Arts & Entertainment

Art Without Borders Part One

South Sound Arts - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 3:45pm

 Photos of eL Seed’s graffiti art at MatterPublished in the Weekly Volcano, Nov. 23, 2016 “Vidigal Favela” graffiti art by eL Seed, photo courtesy Matter.Lisa Kinoshita, curator of moss + mineral at Matter, wrote: “The long-awaited eL Seed exhibit is up! After seeing this young French-Tunisian artist give a talk on TED, I was in hot pursuit to share his global initiative to share the message of peace through graffiti art. It's more urgent now than ever. eL Seed has given permission to show photographs of his work at Matter, with a portion of the proceeds going to support the work of Doctors Without Borders. This is part one of a three-part series called Art Without Borders.”The art of this world-renowned graffiti artist is essentially fine calligraphy writ large on the walls of buildings and other structures. It is a far cry from mere tagging.  Kinoshita wrote: “(eL Seed) has developed a signature form of art combining the fluid lines of Arabic calligraphy with the street dynamism of Western graffiti — in a style he calls, “calligraffti.” With stunning originality and vibrancy, eL Seed has created messages of peace on streets and buildings in the capitols of Europe, the U.S., the Middle East, and around the world. His artwork, which came to international attention after the birth of the Arab Spring in Tunisia, holds a universal call for peace and goodwill, as well as specific relevance for the places and cultures in which it appears.” In “Didouche Mourad”, located in Algeria, Arabic writing forms a circle on the side of a white building approximately five stories high (as I deduced by counting the windows in the photograph). A wall label explains that it is a line from an Algerian song: “How could I forget the land of good? How could my heart be in peace?”“Vidigal Favela” is writing in pink outlined in black on the roof of a building. It is nestled on the side of a mountain above a town on a calm bay. The photograph is taken from a vantage point even higher above showing the town, the bay and the surrounding mountains. The artist said of it, "At the top of the hill, I see this amazing rooftop — brand new, white. You never find a white rooftop. I started painting this poem from this writer from one of the favelas, Gabriela Torres Barbosa, I did my piece, took my picture and left." Later he found out the building was a new art school.Pont des Arts in Paris is a bridge built by Napoleon in 1802. Thousands of modern visitors have left padlocks as tokens of love. Recently the locks were removed because there were so many that they thought the bridge would inevitably fall into the Seine, and eL Seed was invited to paint the structure. He chose the words of Balzac: "Paris is in truth an ocean: you can plumb it but you'll never know its depths."  It would be nice if these and the other works shown at Matter could be seen on site, but we’re lucky to have the photos Also showing are photographs of works by Paris-based artist, Jean Faucheur, a seminal figure in the Paris street-art movement of the 1980s. He tagged in New York with Keith Haring and showed at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery. Today, he owns an art center in the Belleville section of Paris.

Art Without Borders Part One, noon to 6 p.m., by chance and by appointment through Dec. 15, Saturdays and by appointment; for appointment call Lisa Kinoshita 253.961.5220, Matter, 821 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.879.3701.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Monty Python’s Spamalot at Triad Theater

South Sound Arts - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 3:41pm

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Nov. 23, 2016the “not dead yet” scene, taken from the Standing Room Only Facebook page with permission.I must confess that I did not have high hopes when I went to The Triad Theater in Yelm to see Standing Room Only’s production of Monty Python’s Spamalot, since my previous experience with small town community theater has never been as disastrous as Waiting for Guffman, it had generally not been on a par with Tacoma and Olympia theaters. But the Standing Room Only players surprised me; they put on a first-class show.Visiting The Triad Theater is quite an experience. For starters, I tried to enter via the backstage entrance and was told to go to what they called the front of the building, a barely lighted doorway on a side street. Inside was joyful bedlam. They were serving drinks and snacks. The auditorium was almost full half an hour before show time. The stadium-style seating was interspersed with comfortable looking old couches. Onstage some kind of game of chance was going on involving a catapult, and someone was circulating through the audience handing out snacks, which I took to be Spam and cheese on crackers. It was loud. I got the impression everyone knew each other.The set looked inexpensive and shabby, which is perfectly Pythonesque. The costumes by Renee Cottriel were excellent. Some of the outlandish costumes such as those of the Knights Who Say Ni, were hilarious, and many of the women’s costumes, especially those worn by The Lady of the Lake (Earl Dawn) and the women in the ensemble were lovely.For those not in the know, Spamalot, written by Monty Python’s Eric Idle, is loosely based the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, or as the program declares, “lovingly ripped off” from the film, with a few comic bits and the song “Look on the Bright Side of Life” taken from Python’s Life of Brian. The show is excellently directed by Daniel Wyman and choreographed by Fred Loertscher with additional choreography by Marcela Martinez and Deanna Waldo, both of whom also perform in the ensemble cast.There is only one cast member I recognized, Richard Frias, who has a cameo as God, and who has extensive stage experience in the South Sound area. The rest, as well as I can tell from reading the program biographies have experience on in Standing Room Only show and school productions, which means this cast is the epitome of amateur theater — but I surely couldn’t tell it from watching them. Every one of them from King Arthur (Dave Champagne) to unnamed members of the ensemble threw themselves wholeheartedly into their roles and showed professional quality acting chops. Kudos to one and all. Especially outstanding for their expressiveness and physical comedy are Will Champagne as Patsy, the coconut-clapping sidekick, and Kevin McManus as Sir Robin.From the monster rabbit to the man who’s not dead yet to Sir Lancelot’s gay wedding, this musical farce is filled with all the craziness that made the movie and the Broadway show the hits they were, plus there are a few local bits thrown in like the “Don’t P*ss Off the Stage Manger” skit and bringing up a member of the audience (who might or might not be a plant) for a selfie with the cast.Driving to Yelm is not a difficult commute from either Tacoma or Olympia, and I guarantee you this show is worth the drive.
Spamalot, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 p.m., Sunday through Nov. 27, $xx, The Triad Theater, 102 Yelm Ave E, Yelm.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Jason Sobottka paintings at Tacoma Community College

