ArtSEA: Bumbershoot and more summer music lineups announced

Plus, an eco show of art stars at Bellevue Arts Museum and string sculptures to make you squint in South Lake Union.

a black and white photo of a woman and a man on a couch, smiling at each other, both wearing hats

Seattle-based sibling band The Black Tones (Eva and Cedric Walker) are featured in the new Bumbershoot roster. (Matt McKnight / Crosscut)

Spring seemed a little touch-and-go for a while, with that unusually chilly start to March. But several indicators say there’s no stopping the season now: The Mariners return to the baseball diamond tonight; plum trees, camellias and forsythia have commenced their floral fireworks; and tantalizing summer concert announcements are in full swing.

Late last week, Bumbershoot (Sept. 2 - 3) released the much-awaited music lineup for its 50th edition, which organizers say will be both revamped and retro. As promised, the roster leans heavily on local bands, including old-school Northwest rock faves like Sleater-Kinney, Sunny Day Real Estate, The Dandy Warhols and Sweet Water. Also on the list of beloved Seattle bands: The Black Tones, Band of Horses, Thunderpussy, Chong the Nomad, True Loves, Chimurenga Renaissance and Beverly Crusher

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

And early this week, Chateau Ste. Michelle announced its full summer concert series (May 25 - Sept. 22). Unlike Bumbershoot, the Woodinville amphitheater is sticking with its big-famous-band approach. To wit: Ringo Starr (who I saw walk through a bar the last time he was here — so surreal it seemed like a hologram), Sheryl Crow, Taj Mahal, Lyle Lovett, Gipsy Kings, Diana Krall, Tori Amos, Michael Franti, Regina Spektor and more music stars. Tickets go on sale April 3, and they go fast.

Need more summer music lineups? Read the list in this newsletter.

In “Deep Moon,” on view at Bellevue Arts Museum, Northwest artist James Lavadour combines nine abstract oil paintings into one landscape grid. (Brangien Davis / Crosscut)

Another bouquet of big names just bloomed on the east side, in Strange Weather (through Aug. 20) at the Bellevue Arts Museum. Pulled from the impressive contemporary collection of Portland-based real estate magnate Jordan Schnitzer and his family foundation, this group show includes several “headliner” artists.

Painter Kehinde Wiley, photo-collage artist Lorna Simpson, sculptor Alison Saar, multidisciplinary artist Kiki Smith and conceptual artist Glenn Ligon — walking around these works offers a master class in American art from 1970 - 2020.

The organizing premise is ecological, from two ghostly monoprints by Indigenous artist Joe Feddersen (Okanagan and Arrow Lakes) featuring geese, fog and boat glyphs, to an immense and explosive — and totally amazing — wall sculpture by Leonardo Drew, evoking a tornado’s massive destruction of the built environment. In the painstaking process of these creations, Drew writes, “I become the weather.”

James Lavadour, a citizen of the Walla Walla tribe, echoes this creative sentiment when writing about a revelation he had when making his color-saturated abstract landscapes. “As a physical being I was an event of nature myself,” he recalls. “I could become a conduit for making art, a conduit of nature, a conduit of the extraordinary event."

‘Interstitial Volume,’ by Seattle artist Henry Jackson-Spieker, is on view through April 1. (MadArt Studio)

Last Chance to See

Seattle artist Henry Jackson-Spieker has accomplished something similar in his show Interstitial Volume at MadArt Studio in South Lake Union (I was late to see it, but you still can, through April 1). With three installations in the roomy storefront space, he creates something crackling in the air. It may not be barometric, but the pressure is perceptible. 

Like a luthier, Jackson-Spieker works magic with carefully placed strings. His are black cotton thread, arranged with arachnoid skill at the entrance so that almost immediately you feel on guard. Tautly stretched from floor to ceiling, the strings are so thin as to become invisible at certain angles, heightening the sense that every step could trip you up. Intersecting curves in the array add to the feeling of unease.

This is intentional, of course. Jackson-Spieker, who is Black, uses this artful architecture to replicate how moving through the world feels tangibly different depending on your race, cultural upbringing and personal history. Similarly, his installation in the high skylight wells of the building makes you question your own perception — is that a hole, a light or a trick of the eyes? — are we seeing the same thing? 

The middle piece looks almost like a disco, but only from certain angles. Long strips of iridescent film are arranged in implied columns. When the light hits it right, there’s a pretty rainbow effect — a candy-hued haze you want to walk into. But alter your gaze and the strips disappear. All this causes a bit of an awkward dance, as you move forward and back, side to side, finding your way. 

‘Motherboard Suite,’ directed by Bill T. Jones, at Meany Center for the Performing Arts. (Meany Center)

Dancing into April 

The dancing will be much more intentional at Meany Center for the Performing Arts this weekend, when Motherboard Suite takes the stage (April 1) . This West Coast premiere highlights two stage superstars: choreographer Bill T. Jones (who directed the program) and Saul Williams, on whose music it is based. The showcase features seven choreographers, including Seattle’s Jade Solomon, who delve in to Williams’ theme: “the intersection of technology and race, exploitation and mystical anarchy.”

Wa Na Wari is celebrating four years as an innovative Black arts space with a Cake Dance party (at Washington Hall, April 4), featuring performances by big talents in tap dance, Lindy Hop and Chicago style steppin’, plus music courtesy of DJ Lady Coco.

For dancing in a dirtier vein, Can Can Cabaret kicks off its new revue Noir (Mar. 30 - June 25). With burlesque and acrobatics billed as “psychedelic nocturnal revelry,” the show also promises old-school cinematic flair.

Finally, in fin dancing: Washington has a Mermaid Museum. Am I the last land-lubber to know? The nonprofit organization behind it says it’s immersed in both “teaching ocean ecology” and “mermaid mythology,” which seems like a tricky balance. But the annual Mermaid Festival (April 1 - 9) is coming right up, for those want to dive deeper.

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