Our music critics have already chosen the 39 best music shows this week, but now it's our arts critics' turn to recommend the best events in their areas of expertise. Here are their picks in every genre—from An Evening with Katya to Pacific Northwest Ballet's Director's Choice collection, and from the ByDesign Festival to Emerald City Comic Con. See them all below, and find even more events on our complete Things To Do calendar.
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Animation Show of Shows 2019
Celebrate the art of animation at the 20th Annual Animation Show of Shows, a six-day-long event that will feature 15 international shorts.
22nd Annual Juried Exhibition
Every year, the PCNW presents a juried exhibition with work chosen from submissions from around the world. This year's jurors will be Lara Behnert, who leads Starbucks's global art program, and Conor Risch, senior editor of Photo District News. The artists come from as close as your Seattle neighborhood to as far as Anchorage, Zabierzów, Poland, and Beijing. Two frequent contributors to The Stranger, Nate Gowdy and Kelly O, are also featured.
Meaningful Movies: Human Flow
Human Flow, the staggeringly gargantuan look at the global refugee crisis from Chinese director and activist Ai Weiwei, takes a subject that could consume a documentarian’s entire career and seemingly attempts to get it all in one go. While the constant stream of jaw-dropping imagery can sometimes feel like a case of Too Much Information, the sheer macro power of the visuals packs a wallop. Shot in more than 20 countries, and utilizing more than 200 crew members, Ai’s mammoth passion project travels between overpopulated crisis points around the world, pausing only briefly for interviews with refugees and aid workers. The Google Earth-style views of huge masses of people on the move never stop being absolutely dumbfounding. ANDREW WRIGHT
Zymurgy Beer Series: Haze Craze
Have you have noticed that some of your favorite hoppy beers have developed a distinct haze to them lately? Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. Creating cloudy beers has become such a big fad in craft beer that brewers are competing with each other over how to make the haziest beer possible. We've entered the Haze Craze, so, for our second event in The Stranger's new Zymurgy Beer Series, we're bringing together some of the West Coast's best producers of hazy IPA to talk about it. Hear from Modern Times Beer and Structures Brewing at Cloudburst Brewing in Belltown, where we'll host a moderated panel discussion. A curated beer tasting is included in the ticket price. LESTER BLACK
The Process: Kim Fu, D.A. Navoti, Ross McMeekin
This iteration of the monthly reading series welcomes Kim Fu (author of The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore), essayist and memoirist D.A. Navoti (a former fellow at Hugo House and Jack Straw Cultural Center), and debut novelist Ross McMeekin.
Samantha Allen: Real Queer America
In Real Queer America, Daily Beast reporter Samantha Allen takes a road trip across the bible belt of the United States, introducing queer people who are working for change in their red-state hometowns rather than moving to liberal coasts. Join the author for a discussion.
Shay Bredimus and Sarah Abramson: Dark Room
Tattoo artist, scholar of Japanese tattoo art, and figurative painter Shay Bredimus shows a striking series of nudes and exterior scenes composed with drippy tattoo ink and wax crayon on drafting film. Their deep blacks and blown-out whites imitate overcontrasted photography. Alongside these images, which somehow give the impression of flickering, Sarah Abramson hangs unsettling photos of nudes and clothed subjects outdoors.