South Sound Arts - Thu, 11/17/2016 - 3:21pm

Adventures Through the AnthropocenePublished in the Weekly Volcano, Nov. 17, 2016 “Kevlar Wolves,” painting by Jason Sobottka, photo by Gabi ClaytonJason Sobottka is a fascinating painter. It’s tempting to label his paintings fantasy art, but that would be too easy. There are fantasy elements aplenty, but there is much more to it than that. He paints fantasy creatures and mythological creatures, and he paints common animals such as dogs, rabbits, and deer in fantasy settings. More importantly, he combines many of these, often within a single painting or in some instances within a single animal. He places his creatures in the Anthropocene (defined as relating to or denoting the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment) and calls his show Adventures Through the Anthropocene.  The images he creates and his style of painting may not be unique in and of themselves, but in combination they are as inventive and as unusual as anything you’re likely to see. It is like Jackson Pollock with his drip paintings. He wasn’t the only one to do it, or even the first, but nobody did it with such consummate skill and passion as he did. So it is with Sobottka.And it is not just the strange creatures. Many artists who grew up reading graphic novels and watching sci-fi movies invent strange creatures (I have no idea how young or old Sobottka is or to what degree he might have been influenced by sci-fi and fantasy). But few other artists create their fantasy images with such skill or with such a variety of ways of painting — an intermingling of geometric patterns, cartoon line drawings, realistically rendered figures, flat shapes and colors, smooth modeling and heavy impasto, plus spray paint, glitter and pasted-on googly eyes.  A few examples:“Elkotaur Blessing” depicts a man with a deer head and tattoos of cartoon figures on his body. He is seen from chest up. He has two antlers. One of them is normal and is rendered realistically, the other is pink and painted flat with glitter.“Deer Spirit with Pitcher Plants,” acrylic, oil and glitter on canvas, pictures a seated nude female figure seen head to toe. She has the head of a deer and is holding an assault rifle.“Elkataur with Tattoos” is like “Elkataur Blessing” except the man’s body is seen from head to foot and there are googly eyes glued onto much of the image.“Kevlar Wolves” pictures six fierce running wolves drawn and painted in a variety of styles. Some are realistic; some are line drawings; one is a head only that fades into the background; and one is a flat white silhouette. Throughout the background and partially overlapping the wolves are geometric patterns and architectural forms.“Anti-poaching Intervention,” acrylic and screen print on canvas, depicts two rhinos with machine guns mounted on their backs with transparent circular collars around their necks. One of them has a blue and purple polka dot body.Adventures Through the Anthropocene is a fun show. To me, the visual elements of line, shape, color and texture and the way they blend, merge, contrast and complement each other is even more fascinating than the fantasy creatures.Jason Sobottka Adventures Through the Anthropocene, noon to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, through Dec. 16, Tacoma Community College, Building 5A, entrance off South 12th Street between Pearl and Mildred, Tacoma, visitor parking in Lot G. 

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

The Native American Art Exhibition at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC)

South Sound Arts - Sun, 11/13/2016 - 10:21am
Beaded bag by Denise EmersonThe Native American Art Exhibition at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) features a wide variety of works by regional Native American artists. Look for paintings, basketry, carved wood pieces, textiles and mixed-media art curated by Mandy McCullough. McCullough is an Ojibwa from White Earth, Minnesota, who has created jewelry since she was in grade school. “This is the seventh year I have curated the exhibition. My family works along with me each year,” McCullough says.

See the complete review in Oly Arts
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Molly Dilworth: Week 8 – November 16th from 11:30-1pm in Lecture Hall 1

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Tue, 11/08/2016 - 1:40pm

Molly Dilworth_headshotFrom  Molly Dilworth…For me, creative practice is a tool for investigation and problem solving. Using data from a specific site as a structure, I give form to the things that invisibly motivate our actions. I have partnered with green building organizations, climate change activists, arts organizations and government agencies to make public art that addresses our relationship to history, nature and technology. Currently, I am investigating the relationship of domestic space, global trade, feminism, labor and craft.

From the rooftops of Brooklyn to the Pedestrian plazas of Times Square, I have created outdoor site-specific paintings in New York City and exhibited across the United States. I have been a resident artist at the Salina Art Center in Kansas and in the Art & Law Program with the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in NYC. My work was part of Spontaneous Interventions: design actions for the common good in the U.S. Pavilion at the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale.

