New Black history museum in Seattle
Did you know that Seattle once had an all-Black minor-league baseball team called the Seattle Steelheads, or the “Steelies”? If you ask Rainier Avenue Radio founder Tony Benton, the team is an indelible part of local history that should be known and celebrated.
During Black History Month, visitors can learn about the Steelheads and more local Black history at Benton’s new pop-up museum, the Call to Conscience Black History Museum, which has set up shop at the Columbia City Theater.
Among the wide variety of displays: archival photos and artifacts from the Seattle branch of the Black Panther Party; a historical look at Seattle’s early jazz scene; rare family photos of Jimi Hendrix growing up; quilts from the famous Hartsfield Quilt Collection; and vintage movie posters and photos by local photographer Keith “Flyright” Williams, the first Black person to own a full-service studio and processing lab in the city. - MVS
If you go: Call to Conscience Black History Museum, Columbia City Theatre, through Feb. 29. ($15-$30)
Through space, time and voids
When I was a kid, my school playground had a spiderweb-like structure that we could climb through during recess. It hadn’t crossed my mind in years until I saw the installation-in-progress of a new piece by Seattle artist Henry Jackson-Spieker at MadArt Studio.
Opening Feb. 9, Jackson-Spieker’s exhibition Interstitial Volume explores space and movement by weaving a multitude of multitextured “threads” across and through the studio. But this weblike structure isn’t meant for the playground. Rather than a sense of play, there’s a feeling of tension. Jackson-Spieker achieves this with black string tightly stretched from floor to ceiling, causing a hyper-awareness of your own physicality as you walk through the gallery space.
The back of the studio is filled with hanging streamers, reflective and iridescent, which evoke a curiosity for what may lie ahead. Looked at from the side, these microfilm streamers appear to disappear. Straight on, the translucent colors flash when they hit the light. Keep walking and look up for one more of Jackson-Spieker’s unexpected takes on voids and volume. - NA
If you go: Interstitial Volume, opening Feb. 9, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. On view through April 1.
Emerging artists across the city
There’s something great about group exhibitions. They’re usually a good place to get to know emerging artists who may not have had their big break yet, and I love how certain pairings help themes or colors bounce off or reinforce each other. This month, I recommend a trio of varied new group shows scattered across the city.
At Capitol Hill’s AMcE Creative Arts, Locally Sourced (Feb. 11 - April 9) fizzes with color and the energy of 13 emerging and Seattle-based artists working in a variety of mediums (from cold-worked glass and concrete to painting, photography and fabric). Among the many highlights are Nina Vichayapai’s fabric jungle wall, Robert Hardgrave’s collages and Weston Lambert’s crystal sculptures.
In Pioneer Square, a new group show at Foster/White pools artists from all over around the theme of Elements: Water (through Feb. 18). While various shades of blue bleed through the show, there are also pops of seafoam green and aquamarine and sandy yellow. Long after the show, I felt the emotional ripples of a few fabric paintings and sculptures by the Australian Henry Jock Walker and local artist Cameron Anne Mason, as well as an Yves Klein-blue photo of a nightly lagoon by Seattle photographer Cody Cobb.
During this weekend’s Georgetown Art Walk, Mini Mart City Park is premiering Future Forward (through March 4), a new juried group show — the first in a yearly series — featuring emerging artists who share a connection to the Greater Duwamish Valley and an interest in social and environmental justice. From riverine arteries of paint and blown glass to copper etchings and interactive installations like Eunsun Choi’s “Touch Grass” — a spiky, green LED-lit grass bed you can touch — these artists show that environmental destruction can beget creation. - MVS
Do film festivals travel in packs, or is Seattle’s film scene just hugely busy? Consider all that’s on screen this week alone: Noir City (Feb. 10 – 16), SIFF’s popular annual celebration of the uniquely American and enduring film genre, opens with Bogie and Bacall in 1948’s Key Largo (6:30 p.m., $15).
The Sámi Film Festival (streaming Feb. 9 – 12, in-person Feb. 11, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., $20-$25) at the National Nordic Museum offers a smörgåsbord of shorts by and about the Indigenous peoples of Scandinavia. And at the Northwest Film Forum, it’s the second and final weekend of the Children’s Film Festival Seattle (Feb. 10 – 12, $7-$14); this year’s theme is “Living Fantasy.” (Read more in last week’s Things to Do.)
