Seattle City of Literature will have center on First Hill

8445863019_336acfdb40Seattle’s quest to become an International “City of Literature” will have a home on First Hill.

The Sorrento Hotel announced Wednesday that a new “book-filled conference room at the hotel, where readers and writers can work, meet, and learn more about the UNESCO Creative Cities network” is part of the project underway to overhaul the 105-year-old landmark.

“Cultural tourism is a major tenet of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, and the Sorrento understands the impact cultural tourism can make, both here and abroad,” Seattle City of Literature director Ryan Boudinot is quoted as saying in the announcement. “For those who love books and writing, in Seattle and beyond, this is going to be a destination unlike any other.”

CHS reported last fall on the “Pike/Pine-style” makeover for the Sorrento with a new management company, overhauls of The Hunt Room restaurant and Fireside Room lounge, and a new look for the hotel’s Madison-facing courtyard. You’ll also soon see a giant mural on the hotels parking garage.

The Seattle City of Literature initiative seeks to include the city’s writers and literary history in the United Nations’ Creative Cities program. According to the announcement, Seattle City of Literature will organize readings, conferences, book clubs, festivals, and more at the hotel. The new meeting space is scheduled to open by spring.

In the meantime, a longtime favorite Sorrento event for lovers of literature won’t be taking place this month. January’s Silent Reading Party has been canceled, organizer and Stranger editor in chief Christopher Frizzelle announced, citing the work underway to update the Fireside Room. “I am sad to say they’re getting rid of that carpet. I love that carpet. I really wish they wouldn’t get rid of it,” he writes. “But seasons change, carpets change… Happily, the new management is not getting rid of the silent-reading party.”

CHS Pics | Slummit Block Party, LLC

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

IMG_6877Last week, CHS reported that the artist enclave Summit Inn had been sold to a developer with plans to transform the Inn “into conventional apartments” with a total overhaul and inevitably higher rents.

Saturday night, some of the Inn’s remaining residents and other Summit Ave neighbors got together for a winter edition of the block’s annual music festival. Here are a few scenes from this weekend’s Slummit Block Party, LLC.

Meanwhile, the Summit Inn’s new owner Brad Padden‘s plan — “Substantial Alterations to an existing 40-unit apartment building. Renovate all units and decrease unit count to 35 small efficiency dwelling units” — is wending its way through the Department of Planning and Development.

Capitol Hill nonprofit has one question for you: ‘What would you most like to see in the new Hugo House?’

download (4)Last fall, CHS reported that Capitol Hill nonprofit Hugo House had begun work on a plan to build a new center as part of a mixed-use development at the site of its 11th Ave home. The literary arts organization is asking for community feedback on what shape its new venue should take with an online survey and Monday night community forum:

Hugo House is going to have a new home! Come help us dream up an even more dynamic center for writing and reading and listening.

What do you most wish to see in the new Hugo House—whether it’s something you hope we continue to have, a practical addition, or a wild wish for something new? We wouldn’t dream of making decisions about our new facility without you: the teachers, the students, the event attendees—the writers. This forum will give you a chance to tell us what would make the new house a home.

We’d love to see you there—and please invite anyone on your friends list who you think might be invested in the future of the House.

The “community conversation” starts at 6 PM at Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave.

You can also add your voice via this one-question survey:

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Note: You’ll have to enter at least five characters so F-U-N won’t count. We always preferred essay questions over multiple choice, too.

One group is already rallying to ask for Hugo House to include a performance venue in its plans:

Right now, the building is home to an 1800 square foot black box with fixed seating for 87, theatrical lighting grid and built-in sound system – this stage has been a place for local Seattle playwrights to debut the bold new work being produced in our city, and to lose it would be a serious setback in transforming Capitol Hill into the arts district it strives to be.

In the announcement of the new development project last fall, Hugo House and the longtime property owners of the more than 100-year-old building said they were working with a developer to determine “the exact mix of uses as part of the design and permitting process.” The announcement notes the property owners have “generously supported all facility costs, including rent” for Hugo House throughout its history.

Our Town — with ‘celebrity guest’ Professor Willards — takes the stage at 12th Ave Arts

1471280_10152667908066270_4908311122070856656_nLast week, CHS took you behind the scenes as the stages at 12th Ave Arts — the affordable housing + office + restaurants + theater + SPD parking development from Capitol Hill Housing — started to go into motion for the first time with Washington Ensemble Theatre’s debut of Sprawl.

