Our Arts Critics’ Picks For This Week

Whim W’Him’s Approaching Ecstasy opens this week, and will include 40 singers, five instrumentalists, seven dancers, and a story inspired by a closeted gay man who lived in Egypt at the end of the 19th century. Bamberg Fine Art

Our music critics have already chosen the 27 best concerts in Seattle this week, but now it’s our arts critics’ turn to pick the best events in their areas of expertise. Here are their picks in every genre—from the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of Pictures at an Exhibition to Bite of Greece to the First Thursday Art Walk to the continuation of the Seattle International Film Festival. See them all below, and find even more events on our complete Things To Do calendar.

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Salad for President Dinner
Given our current president, having an actual salad for president doesn’t sound so bad. For now, indulge in that sweet, sweet fantasy while enjoying this “seasonally inspired” three-course dinner by Julia Sherman, author of the Salad for President blog. That blog isn’t a rigorous documentation of every instance where Trump has uttered words that jumble together like the spring flowers, raab, and mustard frill in Sherman’s salad course, but rather a celebration of plant-based eating. However, her actual salad sounds a lot more pleasant than such Trump word-salad classics as ” I am committed to keeping our air and water clean but always remember that economic growth enhances environmental protection. Jobs matter!” This being modern America—where our president tweets misleading doublespeak on the regular and we are perpetually confused and bewildered by his nonstop assault on the environment, LGBT rights, immigrants, affordable health care, basic human decency, and pretty much everything you like—”drinks are available too.” Thank fucking God. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE


Literary Happy Hour
Capitol Cider invites poets and authors to read their work to a happy hour audience ($1 off drafts before 6). This month, Patrick Milia, and Elizabeth Cooperman’s poetry will be followed by a prose reading by novelist Jennie Shortridge.

Loud Mouth Lit
This series of “fresh, local, and organic” author readings, which thrives on face-to-face interaction, is curated by playwright and fiction writer Paul Mullin. At the May edition, look forward to a reading by playwright, former Stranger staffer, and Weed: The User’s Guide author David Schmader. They add: “Admission is free, but works by authors will be on sale and aggressively hawked from the podium. Bring CASH!”

Thomas Ricks
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author Thomas E. Ricks will share his new book Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom, a dual biography of Winston Churchill and George Orwell that explores their political and artistic battles against fascism.



Alfredo Arreguin: Over the Rainbow
Mexican-born Seattle artist Alfredo Arreguin paints immersive, pulsating visions that blend magical realism with Northwest motifs and elements of the 1970s Pattern and Decoration movement (which some critics say he helped pioneer). Whether he paints mountain landscapes or portraits of Frida Kahlo, his glinting surfaces are teeming with so many snakes, stars, and flowers that they appear to be alive. Arreguin is represented by Linda Hodges Gallery, but this solo exhibition takes place on the mezzanine gallery of Everett’s Schack Art Center, a free regional gallery that also offers classes and studio spaces. EMILY POTHAST
This exhibit closes on Saturday.

Dakota Gearhart: Tank Hypnosis
Multimedia artist Dakota Gearhart operates in the gaps between people, plants, animals, and objects, asking, “What unites us?” In Tank Hypnosis, Gearhart answers that question with water, creating a world of video, sculpture, and images featuring “hypnotherapy aquascapes” that offer models of self-care in an increasingly toxic world. Working with aquariums and feeder fish, Gearhart calls on her own experiences with sensory-deprivation tanks, technical diving, and municipal wastewater to make visible the watery systems that envelop and intimately connect us. (And yes, she’s a water sign.) EMILY POTHAST
This exhibit closes on Saturday.



Chris Maynard: Featherfolio
Chris Maynard has been dubbed “Olympia’s feather artist”—almost implying that every town has one, when in fact, the intricate, lattice-like patterns that he hand-cuts into each feather are one-of-a-kind. Every year, when birds shed their feathers, he collects and delicately carves the feathers using a scalpel, mounting them in shadowboxes to create pieces where the beauty of artistic form meets the function of nature. Maynard has been working with feathers since he was 12—and while it’s true he does only one thing, he does it well. Featherfolio at the Bainbridge Museum of Art will be his first solo art museum show, which will include framed work as well as site-specific installations. AMBER CORTES
This exhibit closes on Sunday.