I have been an artist in residence at Recess Activities/Pioneer Works (2012), in the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program (2013) and Smack-Mellon (2014). In the spring of 2013 I installed a permanent exterior painting for the Garden at The James Hotel in Lower Manhattan. Recent commissions include a 6,000 sq. ft. mural for Toledo, a temporary garden for a city block in Seattle, and a sculpture for a light rail station in Denver.


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Lightfall by Christian Carvajal

South Sound Arts - Tue, 11/08/2016 - 1:02pm
a review
This is my review of Lightfall by Christian Carvajal, recently posted on
The first thing you need to know about Christian Carvajal’s Lightfall is that it is funny. The second thing you need to know is that it is true, not true in the sense of a dull recitation of historical facts but truth in spirit and intent (and for all we know and as you may discover when you get near the end of this book, it just might be a historical recitation of facts after all).
Lightfall is the story of the apocalypse, the rapture, the end of the world as we know it (or think we know it), as experienced by the denizens of Sugar Roses, Oklahoma, “where Jesus looks a lot like Kenny Loggins.” Sugar Roses, a fictional town, is the quintessential small town in the heart of the Bible Belt “clustered around a minor college campus but focused on its forty church spires,” where “five thousand families eat hearty suppers behind bay windows and unlocked front doors.” It is a town whose major industry is Saving Grace, Inc., purveyors of Christian novelty items and where you will find, not far away, a Christian nudist camp.
The story is cram packed with clever word play and pop-culture references, but right under the surface of all this playfulness is very serious theology and social study. In places, it almost but not quite becomes mired in didactic sermonizing or theorizing—but the author’s intelligence and wit saves it.
The core story of the people of Sugar Roses—including an atheistic womanizing college professor, a librarian, and a Hollywood script writer back home to write a script about Sugar Roses’ one and only notorious crime—is interrupted repeatedly and cleverly by emails, blog posts and stories from the local newspaper which paint a picture of the town and its reactions to the strange events that portend the coming of the end.
Unlike many of the other reviewers who have praised Carvajal’s depiction of characters, I think the book’s biggest drawback is that the central characters are not developed as fully as I wish they were. It’s a relatively short book, and I feel it could have benefited from an additional fifty or so pages to help readers get to know these characters even better. I tended to get lost in some of the asides and forget some of the major characters.

Overall, Lightfall is a unique, well written, enjoyable and thought provoking book. I highly recommend it for thinking people.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

“Lit” spotlights The Wizard of Oz at Lakewood Playhouse

South Sound Arts - Mon, 11/07/2016 - 6:32am

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Nov. 3, 2016
 Emily Saletan as Dorothy) and Waffle as Toto, photo by James VenturiniThe Lakewood Institute of Theatre and Lakewood Playhouse are teaming up this year for a joint production of their annual all-ages show. This year’s show, their fifth annual, is the perennial favorite of kids and adults alike, The Wizard of Oz byFrank Baum as adapted by Robert and Willie Beale. What’s truly different about this adaptation is that it is a steampunk reimagining of this American classic. How contemporary can you get? Plus, since it is a collaboration between the Lakewood Playhouse’s Mainstage and its Education Department, it brings all the production elements of a Main Stage show and combines them with the even bigger sense of wonder and adventure brought by the youth and educators.The show is directed by The Lakewood Institute of Theatre’s Education Director, Jeremy Thompson. “When we were selecting a title for this season's annual LIT/LP mash-up Spotlight show, the entire staff came immediately around to the idea of presenting Oz,” Thompson says. “It had never been produced on the LP stage and with the previous productions of A Year with Frog and Toad and Treasure Island we proved that the equation of putting less experienced actors of all ages on stage with seasoned veterans, also of all ages, and giving them a big, main-stage production experience with education along the way was a sure-fire winner. The title holds such a special place in the hearts of all familiar with it, the movie is immediately recognized worldwide, so when you approach such an iconic piece of culture the job becomes to make it our own. To tell our version of the story we all love and know so well. So we approached it with a fresh script that takes the known elements and develops them slightly giving a chance for new characters and relationships. We assembled a top-notch design team and incredibly talented cast of 20 artists ranging in age from eight to 47. We approached it with a fresh aesthetic and created a unique Oz while giving a nod to the elements we simply can't do without. It has been a director's, designer's and actors’ dream to bring it all to life. We can't wait to share the countless hours of work by this fantastic team with our community — a perfect way to kick off the holiday season with the entire family.”Performing are returning actors Karly Dammel (ensemble), Isaac Gutierrez (Pocus), Lydia Helt (Glinda), Gabi Marler (Gatekeeper), Andrew Redford (Tin Man / Mr. Woodman) and Tony L. Williams (Lion / Mr. Lyon).  The show also introduces a number of new faces such as Kyla Alphier (ensemble), Sky Gibbs (ensemble), Diane Johnson (Aunt Em / ensemble), Ellie Johnson (Hocus), Ethan Jones (ensemble), Hunter McCann (Ozma), Ed Medina (Uncle Henry / ensemble), Crystalann Meyer (ensemble), Zenith Ortiz (Scarecrow / Mr. Crowe), Nate Schmidt (The Wizard), Kate-Lyn Seimers (Ogma), Kyle Yoder (ensemble) and introducing Emily Saletan (Dorothy) & Waffle (Toto).The show need no introduction or synopsis. It’s the story everyone has come to know and love about Dorothy, the silly Scarecrow, the lovable Tin Man, and the hilarious cowardly Lion and their harrowing adventures in the Land of Oz . And need I repeat that this time it takes place in a Steampunk setting?There are nine performances only. Warning: some scenes may be scary for younger children.The Lakewood Institute of Theatre nurtures students of all ages, at all stages, by offering a variety of educational and performance opportunities; and it empowers life skills through the experience of theater.The Wizard of Oz, 7 p.m., Thurs.-Sat. and 2 p.m. Sunday, special performance Nov. 9 at 7 p.m., Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., Lakewood, $15, 253.588.0042,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Anna Moschovakis: Week 7, 11/9, from 11:30-1:00 pm in the Recital Hall of the COM Building

