Things to do in Seattle this November

From big deal Seattle Art Museum shows to indie songs about sandworms and monsters, these cultural outings are a great escape from the rain.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Leta Biasucci, center, with company dancers in Ulysses Dove’s “Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven,” streaming digitally as part of ‘Beyond Ballet,’ Nov. 18-22. (Angela Sterling)

“The Sink” (1956), by Joan Mitchell, is on view at SAM as part of ‘Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection.’ (Seattle Art Museum)

Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection 

Frisson, a new exhibit of works recently donated to the Seattle Art Museum by Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis, opens with two portraits that tell you a lot about the people who amassed the $400 million private collection of postwar art you’re about to see. One is a silk-screened double portrait by Andy Warhol of a smiling Jane Lang, commissioned in the 1970s. The other, to its right, is a convivial Alice Neel painting of Richard Lang, who is pictured in front of a large abstract painting by Franz Kline (which the Langs also owned). But the Medina couple didn’t just have money. They had taste — and the guts to commission and buy work from New York City artists well before the names alone would pull in astounding prices at auction. It’s no exaggeration to say the Langs assembled a world-class collection with a keen eye, particularly for artists who have only recently been getting their due, including Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell and Philip Guston. – M.V.S. 

If you go: Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection, Seattle Art Museum, through Nov. 27, 2022. ($0-$19.99) 

Installation shot of “In Crystallized Time,” a new group show curated by local artist and curator Anthony White at the Museum of Museums. (Dominic Nieri)

In Crystallized Time

Anyone who has scrolled endlessly on (insert social media vice of choice) knows that on the internet, time gets weird. It seems to simultaneously stretch and fold in on itself. In Crystallized Time, a fascinating new group show of paintings and multimedia works curated by artist/curator Anthony White, deals with — and replicates — technology’s strange sense of time warp and unreal hyper-reality (the reflective silver floor adds to the effect). In these paintings, vortexes swirl, collages warp formerly recognizable images into strange simulacra, stylized 3D renderings flatten onto canvas and century-old paintings get the Photoshop treatment. The show left me giddy and exhausted — and thinking not everything in painting has been done before. – M.V.S. 

If you go: In Crystallized Time, Museum of Museums, through Dec. 27. ($10) 

Thomas Dausgaard conducts Seattle Symphony

Editor's Note: On Nov. 18, Seattle Symphony announced Thomas Dausgaard will be unable to conduct these performances due to illness. Seattle Symphony associate conductor Lee Mills will step in.

Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard was just settling into his new gig as maestro of the Seattle Symphony when COVID hit and sent him back home with his baton. But during his short tenure, he had already gained local fans — who appreciated his physically electric conducting style. Due to various travel restrictions, Dausgaard hasn’t been on the Seattle stage since February 2020, but this month he’s back in town for several concerts: first, he’ll lead the symphony in Brahms and a Beethoven overture, and a week later, he’ll conduct a program of women composers that includes Amy Beach’s “Gaelic Symphony,” and a Seattle Symphony-commissioned world premiere by Hannah Lash, called “The Peril of Dreams.” – B.D.

If you go: Brahms Untuxed (the shorter version of the program), Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. Dausgaard conducts Brahms, Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. Beach Gaelic Symphony: Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. ($18-134) 

Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, grew up in Seattle and has grown into a nationally recognized indie darling in recent years. (Courtesy of the artist)

Perfume Genius 

Los Angeles-based musician and former Seattleite Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, has the uncanny ability to synthesize opposite forces into a soul-stirringly original sound. His indie-pop rock songs flirt with the mainstream but always maintain depth, feeling both baroque and stripped-down, cinematic yet introspective, and simultaneously shimmering with sadness and glam. His fifth album, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, came out at the pandemic peak (May 2020) and has appeared on many “Best of 2020” lists since. Now, with music venues back in full swing, Hadreas returns home for a show that will surely set hearts on fire. – M.V.S. 

If you go: Perfume Genius, The Showbox, Nov. 13 ($30-35) 

Ernestine Anderson Tribute

Ernestine Anderson album cover featuring her singing at a mic

When Ernestine Anderson’s father moved his family from Houston to Seattle in 1944, he was aiming for a “quieter” city, where his teenage daughter might spend less time singing with a band and more time on her studies. His plan didn’t pan out. Soon Anderson was singing with fellow musicians at Garfield High School and playing at the plethora of jumpin’ jazz clubs along Jackson Street — often with teenage trumpeter Quincy Jones and Ray Charles. A pivotal member of Seattle’s early jazz scene, Anderson went on to record 30 albums and received four Grammy nominations before passing away in 2016 at age 87. This month, LANGSTON celebrates what would have been her 93rd birthday with a proclamation from the City of Seattle acknowledging her accomplishments, and a live concert featuring contemporary jazz greats including vocalists Gail Pettis and Eugenie Jones, pianist Darrius Willrich, saxophonist and tap dancer Alex Dugdale, as well as Stix Hooper, founding drummer of legendary jazz group The Crusaders. – B.D.