Seattle International Film Festival 2017
The 43rd annual Seattle International Film Festival is the largest film festival in the US, with 400 films (spread over 25 days) watched by around 150,000 people. It’s impressively grand, and is one of the most exciting and widely-attended arts events Seattle has to offer. See the full schedule, buy tickets, watch trailers, and read Stranger reviews on our complete SIFF 2017 guide


Lambda Literary Award–winning playwright Robert O’Hara offers up two different families—one white, one black, both named O’Mallery—staging an interventions for their respective drug-addicted family members. Up-and-coming director Malika Oyetimein, who managed a wonderful production of O’Hara’s Bootycandy two years ago, will likely squeeze every ounce of cringe-inducing comedy from this very strong cast. Also of note: This play kicks off Intiman’s 2017 season, which was co-curated by the extremely multitalented Sara Porkalob. RICH SMITH
There will be no performance on Thursday.

Here Lies Love
David Byrne’s critically adored disco musical about the life and times of Imelda Marcos, disco-obsessed wife of Ferdinand Marcos. She danced by his side (and by Richard Nixon’s—look it up on YouTube) while his dictatorial ass terrorized the Philippines. Unlike other musicals, you don’t have to forgive this one for its melodramatic, sappy songs. The fast numbers are groovy disco bangers and the slow numbers are touching, tropically inflected twee rock/pop. Production-wise, this show will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen at the Rep. The installation of mobile dance floors will significantly change the theater’s seating situation, and the audience will be dancing (according to the demands of the dictator, of course) throughout the show. RICH SMITH



The Shadow Council
The “mudpie lobbed into the halls of power” known as Brett Hamil’s Seattle Process show has been so successful that it now has a spin-off: the Shadow Council‘s panel will lead the “people’s legislative body” to vote on proposals, which will be submitted afterwards to elected officials.


Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
Taylor, assistant professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, wanted to know why Black Lives Matter was becoming popular now, “when we’re living through the biggest concentration of black political power in American history,” she told Ansel Herz in an in an interview last year. She wrote her book, #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, to explore that question, and also to write about the possibility of the movement widening its scope. Can a nonhierarchical organization focused on police brutality and mass incarceration create social change on a larger scale? This talk is your chance to ask her. RICH SMITH

Scaachi Koul with Lindy West
Senior Buzzfeed culture writer Scaachi Koul’s new book, One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, is a series of funny but poignant essays about life as a first-generation Canadian Indian, covering everything from clothing nightmares to college parties to a fear of flying to the nuances of Indian weddings. As Publishers Weekly writes, “The specifics of Koul’s life are unique, but the overarching theme of inheritance is universal, particularly the vacillation between struggling against becoming one’s parents and the begrudging acceptance that their ways might not be so bad. Koul’s deft humor is a fringe benefit.” Lindy West, one of the funniest people in town, will lead the conversation.



Village Theatre presents Tony- and Grammy Award-winning musical Dreamgirls (not officially about the Supremes’ rise to fame, but containing many parallels) which was made extremely popular by the 2006 film starring Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, and the inimitable Queen B. Come for Motown tunes, commentary about celebrity, dramatic ultimatums, and flashy dance numbers.

La vida es sueño is a mesmerizing 17th-century verse play by Pedro Calderón de la Barca about free will, fate, and the human condition—and Sueño is a modern translation and adaptation by award-winning playwright José Rivera (who wrote plays including Marisol and References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot, and adapted the screenplay for The Motorcycle Diaries). This production is directed by Book-It founder Jane Jones.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
ArtsWest presents Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, a musical offering murder, cannibalism, and barbershops—plus songs that are creepy, catchy, quick, and witty.



First Thursday Art Walk
Once a month, Seattleites flock to the streets in Pioneer Square for a chance to stroll, sip on booze, and attend as many art openings as possible at First Thursday. It’s the city’s central and oldest art walk, and takes place in a historic neighborhood known for its abundance of galleries. Wine and hobnobbing will steal the scene for some, but at its core, it’s an impressive communal unveiling of new artwork. In June, don’t miss opening receptions for Christopher Buening’s (Guerrilla Ceramica), ¡Cuidado! The Help, Gaylen Hansen’s New and Select Work from the Past, Paul Komada, and Rene Almanza, Isauro Huizar, and Alexis Mata (Ciler): Vessel.

And Not Or Opening Reception
Every library, like every art collection, contains only a fraction of possible works—a reflection of curatorial choices that decide which narratives get told (or omitted). For And Not Or, a selection of artists (including Wynne Greenwood, Joe Rudko, and Ryan Feddersen) chose artworks from Seattle University’s Lemieux Library to be rehoused at the Hedreen Gallery for the duration of the exhibition, to be accompanied by books chosen by artist Abra Ancliffe. In turn, these artists will replace the missing library objects with their own artworks, to be accompanied by “labels” crafted by poet Natalie Martínez. It’s a complex maneuver, sparking dialogue about context, inclusion, and interesting accidents. EMILY POTHAST


Guest Chef Night
FareStart is a fantastic organization that empowers disadvantaged and homeless men and women by training them for work in the restaurant industry. Every Thursday, they host a Guest Chef Night, featuring a three-course dinner from a notable Seattle chef for just $29.95—this week, it’s chef Ethan Stowell.