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Fri, 11/04/2016 - 4:00pm

anna_mAnna Moschovakis’s most recent books are They and We Will Get Into Trouble for This (poems) and Bresson on Bresson (interviews with Robert Bresson, translated from the French). She is the author of two previous books of poems, You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake and I Have Not Been Able to Get Through to Everyone, as well as numerous chapbooks. Other translations include books by Annie Ernaux, Albert Cossery, and Marcelle Sauvageot.

She has received grants from the Howard Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts and The Fund for Poetry, the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and residency fellowships from Ledig House/Writers OMI and The Edward Albee Foundation; in 2009 she was the recipient of an apexart “outbound” residency grant to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She teaches in the MFA programs at Pratt Institute and Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College and was the 2016 Holloway Lecturer in the Practice of Poetry at U.C. Berkeley. She is a longtime member of Brooklyn-based publishing collective Ugly Duckling Presse, for which she edits several books a year and heads up the Dossier Series of investigative texts, and she recently co-founded Bushel, an art and community space in Delhi, NY. Her first novel, The Rejection of the Progress of Love, is forthcoming from Coffee House Press.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

The Beauty of Shared Passion

South Sound Arts - Thu, 11/03/2016 - 11:34am
The Benaroya Collection preview showPublished in the Weekly Volcano, Nov. 3, 2016“Three Faces Mirrored,” painting on carved glass and wood by Ulrica Hydman Vallien, Promised gift of the Rebecca and Jack Benaroya Collection, courtesy Tacoma Art MuseumThe latest exhibition at Tacoma Art Museum, The Beauty of a Shared Passion: Highlights from the Rebecca and Jack Benaroya Collection, is but a small selection (65 major works of art, mostly from well-known Pacific Northwest artists) of the huge collection the Benaroya family has promised as a gift to TAM — a teaser, if you will.The family began their collection with a single purchase, Dale Chihuly’s blown glass “Tomato Red Basket Set.” From there, they built one of the largest collections of Northwest glass art to be found anywhere, including works by Ginny Ruffner, Lino Tagliapiertra, Cappy Thompson, William Morris and others. But their collection is not just glass. Far from it. This exhibition also includes paintings, drawings, photographs and sculpture by such artists as Kenneth Callahan, Morris Graves, Guy Anderson, Mark Toby and others. By any standard, it is an impressive collection.While nicely executed, many of the smaller glass vessels are either works or types of works that have been seen almost too much in the Northwest. Given that, there are still enough unusual and outstanding works to make this exhibition quite impressive.One piece that caught my eye and stays with me is Mary Van Cline’s “Fragment of Time,” a larger-than-life photograph on photo-sensitive glass of a lone woman standing in a bleak desert landscape. The wall text indicates that the image is probably a self-portrait of the artist. It is printed black and white on clear glass and repeated, slightly out of sync, behind the surface image, thus creating a doubled image. This image has a mysterious, haunting quality.Manuel Neri is an artist whose work I do not see enough of. His “Mujer Pegada Series I” (the title translates to “Sticky Woman” or “Woman Stuck”) is a cut bronze sculpture of a female figure partially embedded in a heavy sheet of metal and painted with broad slathers of dripping paint. The contrast of the smoothly modeled figure with large swaths of abstract-expressionist painting creates an intriguing tension between figure and ground and density and openness.There are several flower paintings by Graves and some drawings of birds by Callahan that are interesting because they are so atypical, but which are nowhere as interesting as their more signature works. More typical and outstanding in every way is an untitled oil painting by Callahan with large, energetic oval swipes of paint combined with more carefully painted rock-like formations.There are two imposing and heavy-appearing minimalist glass sculptures by the Czechoslovakian team of Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslave Brychtová. Their “Green Eye of the Pyramid III,” the first work of art to greet the visitor when walking into the gallery, is stately and evokes mystical symbols from ancient societies.Morris’s “Suspended Artifact” has a similar stateliness and mysticism with references to animals and Native American tribal art. I consider Morris the greatest of all the artists to emerge from the Northwest glass art movement centered around the Pilchuck school.Ulrica Hydman Vallien was a ceramicist and an outstanding draftman before she turned to glass. Her “Three Faces Mirrored” is painting on carved glass and wood. The painting, loosely drawn and mystical, reminds me of Fay Jones, but it is not derivative. These distorted female faces are of Vallien’s own invention.The gift of the Beneroya collection to TAM is a great gift to all of Tacoma and the South Sound.
Tacoma Art Museum, Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through April 23, 2017, $15, third Thursday free 10 a.m.-8 p.m., 1701 Pacific Ave. Tacoma,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