This week, a second resident company will take the stage at 12th Ave Arts for the first time as Strawberry Theatre Workshop presents the classic Our Town:

Thornton Wilder—who begins Our Town with the direction, “No curtain. No scenery.”—might have been thrilled to stage his Pulitzer Prize winning play in a space where theatre had never been created before. His play pioneered a form of expressionism that demanded an audience collaborate in the creation of the story without the aid of production elements of any kind.

When Strawberry Theatre Workshop Artistic Director Greg Carter walked into the unfinished performance space at 12th Ave Arts on Capitol Hill, he decided that Wilder was uniquely suitable to welcome the neighborhood into a new venue.  “The idea of this production is that 12th Ave Arts is not a theatre until we make it one.”

Our Town by Thornton Wilder
Performance Dates: Jan 22-Feb 21
Performance Times: Thu-Fri-Sat at 7:30pm, Sun at 2:00pm
No Performance Sun Feb-1 (Super Bowl Sunday) or Sun Feb-22
Venue: 12th Ave Arts
Address: 1620 12th Ave, Seattle 98122
Ticket Prices: $36 General, $27 Seniors, $18 Students
Phone Sales: 1-800-838-3006
Online Sales: www.brownpapertickets.com

Strawshop says it is lining up celebrity guests to walk-on in the role of Professor Willard in Act 1 of each performance: “The walk-on opportunity is a gesture to the community in this celebration of civic life, and to thank the neighborhood for its support of 12th Ave Arts.” You can learn more at facebook.com/strawshop.

It’s time to put the arts in 12th Ave Arts as new Capitol Hill stages come to life

The Sprawl set gets some paint inside 12th Ave Arts (Image: WET)

The Sprawl set gets some paint inside 12th Ave Arts (Image: WET)

The lights are up, the seats are set, and production managers are geeking out over new equipment. The inaugural season of theater at 12th Avenue Arts is ready to commence.

12th Ave’s three resident theater groups have been settling into their two black box spaces since the lights went on in November at the Capitol Hill Housing arts and affordable apartments complex. Strawberry Theatre Workshop, Washington Ensemble Theatre, and New Century Theatre Company have solidified their first slate of plays, which kick off next week. Continue reading

Silhouette Artist Kerry Cook

Silhouette Artist to Visit Bootyland. Kerry Cook is one of the top silhouette artists in the country. She was featured on King 5, Evening Magazine, Kerry cuts paper in the traditional way, freehand, using only a pair of scissors — no drawing, tracing, or projecting. Known for her good likenesses and fine attention to detail, she can create a charming, heirloom-quality silhouette of any age child, infant or adult. It takes just a couple of minutes.

A paper silhouette is an original work of art with all the elegance, grace, and romance of a by-gone era.

Appointments now being taken at Bootyland. Sign up today!

For more information, visit the artist’s website at: www.PaperShadows.com

There’s a better use for this: The marquee lights up at 12th Ave Arts

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

IMG_0916UPDATE: With speeches from a stage full of the movers and shakers who made the project happen, artists, and city and state officials, 12th Ave Arts opened its doors Thursday night.

Calling the project a new “center of community life” for Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill Housing CEO Chris Persons thanked the more than 200 capital donors who made the project possible and made way for a long roster of speakers there to introduce the project to the neighborhood. Rep. Frank Chopp got the audience on its feet to applaud “the Seattle spirit” and christened the largest of the two theater spaces in the facility with its first performance — his reading of the James Oppenheim poem Bread and Roses. The dignitaries even threw a few lines to the theater folk. Strawberry Workshop’s Greg Carter said he was ready to get to work in a building emblematic of Capitol Hill — a neighborhood with an environment open to creating “things that don’t make sense.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill Arts District gets to work with promotion now, development incentives later

Council finance and culture chair Nick Licata at Saturday's ceremony (Images: CHS)

Council finance and culture chair Nick Licata at Saturday’s ceremony (Images: CHS)

The Capitol Hill Arts District was launched Saturday. It has plenty of work to do.

