‘A gift’ — first look inside Capitol Hill’s new Hugo House

Boards from the old Hugo House — complete with the graffiti encouraged at a goodbye party before its demolition — live on in the new Hugo House

The new Hugo House will be open to the public for the first time Saturday but the staff moved in Wednesday and the space has already hosted its first event — an opening preview for the more than 300 community donors and public officials responsible for the one-of-a-kind writing center across from Cal Anderson Park.

“We’re in a time right now when words really matter,” State Representative Nicole Macri said at Monday night’s pre-opening reception in the new center.

“I’m so grateful that the state came through.”

Rep. Macri inside the new Hugo House Monday night

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New Capitol Hill story ready to begin at Hugo House

A rendering of the soon to open new Hugo House

Construction of the new 9,600-square-foot Hugo House writing center at 11th and E Olive St. is fully imbued with the creative process — right down to the burning spirit that drives any author, poet, or journalist: a deadline.

“Construction always take longer than they think it will and there have been some unavoidable delays,” Hugo House executive director Tree Swenson tells CHS. “They say they’ll be ready.”

Like a publisher awaiting that final draft, Swenson is planning for Saturday, September 22nd — the planned official grand opening of the new Hugo House inside the six-story mixed-use apartment building that stands at the site the old Hugo House previously called home.

Opening Celebration: New Hugo House

“The celebration will be a chance for everybody to explore the whole space in a design that invites creativity,” Swenson said.

Designed by the architects at NBBJ, the new Hugo House is centered around a 150-seat auditorium but Swenson said the first thing any visitor will see from the 11th Ave entrance is the front salon with built-in writing nooks, seating areas, and a small stage. Continue reading

Consulate of Mexico in Seattle and its Mexican Cultural Institute celebrate nation’s arts — plus, Mexican wine and mezcal

Capitol Hill’s Harvard Exit didn’t just become the new home Consulate of Mexico in Seattle when the diplomatic facility moved in this summer.

The Mexican Cultural Institute also now calls the building home.

You can join the effort to embrace and growth Mexican culture and arts in the Northwest this month with El Festival MEX AM Northwest events across the neighborhood including a reception on Thursday along with the monthly Capitol Hill Art Walk showcasing the work of sculptor Adrian Gomez in the institute’s gallery inside the consulate:

NosotrUS: Adrían Gómez

Meanwhile, you can enjoy some more of the nation’s creations with a Mexican wine tasting event at Capitol Hill’s Aluel Cellars and a night of mexcal at Mezcaleria Oaxaca on E Pine.


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What has bubbled to the top of ’30 ideas’ for saving — and developing — Seattle studios, galleries, and music venues

Not everything is about preservation. The new Hugo House is set to open soon on 11th Ave.

As Seattle once again wrestles with the fragility of its arts spaces in the face of continued growth, change, and development, the Seattle City Council this week heard an update on City Hall’s efforts to preserve and grow the number of studios, galleries, and performance venues on Capitol Hill and across the city.

Tuesday, the Seattle Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development & Arts Committee convened to discuss the cultural space access and stabilization project currently being undertaken by the Office of Arts and Culture (ARTS).

ARTS has been working for the past eight months to implement concepts proposed in The CAP Report: 30 Ideas for the Creation, Activation and Preservation of Cultural Space (PDF), which was published by ARTS last year. ARTS is assessing the feasibility of the project and working on a racial equity toolkit to ensure the communities of color that will be impacted have their voices heard.

Council member Lisa Herbold, chair of the committee, expressed her support for the project and its research.

“Our ability to preserve cultural spaces is really important,” Herbold said. “It goes beyond one particular threatened cultural space and we really need to figure out what the tools are that we have available.” Continue reading

Artful nights on Capitol Hill: Art Walk, 3rd annual Lusio lights in Volunteer Park, ANiMA in Cal Anderson

In addition to August’s second Thursday bringing this month’s Capitol Hill Art Walk to the neighborhood’s galleries, cafes, restaurants, and bars, the next couple of nights will also fill Capitol Hill’s parks with art and performance.

Thursday, check out the monthly art walk including a few friends of CHS — a full roster and map is available at capitolhillartwalk.com. Make sure to stop by the Ghost Cabin installation, echoing with the spirit of a long-gone Capitol Hill farmhouse in Chophouse Row.

Friday, you’ll be faced with an artful choice — bright lights in Volunteer Park or a “future without borders” in Cal Anderson. Continue reading

CHS Pics | 11th Avenue Street Fair


An effort to highlight Capitol Hill’s creative spaces got started Sunday with the first-ever 11th Avenue Street Fair where painters, clothing designers, and all other types of artists came to display and sell their work.