My Wandering Mind – Smart Fiction

South Sound Arts - Wed, 11/02/2016 - 11:30am

I’ve noticed that many of the great writers fill their works with cultural and historical references, puns, double entendre, and other sneaky stuff. I suspect they know full well that only a fraction of their readers will get all their bon mots, but they put them in there anyway, I assume for the sheer pleasure they get from it and perhaps in hopes that some their references and word play will give some readers a delightful ah-ha moment.
Salman Rushdie is a master of these literary devices. His books are crammed with puns and other forms of word play, and pop-culture, historical and literary references. I have thoroughly enjoyed those I’ve caught, and I know there must be many that pass me right by.
In Nabokov’s Lolita, almost every paragraph contains some esoteric reference to history or literature—or sex. I know I would have missed almost all of them if my friend Larry Johnson had not loaned me an annotated Lolita. The index was almost as long as the book. Wading through it was hard work but worth the effort. My friend Larry is a great poet, and his poetry (Veins and Alloy) is so crammed full of literary and historical references that I spent almost as much time looking things up as I did reading his poems. As with Lolita, it was worth the effort.
I remember reading A Prayer for Owen Meany and thinking how ludicrous it was that tiny little Owen was obsessed with trying to dunk a basketball. It was funny but ridiculous that Irving (never shy about excessive repetition) kept bringing it up until finally it paid off grandly, and suddenly the reader understood. There was also the clever naming of the town Gravesend. By-the-way, speaking of excessive repetition, how many John Irving novels does one have to read before one gets the idea that he likes writing about bears and wrestling?
The thing that made me start ruminating on these things was Christian Carvajal’s novel Lightfall, which I am reading for the second time. Both Lightfall and his second novel, Mr. Klein’s Wild Ride, written under the pen name Lynn Savage, overflow with clever names and witty pop-culture references. I’m sure I can’t fully appreciate all his nerdy references to sci-fi and fantasy, because my delving into these genres has been limited. But the ones I have grasped are brilliantly-sneakily funny.
Reading smart fiction sure is fun. Even for those of us who may not be as smart as the fiction we read.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

A Piece of My Heart at Dukesbay Theater

South Sound Arts - Wed, 11/02/2016 - 8:19am
Jermaine Lindsay playing all the American men, and Sissy (Erin O'Laughlin, all photos courtesy Dukesbay Theater
LeeAnn (Helen Martin) and Steele (LaNita Hudson),

A Piece of My Heart at Dukesbay Theater is the real deal. It is the horror and the heroism of the Vietnam War brought to life, not with action and special effects but through the troubled memories of six women who lived through it — true stories mostly told by those who remember, but also acted out to the background of rock and roll. Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, the songs that reverberate in our ears and in our memory along with the sound of helicopter blades. Martha (Kathryn Grace Philbrook), Whitney (Jill Heinecke) and Steele
MaryJo (Melanie Gladstone), Martha and SteeleThe play was written by Shirley Lauro based on a 1986 oral history by Keith Walker in which 26 of the estimated 1,500 American women who went to Southeast Asia recounted their experiences, whether as nurses, civilian do-gooders or entertainers. The women of A Piece of My Heart are Army, Navy and Red Cross nurses, an intelligence officer, and a singer/guitarist from an all-girl band who was sent to Vietnam to entertain the troops. They are: Martha (Kathryn Grace Philbrook), an idealistic military brat who follows in her parents’ footsteps by becoming an Army nurse; MaryJo (Melanie Gladstone), the lead singer in Sugar Candies from Beaumont, Texas; Sissy (Erin O’Loughlin), an idealistic but fearful Army nurse; Whitney (Jill Heinecke), a Red Cross nurse; LeeAnn (Helen Martin), an Asian-American hippie who becomes an Army nurse thinking she’s going to get to serve in Hawaii; and Steele (LaNita Hudson), an Army veteran of 18 years who joined wanting to be in the Army band but was told Negroes couldn’t be in the band. She works in intelligence and is probably the smartest and most accomplished of all the women.The one man in the cast, Jermaine Lindsay, plays all the American men, from hard-partying soldiers to double amputees in the field hospital to a succession of officious officers. Vietnam is a shock to all the women, and coming home (the entire second act takes place back home) is just as big a shock. All but Steele are young and naïve when they go to ’Nam. They are horrified by the conditions and by the severity of the wounds they must treat. They are forced to grow up in a hurry, and when they come home they no longer fit in with their old friends or their families. Every one of them suffers from post-traumatic stress.It is a horrible and destressing story, but thankfully it ends on an uplifting note. About that ending — it takes place at the wall in Washington, D.C., long after the women come home, and it plays on the audience’s emotions in a way that a more cynical reviewer would probably dismiss, but I am a sucker for just that kind of play to the heartstrings as, it seems, most of the opening night audience was.The acting by the ensemble cast is outstanding. The pacing and blocking is like a carefully choreographed dance throughout. And the set designed by Burton Yuen is a simple grouping of risers and a long ramp that is perfect for this presentation. The only problem with the set is that occasionally actors speak from spots that are hard to see, depending on where you are seated.Finally, the rock ‘n’ roll sound track (a combination of recorded and live music) is the music not only of the era, but specifically of the Vietnam War — a combat veteran friend of mine said ‘Nam was America’s rock ‘n’ roll war.Opening night sold out, so get your tickets early. A Piece of My Heart, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 p.m., Sunday through Nov. 13, $15, Dukesbay Theater, Merlino Arts Center, 508 S. Sixth Ave., Tacoma, online tickets at