Plus, it’s time for another film in the ongoing Silent Movie Mondays series at the Paramount (Feb. 13, 7 p.m., $9-$12), where the soundtrack comes courtesy of the live Wurlitzer organ. This installment features Clara Bow in the movie that gave her her nickname: It (1927), a class-crossing romantic comedy (she’s a shopgirl, he owns the store) that begat a thousand more. - GB
The sound of Afghan music
The Seattle Opera is pre-celebrating the world premiere of Sheila Silver’s A Thousand Splendid Suns (opening Feb. 25), based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini, with an event honoring Afghan arts and culture. Among the many offerings of “Jashin” — which means “celebration” in Dari — is a concert by rubab player Homayoun Sakhi.
The rubab (or rhubâb) resembles the lute, and is one of Afghanistan’s national instruments. Sakhi learned to play it growing up in Afghanistan and later in Pakistan, where he and his family sought refuge upon political unrest following the 1979 Soviet invasion. Since coming to the United States in 2001, Sakhi has collaborated with groups including the Kronos Quartet and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Also in the lineup is an exhibition and mural by the artist/activist organization ArtLords; the unveiling of an embroidery project by local Afghan women in partnership with the Refugee Artisan Initiative; poetry readings by Afghani poet and activist Shogofa Amini; a craft sale; and a documentary film about Afghanistan’s first all-female music ensemble. - NA
If you go: Jashin: A Celebration of Afghan Arts, Feb. 11, 1 - 5:30 p.m. (Free, RSVP encouraged)
Correction: This item has been updated to note that “Jashin” means “celebration” in Dari, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan.
Brazilian carnival in Seattle
If you ask me, art and music are the best way to beat Seattle’s Big Dark™. This weekend, your opportunity comes in the form of a Brazilian Carnaval dance party at The Crocodile in Belltown. Expect a whirlwind of trombones, trumpet, sax, drums, dance and beats courtesy of the Brazilian-born, Northwest favorite Eduardo Mendonça of Show Brazil!; the local Brazilian drum and dance ensemble VamoLá; and DJ Irineu. - MVS
If you go: Brazilian Carnaval 2023, The Crocodile, Feb. 11. ($30)
A Maine event at the Frye
This winter, the Frye Art Museum brings the East Coast to the West Coast with two intriguing new exhibits by Maine artists Katherine Bradford and Marsden Hartley. While they worked in different times — Bradford was born in 1942, the year before Hartley died — and are on view in separate shows, both painters turn to the water, sky and nature, and the ways that humans literally and figuratively show up there. - MVS
If you go: Flying Woman: The Paintings of Katherine Bradford (through May 14) and Marsden Hartley: An American Nature, Frye Art Museum (Feb. 11 - May 21). (Free)
Women neon artists brought to light
The process of creating neon lighting feels almost alchemical: First you bend glass tubes under high heat, then infuse them with gases like neon, mercury, argon or helium. Next you volt up the tubes with an electrode to ionize the gas, and whoosh — the brightly colored light awakens.
Neon has long been thought of as a commercial rather than a high-art medium, and remains a largely male-dominated field. But at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, a new show organized by national neon organization She Bends hopes to amend the misconceptions and demystify the art form. The exhibit showcases the work of 10 contemporary U.S. women artists bending the rules of neon, using it to create art that explores themes of cultural identity and political activism. - MVS
If you go: She Bends: Redefining Neon Legacy, Feb. 11 - Oct., Museum of Glass, neon demonstrations and artist talks Feb. 11 - 12. (Free-$18)
Choral songs from liberty to gun violence
Written in response to the murders in Uvalde, Texas, Saunder Choi’s “Never Again,” says the composer, “is a commentary about the true cost of freedom in a country where the intersection of politics, capitalism and gun lobbies stands in the way of sensible legislation.” The LA-based Choi is one of five composers Seattle Pro Musica has commissioned to celebrate its 50th season of choral music. This new composition is part of a showcase of Choi’s work — social-justice-focused pieces that have made him one of today’s busiest choral composers.
Director Karen P. Thomas will also conduct Choi’s “Welcome Table,” “A Journey of Your Own,” and “The New Colossus,” the last of which employs lines from Emma Lazarus’s Statue of Liberty poem — a necessary reminder of a credo in danger of being silenced by the country’s surging xenophobia. - GB
If you go: Seattle First Baptist Church, Feb. 11, 7:30 p.m., pre-concert chat with Choi at 7. Masks required. ($21-$38)
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