Things to do in Seattle: Feb. 1-8

Soft sculptures at MoM, jazzy paintings in Pioneer Square and ghosts en pointe at Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Two hands holding each other connected by a green garland. Hand on left is purple and hand on right is orange.

“Holding Hands (Daisy Chain),” by Denver artist Frankie Toan, is one of many pieces of fabric art in the new show ‘Soft Touch’ at Seattle’s Museum of Museums. (Wes Magyar)

Grief, ghosts and vengeance en pointe 

Dying of a broken heart: It doesn’t get more romantic than that. This is what happens to Giselle after she discovers that her fiancé is cheating on her. But before you dismiss Giselle, the 1841 ballet, as treacly drama, wait for the gothic twist: After her death, she joins the Wilis, a group of supernatural maidens who haunt the forest, luring men to dance with them until they die from exhaustion before dawn. Will Giselle get her revenge? - MVS 

If you go: Giselle, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Feb. 3 - 12 (in person) and Feb. 16 - 20 (streaming). (Tickets start at $37)

Flower power at Seattle galleries

A bouquet of botanically themed gallery shows has sprung up in Seattle recently — a joyous and much-needed jolt from the winter gray. At Woodside Braseth Gallery, an immersive explosion of color comes courtesy of the new show Alden Mason & the “Burpee Garden” Series (through Feb. 10), which showcases the prolific Northwest painter’s Technicolor works inspired by Burpee Seed Company packets. 

You’ll find more flower power at Harris Harvey Gallery near Pike Place Market, where the group invitational Joy: Floral and Botanical Studies (through Feb. 25; artist reception Feb. 2) showcases a wide-ranging cast of Northwest artists. Bloom at SAM Gallery (Feb. 1 - 26; opening reception Feb. 2, 2 - 4 p.m.), showcases work by Northwest artists Stephen Rock, who shares pieces from his “Gardener’s Journal” series, and Troy Gua, who brings the kapow! with photo-transparency close-ups of dahlias, dandelions and hydrangeas fractured into flora-pop portraits.

And at J. Rinehart Gallery, Seattle artist Gala Bent presents The Garden at Night (Feb. 2 - March 4), abloom with softly colorful flowers, buds, seedpods and snaky “knots” rendered in gouache, ink, graphite and pencil. - BD

Floral paintings by Seattle artist Gala Bent are on display at J. Rinehart Gallery. (J. Rinehart Gallery)

The Metamorphoses, transformed

It’s no simple task to dust off a colossus of classic poetry more than 2,000 years old and make it feel alive and extant. But Metamorphoses — a contemporary stage adaptation of the Roman poet Ovid’s collection of epic poems by the same name — does just that. According to reviewers who saw it when it ran in the UK in 2021, the playwrights managed to transform The Metamorphoses (originally penned circa 8 AD) into a “punchy 90 minutes of reworked Greek myths [that] is fresh, thrilling and twisted.” The play now gets its U.S. premiere at the Seattle Rep with a quartet of local actors. - MVS 

If you go: Metamorphoses, Seattle Rep, Leo K. Theater, through Feb. 26. Open captioning Feb. 9. (Tickets start at $47)

Art to snuggle with 

Does the state of … well, everything make you want to swaddle yourself in a soft blanket, snuggle a pillow and cocoon for an undetermined period of time? You’re in luck: The Museum of Museums is debuting an immersive and tactile show of “soft sculptures” and textile art. That means art you can literally and figuratively sink into. 

Visitors are invited to sit back and pet the colorful, squishy wonderland of artistic futon mattresses, velvet hands, a cushioned meditation room, shag carpets, blankets, interactive jungle dioramas and more, all created by exciting Pacific Northwest artists like Janelle Abbott, Colleen RJC Bratton and Nina Vichayapai. - MVS 

If you go: Soft Touch, Museum of Museums, Feb. 3 - Aug. 31. ($20)

A felt installation by artist Nina Vichayapai, whose work will be on view at the Museum of Museums' new show, “Soft Touch.” (Nina Vichayapai)

Films for children aged 2 to 102

The Children’s Film Festival Seattle may have “children” in its name, but its tagline comforts adults with the promise “Whether you are 2 or 102, CFFS has something for you!” The 17th annual edition of the festival opens with the Oscar-nominated, stop-motion charmer Missing Link, produced by the Portland-based animation studio LAIKA.

