Editor’s Notebook: Spooky art and screaming into the void

Plus, celebrate a retro Halloween with Edgar Allan Poe and Vincent Price — before election dread returns.

Janet Galore's 'Rock Garden' video installation is on view in the 'Goodwitch/Badwitch' show at Seattle's soon-to-open Museum of Museums. (Janet Galore)

Is it me or are the Halloween decorations scarier this year? On my evening walks this week, I’ve been spooked by seasonal displays that seem more harrowing than usual — even a handmade werewolf bursting from human clothing gave me the willies. (It was unsettlingly tall and slender!) Perhaps I’m a little on edge. Perhaps you know what I mean.

There is a lot to fear right now. It seems like the coronavirus will never go away. We can’t visit faraway family. We don’t know what’s going to happen on Election Day or in the weeks following. But as long as you’ve voted (and a new report finds visitors to cultural organizations more likely to vote), maybe “leaning in” to the Halloween theme is a healthy way to express some inner dread.

Goodwitch/Badwitch is the inaugural show at the new Museum of Museums — one of several local art spaces daring to launch during COVID-19. Housed in a former medical office on Capitol Hill, MoM has previously held pop-up shows, such as the Halloween- and pandemic-appropriate Mask Parade. Now it’s spiffed up and ready to open for regular hours, just as soon as a final city permit comes through (founder Greg Lundgren tells me he’s hoping for early November).

The Living Altar's 'Fárma Katárka (The Weaver of Spells),' left, and Casey Curran's 'I'll Watch for Us at the Clear Crossing' are featured in MoM's inaugural show. (Brangien Davis/Crosscut)

I got a peek at the Goodwitch/Badwitch show and can attest: You are going to want to get in there. Co-curated by Lundgren and Bri Luna (the local enchantress also known as The Hoodwitch) it’s a captivating and diverse mix of work by 50 artists exploring “contemporary art, witchcraft and magic.” Some pieces are blatantly witchy: Lori Talcott’s “Indices and Incantations,” a gorgeous collection of steel, mirror and glass amulets; The Living Altar’s ropy red portal for a ritual “summoning of the ancestors.” Others wink at sorcery, such as clockmaker Nico Cox’s exquisite “automata,” a rabbit-snail hybrid brought to life with a watch-based mechanism.

At Goodwitch/Badwitch I was particularly entranced by Seattle artist Janet Galore’s video installation “Rock Garden, another version of which I’d seen a couple years ago at the Borealis Festival of Light. Stepping into an alcove triggers a cluster of distinct human eyes, each projection-mapped onto an individual rock (thanks to digital magic by Jake Fennell). As the soundscape plays, the eyes blink randomly, then come together in a unified choreography, eyeballs sliding slowly, seeking. At the end of the loop, the eyelids softly close, resembling sealed lips.


A couple more Capitol Hill shows to shiver your timbers: At Roq La Rue Gallery, painter Lola Gil’s Window Journey (through Nov. 7) takes viewers on a surreal trip through disconcerting domestic scenes that emanate shared anxieties. And Ghost Gallery — always an intriguing cabinet of curiosities — is exhibiting work by longtime Seattle artist Bette Burgoyne (through Nov. 8), whose deeply textured “flora” drawings in colored pencil resemble alien life forms and throbbing brain scans.

Is this helping? Do you still feel like screaming? There’s an app for that. Type your deepest fears into Scream Into the Void and see if that brings release. Or visit a new show of work by the man who unknowingly launched what may be the most-used emoji of the moment: Edvard Munch. The National Nordic Museum is showing The Experimental Self (Oct. 29 – Jan. 31), featuring photographs by the Norwegian creator of the legendary painting, “The Scream.” (Fun art fact: the Norwegian title of the painting is “Skrik,” meaning shriek.) In his photographic work, Munch enjoyed exploring “mistakes,” such as blurriness, weird angles and odd distortion, which result in a distinctly eerie vibe.

Vincent Price stars in 'The House on Haunted Hill,' screening at Northwest Film Forum. (Rogue Video)

Another master of macabre is on view Halloween night: Vincent Price. Northwest Film Forum is screening 1959’s The House on Haunted Hill (livestream Oct. 31, 7 p.m.; recorded stream through Nov. 1). In director William Castle’s campy horror classic, five invited guests must live through the night in a mansion filled with things that go bump in the night — including a skeleton marionette! There is so much screaming in this movie it actually inspires a reverse auto-response: laughter.

Another benefit of the screening: it’s emceed by Isabella Price, the local burlesque artist and horror hostess of the scary-film series Nocturnal Emissions. (And if you’re into horror movies, don’t miss our story about the Seattle creator of Skagit, a new film that shifts the Skagit Valley from tulip heaven to psychological nightmare.)

To maintain a retro-haunted mood, consider the new video production of An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe. Produced by Nancy Guppy’s Art Zone and filmed in the Jewelbox Theatre at the Rendezvous, the one-man show features Seattle actor Bradford Farwell as Poe; his take on “The Tell-Tale Heart” is especially gripping.

One more throwback: Seattle Radio Theatre is producing a live radio version of “A Walk in the Dark” (by Feliks Banel), to air on KIRO radio tonight (Oct. 29, 8 p.m.; 97.3 FM). This group was founded on old-time radio show techniques, but lately traditional theater venues have been jumping aboard the audio approach. Read our story about how coronavirus has prompted a pivot from stage to sound.

There’s so much spooky art to see you might forget there’s a terrifying election lurking around the corner! Well, probably not. In fact, these next few days will likely feel more like another striking piece in the Goodwitch/Badwitch show: “I’ll Watch for Us at the Clear Crossing.” The wire, tar and brass sculpture, by Seattle’s Casey Curran, is a human form hanging from the ceiling, head bowed. It looks very, very tired. But its legs move ever so slowly forward. Curran says the piece was inspired by “apocalyptic narratives,” and also “a vague hope for what comes next.”

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