artist Jed Dunkerley, at Linda Hodges Gallery. (Courtesy Linda Hodges)

First Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square

This week’s First Thursday Art Walk has a back-to-school vibe. Notebooks aren’t required, but you might want to bring one anyway, as the vast variety of art on view in Pioneer Square is bound to spark deep thoughts. We’re especially excited to see paintings by Seattle artist (and Franklin High School art teacher) Jed Dunkerley, who has a knack for creating landscapes that feel both apocalyptic and funny. In this new series, prominent buildings seem to have dropped out of the sky into natural landscapes, a juxtaposition that speaks to our current environmental disorientation. Also invitingly surreal: Seattle artist Whiting Tennis’ new oil paintings, dominated by softly shaded figures that feel nonetheless hulking and ominous. And local artist Barbara Noah asks us to consider our place in the world via the multimedia print series Toss and Turn. For these startling images, she marries NASA space images with toy planes, juggling clubs and balloon animals to raise questions about what belongs where and what happens when our environment spits us out. –B.D.

If you go: First Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square, Sept. 5, 6-8 p.m. (Free) Jed Dunkerley at Linda Hodges Gallery (show runs through Sept. 29); Whiting Tennis at Greg Kucera Gallery (show runs through Nov. 1); Barbara Noah at Davidson Gallery (show runs through Sept. 28). 

Art and Mind 

The tortured artist is an age-old archetype, but do you have to be “mad” to be creative? Director Amélie Ravalec explores the relationship between mental illness and art in her third documentary, Art and Mind. Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Nights” is easily one of the most recognizable works from the post-impressionist era, but its cultural import is irrevocably tied to the infamous lore that Van Gogh cut his ear off, landed in a psychiatric hospital and eventually died by suicide. There are plenty of other artists and thinkers who struggled with mental illness: William Blake, Francisco de Goya, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali and Carl Jung are among those mentioned in the documentary. For a more recent example, look no further than contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama, who chooses to live in a psychiatric hospital, while her famous “Infinity Mirror Room” and other space-bending installations tour the world. In the documentary, Ravalec brings together neuroscientists, psychologists, curators, artists and historians to discuss how mental illness influenced some of history’s most celebrated creatives. Says one gallerist featured in the film, “Some of these artists were visionaries, but does that mean they were mad?” –A.P.F.

If you go: Art and Mind at Northwest Film Forum, Sept. 5 and 7, times vary. ($12)

Wooden Boat Festival
An awesome wooden sailboat navigating the Sound. (Photo by Steve Mullensky, courtesy of the Wooden Boat Festival)

Wooden Boat Festival

Wait — there’s time for one last summertime jaunt! Make it a classic Northwest waterside soiree: the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend. Now in its 43rd year, the event celebrates the long legacy of wood on seas (with nary a jet ski in sight). True-blue boaters can register for classes on countless seagoing topics, including anchoring and docking, bringing solar-power to your boat, designing everything from surfboards to yachts and something called “Care and Feeding of Your Sextant.” Plus live music, sea shanty singing, boat rides and rowing races. But most importantly, there are 300-some pretty boats to ogle, and seed your dreams of sailing off into the sunset. (Note: Salty dogs are welcome but real canines are not.) –B.D.

If you go: Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend. Sept. 6-8, ($15-$30)

As You Like It

According to Will Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” In 2017, Seattle Repertory Theatre took that sentiment to heart and recruited volunteer performers from around the Seattle area to take part in its first Public Works project — a rousingly crosscultural, intergenerational production of the classic Greek tale, “The Odyssey.” This year the call went out again to community groups for a musical version of Shakespeare’s buoyant romance, As You Like It. Originally presented by the Public Theater in Central Park, this adaptation by Shana Taub and Linda Woollery was a Big Apple hit, with a score mashing up folk, pop and R&B sounds. Now Seattle Rep (one of numerous regional theaters using Public Theater’s Public Works model) hopes to capture the same magic on its Bagley Wright Theatre main stage, with a cast of amateurs and professionals under the direction of noted local theater artist Timothy McCuen Piggee. There are no online tickets left (consider all the friends and relations of the voluminous cast vying for them), but standbys are welcome for each of the three performances. –M.B.

If you go: Seattle Repertory Theatre, Sept. 6 at 7:30p.m.; Sept. 7 and 8 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. 

Suzan-Lori Parks
Suzan-Lori Parks (Courtesy Town Hall Seattle)

Suzan-Lori Parks takes over Town Hall

Pulitzer Prize-honored playwright Suzan-Lori Parks is mounting a nonviolent daylong takeover of Town Hall this weekend. And it most certainly will be a creative occupation, celebrating the vibrant arts center’s reopening after an extensive renovation. On Saturday, starting at 2 p.m., Parks will engage in something called “Watch Me Work.” Take her to her word: She’ll be toiling away on a writing project, and you can either watch her doing her thing or bring along something literary to toil on yourself. At some junctures you can ask the prolific Parks questions about how she does what she does, or simply draw inspiration from it. Then at 5 p.m., Parks will give a commissioned talk in the Great Hall, offering “a million humorous and useful pieces of advice” based in part on her marathon 365 Days/365 Plays project, during which she concocted a play a day for an entire year. Finally, at 7 p.m., Parks will perform with her live band, mixing up musical genres and playing acoustic instruments over “thickly layered” loops of “spoken-word velour singing.” –M.B.