“There’s a chance that half of these artists, myself included, won’t be able to live here in five years,” says Amanda Manitach. She’s standing beside fellow artist Jesse Higman inside Hugo House, amid 11 fresh-baked artistic renditions of a day in the life of Capitol Hill: sketches, video, poems.

Manitach says she knows one artist who’s already considering homelessness in order to remain on the Hill. “It kill[s] me,” she says. “This guy has a job. In my opinion he makes some of the most thoughtfully political and aesthetically poignant art in the region.”

With property values and rents skyrocketing in the country’s fastest-growing big city, Manitach isn’t alone in her fear that development on Capitol Hill will wash away all the interesting poor people who made it desirable in the first place, transforming a countercultural gayborhood into a wasteland of luxury apartments and trite party bars.

Manitach

Manitach

But there’s some good news. The City Council is ready to vote Monday afternoon to christen Capitol Hill as Seattle’s first bona fide Arts District. The Office of Arts and Culture describes the district as “an attempt to bring cohesion” to the “constellation of arts organizations” splattered around E Pine and 12th Ave via a combination of community organizing, public advertising, and zoning incentives that will hopefully prompt developers to provision for the creation, and creators, of art. Continue reading

Reminder: Capitol Hill Arts District launch

Cap_Hill__Arts__District-logo3… 2… 1… liftoff. It’s not quite as exciting as landing on the Comet a comet, but city officials, artists, and the people who love them will be at Hugo House Saturday to celebrate. Saturday marks the launch of the new Capitol Hill Arts and Cultural District, a campaign to promote the arts, artists, and art venues in the neighborhood. CHS wrote here about the program and its long road to existence. On Saturday, you can join the party and head out to open houses around the area:

Capitol Hill Arts District Celebration

Capitol Hill Arts District Launch
Hugo House 1634 11th Ave
Doors open at 11 am
Speaking program at 11:30 am
Hear from Mayor Ed Murray; Councilmember Nick Licata; Office of Arts & Culture director, Randy Engstrom; Capitol Hill Housing Foundation Director, Michael Seiwerath and artist Amanda Manitach. A new group artwork curated by Amanda Manitach, demonstrating the vitality and vibrancy of Capitol Hill, will also be unveiled.

After the program, many Capitol Hill culture locations will host open houses in the early afternoon.

Henna Night

Learn and Practice the Art of Henna while supporting a great cause! The Youth Tutoring Program, a program of Catholic Community Services, is an after school tutoring and mentoring program for at-risk youth in grades 1-12. Most of the youth served are resettled refugees or immigrants, primarily from East Africa. Join supporters of YTP at a fun night at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on December 6th from 6:15-9pm, learning about the history of henna from Seattle henna artist Kree Arvanitas, and receive a henna design of your choice before leaving! Guests will also enjoy East African music and food. Please register at: www.tinyurl.com/YTPHennaNight. For more information, contact Bridget Guerrero at (206) 328-5970, or BridgetG@ccsww.org.

Cornish celebrates 100 years of arts education on — and beyond — Capitol Hill

Cornish at Broadway and Pine, 1920 (Image: Webster & Stevens; PEMCO Webster & Stevens Collection, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle)

Cornish at Broadway and Pine, 1920 (Image: Webster & Stevens; PEMCO Webster & Stevens Collection, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle)

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Nellie Centennial Cornish (Image: Cornish College of the Arts, with permission to CHS)

On November 14th, 1914, so the story goes, Nellie Cornish stepped off a boat in Elliott Bay, walked up Capitol Hill, and opened a small music school in an office building at Broadway and Pine.

One hundred years later, Cornish’s school maintains its Capitol Hill presence, although significantly expanded and re-centered off the Hill across I-5. This week, Cornish College of the Arts will celebrate 100 years of providing arts education in Seattle. (Oddly enough, Cornish’s middle name was Centennial because she was born in 1876, the centennial anniversary of U.S. independence).