Sponsored by the Capitol Hill Community Council, and street representative’s Vermillion, Blue Cone Studios, Imminent Mode, and John Criscitello Studios, the festival closed the street to traffic and let the artists mostly do their thing. Continue reading

Exit Interview: Velocity Dance’s Tonya Lockyer on 16 years in the arts on Capitol Hill

Tonya Lockyer (Image: Bettina Hansen with permission to CHS)

Tonya Lockyer began as a touring artist and educator, eventually finding her roots in Seattle after joining Velocity Dance Center as an artist and completing graduate school at the University of Washington. She went on to be Velocity’s programs and communications manager, and eventually its executive director.

In June, Lockyer announced she will be stepping down from her post this fall after 16 years with the organization.

Entering Velocity in a time of instability, debt, and amid an emergency capital campaign, Lockyer implemented operational and artistic direction and, in just two years, had Velocity operating in the black.

With accolades like the Mayor’s Artz Award, Tonya’s tenure has brought national visibility to the dance center and its residents, acting as the “portal to Seattle dance,” and a destination for touring choreographers. Her leadership influenced exceptional growth in audiences and artist residencies, with consistently sold-out community events and classes.

CHS spoke with Lockyer about how she got involved with Velocity and Seattle’s dance scene, her proudest moments as Artistic Executive Director, the importance of dance for our community, and what’s next for her.

How did you get involved with Velocity?: When I first moved to Seattle, I was teaching and I ran into a Seattle choreographer and said that I was moving to Seattle. She said, “Seattle is great, and my friend KT Niehoff needs someone to stay in her house!” So the very first place I ever lived was in the home of the co-founder of Velocity, KT Niehoff. Continue reading

Northwest Film Forum performance art will explore dance, taxidermy, and 12th Ave history

(Image: Bret Doss with permission to CHS)

Earlier this year, CHS told you about the coming departure of Northwest Film Forum executive director Courtney Sheehan from the Capitol Hill nonprofit and the continuation of her work to transition the organization beyond the screen with events, speakers, and gatherings. Later this month, the final NWFF event before Sheehan makes her exit will be a showcase of the organization’s most important qualities.

What is Home will be “a participatory experience” that encompasses “movement installations, interactive exhibits, dance films, and a layered dance theater performance.”

“The work has many points of entry for both film and dance audiences, with a central question about home, belonging and change that will resonate with all walks of Seattle life,” Sheehan tells CHS. “There will be a lot of history of Capitol Hill and specifically the NWFF building woven into the piece.”

CHS talked with the show’s Christin Call of Coriolis Dance to discuss the inspiration behind What is Home, and the place performance art has in communities like Capitol Hill. Call explores the lessons from the “booms” and “crashes” in life, and the importance and meaning of “home.” Call also has plenty to say about the history of Capitol Hill, the current scope of a booming city, and what we can take away from performance art and stories from our communities in how we live day-to-day.

You describe What Is Home as a participatory experience,” “absurdly imaginary,” and “ridiculously ornate.” What does it all mean? It is a multimedia piece, with installation, with film, with live performance, and it is designed to be an event that immerses the audience. Pulling from a lot of resources is why it is ornate. This comes from the idea that we can’t help but to do that, to create, psychologically, these super intricate webs of relations between ourselves and how we fit into this web, and we just do it naturally. We don’t really have to try, sometimes, to dismantle these types of things. Continue reading

King County votes for new oversight for construction-fueled 4Culture cash

The King County Council voted Monday to adopt “targeted oversight” of 4Culture, the county’s cash flush “cultural funding agency.”

“4Culture would still be responsible for the fiscal management of the agency such as approving contracts, large expenditures, grant awards, and adopting a budget prior to Council review,” an announcement from the council read Monday following the vote. “The legislation makes the Council responsible for approving 4Culture’s budget prior to the County transferring funds to 4Culture for the following year.”

CHS reported here on the so-called accountability measures some on the council have pushed for as 4Culture’s funding from the county’s lodging tax and “1% for art” program has grown.

Monday’s vote set off a stream of press releases from the council’s communications office as vying factions sought to make it clear that the vote was not unanimous:

Due to the “super majority” vote for the plan, it is unlikely King County Executive Dow Constantine to can veto the new oversight legislation, KUOW reports.

 

CHS Pics | Poetry on the First Hill Streetcar

Sunday, riders on the First Hill Streetcar found some new voices joining the automated messages about upcoming stops and reminders to hold the handrail.

A special Lunar New Year edition of King County Metro’s Poetry on Buses program brought “Asian and American Asian local aspiring poets” to the streetcar route connecting Capitol Hill to Pioneer Square via the International District.

The program has placed more than 350 poems on buses and streetcars, Metro says.

Thanks to interruptions by each announcement of an upcoming stop, arriving at the stop, next stop, and a stop requested, Sunday’s readings had their own peculiar rhythm that was just odd enough to be appropriate for the First Hill Streetcar which has suffered indignities from construction delays, to a sliding incident after losing braking power, to ongoing jokes about the route’s slow performance as it shares lanes with motor vehicle traffic.

Still, the route presents an alternative way to visit Chinatown and the ID — if you aren’t in too much of a hurry. Continue reading