Seattle StorySLAM
A live amateur storytelling competition in which audience members who put their names in a hat are randomly chosen to tell stories on a theme. Local comedians tend to show up, but lots of nonperformers get in on the action as well. This week’s theme is “mystery.”



…And Starring Claire from Hollywood
Set in a little seaside town, Jim Moran’s …And Starring Claire from Hollywood presents a play-within-a-play premise about a D-List Hollywood star taking a role in a local production of Noël Coward’s 1930 play Private Lives. In that play, a couple gets divorced, they each meet new partners, and they go on their honeymoons—only to discover they’re staying at the same hotel. Presented by Macha Monkey Productions: “producers of fearless, funny, female theatre.”

Octavio Solis’s critically acclaimed Lydia is billed as a ghostly, intense, Miller-esque domestic drama about a young maid who cares for and communes with a teenager who wound up in a coma under mysterious circumstances. Many critics seem haunted (in a good way!) by the play’s magic, and by the way it refracts Miller’s obsession with the American dream through the prisms of seven brilliantly rendered Latino characters. The dean of Yale School of Drama, James Bundy, called it “one of the most important plays of this decade.” This is the kind of dark, language-driven material Strawshop always pulls off with aplomb, and may very well be the low-key hit of the spring season. RICH SMITH



Grand Concourse
Grand Concourse, written by Heidi Schreck and directed by Annie Lareau, is a play about the way the group dynamics in a Bronx soup kitchen change when a new hire arrives.

The Realistic Joneses
The Realistic Joneses is a precisely-titled realist play about two neighboring couples with the last name Jones, written by playwright Will Eno (whom Charles Isherwood at the New York Times called “a Samuel Beckett for the Jon Stewart generation”). The Realistic Joneses earned a number of accolades and some rave reviews on Broadway in 2014 for its humorous, character-driven take on illness, marital life, and intimacy. This production is presented by New Century Theatre Company and directed by Paul Budraitis.



Spin the Bottle
This is Seattle’s longest-running cabaret and has seen just about everything—dance, theater, comedy, paper airplanes, tears, stunts, music, romance—from just about everyone.



Outer Rim: An Improvised Space Western
Improv artists will take you on a long-form trip through deep space. No two performances will be the same, but every night the crew will have to employ all their hyperdrive and wiles to survive as they hop from planet to planet “on the fringes of civilization.”


Weekend in Walla Walla
SeaCreatures is the restaurant group headed by culinary force of nature Renee Erickson, who owns Barnacle, The Walrus and the Carpenter, Bar Melusine, Bateau, and General Porpoise. On June 2 and 3, join SeaCreatures and Woodinville-based winery àMaurice for a weekend in Walla Walla, packed with lots of things to eat and drink. Saturday night’s dinner (created by Erickson) will be family-style and will be held in the vineyard. The dinner will include pairings from àMaurice Cellars.


Pictures at an Exhibition
This Pacific Northwest Ballet program includes Balanchine’s 1968 ballet La Source (with music by Leo Delibes, and originally created for renowned French ballerina Violette Verdy), NYCB ballet master and Broadway legend Jerome Robbins’ 1979 ballet Opus 19/The Dreamer, and finally, what looks to be the highlight of the production: Alexei Ratmansky’s 2014 ballet Pictures at an Exhibition. The music is by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky, inspired by his tour of a memorial exhibition for artist, architect, and designer Viktor Hartmann. Each musical number comments on an individual piece of art by Hartmann, and this production promises to pair the music and dance with geometric images by Russian painter Wassily Kandinksy. At the very least, it’s an ambitious attempt to seamlessly merge dance, music, and visual art inside a new piece of choreography (whose history goes back centuries).


Whim W’Him presents Approaching Ecstasy
According to press materials, Approaching Ecstasy “incorporates 40 singers, five instrumentalists, and seven dancers and is inspired by the poems of Constantine Cavafy, who lived as a closeted gay man in Egypt at the end of the 19th century.” When the show opened to critical acclaim back in 2012, City Arts‘ Rachel Gallaher described Whim W’Him artistic director Olivier Wevers’s choreography as “passionately driven.” Eric Banks and the Esoterics sing the poems in Greek along with music (a throwback to the lyre-accompanied poetry readings of yore) and then read them in English. If great choral music and dance don’t do it for you, then go for the poems of Cavafy. In his erotic poetry, he’s the loneliest of the lonely boys, and while reading him, you can feel how constrained he was by the homophobia of his time and place. Read “Half an Hour.” Read “The Next Table.” RICH SMITH



Bite of Greece
Try authentic coffee, pastries, and other food and drinks at this free festival that will also feature Greek dancing and a Greek marketplace.



