Local Art News
For its 40th annual edition, the Seattle International Film Festival will open May 15 with "Jimi: All Is By My Side," a drama about the early years of Seattle rock legend Jimi Hendrix. Written and directed by John Ridley (the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "12 Years a Slave"), the film stars musician/actor Andre Benjamin as Hendrix and begins in 1966 New York, where then-James Hendrix is an unknown backup guitarist. Ridley is scheduled to attend the opening-night gala at McCaw Hall. The festival runs from May 15 through June 8; the full lineup will be announced May 1. More information: www.siff.net.
I'm happy to report that Redmond author Daniel James Brown has won the 2014 Indies Choice Award from the American Booksellers Association for his fabulous story of the 1936 Huskies rowing team, "The Boys in the Boat." Brown won the prize for the adult nonfiction book of the year.
This is surely a satisfying award to win because it's given by independent booksellers nationwide, who presumably know what they're talking about when it comes to good books.
"The Boys in the Boat" is the story of the University of Washington crew team that won the 1936 Olympics, vanquishing Hitler's hand-picked team. For more information, here's the Seattle Times review and an interview with Brown on how he wrote the book. And here's a recent televised interview with Brown on "Well Read," the books and authors show on state public affairs network TVW.
The little town of Tieton, near Yakima, may seem a little lonely. It's actually a hive of activity, thanks to the artists/crafters/entrepreneurs who have moved there and are busy painting and sculpting and letter-pressing and brewing. Mighty Tieton (as some of its new residents like to call it) invites the curious to drop by for the annual town open house, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, April 26. The Mighty Tieton Warehouse will be open, as will Tieton Lofts Gallery (home of the Tieton Mosaic Project). Brunch and happy-hour specials will be spread out around Tieton Park, as will a pop-up market with cheese, cider, eggs, antiques, that kind of thing.
Note: The Tieton goings-on coincide with the Yakima Valley's 35th annual Spring Barrel Weekend, during which wineries from Yakima to the Tri-Cities offer tastings of brand-new vintages before they are bottled. The forecast for that weekend looks good -- partly cloudy, but only a 10% chance of rain. (Real-time results may vary.)
The National Endowment for the Arts announced 24 grants to Seattle-area groups this week, totaling $653,000. Thirty grants were awarded statewide in this round of funding.
Some of the recipients are listed below; a complete national list is available from the NEA.
--5th Avenue Theatre, $50,000, to support a production of the Lerner-Loewe musical "Paint Your Wagon" with new book and community engagement events.
--Richard Hugo House, $50,000, to support "readings, open mics, workshops, lectures, book launches, residencies, multimedia
performances, and the commissioning of new work."
--Seattle Repertory Theatre: $50,000, to support Bringing Theatre into the Classroom, summertime professional development for teachers and follow-up classroom residencies.
--Seattle Arts and Lectures, $40,000, to support the Writers in the Schools program.
--Shunpike: $25,000, to support Shunpike's mission of offering financial, administrative, fundraising and training support to arts groups.
--Wing Luke Memorial Foundation: $20,000 to support the "Spatial Transformations/Interior Visions" exhibition and catalog, which will feature "contemporary women artists in an exploration of their
Asian Pacific American and Pacific Islander roots."
I read a lot of books, but some stick with me more than others. Dinaw Mengestu's "All Our Names" has an enduring place on my mental bookshelf - it's a haunting novel of an African man swept into a revolution and an American social worker who tries to help him when he shows up, identity-less, in 1970s America.
Mengestu, of Ethiopian heritage, is one of a number of young writers of African heritage who now live in America. They are producing brilliant books that illuminate life for the people of the African diaspora. He appears tonight on "Well Read," the books and authors interview program on state public affairs network TVW. It airs at 7 and 10 p.m. (in Seattle, Comcast channel 23). The episode will replay throughout this week. Or you can watch it here.
Seattle Art Museum's new website design is open to the public, the museum has just announced. Gone: the turquoise background; the long columns of stuff; and and the small images. Now: Maps, visitor info and events are easy to find. Visuals are big and so is the type. Videos are hanging out.
SAM worked with Hornall Anderson, a Seattle agency, on the design. The site is driven by Microsoft's SharePoint Server 2013. “We tried to thread the needle of a design that was visually confident and yet, in total service of the art," said Nick Thiel, Hornall Anderson design director, in a news release.
Seattle Symphony players are not the only local musicians invited out of town. The Byrd Ensemble, led by Markdavin Obenza, is one of just 16 choirs in the world selected for the London International A Cappella Choir Competition (April 21-26), and the only one from the U.S. The winning choir will receive 3,000 pounds (a little over $5,000 U.S. at this writing). Judges include Tallis Scholars director Peter Phillips, composer John Rutter and James O'Donnell, director of music at Westminster Abbey. But wait, there's more -- the competition takes place at St. John's, Smith Square, a Thomas Archer-designed church leveled during the Blitz but restored to its English Baroque glory in the 1960s.
Today! expand(art) / a conversation – Sandra Jackson-Dumont gathers an amazing group to discuss the changing face of art in Seattle
The Pulitzer Prizes, given each year for excellence in journalism as well as arts and letters, have just been announced to the lucky crowd gathered in New York City. A couple of local connections sprung up amid the prizes:
--The Pulitzer Prize for music went to Alaska composer John Luther Adams for his work "Become Ocean," which the Seattle Symphony premiered on June 20, 2013. The SSO will also perform the work next month at Carnegie Hall, as part of the Spring for Music festival. The citation describes it as a "haunting orchestral work that suggests a relentless tidal surge, evoking thoughts of melting polar ice and rising sea levels."
-- Jen Graves, visual-art critic for the alternative newspaper The Stranger, was named a finalist in the criticism category "for her visual arts criticism that, with elegant and vivid description, informs readers about how to look at the complexities of contemporary art and the world in which it’s made."
--Another winner of note: Donna Tartt's novel "The Goldfinch" is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction; Tartt visited Seattle in October, and our review of the book is here.
A little bit of a meander as I ponder the Selection of Ann Hamilton for the Waterfront Seattle public piers project. (Repost)
From Seattle Times theater critic Misha Berson:
Lauren Gunderson's play "I and You" has earned the $25,000 top award in the 2014 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award competition, honors given annually to plays that premiered at theaters outside of New York City.Receiving two other 2014 Steinberg/ATCA citations, and awards of $5,000 each, are the plays "Fear Up Harsh" by Christopher Demos-Brown, and "Seven Spots on the Sun" by Martin Zimmerman. The prizes were announced at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville on April 5.
Gunderson's play focuses on the rapport between a teenage girl awaiting an organ transplant and a boy who arrives at her home to work on a special class project with her about the poetry of Walt Whitman. "I and You" premiered last fall at the Marin Theatre Company in California. (Three earlier works by the prolific, Bay Area-based Gunderson have been produced in Seattle at ArtsWest Playhouse: "The Taming," "Emilie" and "Exit, Pursued by a Bear.")
"Fear Up Harsh," which examines the nature of heroism as it affects two U.S. veterans of Mideast combat, debuted last November at the Zoetic Stage in Miami. "Seven Spots on the Sun" considers forgiveness and redemption against the backdrop of civil war, and it was unveiled last October at the Cincinnati Playhouse.
A jury of 19 critics from around the U.S. (including Misha Berson of the Seattle Times, and Jerry Kraft of seattleactor.com) selected the winning plays. They also awarded the annual $1,000 M. Elizabeth Osborn Prize, given to a playwright deserving of more national exposure, to Topher Payne for his script, "Perfect Arrangement." A full list of winners past and present is here.