Romeo + Juliet
Shakespeare's most misread play gets a new treatment from ACT artistic director John Langs. For this production, he's casting deaf actor Joshua Castille as Romeo and incorporating ASL into the performance. Gabriella O’Fallon will play Juliet. Castille did a fine job starring as Quasimodo in 5th Avenue's recent production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and O’Fallon killed it in WET's The Nether, so this show will probably rule. Plus, Stranger Genius Amy Thone is playing the Nurse! It'll be interesting to see this excellent dramatic actor tackle a traditionally comic role. Press materials say the show will be accessible "for Deaf and hearing audiences alike." RICH SMITH
Gretchen Frances Bennett: Air, the free or unconfined space above the surface of the earth
Somehow, Gretchen Frances Bennett's drawings shimmer. The artist pulls from personal photos, film stills, and the deep, ever-replenishing well of YouTube and Instagram to base her drawings off of, preserving glitches, fuzziness, accidental tears, and worn edges in the final product. With colored pencils, she elevates photos and pixels from the mundane to a spiritual level. The resulting compositions—complicated by the visual equivalent of the sound of static in a radio transmission—look almost like holographs appearing before you underneath the soft museum light. The pencil strokes are short and layered, seemingly vibrating, as if quietly humming or beaming in from another planet or consciousness. The show consists of Bennett's key works from the past 10 years, plus five new large-format drawings. There is also a slideshow by Seattle photographer Paulo Castillo. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Opening reception Friday
An Evening with Katya
Finally, it's happening! After bravely postponing this show to seek mental-health care, RuPaul's Drag Race star Katya Zamolodchikova is back in the public spotlight and ready to perform her brilliantly honest Help Me I'm Dying. Her vibe is a mix of Archie McPhee and a hot Russian substitute teacher. Her show will be funny and morbid. May the devil bless this Lynchian-inspired MILF, and may she live a long and prosperous life. CHASE BURNS
Helen Oyeyemi: Gingerbread
Hear another succulent fairy tale by the author of Boy, Snow, Bird and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. Oyeyemi cooks up surrealism in this tale of a family recipe passed down through the ages and its effect on a mother and her teenage daughter.
Leigh Calvez: The Breath of a Whale
Leigh Calvez writes well-researched, thoroughly beautiful books that illuminate the lives of animals without stripping them of their essential mystery. In her last book, The Hidden Lives of Owls, she headed into the forests in the middle of the night to track the complex lives of owls. With The Breath of a Whale, she's going back to her roots as an aquatic ecotour guide, which explains why the book reads like the literary accompaniment to a very excellent whale-watching excursion. Learn about the secretive lives of blue whales, migratory humpbacks, and, of course, our own endangered southern resident orcas. RICH SMITH
The slinky dancers of Pike Place's kitschy cabaret return with another tasty show. Ever wanted to ogle athletic dancers twirling from chandeliers inches from your face? Go. There's also a family-friendly brunch version that you can guiltlessly take your out-of-town relatives to.
I'd count Christopher Chen's Caught as one of the four smartest/powerfulest/provocativest straight plays I saw in 2016. The play is meta-theatrical, but in a meaningful way—less of a self-flagellating/self-congratulatory annoying ouroboros kind of thing and more of a flower blooming out of another flower kind of thing. It's about Western responses to Chinese dissident art. Sort of. It's also about relative pain. It's also about how the truth is a collaborative fiction, and about how nobody can really know anyone else. Importantly, it's about an hour and a half long, tops. This remount is presented by Intiman and directed by Desdemona Chiang. Go see it. RICH SMITH
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a play-within-a-play adapted from the novel by Mark Haddon. Precocious, non-neuro-typical teenager Christopher sets out to solve the murder of his neighbor's dog, a crime of which he's been unjustly accused. But his investigation, which is shaped by unusual fears and abilities, leads him to his own family's secrets and lies.
I Do! I Do!
Get ready to weep nostalgic tears at the Village Theatre's production of a multiple Tony Award-winning musical by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, which portrays 50 years of a loving marriage.
A young couple trying to reknit after a cheating incident is haunted by ghosts at their bed and breakfast getaway—and the owner of the house has memories of her own. Annie Baker's play was listed as one of the 10 Best Shows of 2015 by Time and received critical praise all around.