Among the more than 100 animated, live-action and documentary films playing during the rest of its run, there’s plenty of local fare, including: the music video Up and at Em by artist Clyde Peterson for Seattle songwriter Eamon Ra; the short movie The Kite, directed by Seattle’s Mathew Benson and Charlie and The Hunt, a fantastical tale produced by Seattleite Anita M. Cal. The festival concludes with the Washington state premiere of the musical fantasy film The Magic Flute. - MVS

If you go: Children’s Film Festival Seattle, Northwest Film Forum, Feb. 3-12, in-person and online. ($5-$25 for single tickets, passes starting at $90)

Pan-African pop at the Croc  

You may not have heard about Pierre Kwenders yet, but it’s just a matter of time. The Kinshasa-born, Montréal-based singer just won the Canadian Polaris Music Prize for his third record, José Louis and the Paradox of Love, and outlets across the border (like The New Yorker, Q and Rolling Stone) have taken notice, too. Singing in a mix of French, English, Lingala, Kikongo and Tshilub, Kwenders melds an expansive mix of influences — from Congolese Rumba to R&B, electro, hip-hop and more — into irresistibly lush “Pan-African pop.” - MVS 

If you go: Pierre Kwenders, Madame Lou’s, Feb. 4, 6.30 p.m. ($18)

Canadian artist Pierre Kwenders is bringing pan-African pop to the Crocodile. (Daniele Fumno)

Swinging paintings in Pioneer Square

The paintings of Kenneth Moore swing and meander like jazz. The LA-based painter, who was born in 1949 and founded the jazz club Howling Monk, had worked in relative obscurity for years until his work got picked up by Seattle gallerist Frederick R. Holmes in 2019. For Moore’s third solo show with the gallery, Holmes has selected a series of paintings and drawings — bathing in ochres and wine reds — dating from the 1970s and 1980s to today.

“Much of this work has its roots in the late 1960s/early 1970s as the civil rights movements and ‘Black Pride’ were increasingly becoming a fundamental part of the nation’s consciousness,” writes Holmes in his curator statement. “As we see in these collected works, his subject or themes remain as eclectic today as they were fifty years ago.” We’d like to add “relevant” and “gripping” to that list of accolades. - MVS

If you go: Kenneth Moore: Lookin’ Seein’ Feelin’, Frederick Holmes and Company, Feb. 2 - March 4. (Free)

Kenneth Moore’s painting, “Whispering,” 2020, is on display at Frederick Holmes and Company in Pioneer Square. (Frederick Holmes and Company)

Ross Gay on joy 

With poetry collections including Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude and the 2019 bestselling essay collection The Book of Delights, Indiana poet and professor Ross Gay has become our country’s pre-eminent chronicler of joy. In his latest essay collection, Inciting Joy, Gay shows how the three-lettered emotion is not separate from pain. 

“Joy is what emanates from us as we help each other carry our sorrows. Joy understands that no one is without sorrow,” he told GQ in a recent interview. “Everyone’s heartbroken. Which is also to say that everyone has the capacity for joy. Joy is available to all of us.” - MVS

If you go: Ross Gay at Seattle Arts and Lectures, Town Hall Seattle (online only), Feb. 6. (Free)

Mud at the museum 

Mud doesn’t have the best reputation. It’s slimy. It sticks to your shoes. It clouds the water. Yet it’s also a powerful material that houses complex ecosystems and can be used to build anything from pottery to houses. A new group exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery zeroes in on the generative properties of mud, as tangible or metaphorical material for artists. From figurative clay sculpture to audio recordings of a swamp, the exhibit brings in artworks by renowned North American contemporary artists like Sasha Wortzel, Diedrick Brackens and Rose B. Simpson. - MVS

If you go: Thick as Mud, Henry Art Gallery, Feb. 4 - May 7. (Suggested donation)

Pianist Sarah Cahill plays music written over the past two decades by women composers. (Meany Arts Center)

Women Talking

A quarter-century on, I can still remember how captivating Regina Harris Baiocchi’s African Hands was when the Seattle Philharmonic played it in 1997. A concerto for African percussion and small orchestra, its imaginative balance of crunchiness and lyricism was as finely wrought as its blend of sonic wizardry and emotional impact. Happily, Baiocchi’s music is returning to Seattle in pianist Sarah Cahill’s upcoming recital of music by women, part of her project The Future Is Female

Known for her mastery of the “classical avant-garde” and named a “Champion of New Music” in 2018, Cahill’s focus this evening is on women composers from the past 25 years. Baiocchi’s Piano Poems, from 2020, will join compositions by Annea Lockwood, Kaija Saariaho and five other musicians — and will be featured on the last disc in Cahill’s three-volume, multi-century anthology The Future Is Female, out this spring. - GB

If you go: Sarah Cahill Recital at Brechemin Auditorium, UW School of Music, Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m. (Free)

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