Things to do in Seattle this November

The art of Indigenous tattoos, the return of beloved comics festival Short Run and neon sculptures in the woods.

A quare of red neon lights up a wooded backroad. In the distance, you can see another neon sculpture, a blue rectangle standing up.

Seattle artist Kelsey Fernkopf has a busy fall: His neon sculptures will be on view at Gallery 4Culture and in the woodsy campus of Pilchuck's famed glass school, nestled in the foothills of the Cascades. (Courtesy of Kelsey Fernkopf)

“An abundance of blood” on the stage

If you’re one of those Northwesterners who likes to lean into The Big Dark, Shakespeare is here for it. Macbeth covers witchcraft, prophecy and plenty of politically motivated murder. (The content advisory for Seattle Shakespeare’s production reads “This show contains: violence, an abundance of blood, gore, child death, murder, suicide.”) This production at Seattle Center’s Center Theatre is directed by ACT’s artistic director John Langs and stars longtime Seattle actor Reginald André Jackson as Macbeth and Alexandra Tavares as the Lady with the damned spot. - BD

If you go: Macbeth, Seattle Shakespeare, through Nov. 20 ($40-50)

Seattle Shakespeare's fall production of Macbeth stars longtime Seattle actor Reginald André Jackson as Macbeth and Alexandra Tavares as the Lady with the damned spot. (Robert Wade Photography)

Fashion at the train station 

Cindy Sherman and Comme des Garçons, Ed Ruscha and Stella McCartney, Sterling Ruby and Raf Simons: When visual artists and clothing designers join forces, alchemy tends to occur. This idea is the driving force behind a new exhibit at the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture’s gallery space at King Street Station. IMMINENT MODE: US features eight local artist/designer pairs — including Mary Anne Carter and Michael Welke, and Casey Curran and Devon Yan. These duos will create brand-new pieces of “wearable art,” which will be modeled on the catwalk during a runway show and displayed in a large-scale, immersive installation on view until early next year. - MVS 

If you go: Imminent Mode: US, ARTS at King Street Station, Nov. 3 - Jan. 5, 2023, opening celebration with runway show Nov. 3 between 5 - 8 pm. (Free) 

This story is part of Crosscut’s 2022 Fall Arts Preview

A Fall Full of Film

Last month we had four film festivals to share with you; this month there are three: celebrations of cinema from Italy, Romania, and South Asia, all offering screenings online as well as in-person. The 17th annual Tasveer South Asian Film Festival (Nov. 3 - 13, with screenings continuing online through Nov. 20) showcases films from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal (those four nations, by the way, make up almost one-quarter of the world’s population), in addition to films from the Tamil and Marathi cultures and a lineup of LGBTQ offerings.

Tasveer movies with Seattle ties include Kashif Pasta’s family drama Desi Standard Time Travel, which caps a night of Pakistani shorts (Nov. 5), and Night, Mother, featuring South Asian actress Sheila Houlahan and Seattle-based actress Ellen McLain in a COVID- and Zoom-era update of Marsha Norman’s 1982 Pulitzer-winning play (Nov. 12). 

Next up, SIFF hosts Cinema Italian Style (Nov. 10 - 17). The centerpiece here is a 4K restoration of Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1964 Red Desert (Nov. 12), starring Monica Vitti as a housewife who epitomizes Euro-anomie. 

The last stop on our tour is Romania, as Northwest Film Forum hosts the Romanian Film Festival over two weekends (Nov. 11 - 13 and 18 - 20). The most curious offering here seems to be The Island (Nov. 13), an animated “upside-down Robinson Crusoe story” described as “The Little Prince meets Monty Python.” - GB

Seattle artist Ko Kirk Yamahira will show his "distressed" paintings at studio e gallery in Georgetown this month. (Courtesy of Ko Kirk Yamahira/studio e)

Distressed paintings

Seattle artist Ko Kirk Yamahira likes to destroy his paintings. Or rather, he partly deconstructs them by meticulously unthreading the canvas and separating the vertical and horizontal threads until only a loose weaving remains. The sadly sagging strands of Yamahira’s oddly shaped canvases still hint at the color they were painted before. The artist doesn’t like to ascribe much meaning to his oeuvre (“There is no specific aim to find a meaning,” he writes on his website), but rather focuses on the process of undoing itself — over and over and over again. The end result of this destruction is something pleasingly delicate and new, every time. - MVS 

If you go: Ko Kirk Yamahira, studio e, Nov. 5 - Dec. 3 (Free)

Dance Theatre of Harlem 

Have you heard of Hazel Scott? An incredibly talented pianist with a smoky voice, the Trinidad-born musician was once the toast of the American jazz scene. So why isn’t she a household name? Blame the “Red Scare” of the 1950s: Scott was blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Now the legendary Dance Theatre of Harlem is working to help bring Scott the recognition she deserves. Choreographed by Tiffany Rea-Fisher, the brand-new piece Sounds of Hazel: The Hazel Scott Ballet blends ballet and jazz dance with Scott’s music to create a long-overdue salute. 