Skeleton Flower got canceled due to the snowstorms, but, lucky for you all, it has been rescheduled! Now you won't have to miss out on Degenerate Art Ensemble's multidisciplinary, multidimensional performance inspired by Haruko Crow Nishimura's past traumas and her mother's arranged marriage. This new project has many tentacles (there's a full album in the works), but the performance aspect reimagines several fairy tales—including "Fitcher's Bird," "The Wild Swans," and "The Red Shoes"—and incorporates characters from previous DAE shows. All the protagonists are women who put their creative desires to action to overcome great opposition. RICH SMITH
The Magic Lantern of Ingmar Bergman
Swedish visionary film director Ingmar Bergman would have been 100 this year. His deeply introspective, unabashedly emotional, despairing yet strangely life-affirming oeuvre will once again be onscreen at Seattle Art Museum (in association with the Nordic Museum). The series will finish tonight with the masterpiece Fanny and Alexander. JOULE ZELMAN
Celebrate everyone's favorite mathematical constant by engulfing some flaky pastry-topped desserts. Need some ideas? At Conor Byrne's fundraiser, sample plenty of pies from professional and amateur pastry chefs alike and enter in raffles to benefit the Vera Project. Want to flex your baking skills in a competition? Try entering your intricately latticed creations in contests at The Works (or just enter to be a judge so you can do your best Mary Berry impression while tasting all the entries). And should you wish to prove just how fast you can inhale an entire pie while a gathering of onlookers watches, enter Occidental Square's Pi Day Pie Eating Contest for a shot at a gift card to London Plane.
The Big Queer Talent Show
Delight in drag, poetry, and comedy by an all-trans cast led by RuPaul's Drag Race star Gia Gunn and discuss the needs of queer youth. The first 50 patrons aged 24 and under will be welcomed to a meet-and-greet with Gunn.
Pod Save the People
Here's a description from Rich Smith of the host of this justice-focused podcast: "Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson wears a blue vest, maintains an impeccably trimmed goatee, hosts Pod Save the People, and spearheads Campaign Zero, an organization devoted to ending police brutality through legislative means." Hear political commentary live by Mckesson and co-hosts Brittany Packnett, Sam Sinyangwe, and Clint Smith.
Amber Tamblyn: Coming of Age in a Time of Rage and Revolution
In her new memoir, Era of Ignition: Coming of Age in a Time of Rage and Revolution, Amber Tamblyn traces the recent history of her own artistic and political development, beginning with the struggles she faced as a female filmmaker in the early aughts, and finishing with her decision to cofound Time's Up, an anti-harassment movement. In addition to being a fine actor and filmmaker, Tamblyn is also a good novelist and poet. She writes with the passion of an activist and the skill of a rhetorician, and not without a healthy dose of humor. Her writing talents and intelligence should keep this Town Hall event lively and challenging, especially for those who don't get why people are so mad about gender discrimination and racial inequities. RICH SMITH
Irina Reyn with Carol Cassella
Irina Reyn, the author of What Happened to Anna K and The Imperial Wife, will read from her new novel, Mother Country, which tackles themes of cultural division, immigration laws, and "the powerful bond between a mother and the daughter she’s been separated from." She'll be joined in conversation by local writer Carol Cassella.
Capitol Hill Art Walk
Every second Thursday, rain or shine, the streets of Capitol Hill are filled with tipsy art lovers checking out galleries and special events. In March, don't miss Quinlyn Johnson: Clutter, Scream for Queer Art!,, Regeneración | Rebirth. the Neon Spring group show, and new and recent work by Veronica Mortellaro.
Directors Kayla Teel and Michael Draper and a cast of improvisers will recreate the seedy/addictive TV show The Bachelor with contestants eliminated one by one from a competition for true love. Teel and Draper are both magnetic local wits themselves, so we're anticipating a rose-worthy run of this new spontaneous play.
Sugar Sammy is wildly popular in Paris, but the comedian has toured a total of 31 countries. Catch him when he comes to Seattle.
Ms. Pak-Man: Mazed and Confused
Ms. Pak-Man is a bright yellow disaster portrayed by local comedy hero Scott Shoemaker (Ian Bell's Brown Derby Series and Homo for the Holidays), and she'll be back in voracious form for another adventure.
Dori Hana Scherer: Never Eat Shredded Wheat
Seattle-based artist Dori Hana Scherer’s artistic range is broad, with her work encompassing things from nostalgic signage to bright objects made of thermoformed plastic. At this solo Glassbox Gallery show, Scherer will be debuting text-based works that draw inspiration from the aesthetics of early conceptual art, 1980s feminist art, and Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophy of language. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Emerald City Comic Con
Geeks across fandoms save their most inventive cosplay for the biggest local comic event of the year, Emerald City Comic Con. The four-day event is filled to the brim with panels, meetups, special events, fun parties, and tons and tons of guests hanging out in the artist alley. This year, don't miss the chance to meet Black Panther World of Wakanda's Afua Richardson, Agents of Realm's Mildred Louis, and Star Wars's Katie Cook. Even if you don't have an ECCC badge, you can still get books signed by creators like Mirka Andolfo (Unnatural), Dana Simpson (Phoebe and Her Unicorn), and Colleen Frakes and Tatiana Gill,, see Women of Wakanda: A Variety Show Tribute to Black Panther or head to one of these other Emerald City Comic Con events.