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Tracing Genetic Inheritance

South Sound Arts - Tue, 11/01/2016 - 10:34am

Geraldine Ondrizek installations at The Evergreen State College
 “Chromosome Painting Edition II 1-X,” by Geraldine Ondrizek, photo by Becky KnoldWorks from three major installations by Geraldine Ondrizek come together in the show Tracing Genetic Inheritance: Recent Work by Geraldine Ondrizek at the art gallery at The Evergreen State College. This is a highly unusual, beautiful and intelligent exhibition that combines science and art in ways that should open the mind and tease the eye.

Read the complete review in Oly Arts.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Art Lecture Series: Charles Mudede on Wednesday, 11/2, from 11:30-1:00 pm in Lecture Hall 1

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Fri, 10/28/2016 - 1:39pm

Charles MudedeCharles Tonderai Mudede is a Zimbabwean-born cultural critic, urbanist, filmmaker, and writer.  Mudede collaborated with the director Robinson Devor on two films, Police Beat and Zoo, both of which premiered at Sundance–Zoo was screened at Cannes. Mudede, who is an editor for The Stranger, has contributed to the New York Times, LA Weekly, Village Voice, Black Souls Journal, e-flux, C Theory, Cinema Scope, Keyframe, Filmmaker and is on the editorial board for the Arcade Journal and Black Scholar. His fiction has appeared in Seattle Review. Mudede has lived in Seattle since 1989.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Dracula at Tacoma Little Theatre

South Sound Arts - Fri, 10/28/2016 - 8:21am
Photo: from left and back to front: Jacob Tice, Christopher Rocco, Joseph Grant and Brynn Garrett,  photos courtesy of Dennis K Photography

“Fear hemorrhages deliciously within you.”Published in the Weekly Volcano, Oct. 27, 2016
from left and back to front: Jacob Tice, Christopher Rocco, Joseph Grant and Brynn Garrett,  all photos courtesy of Dennis K PhotographyTacoma Little Theatre’s rendition of Dracula is creepy, funny, horrifying, and hauntingly beautiful. A highly stylized presentation as directed by Pug Bujeaud with outstanding sets (Blake R. York), lighting (Niclas R. Olson) and costumes (Michele Graves); this production is the epitome of theatricality.
Often throughout there are overlapping and widely spaced scenes and foreboding figures moving behind a scrim, all of which lends to the production the dreamlike feel of a moving balletic tableaux.
Michael Christopher as Dracula and Jacob Tice as Harker
Brian Wayne Jansen is RenfieldYork’s set design features columns and a riser painted to emulate stone with two large and equally stone-like boxes that double as beds and coffins, all dramatically highlighted by floods of blood red and cold blue light and a profusion of smoke. Cast members rather than stage hands move props and set pieces. The way this is done, rather than being a distraction, set changes become integral to the action.
Director Bujeaud wrote in a program note, “[Dracula] is often portrayed as a creature of romance and loss. While I have enjoyed many of the forays into that version of Dracula … this is not that. This script by Steven Dietz neither embraces that romantic tint, nor does it delve into camp that productions are often laced with. What we have here is a story that relies heavily on Bram Stoker’s original text.”
While it is true that this version is not romantic, and thankfully not camp —there’s been quite enough of that — it is highly eroticized.
Early on there is a sexy romp in bed between the leading female characters, Mina (Jesse Morrow) and Lucy (Brynn Garrett), both of whom behave in a sexualized manner with each other and with Dracula (Michael Christopher). Also highly erotic are the slivering and cavorting of the unnamed and silent Vixens (Ariel Birks and Kadi Burt).The cast is great. Jacob Tice displays a range of acting skills as Harker, Mina’s hapless lover and repeated victim of horror. Christopher Rocco, new to Tacoma stages but a favorite in Olympia, primarily in Theater Artists Olympia productions, is convincingly humane and human as Seward the doctor who is in love with Lucy; and veteran actor Joseph Grant is believably obsessive as Professor Van Helsing.
Other than dramatic poses in caped majesty and the viciousness of his attacks, Christopher plays Count Dracula with subtle undertones, resisting the natural tendency to camp it up.
And then there is the madman, Renfield, played by Brian Wayne Jansen. Oh my god, Jansen is a force of nature. He plays the mad, immortal, Renfield like a combination of Hannibal Lecter and King Lear. He is funny, frightening and full of surprises, lurking in his little asylum cell off to the side of the stage and then bursting onto the main stage in explosions of insanity. If he were doing this on Broadway, he would be a surefire Tony winner.
This show is not for children, and it is not for the squeamish. It is sophisticated, intelligent (and a little bit funny) adult fare.
Dracula, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:00 p.m. Sunday, through Nov. 6, $20-$24, pay what you can Nov. 3, Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 N “I” St., Tacoma, 253.272.2281,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