If you go: Town Hall Seattle, Sept. 7. Register online or drop by as you please All three events are free.

Look Up Fest: Mars

What music is there for crusaders of the next planetary horizon? This is a question being seriously considered by Look Up Records, which organizes the annual Look Up Fest in Ballard. This year, the boutique event is bringing space down to Earth (and sending it back to the stratosphere). Twelve Pacific Northwest bands that play “space age dreamy music” and exude “Martian vibes” will perform at this year’s galactic-themed festival. Get lost in the smooth psychedelic tunes from SEALIFE or float away with the dreamy and melancholy jams from Sea Salt. All 12 of the musicians are included in a soundtrack that will be sent to NASA and SpaceX, the two entities working on sending astronauts to Mars. “It’s going to be a long, isolated journey,” the festival’s website says. “So we might as well entertain them.” Aside from music, festival attendees are invited to take part in an interactive art piece, entitled “Spectra,” which creates striking light visuals, or find some time to heal whatever it is you want to heal at a “guided forest bath” with a certified community herbalist from Georgetown. –A.P.F.

If you go: Look Up Fest: Mars at Substation in Ballard, Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. ($19)

Margaret Atwood
Author Margaret Atwood at the 2015 Texas Book Festival in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons.)

Midnight Monday release event: Margaret Atwood's The Testaments

Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985, and her dystopian vision has been causing blood to run cold ever since. Now Atwood is back, 34 years later, with a sequel. Called The Testaments, it takes place 15 years after the original iconic novel. Anticipation for the follow-up is feverish — stoked by the Hulu adaptation (which spun off from its source material after the first season). The new book has been under strict embargo, but literary critics are abuzz. It already has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, even though almost no one has read it. No one, that is, except the 800 Amazon customers who received it early because of a shipping glitch. The rest of us will have to wait until 11:45 p.m. Monday, when Elliott Bay Books is hosting a midnight release event for The Testaments. Don your red capes and bonnets and get in line. And remember: Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. —B.D.

If you go: Elliott Bay Book Co. Sept. 9 at 11:45 p.m. (Free)

March of the Costumes by Deborah Faye Lawrence
“March of the Costumes,” by Seattle collage artist Deborah Faye Lawrence — one of several Girlfriends of the Guerilla Girls on display at CoCA. (Image courtesy CoCA)

Girlfriends of the Guerrilla Girls

Unlike the Whitney Museum of American Art, Seattle’s Center on Contemporary Art isn’t afraid of exhibiting Ann Leda Shapiro’s “Anger,” a watercolor painting of a gender-ambivalent figure wearing a mask, their breasts and penis exposed amid a flurry of stingray-like animals swimming in a blue backdrop. The Whitney hosted Shapiro in 1973, but censured her provocative piece. “It was a complete and utter shock to me,” Shapiro, who now lives on Vashon Island, recalled recently in a filmed interview by CoCA. “I had no idea I was making art that would be disturbing or upsetting to people. I was simply asking questions; What is male? What is female?” Through Sept. 21, you can see Shapiro’s now-famous painting, as well as pieces by 10 other feminist artists whose works comment on identity, gender bias and racial inequality and power. Positioned as an alternative to the Seattle Art Fair’s commercial interested galleriesGirlfriends of the Guerrilla Girls exclusively features artists who have no current gallery representation, including Cecilia Concepción Alvarez, a Chicana artist who explores poverty, beauty and entitlement in her colorful paintings of brown women. The exhibit also features original posters from the Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous activist collective of feminists that formed in New York City in 1985. Since then their posters, billboards and stickers have shed light on gender and discrimination, appearing in the streets of such far-flung cities as Mexico City, Los Angeles, London and Shanghai. –A.P.F.

If you go: Girlfriends of the Guerrilla Girls at CoCA, through Sept. 21, Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Free)

San Gennaro Festival

Before the Georgetown neighborhood was an alternative art hub, it was home to many of Seattle’s Italian residents. Every summer that heritage is celebrated with a highly enjoyable street festival, honoring the patron saint of Naples. Free and family-friendly, the fest offers a weekend of Italian flavored live music (by the likes of Graziana Lazzaro and Ray Massa’s EuroRhythms), children’s activities, and — of course! — food. Vendors sell authentically delicious pasta and meatballs, sausages, pizza, and there’s a wine garden for sipping and people-watching. As they say in Napoli, “Mangia, mangia!” –M.B.

If you go: San Gennaro Festival, at 1225 St. Angelo St. in Georgetown, Sept. 6 -Sept. 8, times vary. (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.

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.