I don’t have children, so I can’t say if babies will like Balloonacy, one of the cutest pieces of theater made for young children in recent years. But I once saw Balloonacy at Minneapolis’s Children’s Theatre Company stoned out of my mind, and WOW, is it one of the most magical things to ever be created for the stage. It’s a wordless, situational comedy about an old man who lives alone and is trying to celebrate his birthday when suddenly, red balloons bust into his apartment to tease and tickle him. It’s basically an allegory for socialism, but for kids. CHASE BURNS
Moisture Festival is devoted to the variety of performers Seattle has fostered over the years, from circus acts to comedians, burlesque dancers to musicians, and jugglers to tap dancers. Variété is the main, recurring event, with a rotating lineup, and there are also matinée and rather racier late-night versions. The bawdy Libertease Cabaret is for adults only and features burlesque dancers and scantily clothed aerial performers. There are also workshops, talks, and special opening and closing nights. New guest artists this year include French clowning duo Viktor Levillon and Alexis De Bouvere, comedian Mike Wood, and juggler Anne Küpper. If you love circus acrobatics, clowning, comedy, and/or sexy dance, you owe it to yourself to go.
Binge Watch 'Shrill' with Lindy West
Stranger alum, Stranger Genius Award Winner, writer, and dazzlingly funny person Lindy West will be on hand to watch the screen adaptation of her memoir Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, starring Aidy Bryant. Enjoy snacks and cocktails and bask in her company!
Brian Fies: A Fire Story
Forty-four lives, 6,200 homes, and 8,900 structures were lost in Northern California wildfires in 2017. In A Fire Story, Brian Fies shares his first-hand account of the natural disaster, which involved throwing what he and his wife could fit in the back of their car and driving to safety before their house burned down. Given the disastrous California wildfires of 2018, this reading should be particularly affecting.
Hugo Literary Series: The Metamorphosis
For their literary series, Hugo House asks writers and performers to create brand-new material based on classic works of literature. Fiction writer Benjamin Percy (author of The Dark Net, and a man with the deepest voice in literature), novelist and essayist Vanessa Hua (author of A River of Stars, which made several Top 10 lists last year), and local poet Keetje Kuipers will riff on Franz Kafka's novella The Metamorphosis, about a young salesman who wakes up one morning and discovers that he has transformed into a giant insect. I'm crossing my fingers for a long literary rant from Percy about how much bosses suck, or an essay from Hua defending the sister for abandoning her giant insect brother and essentially reclaiming her time. But even if none of that happens, we'll still have sci-fi R&B songwriter SassyBlack around to perform new Kafka-inspired music, which will undoubtedly rule. RICH SMITH
Where No Man Has Gone Before
Where No Man Has Gone Before takes a standard Star Trek plot and asks the audience to shape key elements, like alien species and planets.
As Charles Mudede has written, "One of the richest institutional collaborations in this city is that between the ByDesign Festival and Northwest Film Forum. Here, two arts that are very similar, film and architecture (both are capital intensive), meet in the theater." This year, AIA Seattle's initiative Design in Public will collaborate with the two institutions to show films, host workshops, and stage performances. Highlights include Pablo Pivetta's film Endless Letterpress (with the director in attendance), workshops in "typography and moving image," and the performance piece 100 Year Plan by Bailey Hizakawa and Scotty Wagner.
