Capitol Hill arts group launches ‘phone book’ with over 500 local artists

Carolyn Hitt’s high school years are far behind her. And yet she cannot wait to get her yearbook signed this Tuesday. This time around, though, it is actually her yearbook. As in: she’s created it. In it are not her classmates, but over 500 black-and-white headshots and social media handles of Seattle artists, chefs, curators and creatives from all mediums. The book, a creative “phone book” for the city will be officially released this Tuesday during The Relevant Unknowns: 2018 Yearbook Release Party at Fred Wildlife Refuge (Free, 21+).

“My goal is to connect artists in the city,” Hitt said. “There are so many pockets of communities. Those pockets make us insular. How do we connect beyond that?” Continue reading

‘Merce 100’ celebrates past and future at Velocity Dance as director says goodbye

Merce Cunningham (Image: Merce Cunningham Trust)

Ella Mahler is lying on her back on the marley floor, stock-still, like a bear has been chasing her and playing dead is her last resort. But then, suddenly, she gets up and scurries across the vinyl floors of the back studio of Capitol Hill’s Velocity Dance Center. In hurried movements, she lifts her knees up, combat-style, only to later duck and then balance gracefully on one leg, outsmarting an invisible assailer purely with poise.

Mahler, a Seattle-based dancer, choreographer and Velocity’s 2019 Made in Seattle Artist, is running through the movements of her solo choreography Absolute. Less than two weeks to go before showtime, December 14th. Mahler is one of the nine dancers performing newly created choreographies for MERCE 100: Seattle Artists Respond to Merce, a four-day long, Capitol Hill-centered celebration of and response to the centennial of world-famous dancer and Washington native Merce Cunningham (1919 – 2009), running December 13th through 16th.

Cunningham, who was born in Centralia and studied at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, became one of the most influential artists of the 20th century thanks to his radical, innovative approach to dance, for example by using dice and other chance-based processes to decide how his dancers would move. Continue reading

Meet the Hill’s new literary impresario: Kate Berwanger

Surreal Storytelling With Strange Women’s Kate Berwanger (Image: Margo Vansynghel)

Kate Berwanger is a strange woman. Those are her own words. She just can’t really explain what it means, exactly. She just knows that like many other women writers in Seattle, she identifies with the epithet.

“One of my favorite writers is Aimee Bender, and I feel like her writing is kind of strange,” Berwanger offers up as an example of a strange female writer she admires, while she swirls around the whiskey in her small shot glass. It’s only four o’clock, but in the darkened back of bar-cum-art gallery Vermillion, it feels like the clock jumped to midnight.

Here, in the back bar, she hosted the two first iterations of Surreal Storytelling With Strange Women, a new literary event she’s created. For a pay-what-you-can-price, Berwanger —who uses the online alias ‘The Coy Hyena’, is dressed in all black, wears a hat and at least five rings— curates a mix of known and lesser known writers from “different pockets of the literary community,” ranging from established poets like Anastacia-Renée to multidisciplinary writers such as Amanya Maloba, aka Kenya Ku$h.

Surreal Storytelling With Strange Women returns to the Hill for a third iteration Saturday, December 8th at Ghost Gallery. Readers will include G.G. Silverman, whose short fiction was most recently nominated for the Best Small Fictions anthology and writer and singer-songwriter Symone La Luz, among others.

“If I weren’t curating it, this would be an event I’d go to,” says Berwanger, who also organizes a new pop-up art show during Capitol Hill Art Walk, Scream for Queer Art. Continue reading

With new leader, Capitol Hill LGBTQ film nonprofit raises curtain on 23rd Seattle queer film festival

50 Years of Fabulous, a documentary on the The Imperial Council, screens October 20th

Capitol Hill LGBTQ film nonprofit Three Dollar Bill Cinema is celebrating the kickoff of its 23rd annual Seattle queer film festival with a new leader..

TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival 2018

“Three Dollar Bill Cinema is about bringing our community together around queer film and media,” new executive director Ben McCarthy says. “Being able to see ourselves reflected on the screen is really important for our community, and it’s important to come together and see a film in a theater, the way it’s supposed to be seen, rather than on your phone or on your laptop or tablet or even your TV at home.” Continue reading

‘A free cool reading at your favorite bar, times about 30,’ here are Lit Crawl: Seattle 2018’s 19 Capitol Hill stops

Lit Crawl: Seattle 2015

The “PNW’s best and brightest in bars, bookstores, cafes, and more” — many of them right here on Capitol Hill — will host an annual celebration of the written word Thursday night as Lit Crawl returns for its sixth year in Seattle.

Lit Crawl: Seattle

Filling venues through the night with “phases” of literary events including fiction, poetry, comics, and… pie and whiskey, it’s impossible to be part of everything. The 2018 Lit Crawl: Seattle includes two extra hours, 35+ readings, and more than 80 readers and performers. You’ll have to make a plan — and revise as you go. Continue reading

Roq La Rue rises again on Capitol Hill

After some wild years, “lowbrow” gallery Roq La Rue is back in the Seattle art scene and set to debut in its new Capitol Hill incarnation on E Pike during Thursday’s neighborhood art walk.

Creatura House was initially supposed to be more of a shop concept but unfortunately things developed that made it not possible to follow the original plan, so I started showing art again. Then, I figured if I was going to be a gallery — it should be the famous one, not the brand new one!” owner Kirsten Anderson tells CHS about her decision to put her E Pike space into motion as a new home for the longtime Seattle gallery favorite. Continue reading

Seattle’s writers and creatives find Capitol Hill home again at Hugo House grand reopening

Maria Semple, best-selling author and screenwriter, speaking at the opening event last Saturday

There once was a Hugo House here / We loved its old crazy quilt cheer / This house, it would seem, an architects dream / But the spirit of quirkies still near

This poem was recited by Dick Gemperle last weekend at the grand reopening of Richard Hugo House, a beloved community workspace for writers and a home for Seattle’s “literary heartbeat.”

“This is a wonderful time for Hugo House. Everything is coming together in September. On the 4th of September we closed the transaction to purchase this space. We’re almost done with construction, almost done with our capital campaign, tonight is our grand opening, and next week classes start,” said Gemperle, board president of Hugo House. “It’s all coming together.”

The new Hugo House offers more space for readers and writers with more classrooms, along with a dedicated performance space for readings, and a front parlor space with desks and bar that will be open during events. Continue reading

Filmmaker takes the helm at Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum

(Image: NWFF)

Writer and filmmaker Vivian Hua will take the helm as the executive director of Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum.

After she assumes the role on October 11th, Hua will be in charge of the strategic direction and creative vision of NWFF, a filmmaker’s collective founded in 1995 that uses film to “incite public dialogue and creative action through collective cinematic experiences.”

“There is no more powerful medium than film,” Hua said. “I work at the intersection of using art as a means of social change and discussion.” Continue reading

‘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

Continue reading

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