Technically, January is not the darkest month of the year, though it might feel like it. Lusio brings light in the darkness by lighting up the Volunteer Park Conservatory with an Instagram-worthy light-art party. If that doesn’t help, karaoke-ing “Total Eclipse At The Heart” during the upcoming moon eclipse with total strangers should be an excellent cure for the winter blues. Check out our weekly round-up of things to do below and find even more events on the CHS Calendar.
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 16: Comedian and writer Andy Borowitz has been called “America’s satire king,” “the funniest human on Twitter” and “one of the funniest people in America” by the Daily Beast, the Times and CBS News, respectively — but what do they know? In any case, Borowitz’ satirical New Yorker Borowitz Reports —basically a one-man The Onion production with a whiff of The New Yorker— such as “Amazon Founder Says He Clicked on Washington Post by Mistake” or “Study: most innocent people need to hire thirty-five lawyers at some point” are mightily popular, and he’s taking them on the road. Moore Theatre, 7.30 PM
THURSDAY, Jan. 17: If you’ve been meaning to soak up more contemporary photography, now’s your chance. 12th avenue photography learning and exhibition center Photographic Center Northwest selected a wide range of new and intriguing photos from artists across the world. The exhibit, the 22nd Juried Exhibition, opens this Thursday. Jurors Conor Risch, Senior Editor of award-winning magazine Photo District News and Lara Behnert, who leads the global art program for Starbucks, will announce their winners, while the audience can vote for the Audience Choice award. Photographic Center Northwest, 6.30 – 8 PM.
SATURDAY, Jan. 19: Saturday brings the start of three days of activism as the 2019 Seattle Womxn’s March begins with a rally in Cal Anderson. Save energy to march Monday for MLK Day, too. Cal Anderson, 9 AM
Since illuminating Volunteer Park for the first time about four years ago, the light festival Lusio Lights has grown into somewhat of a tradition on the Hill. Lusio Lights kicks off the New Year with Lusio Lights the VPC, a fundraiser for the non-profit Friends of the Conservatory, an after-hours party and exhibit of light art installations popping out from the tropical denizens of the Conservatory. Instagram-worthy, for sure, but also one of the most fun, least pretentious, fussless-fun parties in the city. Volunteer Park Conservatory, 6 – 9 PM (21+)
SUNDAY, Jan. 20: If you’d find yourself on the Moon during a total lunar eclipse, the earth would appear aureoled with a rusty tangerine hue. You’d basically be watching all of the sunrises and sunsets on Earth at the same time.
As we’re still waiting until Bezos and co to make moon/space travel, “accessible” to mil- and billionaires, the plebs will have to watch the upcoming total lunar eclipse —a super blood moon— from the grassy earth of Cal Anderson. There, the only total lunar eclipse experience of this year will be enhanced by a singalong of the eighties hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” karaoke-style. Anyone’s welcome to bring megaphones, boomboxes, instruments et al. Cal Anderson Park, 8 – 10 PM (*The organizers note that the singing part is from 8:41 – 9:43pm)
THURSDAY, Jan. 17 – SATURDAY, Feb. 16: We are all going to die. And even while alive, we’re merely at the whims of the capricious Dame Fortune. So is Everybody, a play written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins about just that. Each night the actors are cast by lottery, meaning fate decides who plays what and that the actors all have to memorize the whole play. Local company Strawberry Theatre Workshop stages the Pulitzer-nominated, “playful and colloquial examination of the human condition” for a month. 12th Avenue Arts (Main Stage), 7.30 PM (* Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday plus Mondays at 7.30 PM. No performance Monday, Jan. 21.)
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Find the softer side of your flow practice with Slow Flow in The SweatBox Loft. In Slow Flow, we’ll intentionally weave together traditional postures. This class will be unheated and very beginner friendly (aka- no Chaturangas!) Slow your practice down and build your alignment, balance, and focus. Come and expand your strength and flexibility- physically AND mentally. Appropriate for all levels. 80 degrees. This class takes place in The SweatBox Loft and pre-registration is encouraged. Please pre- register and use code 9642 and follow signs to get to The SweatBox Loft space for this class.
Seattle-based choreographer Donald Byrd works at the forefront of contemporary performance. For four decades, he has created innovative and startling dance theater works that explore the extraordinary capacities of dancers’ bodies, the complexities of Africanist aesthetics, and the ways that theatrical dance can open audiences toward social change. Presenting selected works from across his prodigious career, Byrd’s first solo museum exhibition reflects Americans’ ongoing struggles to care for our complex diversity. The show centers the artist’s firm belief in an America that is to be: one that is “multi-racial in every aspect.” For Byrd, the future of performance will include “a full spectrum of who lives in America on the stage…a reflection of our world.”
More than any other statesman of contemporary dance, Byrd concerns himself with the terms of social encounters that produce racialized and gendered subjects. His works test suppositions: he wonders on public stages about the conditions of gender and misogyny, race relations, eternal warfare, sexual identity, and the price of obsession. Working across multiple genres—in Hollywood, on Broadway, in opera, and with major ballet and modern dance companies—Byrd always moves toward the most difficult questions, boldly, forcefully, and thoughtfully. In so doing, he presses us all to understand the potential of dance as an act of defiance, as a demonstration of expertise, and as a meditation on what else could be.