Pacific Northwest Ballet artistic director Peter Boal will give us what we've been waiting for all year: a compelling collection of contemporary ballets that push boundaries and make the form feel alive again. This year, he's presenting world premieres from American choreographers Robyn Mineko Williams and Matthew Neenan, plus Justin Peck's In the Countenance of Kings. My prediction is the new pieces will be romantic, abstract, and slightly nostalgic. Then Peck's piece, enlivened by Sufjan Stevens's swirling, sylvan score, will pull us out of the past and ready us for a newly dawning spring. RICH SMITH
A Doll's House, Part 2
Nora, in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll's House, is arguably one of most famous female roles in 19th-century theater. Every leading ingenue has had her turn playing the "little lark"—even Seattle’s Cherdonna Shinatra recently took on the role. But the ending of the play is famously up for interpretation, and Tony Award nominee Lucas Hnath’s cheekily-titled A Doll's House, Part 2 takes on the challenge of picking up where Ibsen left off. It’s funny, smart, and maybe the best old play to come out of the 2010s. CHASE BURNS
In a better world than this, female characters in films would talk about whatever the fuck they please—say, horses, cramps, or ongoing global disasters at the hands of a small-fingered megalomaniac. But all too often in this world, female characters, when they talk to each other at all, discuss one thing and one thing only: men. There’s even a term for it—the Bechdel Test, named for the cartoonist Alison Bechdel, who, in a 1985 comic strip, featured a character explaining that she goes to a movie only if it has at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Inspired by the Bechdel Test, Jet City Improv re-creates films that fail the test, but with a Bechdel-approved twist. You name the movie; they make it pass. KATIE HERZOG
Popular weird storyteller Emmett Montgomery will head a comedy lineup that will also boast Jamal Harrington, Jay Middleton, and Ruben Kerson.
QTPOC Is Not A Rapper: Spring & Squirt Showcase!
This comedy show will celebrate its second year with a night of laughs with queer and trans comics of color Clara Pluton, Drew Dorje, and Abraham Tadesse, and resident comics Alyssa Yeoman, Val Nigro, and Monisa Brown.
Free Grilled Cheese Day
Five words: toasted sourdough and melted cheese. Get yourself a free hot sandwich from Seattle Baking while you can.
Night Tide Oyster Soiree: Samish
Venture out to Taylor Shellfish Farms to experience a night tide. With the moon "shining sulkily," just as in Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter," you can traipse along the briny beach illuminated by the glow of lanterns to handpick your oysters. Then choose your own adventure: Learn to shuck your haul yourself or let one of the seasoned shellfish pros handle it, before proceeding to gulp your finds down with wine or beer around a crackling fire.
Christina Gerhardt, Associate Professor of Film and German Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, will come to Seattle to talk about her recently published books about the same influential year: 1968 and Global Cinema and Screening the Red Army Faction: Historical and Cultural Memory.
Trans Plants: Collecting, Gathering, and Globalizing Plants
This year, the Gardner Center lectures on art and culture is focusing on plants of Asia, with topics like wild mushrooms, Chinese gardens, the strange connection between eucalyptus and Portuguese fascism, and more.
SATURDAY-SUNDAYREADINGS & TALKS
Public Huge Book Sale
If you're in the market for some new reading material and you don't want to spend a ton of cash, don't miss your chance to shop for over 100,000 titles spanning multiple genres for as little as a buck at this annual sale hosted by Friends of the Seattle Public Library.
12 Minutes Max
This show features 12 minutes ("surprisingly quick or unfortunately long"—Rich Smith) of brand-new work from Pacific Northwest performers, who this time were chosen by curators Hendri Walujo and Keiralea McDonald. Danica Bito, Moises J. Himmelfarb, Katie Fox, Austin Larkin, Katiana Rangel, Juliet McMains and Erica Valkren, Beth Terwilleger, and Rachel Winchester will share performance art, dance, movement, visual art, and more.
Geneve Chao, Wendy Chin-Tanner, Sarah Mangold, Jane Wong
Join poets Geneve Chao (the LA-based author of Dreaming, a Dream Journal of the 2016 Election, among other collections), Wendy Chin-Tanner (an Oregon Book Awards finalist), Sarah Mangold (whose collections include Household Mechanics, Electrical Theories of Femininity, and Giraffes of Devotion), and Pushcart Prize winner Jane Wong for a group reading.