30 Americans at Tacoma Art Museum Part II

South Sound Arts - Sat, 10/22/2016 - 7:18am
African American Art Since the 1970sRobert Colescott, “Pygmalion, 1987, acrylic and oil on canvas, 90 x 114 inches, courtesy of the Rubell Family CollectionPublished in the Weekly Volcano, Oct. 20, 2012I reviewed 30 Americans in this space two weeks ago. With 45 works from 30 of the best African American artists since the 1970s, this exhibition needs more than one column. So here’s part two:One of the more impressive paintings I did not touch on in my first review is Robert Colescott’s “Pygmalion,” a large painting at nine-and-a-half feet in length and seven-and-a-half feet in height. Colescott’s interpretation of the Greek myth (upon which the play by George Bernard Shaw was based) has an interesting twist. The sculptor, Pygmalion, is a black man with gray hair and a heavy gray beard, identified as a self-portrait of the artist (or it could also be a caricature of Frederick Douglass; Colescott’s cartoon style leave a lot to the imagination). The sculpture of the beautiful woman which the mythological sculptor created and then fell in love with is usually depicted in white marble. Here she is presented as a Black woman — not the alluring nude with no arms, that’s the Venus de Milo, also depicted as a Black woman — but the woman in the flower-patterned house dress Pygmalion is dancing with. His expression is angry or intense, not loving. The other figures in this crowded scene all appear as everyday people in everyday situations. Some might even be viewed as stereotypical. It is difficult if not impossible to read the artist’s meaning. Nevertheless, I love this painting. I like its exuberance and energy and bold use of color, and I am fascinated by its ambiguity. Speaking of Frederick Douglass look-a-likes, Rashid Johnson’s black-and-white photograph “The New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club (Thurgood)” pictures a handsome Black man in suit and tie surrounded by swirls of smoke. The title refers to Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice. I’m not sure that I get the meaning, but it is a dramatic photograph.A striking photo with a similar appearance is Hank Willis Thomas’s “Who Can Say No to a Gorgeous Brunette?” — a part of his “B®randed” series, which critiques the advertising industry by presenting twists on the types of images often seen in ads. Of this series Thomas said, “I believe that … advertising’s success rests on its ability to reinforce generalizations about race, gender, and ethnicity, which can be sometimes true, and sometimes horrifying, but which at a core level reflect the way culture views itself or its aspirations.” Pictured in this photo is a beautiful, strong, Black woman with a sad expression and a huge Afro that blends into the background with a strong use of chiaroscuro. The viewer is asked to contemplate her image in light of the title and with advertising imagery in mind.Kara Walker asks viewers to think about the history of slavery with her mural-size (eight-by-55 feet) frieze of silhouetted, cut-out cartoon figures dancing. They are designed to illustrate the old Stephan Foster minstrel song, “Camptown Ladies.” The frieze presents the style of demeaning images of Negroes that were popular during the time of minstrel shows. The contrast of black figures against the white wall and the rhythmical movement draws the viewer into a deceptively lighthearted visualization of a history of horror.Many of the paintings, photos and sculptures in this show employ irony and insightful references to history and the art of the past in order to comment of the realities of racial relations then and now. It is a powerful show that should be perused slowly, in depth, and often.Tacoma Art Museum, Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Jan. 15, 2017, $15, third Thursday free 10 a.m.-8 p.m., 1701 Pacific Ave. Tacoma,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

We Call This Home: Kathy Gore-Fuss at Salon Refu

South Sound Arts - Tue, 10/18/2016 - 8:15am
Photo: “And They Call This Home,” oil on linen panel by Kathy Gore Fuss, courtesy of the artist

Reviewed in the Weekly Volcano and Oly Arts

“And They Call This Home,” oil on linen panel by Kathy Gore-Fuss, courtesy of the artist“Windswept,” oil on paper by Kathy Gore-Fuss, courtesy of the artistThe exhibition of drawings and paintings by Kathy Gore-Fuss at Salon Refu offers proof positive that practice makes perfect. Gore Fuss has been making art for a long time. She was one of the first artists I met when I moved to Olympia in 1988. She was good then, and she’s been getting progressively better ever since. When she started plein air painting in the dense forests in and around Olympia and later at the gritty, industrial Port of Olympia a few years ago, she found her truest voice and her raison d’etre. She and the subject of her painting have become one. 