The America That Is To Be incorporates archival performance footage and ephemera from various stages of Byrd’s forty-plus years of creativity with in-gallery dance performances. The exhibition traces his beginnings at California Institute of Arts, where his dance work took on a punk-inspired aesthetic, to his early works with his first dance company Donald Byrd/The Group (active from 1978–2002), through crucial collaborations with groups including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and his work since 2002 as Artistic Director of Seattle’s Spectrum Dance Theater. Reflecting the way Byrd’s vision has evolved into its full expression across a remarkable array of dance-theater works, The America That Is To Be demonstrates the passionate affirmation of a mature artist’s belief in dance to inspire social transformations; to dance toward social justice.
Donald Byrd (American, b. 1949, New London, North Carolina) is a Tony-nominated (The Color Purple) and Bessie Award-winning (The Minstrel Show) choreographer. He has been the Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle since December 2002. Formerly, he was Artistic Director of Donald Byrd/The Group, a critically acclaimed contemporary dance company, founded in Los Angeles and later based in New York, that toured both nationally and internationally. He has created dance works for many leading companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, and Dance Theater of Harlem, among others, and worked extensively in theater and opera.
His many awards, prizes, and fellowships include Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, Cornish College of the Arts; Masters of Choreography Award, The Kennedy Center; Fellow at The American Academy of Jerusalem; James Baldwin Fellow of United States Artists; Resident Fellow of The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center; Fellow at the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, Harvard University; and the Mayor’s Arts Award for his sustained contributions to the City of Seattle.
Donald Byrd received the 2016 James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award, which is funded by the Raynier Institute & Foundation through the Frye Art Museum | Artist Trust Consortium. The award supports and advances the creative work of outstanding artists living and working in Washington State and culminates in a presentation at the Frye Art Museum.
Clothing is both a highly personal and socially constructed system of communication: a signifying point of contact between individual identities and collective attitudes, customs, and trends. Dress Codes brings together the work of two artists who perform acts of translation in relation to clothing’s form and ornamentation, pressing images of historical garments—and the values encoded within them—through the interpretive interface of the grid. Though they begin from different types of source material and seek divergent ends, Ellen Lesperance and Diane Simpson both employ the gridded instructional diagram as a means for transformation across time and dimension. In the process, they return the grid, an idealized format associated with Modernist abstraction, to the practical ethos of the applied arts and domestic craft, connecting the everyday language of dress to wide-ranging cultural and political histories.
Lesperance creates gouache paintings based on the attire of women activists using American Symbolcraft, the visual shorthand of knitting patterns, in which the color of each stitch is shown as a single cell within the matrix of specialized graph paper. Working from footage and photographs of protest movements—most notably the Greenham Common Peace Camp that mounted anti-nuclear-armament demonstrations in Berkshire, UK from 1981 to 2000—the artist carefully translates activists’ (often homemade) clothing into the flattened space of hand-ruled paper, extrapolating to fill in areas that are invisible within the source images. The paintings function as standalone artworks and also as directions for re-making the pictured garments, as homage to the original wearers, a record of their ideological symbology, and stimulus to likeminded action in the present.
Simpson’s sculptural work begins with illustrations found in antique clothing catalogues, window dressing manuals, and histories of dress. Submitting pliable articles like collars, cuffs, aprons, and bonnets to the rigid constraints of a two-dimensional diagram—modeled on axonometric projection employed in architectural drawings, which integrates multiple viewpoints into a single image—the artist renders their forms in a foreshortened perspective that she then maintains when constructing three-dimensional versions. The resulting angular distortions—coupled with dramatic shifts in scale and materiality—both estrange and magnify the garments’ relationship to the body, underscoring their sociological significance as imposed expressions of gender norms, class status, and morality.
Through the process of encoding structure into schematics, both Lesperance and Simpson transform their source material into something new, embedding their own perspective in translations of the past. Dress Codes brings their work into conversation for the first time, highlighting their body- and craft-adjacent use of the grid as a feminist alternative to patriarchal representational traditions of painting and sculpture.
Ellen Lesperance (American, b. 1971, Minneapolis, Minnesota) lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Her work has been exhibited nationally at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; The New Museum, New York; the Portland Art Museum, Oregon; the Drawing Center, New York; and Seattle Art Museum, Washington and internationally at the Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm and the Tate St. Ives, England. She has received grants and awards from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Art Matters, Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the Ford Family Foundation.
Diane Simpson (American, b. 1935, Joliet, Illinois) lives and works in Chicago. Recent one and two-person exhibitions of her work have been held at Herald Street, London; Corbett vs Dempsey, Chicago; JTT, New York; NYU Broadway Windows, New York; Silberkuppe, Berlin; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. She has exhibited in numerous group exhibitions, including The Jewish Museum, New York; The Hessel Museum at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.; the Art Institute of Chicago; White Columns, New York; and CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco, and will participate in the 2019 Whitney Biennial.
A Partnership for Youth exhibition, Frame of Mind: Storytelling Through Animationshowcases the results of an eight-week workshop for teens led by teaching artists from Reel Grrls, during which students develop, animate, and edit their own stop-motion film projects.
Pierre Leguillon’s artwork-as-exhibition Arbus Bonus calls attention to the major role famed twentieth-century photographer Diane Arbus’s work has played in defining the image of American postwar popular culture. Bringing together every published magazine spread that features her photography, Leguillon’s project considers the ways in which cultural histories are assembled and disseminated, and proposes more inclusive counter-narratives.