If you go: The Ernestine Anderson Musical Tribute, LANGSTON, Nov. 13, 7-9 p.m. (Tickets by donation)

Bushwick Book Club: Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’

Read the books, seen the movie(s), but can’t get enough of the Dune revival? You’re in luck: Seattle musicians are digging into the dystopian sci-fi classic Dune, by Tacoma-born author Frank Herbert, and setting its contents to music for The Bushwick Book Club Seattle’s latest installment. This local branch of the New York-founded group commissions and stages original songs based on literary works. For this edition, the musicians will transport themselves and the audience to the arid emptiness of planet Arrakis (with its giant sandworms) through newly written indie songs. – M.V.S. 

If you go: Bushwick Book Club: Frank Herbert’s Dunein-person at Town Hall Seattle and streaming online, Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. ($15-20) 

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Lucien Postlewaite dances in Jessica Lang’s "Ghost Variations," which PNB is presenting in a triple-bill with works by Ulysses Dove and Alonzo King, streaming digitally Nov. 18-22. (Lindsay Thomas)

Beyond Ballet

The Pacific Northwest Ballet has returned to live performance at McCaw Hall, but expanded pandemic audiences proved that the show must go online, too. The latest repertory, Beyond Ballet, features three dance works, each apt for this moment in their own way. Ulysses Dove (1947-1996) created “Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven” in 1993, but his ode to love and loss still resonates. “Ghost Variations,” a pandemic creation by choreographer Jessica Lang for PNB’s digital-only 2020-21 season, feels hauntingly current. So does “The Personal Element,” by celebrated San Francisco choreographer Alonzo King. Created in 2019, the piece features eight dancers who splinter into extended solos and come together in various group formations. Sound familiar? – M.V.S. 

If you watch: Beyond Ballet, PNB, streaming digitally Nov. 18-22 ($35) 

Joy Has a Sound: Black Sonic Visions

In just a few years, Wa Na Wari — the ambitious, multidisciplinary, Black arts and culture center in the Central District — has grown into an indispensable Seattle institution. Wa Na Wari’s latest venture is the center’s first published book, Joy Has A Sound, a collection of essays, poems, scores, radio play scripts, photographs, drawings and actual sound — which you can listen to by scanning a QR code. In the wide-ranging anthology (published by local press The 3rd Thing), Black poets, musicians, artists and scholars from Seattle and beyond (including lyricist/music artist Okanomodé, DJ Larry Mizell Jr. and poet Anastacia-Reneé) respond to the question: “What is the sound of joy? What are the joyful sounds of community, and how are they preserved?” – M.V.S. 

If you read or go: Joy Has a Sound: Black Sonic Visions, edited by Rachel Kessler and Elisheba Johnson, is available for preorder and online orders, and at independent bookstores starting Nov. 16. To celebrate the launch, Wa Na Wari is hosting four online events/readings, each featuring different contributors, Nov. 23, Nov. 30, Dec. 7 and Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. (Free)

We’ve Battled Monsters Before 

If Seattle were to elect a mythmaker-in-residence, Justin Huertas would have a great shot. The local playwright-composer-lyricist has gained acclaim with indie coming-of-age musicals that merge fantasy elements (a boy covered in lizard scales!) with Northwest lore and locations (octopus wrestling! Mount St. Helens!). This fall, he’s teaming up with another multihyphenated music talent, Rheanna Atendido, for a new musical (written by Huertas) titled We’ve Battled Monsters Before. The story is loosely based on a bedside story his father used to tell him — which Huertas later learned was a version of the Filipino epic poem “Ibong Adarna” — merged with a Seattle-set, contemporary story of a monster-combatting family. The result, in typical Huertas fashion, tells a universal story of loss, struggle and “emerging on the other side.” – M.V.S. 

If you go: We’ve Battled Monsters Before, ArtsWest, Nov. 26-Dec. 26 ($10)


Northwest photographer Imogen Cunningham captured this 'Magnolia Blossom,' in 1925, after moving to San Francisco and turning to flora as her subject matter. (The Imogen Cunningham Trust)

Imogen Cunningham 

The words “groundbreaking” and “trailblazer” are sorely overused, but in the case of pioneering photographer Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976), they ring true. As a Seattle high schooler in the late 1800s, she already knew she wanted to be a photographer. At the time, women didn’t yet have the right to vote and were expected to rinse dishes rather than photographic prints in a darkroom. Choosing photography as a career was gutsy (as were her early nudes). Cunningham wasn’t well-known until the last years of her life, but her massive archive reveals an incisive eye for subtle shapes in the body — a girl’s feet suspended mid-jump while jumping rope, a pregnant woman slumped asleep in a rocking chair, the kick of a dancer’s leg. A new, expansive retrospective at the Seattle Art Museum charts Cunningham’s seven-decade-long career with all its twists and turns. She tried soft-focus pictorialism, innovative modernism, street photography, still lifes, nudes and portraits — and excelled at all, pushing the budding art form forward. – M.V.S and B.D. 

If you go: Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective, Seattle Art Museum, Nov. 18 - Feb. 6, 2022 ($19.99-$29.99) 

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