Also on the bill is Robert Garland’s Higher Ground (set to music by Stevie Wonder) and Claudia Schreier’s Passage, about the arrival of the first Africans in America and the subject of the Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary “Dancing on the Shoulders of Giants.” - BD

If you go: Dance Theatre of Harlem, The Paramount, Nov. 5, 2 pm and 8 pm ($25 - $85)

During its Seattle stop, the Dance Theatre of Harlem will be performing “Passage,” choreographed by the celebrated Claudia Schreier and the subject of the Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary “Dancing on the Shoulders of Giants.” (Brian Callan)

Short Run Returns 

“At a time when comics conventions are growing ever more glossy and corporate-slick, Short Run is a festival and a nonprofit arts organization dedicated wholeheartedly to the handmade, analog experience,” Crosscut contributor and comics cognoscente Paul Constant wrote in his 2021 story about Seattle’s beloved festival. After two pandemic postponements, Short Run Comix & Arts Festival’s 10th-anniversary edition is finally happening. 180 small press comix, zine and book-artist exhibitors from 20 states and six countries will descend upon Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center. At other venues across the city, expect readings, performances, workshops (such as comics embroidery or drawing), film screenings and, of course, after-parties. - MVS 

If you go: Short Run Comix & Arts Festival, Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center, Nov. 5, 11 am - 6 pm (Free)

Indigenous tattoos

Person stands with back to camera, a tattoo depicted on her back. The same drawing is seen on something she is wearing around her as well. She is wearing a woven hat.
Tattoo on Mak hli t'aa, a member of the Nisga'a Nation whose non-Indigenous name is Rosa Watson, by Nakkita Trimble, designed by Mike Dangeli. (Nakkita Trimble)

“The erasure of our identity, including our tattoos, is part of [the] imperialist, colonialist project,” curator and tattoo artist Dion Kaszas (who is Nlaka’pamux) told The Vancouver Sun in 2018 on the occasion of the exhibit Body Language: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest at the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver, B.C. Kaszas is at the forefront of a revival of Indigenous tattoo traditions and has guest-curated an expanded version of the exhibit for Seattle’s Burke Museum. Through photographs; cultural belongings like baskets, spoons and labrets; contemporary art; videos and personal accounts, a story of endurance appears. - MVS 

If you go: Body Language: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest, Burke Museum, Nov. 6 - Apr. 16 (Free - $22)

Inventive choreography 

When Crystal Pite and/or her Vancouver, B.C.-based company Kidd Pivot comes to town, do not hesitate, just get tickets and go. Pite is one of the most inventive choreographers working today, producing high-caliber works that impress both at the physical level of the dance as well as the deeper meaning behind it. She’s part of the mixed bill The Seasons’ Canon at Pacific Northwest Ballet, which also includes a world premiere by Dwight Rhoden and Balanchine’s “Duo Concertant.” Pite’s piece, which shares the title of the bill and remixes Vivaldi’s famous composition as musical accompaniment, is new to PNB. As always, she creates an exquisite combination of flowing masses and jerky automatons (see Crosscut’s obsessed-fan analysis), which all adds up to a deep feeling of humanity. - B.D. 

If you go: The Season’s Canon, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Nov. 4 - 13 ($30 - $150)

The band Mala Suerte performs during a previous edition of Freakout Festival. The band is also in the stacked lineup of the festival's 10th-anniversary edition happening this month. (Jake Hanson)

Music fests 

Seattle officially declared itself the “City of Music” in 2008 as part of a development strategy aimed at growing our status as a music city by 2020 — and we all know what happened that year. While Seattle’s music scene is very much alive, the sector is still in recovery mode. Enter King County and the tourism organization Visit Seattle, which are launching a one-time tourism campaign-meets-festival called Cloudbreak (Nov. 3 - 23). Anyone staying in downtown hotels will receive free access to participating venues where performers like Seattle music stars Sir Mix-a-Lot, the Smokey Brights and Damien Jurado will take the stage. 