After opening in Broadway’s Booth Building (which continues to be used by Seattle Central College), Cornish quickly set her sites on expanding. Her school was so popular she had to hold classes in Odd Fellows Hall. Eventually, Cornish was able to raise enough money to build Kerry Hall in 1921 on the corner of Roy and Boylston. Today, the Mission-revival building is still used for music and dance instruction, as well as live performances in the small Poncho Theater. Continue reading

Seattle creates its first ‘Arts and Cultural District’ on Capitol Hill

It's not the headquarters for the district but the new 12th Ave Arts will be a big part of the launch  (Image: Capitol Hill Housing)

It’s not the headquarters for the district but the new 12th Ave Arts will be a big part of the launch (Image: Capitol Hill Housing)

Capitol Hill Housing and others have already moved into the new office spaces -- the stages will be put into motion come 2015 (Image: New Century Theater via Facebook)

Capitol Hill Housing and others have already moved into the new office spaces — the stages will be put into motion come 2015 (Image: New Century Theater via Facebook)

With $50,000 in federal money to help kick it off, City Hall will finally begin to put shape to a multi-year quest by creating Seattle’s first “Arts and Cultural District” on Capitol Hill. The program will launch later in November along with the grand opening celebration of Capitol Hill Housing’s new affordable apartments + non-profit office space + restaurants + East Precinct parking + theater development, 12th Ave Arts.

But 12th Ave won’t be the center of the new Hill initiative.

“We’ve talked about Cal Anderson Park as the center of it,” City of Seattle cultural space liaison and arts entrepreneur Matthew Richter told CHS earlier this fall.

We were there in 2009 as city officials came to the Odd Fellows building to plant the seeds for the new cultural district (Image: CHS)

We were there in 2009 as city officials came to the Odd Fellows building to plant the seeds for the new cultural district (Image: CHS)

Continue reading

CHS Pics | A Capitol Hill fall tradition, Weavers’ Guild sale at St. Mark’s

Annette Mentzer and friend spin hand-carded wool (Images: CHS)

Annette Mentzer and friend spin hand-carded wool (Images: CHS)

A longtime part of fall of Capitol Hill, the Seattle Weaver’s Guild has returned to St. Mark’s this weekend for its annual sale that is equal parts opportunity to get your holiday shopping done early and opportunity to learn.

“You can learn a lot from a book but its nothing like being mentored by a wise woman,” weaver Marilyn Romatka told CHS. Creating pieces of woven art since 2007, Romatka worked Thursday on broken twill with tencel on a tabletop loom.

Kris Leet has been weaving since 1971. Her patterns go back even further with the oldest textile bands made in her medieval style dating back to 600-800 BC.

Judith Noble is also a guild longtimer. She says monthly study groups help guild members learn new techniques and improve their work. It also seems like a good way to make a few crafty friends. Continue reading

‘As many authors as we can logically put on the physical map’ — Lit Crawl Seattle ready for a new march around Capitol Hill

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 2.29.05 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 2.23.48 PMIf you have a love for literature or perhaps even just a passing interest in the written word you may be wishing for the power to be in quite a few places at once in Capitol Hill and First Hill Thursday night. The third annual Lit Crawl Seattle requires you to make a few decisions — three, to be exact.

A fitting, albeit more densely packed, fall compliment to APRIL Festival’s early spring celebration of strictly independent literature, and punctuating a Seattle literary calendar already relatively rich with year-round activity, Lit Crawl Seattle will bring some 64 writers and artists out for 21 readings at venues across First Hill and Capitol Hill, along with a over a dozen more folks acting as hosts. The full schedule is here.

“It’s a festive, large event that is meant to provide a giant showcase of as many authors as we can logically put on the physical map in the time span that we have to play with,” co-chair of Lit Crawl Seattle’s board of directors Jane Hodges told CHS.

“We really think of it as sort of a buffet,” she said. “The literary community here is huge. We want to bring out people that have large followings because they’re out being social, as well as people you don’t see so often.” Continue reading

Bright artists wanted for solar-powered Capitol Hill Gateway Kiosk project

Quick -- somebody call Susan Robb (Image: CHS)

Quick — somebody call Susan Robb (Image: CHS)

Seattle City Light is joining with the Office of Arts and Culture to create new artworks across Seattle that will highlight the uses and benefits of renewable solar energy. The premier component will be a Capitol Hill Gateway Kiosk project. The goal is to have the new work in place on the Hill in a yet to be announced location by the sunny summer of 2015.

“The Capitol Hill Gateway Kiosk will serve two main purposes. It will be a gateway/informational kiosk to the newly formed Capitol Hill Arts District which will be publicly announced on November 15, and it will also be a stand-alone artwork that uses or demonstrates solar power,” Calandra Childers of the Office of Arts and Culture told CHS. Continue reading