One night in February 1997, a certain “Mel Waters” of Washington called the late-night, loose-with-the-facts talk radio show Coast to Coast with Art Bell. He said he’d located an 80,000-foot hole possessing paranormal powers on his property near Ellensburg. While reporters haven’t found any evidence of the existence of the hole (nor Mel’s), the story has endured as a kind of Rorschach test for those who believe things are not as they seem — from government conspiracies to aliens. The Central Washington art collective PUNCH Projects is helping Seattleites get to the bottom of the mystery by bringing its own take on the hole to Pioneer Square gallery SOIL. The show is more fun than, um, deep, but that’s exactly what we need this time of year. - MVS
If you go: Mel’s Hole, SOIL Gallery, through Jan. 28. (Free)
One work stood out for me at Anthony White’s new show of plastic-thread-on-panel paintings at Greg Kucera Gallery: a small painting, 20 x 16 inches, depicting a swole Trojan horse descending from heaven with an iPhone’s “Settings” app icon on its back. The piece’s size and visual clarity contrasts with the horror vacui of White’s other, large-scale paintings on view, which are filled with flip phones and gold coins and Twitter icons and doll heads and security cameras and robots — and and and and.
The Trojan horse painting, titled 2GOOD2BTRUE, can be read as a prologue to the rest of the show and as an encapsulation of White’s fascination with our time’s digital overload: Once you open the belly of the beast, algorithmic warriors will assault your senses, laying siege to your attention and your wallet. The malware, it seems, has already infected our brains. (Make sure to visit White’s solo show at the Seattle Art Museum, Limited Liability, before it closes too.) - MVS
If you go: Anthony White: Extended Warranty, Greg Kucera Gallery, through Feb. 11. (Free) Artist talk: Sat., Jan. 21, 12 p.m. Anthony White: Limited Liability, Seattle Art Museum, through Jan. 29. (Free - $32.99)
Can Can Culinary Cabaret’s new dinner theater show, House of Hearts, has everything a Valentine’s heart could desire: star-crossed lovers at the Broken Hearts Ball, a reigning queen, maleficent interference, a dash of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and the larger-than-life quirkiness of Lewis Carroll and The Wizard of Oz. Plus, of course, cheeky jokes, scantily clad performers and a multi-course menu in Can Can’s intimate new Pike Place Market location. - MVS
If you go: House of Hearts, Can Can Culinary Cabaret, Jan. 12 - March 26. ($65 - $195)
Waiting for Big Brother
What if Samuel Beckett wrote an episode of Black Mirror? That, a New York Times theater critic once noted, pretty much sums up the 2016 play Arlington. Written by acclaimed Irish playwright Enda Walsh, this Orwellian dystopia-meets-love story-meets-a genre-bending mix of dance, poetry and visual art is now coming to Seattle via Washington Ensemble Theatre. “Arlington is a powerful love story set amidst a dystopian future that is frighteningly reminiscent of our current reality,” local director Maggie L. Rogers said in a press release. “This play is a love letter to skeptics of hope and love and to romantics who know those things can never be snuffed out.” - MVS
If you go: Arlington, Washington Ensemble Theatre at 12th Avenue Arts, Jan. 13 - 30, live-streamed Jan. 21 and 29. Note: Masks are required. ($15 - $40)
Not your perfect Mexican daughter
Mexican-American poet and essayist Erika L. Sánchez had searched in every book, but couldn’t find the girls who looked, and felt, like her when she was growing up: “Where were all the messed-up Brown girls? Las malcriadas? The Latino weirdos?” she wondered. So she took the creative task on herself and wrote I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.
The young-adult novel (a New York Times bestseller) follows 15-year-old Julia, a misfit left to question how “perfect” her recently deceased sister Olga really was. A Netflix movie version is in the works, but in the meantime, fans can relish a brand-new stage adaptation at Seattle Rep (with Spanish-captioned performances), courtesy of award-winning playwright Isaac Gómez and celebrated director Juliette Carrillo. - MVS
If you go: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Seattle Rep’s Bagley Wright Theater, Jan. 13 - Feb. 5. ($20 - $95, special discounts for teens aged 13 - 19 at $5.) (Spanish captioned performances Feb. 3 - 5.)
Marimba for the Big Dark
Seattle marimba player Erin Jorgensen had originally pitched her newest concert experience, The Saddest of All Keys, as an “anti-holiday-holiday show.” But December’s ice storm put that plan on ice until this month. Luckily — or tragically — sadness is not limited to a certain season. Jorgensen brings poets Rachel Kessler and Richard Lefebvre to the stage for a melancholy show with, per Jorgensen, “lots of jokes.” As the artists say: “Expect dreamy visions, tales of kicking drugs, musings on seasonal depression and spiders, J.S. Bach, and amplified and acoustic marimba — all in the key of D Minor, of course.” — MVS
If you go: The Saddest of All Keys, The Odd Sea, Jan. 14. ($10)
Expand your Indigenous poetry experience
“There’s a lot of, maybe accidental, censorship of Native writers by editors, and [audience] expectations of what Native poetry should be,” Bellingham-based Lummi poet Rena Priest told Crosscut in 2021. Back then she had just been named Washington State Poet Laureate, a two-year term. One goal of her tenure was to “challenge and broaden a reader’s ideas of Indigeneity beyond the limited range of topics that are considered appropriate for American Indian literature to address.”
Experience how vast that range can be at Indigenous Voices: An Evening of Poetry and Conversation (co-presented by Humanities Washington, the Washington Center for the Book, s'gʷi gʷi ʔ altxʷ: House of Welcome and ArtsWA), a discussion and reading featuring Priest with three other accomplished Pacific Northwest poets: Laura Da’ (Eastern Shawnee), Cedar Sigo (Suquamish) and Arianne True (Choctaw, Chickasaw). - BD
If you go (online): Indigenous Voices, Evergreen State College Longhouse, Jan. 17. In-person tickets are sold out, but you can stream the reading for free with advance reservation.
Last chance to see:
Legendary photographers at SAM
Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems are two of the most celebrated photographers working today. Seattle Art Museum’s Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue features more than a hundred photographs from their careers, tracing the artists’ work from the 1970s all the way up to now. What connects their work, besides a friendship and a medium, is a shared time frame and understanding of the power of photography as a way to explore — and highlight — the experiences of Black people. - MVS
If you go: Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue, Seattle Art Museum, through Jan. 22. (Free - $32.99)
Close-up on the human body
A mysterious iron gate made of letters marks the entrance to a Frye Art Museum gallery full of fleshy red paintings by Portland painter Srijon Chowdhury. His large-scale paintings bring the human body hideously alive: With each enlarged facial figure we see every hair, every skin fold and tear duct — including Eye (Morning Glory), in which a knife slices through the iris, recalling the seminal 1929 film Un Chien Andalou by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí. - BD
If you go: Srijon Chowdhury: Same Old Song, Frye Art Museum, through Jan. 15. (Free)
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