Meanwhile, in Ballard, the Freakout Festival (Nov. 10 - 13) is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a beer garden, food trucks, outdoor and indoor stages and a filled-to-the-rafters national and local lineup of alt acts like Isobel Campbell, the Black Tones, Acid Tongue and Mala Suerte, as well as some lesser-known bands with compelling names like Pussy Gillette, Steal Shit Do Drugs and Linda From Work. - MVS

Pacific Northwest Ballet is one of only two companies in the world to perform ‘The Season’s Canon,’ a stunning new work by Vancouver, B.C. choreographer Crystal Pite.

Neon pathways at Pilchuck 

While many associate the art of neon with screamy signs, kitsch and commerce, Seattle artist Kelsey Fernkopf bends the medium in a different, more subdued direction. Lately, he’s been making rounded rectangles and amoeba-like shapes, gleaming portals to who-knows-where set up in temporary and lonely locations. Now Fernkopf is bringing a dozen of his new neon sculptures to the spectacular 54-acre campus of the renowned Pilchuck Glass School, nestled in the foothills of the Cascade range. “Framing the natural environment with light, I rely on the medium as the message, exploring line and form,” Fernkopf told me over email recently, “offering the viewer and myself a different way of seeing our surroundings.” (If you can’t make it to Stanwood, Fernkopf will also display some of his playful neon sculptures at 4Culture this month.) - MVS 

If you go: Light the Forest, Pilchuck Glass School, Nov. 11 - 13, 3.30 - 6.30 pm, neon demonstration Nov. 13 from 3.30 - 5.30 pm. ($15 – $35). BIG NEON Playground, 4Culture Gallery, Nov. 3 - Dec. 1 (Free)

Gospel Truth

Marking 20 years of singing together in harmony this month, the Soweto Gospel Choir is globe-trotting from Reno to Zagreb to celebrate. Their resume is already impressive, with Grammys, Academy Award nominations, and collaborations with Robert Plant, Josh Groban and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (among many others). Now the world-renowned, -acclaimed, -beloved cultural ambassadors are spreading “Hope,” as they’ve dubbed this tour, through freedom songs from South Africa and civil-rights-era soul and R&B classics by James Brown, Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield and Aretha Franklin. - GB 

If you go:Hope,” The Moore Theatre, Nov. 11 ($32 and up)

Carrie Mae Weems’ famous photo of a 1970s “Harlem Street” (1976–77) will be on view during "Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue," a duo show at the Seattle Art Museum. (Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York)

Legendary photographers at SAM

Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems are two of the most important contemporary photographers working today. Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue (Nov. 17 - Jan. 22, 2023) at the Seattle Art Museum will feature more than a hundred photographs from their careers, tracing the artists’ work from the 1970s all the way up to now and showcasing a breadth of topics and subjects, such as: women’s self-perception and domesticity; the Underground Railroad and Weems’ reenactments of 20th-century tragedies; and the impact of architecture. What connects their work, besides a friendship and a medium, is a shared timeframe and understanding of the power of photography as a way to explore — and celebrate — the experiences of Black people. - MVS

If you go: Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue, Seattle Art Museum, Nov. 17 -  Jan.  22, 2023 (Free - $32.99)

Jane Austen Abounds

Mary Bennet, middle sister in Pride and Prejudice, doesn’t get much love from Jane Austen fans — nor did she from Austen herself, frankly. But Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon affectionately made her the heroine of their delectable fan-fiction romp, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, which Taproot Theatre staged winningly in 2018. Now Gunderson and Melcon have sequelized their sequel, and again Taproot Is providing the platter for the plum pudding: The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, which centers former bad girl Lydia; her odious cad of a husband George (will he get redeemed too?); and, for a change, the downstairs staff. Book-It, meanwhile, is using the author as a diving board for the full-length Austen Unbound, which will choose one suggestion per show on which to improvise their own fantasy on Austenian settings and themes. (Janeites, save the date, too, for Village Theatre’s staging of Kate Hamill’s zany take on Sense and Sensibility, Feb. 1 - March 12 in Issaquah.) - GB 

If you go: The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, Taproot Theatre, Nov. 23 - Dec. 30 ($25 and up); Austen Unbound, The Center Theatre at the Armory, Seattle Center, Nov. 30 - Dec. 18 ($20 and up)

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