Read the complete review inOly Arts.
the Weekly Volcano. 
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Elephant & Piggie's "We are in a Play!" at Olympia Family Theater

South Sound Arts - Tue, 10/18/2016 - 7:34am
Joanna Gibson as Piggie and Isaac McKenzsieSullivan as Gerald, photo by Alexis SarahJoanna Gibson plays Piggie in her OFT debut. Gibson is an acrobat and circus aerialist who teaches at Olympia Community School. She is a bundle of energy, running and jumping and dancing all over the place with a smile that lights up the world. Her exuberant acting reminds me a lot of another OFT favorite, Kate Ayers, who happens to be the director of this play.
Read the complete review on Oly Arts
Also in the Weekly Volcano
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Kathy Gore Fuss

South Sound Arts - Fri, 10/14/2016 - 9:23am
Dear Friends of Salon Refu, Below is an invitation from Kathy Gore-Fuss, our artist this month.  Please come and join with her in conversation.  We might have some snacks for you.     The gallery is open for quiet viewing every Thursday through Sunday from 2 to 6. 
We're selling a lot of work,  so if you've always thought about owning something by Kathy, this is no time to dawdle.   All the best, Susan Christian Salon Refu

Hello Arts Walk fans!   On October 22nd, 2016, I will be giving a talk about my work from 4 – 5PM.  Come early to assure yourself seating!   The gallery will be open from 2 – 6PM that day.    Please come and join me for some thought provoking ideas about this place we call home.      Thank you so much for turning out to see the art shows last Friday!   Cheers – Kathy Gore Fuss Susan Christian, Proprietress | Salon Refu, 114 Capital Way N, Olympia, WA 98501
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Geraldine Ondrizek: Wednesday, October 19th, 11:30-1:00 pm in the Recital Hall of the COM Building

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Thu, 10/13/2016 - 1:39pm

Gerri 1Geraldine Ondrizek is a Professor of Art and artist at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. For the last twenty-five years she has collaborated with genetic and medical researchers to make architectural based installations.

She has had over 30 solo exhibitions internationally and is the recipient of several grants including an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Ford Family Foundation, an Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship, an exhibition grant from NASA and the Houston Foundation, a UNESCO Artist in Residence grant, an NEA exhibition support grant, and a Mellon Foundation Art and Science Research Grant.

Geraldine’s work is currently on exhibit in the Evergreen Gallery, located in the Library building,  from October 5th to November 7th.  A reception will be held for her on Tuesday October 18, from 4 – 6pm.

Her 2014-15 project Shades of White done in collaboration with Dr. Alexandra Stern focused on skin color charts and eugenics practices in the US. In 2015, she was an artist in residence at Kaiser Wilhelm Archive at The Max Plank Institute in Berlin where she studied the work of Dr. Georg Geipel and the origins of Biometric Data to create a series of artist books and a short film. Her work was recently in Global Exo-Evolution, curated by Peter Weibel, at ZKM, the Center for Media, in Karlsruhe, The Momentum AIR in Berlin and in Translocation at the Musrara Mix Festival in Jerusalem. In 2016, she completed mtDNA an architectural installation charting of mitochondrial DNA world-wide that will travel to several museums in 2017.  Geraldine received her BFA from Carnegie-Mellon University and an MFA from the University of Washington.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

My Wandering Mind

South Sound Arts - Thu, 10/13/2016 - 9:52am

The Fab Four
We saw on the news the other day that Rod Stewart was knighted. Congrats, Rod. The reporter reminded us that Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger are also knights, and my immediate reaction was: What about Ringo? Come on, Britain, get it right and honor Ringo.
Coincidentally, on that same day my wife and I won tickets in a raffle to see In My Life, a tribute to the Beatles with the band Abbey Road. Actually, someone else won but they had to turn down their tickets, and we were second in line.
It was a fun show—not the Beatles, but a pretty good proximity. The best musicians in the band, by far, were George, played by Zak Schaffer, and Ringo, played by Axel Clarke. Schaffer’s solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was a knockout, and Ringo—I mean Clarke—played the hell out of the drums. The guys playing Paul and John were good, but not as good. All of them were better musicians and singers than actors. They lacked the energy and impish humor and charisma of the Fab Four—not that there weren’t some great songs. They did a knockout job on the tunes from Sgt. Pepper, and “Blackbird” was great.
Letting my mind wander back to my youth when the Beatles first exploded on the scene, I have to admit I was not impressed. I was a big jazz fan back then, and something of a snob. I thought rock ‘n’ roll had reached its pinnacle in the first years with Bill Haley, Elvis, Roy Orbison, Fats Domino, and Chuck Berry. I thought the Beatles were second rate and silly. As for Ringo, I thought he was ridiculous. I should have known better. I was a drummer. My heroes were Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich; later Joe Morello, the great drummer with the Dave Brubeck Quartet; and later still, Art Blakey. The only rock drummer I admired was Ginger Baker, who I still think is one of the greatest.
My wife, 10 years younger than I, was no Beatles fan in the early days either. It was not until Rubber Soul that she came around. For me it was Sgt. Pepper. Only years later did I come to realize that those early tunes, despite their lovesick teenage lyrics, were damn good and musically much more sophisticated than they seemed to me at the time.

Anyway, I’m happy for Rod Stewart and all his fans, and I hope Britain gets around to knighting Ringo before he kicks the bucket.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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