ArtSEA: Seattle’s Cinerama gets a new name and opening date

Plus, artful ways to battle the Big Dark, local author readings and King Street Station’s new arts space.

photo of a movie theater marquee with a sign reading SIFF Cinema

The historic Cinerama movie theater will reopen in December as SIFF Cinema Downtown. (Daniel Spils) 

When the Seattle International Film Festival announced, back in May, that it had acquired the dormant Cinerama theater from the estate of Paul G. Allen, two primary questions arose: Would the historic movie house retain its name and would chocolate popcorn be on the menu?

SIFF promised the return of the beloved concession snack, but was unable to keep the name Cinerama due to licensing requirements. (Rights to the trademarked name did not transfer with the sale; Vulcan currently has possession of the old signage.) 

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

While less fun to say than Cinerama, the new name — SIFF Cinema Downtown echoes SIFF’s other historic movie venues (SIFF Cinema Uptown and SIFF Cinema Egyptian). New signage went up last month, and yesterday SIFF announced the long-awaited opening date: Dec. 14. Sixty years after its first screening, the theater will reopen with the chocolate-forward film Wonka

It’s one of several new arts spaces opening this season as the city continues its groggy reawakening from pandemic closures.

Crosscut Emerging Journalist Nimra Ahmad recently reported on The Roadhouse, a new all-ages performance venue at the Angle Lake light-rail station. And the good news for youth continues this month with the grand opening of a new hive of creative spaces for young artists.

Spilling across the second floor of King Street Station, the new Station Space will house local youth-focused arts organizations Totem Star, Red Eagle Soaring, The Rhapsody Project, Jackson Street Music Program and Wh!psmart.

The facilities — more than 11,000 square feet — will include a black-box theater, a music recording studio, a luthier shop and space for various performances, jams, workshops and classes. 

It’s exciting to think about what might come from the co-location of these organizations, whether intentional collabs or accidental hallway meet-ups between young artists. Grand opening festivities (Nov. 11, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) are open to the public and feature keynote Sir Mix-A-Lot — himself an enduring local source of inspiration for creative youth.

Tara Tamaribuchi’s ‘Camouflage Net Project’ (detail). (Method Gallery)

There’s no way to say this gently: Sunset will land before 5 p.m. this weekend (4:45 p.m. on Nov. 5), and that’s just the beginning of the Big Dark. My recommendation is to temper this hard truth with art of the soft sort, and there is plenty to be had in current gallery shows. 

In the Central District, Arte Noir is hosting a show of contemporary quilts by the Pacific Northwest African American Quilters called The Ties that Bind Us: Woven Stories of Celebration (through Jan. 7, 2024). Look for Christine Jordan Bell’s bright stars in a black sky, Sheila Pitre Holmes’ mandala-esque orange vibration and LueRachelle Brim-Atkins’ surprisingly offset squares.

If you’re hitting First Thursday Art Walk this evening, you’ll find soft landings in several places. At Foster / White Gallery, look for Stephanie Robison’s clever Call and Response (Nov. 2 - 25; artist talk Nov. 4 at 2 p.m.). The California-based multimedia artist creates curious little sculptures by combining hand-carved stone with needle-felted wool. Constructed of abstract blobs and bends, the pieces are architectural, comical and relatable as they resonate with our own attempts to make awkward agreements. 

Also in Pioneer Square, Seattle artist Tara Tamaribuchi presents Camouflage Net Project (at Method Gallery through Nov. 18; artist talk Nov. 4 at 2 p.m.). Inspired by personal history — her father was born at the Tule Lake Relocation Center in 1942 — and Dorothea Lange’s photographs of incarcerated Japanese Americans weaving camo nets for the U.S. Army, Tamaribuchi plaits patterned kimono fabric through netting. Beautiful and haunting, the work billows through the gallery and speaks to hidden truths.

Colleen RJC Bratton’s ‘The Winding Sheet’ is human-scale and made with many layers of found red fabric. (Tacoma Art Museum)

And at nearby Gallery 4Culture, Allyce Wood blends the ages-old craft of tapestry weaving with high-tech innovations in Glimmering Code (through Dec. 7). These woven images reveal “where manual labor and machine language overlap,” she writes, by way of abstracted environmental scenes. 

Wood also has a woven piece on view at the Tacoma Art Museum, which is devoting a whole show to Soft Power (through Sept. 1, 2024). Featuring 21 artists exploring and expressing cultural heritage via textile arts, the new group exhibit includes quilts, abstract knits, weavings and other wonders by regional artists including Tuan Nguyen, Ric’kisha Taylor, Marie Watt, Maikoiyo Alley Barnes, Colleen RJC Bratton, Juventino Aranda, Monyee Chau and other superstars of soft. 

Also showing work in Soft Power is Priscilla Dobler Dzul, whose solo exhibit Future Cosmologies continues at MadArt Studio (through Nov. 22). The show explores her mixed heritage and Maya mythologies through both hard (ceramic figures) and soft (embroidered taxidermy and garments) artworks installed in the expansive South Lake Union space.

But there’s some sad news for fans of the innovative arts space: Dobler Dzul’s will be among the last shows at MadArt Studio. Today, founder Alison Milliman announced that after 15 years of hosting, supporting and paying artists, she will be closing MadArt in July. “It’s not financial, not COVID-related, there’s no hidden agenda,” she told me. “It’s just time.” 

Milliman — who still owns the building but can’t yet reveal how the space will be used — told me it is a celebratory ending. “It’s been amazing,” she added. “I’m feeling all the emotions.” But she’s looking forward to spending more time outdoors, and “supporting artists in other ways.”

The final show will be a group exhibit of past artists called Mad Studio (details to come).

Seattle writer E.J. Koh has a new novel, ‘The Liberators.’ (Photo by Adam K. Glaser)

Darker days are a great excuse to immerse yourself in a good book or two or three.

Seattle poet and memoirist E.J. Koh releases her gorgeous new novel The Liberators next week, kicking it off with a reading at Elliott Bay Books (Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.). I had the pleasure of interviewing Koh at ArtX Contemporary gallery as part of our Fall Arts video series. Watch the video and read all about her new book here

Also coming soon, a Poets Laureate reading at Rabbit Box Theatre in Pike Place Market (Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.). Seattle Civic Poet Shin Yu Pai hosts Redmond Poet Laureate Laura Da’ and Washington State Poet Laureate Arianne True. I promise non-poet-laureates are also welcome to attend! 

Related: Shin Yu Pai is about to release a new collaboration with comic illustrator Jeff Rueff. Called Less Desolate (Nov. 11), the book combines haiku and comics to chronicle pandemic isolation and the Pacific Northwest in poignant and funny vignettes. 

Prolific Northwest novelist Jonathan Evison has a new book, too. Again and Again is a century-spanning tale about Geno, a grouchy old man in a nursing home who has spent his life — several lives, actually — searching for his first true love. Evison will talk about the novel at Third Place Books Lake Forest Park (Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.) and Seattle Public Library downtown (Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.

Lastly, a surefire way to beat the “fall back” blues: attend the 11th annual Short Run Comix & Arts Festival (Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion, Nov. 4, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.). Some 250 artists, writers and publishers display indie-press wares at this always festive (and free) event. Walk into the vast array of creative and quirky books, comics, zines and posters as if it were a shaft of sun.

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