ArtSEA: Summer celebrations from solstice to Juneteenth

Plus, an immersive new show on Capitol Hill lands evolved alien life in Seattle.

people in a parade wearing turtle costumes with a giant puppet behind them

Fremont Solstice Parade revelers in sunnier days. (Fremont Arts Council)

The Fremont Solstice Parade — a Seattle signifier of summer since 1989 — returns this weekend after a two-year pandemic hiatus. Now if only the sun would come out to warm up the longest day of the year.

No matter the weather, the show will go on — with a newly revamped parade route. The moving, yet entirely nonmotorized, festivities step off on Saturday (June 18, 2 p.m.), with giant papier mâché puppets, beribboned and costumed revelers and floats that don’t always make sense but radiate enthusiasm. Body-painted naked bicyclists will be back in the saddle, too, though they may want to paint on cardigan sweaters this time.

ArtSEA: Notes on Northwest Culture is Crosscut’s weekly arts & culture newsletter.

As usual, the weekendlong Fremont Fair (June 18-19) features arts, crafts, food and a strong line-up of live music. This year watch for Seattle R&B star Parisalexa, Northwest indie folksters Kuinka and hard-rocking local band Beverly Crusher, named after a Star Trek character and specializing in sick guitar solos by Cozell Wilson.

If you’re looking for more subtle ways to celebrate solstice, consider heading to the Pacific Bonsai Museum for A Bonsai Solstice (June 18, 4-9 p.m.). The outdoor museum — set in a grove of tall evergreens — is staying open late and welcoming ukulelist Arden Fujiwara, along with Seattle artist Kimberly Trowbridge leading a group of plein air painters, who will capture the light as it cascades across trees tall and small.

And on the actual solstice, Seattle marimba maven Erin Jorgensen hosts Vibe Check (June 21, 6-10 p.m.), a come and go as you please, ambient live music experience (featuring marimba, fiddle, flute, percussion and field recordings) at the Chapel Performance Space in Wallingford’s Good Shepherd Center. Jorgensen promises “a literal vibrational upgrade.” I’ll have what she’s having.

A photograph of a projected film, “Ein Sof,” Orly Anan’s imagined talent show featuring a troupe of wildly costumed performers. (Brangien Davis/Crosscut)

If you’re seeking the carnival atmosphere of the Fremont Solstice Parade without the crowds, head to Capitol Hill’s Museum of Museums, where excellent conjoined shows by Mexico City-based artist Orly Anan reflect a sense of revelry and ritual perfectly appropriate for the celestial occasion.

Salon Delicatessen: A Cosmic Feast” (through Aug. 31) occupies the museum’s top floor: Walk through a heavy curtain and suddenly you’ve entered a secret interstellar dinner party. Saturated in cerulean blue, the room features a long dining table decked out with a movable feast (to wit: some of the plates are spinning).

Six stationary guests — tongues extended, antennae alert — sport chartreuse velour jumpsuits with exaggerated epaulets and collars. Two of these humanoid extraterrestrials appear to be very pregnant. But what kind of space children will they birth?

Anan, who is half Colombian, half Israeli, says she’s interested in the mysticism of everyday life, and sees her elaborate installations as acts of faith, part of her “search for metaphysical answers.” She hopes the various beings she creates for art shows, films and album covers can transmit healing vibes. Her explorations of ritual traditions all over the world have led to her current experiments with what she calls “anthropocosmic surrealism.” And what does that look like?

Colombian-Israeli artist Orly Anan’s immersive and outlandish dining room installation “Salon Delicatessen” at Museum of Museums on Capitol Hill. (Margo Vansynghel/Crosscut)

Take, for example, the dinner spread here, which includes sushi, shrimp cocktail and snakes. There’s an air of debauchery — the table décor includes tiered trays of false teeth, fake breasts and statuettes in flagrante — but the diners are reserved, attuned to some higher purpose. Proceed through a capsule shaped doorway and you’re plunged into a three-channel video installation: Anan’s looping art film Ein Sof (meaning “without end,” according to Kabbalah).

Awash in rainbow hues, this enchanting short video (I watched it four times through) features exquisitely costumed performers dancing and doing acrobatics, such as juggling hoops and hanging by a topknot of hair. Anan calls it “a classic talent show set in a parallel galaxy.” Which makes for a cosmic, energetic connection with the downstairs exhibit — a group show of Afrofuturist art, curated by Seattle artist Moses Sun.

Hollaback to the Future: Afrofuturist Dimensions (through Aug. 31) features work by Black artists, from Seattle to Ghana, all of whom explore how history plays into current — and imagined — culture. (Read more about this exhibit in Crosscut reporter Margo Vansynghel’s story.) It’s one of several great ways to honor the legacy of Juneteenth in Seattle this weekend.

A mural by Seattle artist Perri Rhoden welcomes visitors to Midtown Square in Seattle's Central District, where the REVIVAL: Juneteenth Pop-up Market for Black-owned businesses will take place June 19, 2022. (Brangien Davis/Crosscut)

This weekend marks just the second year that Juneteenth will be observed as a federal holiday, but June 19 — marking the end of slavery — has been commemorated by Black families, churches and communities for more than 100 years. In Seattle, the number of public Juneteenth events has multiplied recently, so much so that it’s physically impossible to experience everything. Consider a few new ways to celebrate:

Say Cheese
Wa Na Wari, the Central District Black arts center co-founded by Elisheba Johnson (featured in a Black Arts Legacies video profile), is marking the occasion several ways, including a Juneteenth Photobooth, with “free portraits for Black folks” by photographer Brea Wilson (June 17, 5-8 p.m.). If you’re feeling camera-shy, visit the next day (June 18, 2-4 p.m.) for readings and music in celebration of Tacoma-based poet (and 2015 National Poetry Slam champion) Janae Johnson’s new book, Lessons on Being Tenderheaded.

’s annual We Out Here Festival takes a field trip to the Seattle waterfront with We Out Here on the Pier (Pier 62, June 18, 2-6 p.m.). The celebration of Black excellence features a pop-up gallery of local art, performances including Stas Thee Boss and The Mahogany Project, and DJs Larry Mizell Jr. and JusMoni. Plus, something else to keep the good vibes going: a walk-up vaccine and booster station.

The recently opened Midtown Square showcases public art by several local Black artists (including Barry Johnson’s statue of sculptor James W. Washington Jr., both profiled in Black Arts Legacies). The REVIVAL: Juneteenth Pop-up Market (June 19, 11 a.m-3 p.m.) will take place in the inviting public square and feature Black-owned businesses, from specialty foods to beauty products to Arté Noir, the forthcoming Black arts venue. KEXP DJ Larry Mizell Jr. will broadcast live from the event, ensuring you get your groove on while you graze.

The Northwest African American Museum — recently profiled in Crosscut’s Black Arts Legacies podcast — has a deep slate of Juneteenth events, this year including the Skate to Freedom Party and Community Day. Held at Judkins Park (June 19, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.), the event invites participants to bring or borrow roller skates (free rentals onsite) and go for a spin. Wobbly ankles? Stay on steady ground among Black-owned food and craft vendors.

The Songs of Black Folk: Music of Resistance and Hope (McCaw Hall, June 19, 6 p.m.; free with reservations) is a special Juneteenth concert of African American spirituals and the long line of musical traditions they have inspired. Conductor Ramón Bryant Braxton will lead a distinguished choir of 25 local gospel artists — plus guest soloists Bridget Bazile, James Connor and Soloman Howard — and in the process reveal how Black music embodies struggle, tenacity and joy.

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