LISTEN: It’s a Sound Show
LISTEN is an immersive, one-night-only exhibition presenting a dynamic and complex range of works that foreground the act of listening as a key element. Featuring stationary artworks, sound installations, live performances and spoken word, LISTEN aims to ask who (or what) we listen to, and why. EMILY POTHAST

The Seattle Pancakes & Booze Art Show
That’s right, hungry thirsty art-starved pancake aficionados, this show’s got everything you need: 70 or more artist vendors, a free pancake bar, DJs, and body painting.

Robert Hardgrave: Pulp Artist Talk
If you’ve been following visual art in Seattle for any length of time, chances are you’ve come across the work of Robert Hardgrave, even if you didn’t know it. He works in a variety of 2-D media—painting, drawing, toner transfers, the leftover “pulp” from those transfers—to create a body of work that is as colorful and effusive as it is distinctive. Visually, Hardgrave’s style hovers somewhere between ancient petroglyphs and something you might see in a high-end skateboard shop, but like most images, these are things that are better seen than described. Pulp, an exhibition of new work at Studio E Gallery, is your chance to see them for yourself—and this artist talk is a chance to learn about them. EMILY POTHAST


Brewshed Beer Fest
Tipple beer from 18 breweries and help out the Washington Wild environmental nonprofit, which helps establish permanent wilderness and wild and scenic river designations.

Charles Smith’s First-Annual Jet City Rosé Experience
Fun fact: Together, France and the US consume nearly half of the annual 594.4 million gallons of rosé produced globally. It’s clear we like the stuff. If you’re a true rosé habitué, you’ll practically cry with joy when you attend local winemaker Charles Smith’s first annual Jet City Rosé Experience this summer, an event celebrating the pretty pink liquid that we love so much. Alongside Smith will be a bevy of wineries, including Analema, Amavi Cellars, Avennia, Bartholomew Winery, Bieler Pére et Fils, DeLille Cellars, Doubleback, EFESTE, Elk Cove Vineyards, Gramercy Cellars, J Bookwalter Winery, Julia’s Dazzle, Mark Ryan Winery, Milbrandt Vineyards, Pacific Rim, Seven Hills Winery, Syncline Winery, Tranche and W.T. Vintners. The Rosé Experience will also feature live performances from Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Wanda Jackson, famed singer John Doe and The Dusty 45’s. And because rosé actually isn’t its own food group (it’s easy to forget), five local food trucks (El Camino, The People’s Burger, Snout & Co., Where Ya At Matt, and Cheese Wizards) will be onsite to satiate your alcohol-induced hunger pains.

Summer of Rosé Kick-Off Party 2017
This past spring, our dear city broke its 122-year-old record for most rain ever—and we’re only now just starting to emerge from the past eightish months of sogginess. Celebrate this glorious fact with an equally glorious beverage—everyone’s favorite, rosé. Bottlehouse will throw a “kick-off” party in celebration of the wine, complete with over 25 selections of different rosés from around the world, a DJ, raffles and VIP giveaways, and special menu options. Plus, we hear the patio will be open.


Arthaus 3.0 Finale with Tatianna
Version 3.0 of Kremwerk’s drag-queen battle royale/dance party is upon us. Teams of hilarious and artsy queens will compete for bragging rights, shade throwing rights, and the right to play puppet master at the following year’s Arthaus series. As I predicted, Betty Wetter, Cookie Couture, Miss Americano, and Khloe5X of Halfway Haus won the series last year, and they’ll be hosting and picking the themes this year. For this season finale, the three finalist houses will compete, with Halfway Haus hosting and performances by Cookie Couture, Betty Wetter, Americano, and Old Witch, with special guest Tatianna from RuPaul’s Drag Race. French Inhale will DJ. Drinks will be had. RICH SMITH


Jack Straw Showcase Open House
For your small donation to the Jack Straw writing residency program, you’ll have the chance to see and hear a diverse lineup of poets, African drummers, dancers, and musicians, including Etienne Cakpo-Gbokou of Gansango Dance Ensemble, Shin Yu Pai, the Steve Griggs Ensemble, the Fisher Ensemble, Cello X, and many others.



Strange Coupling
A UW School of Art tradition for over a decade, Strange Coupling pairs up working artists with current UW students to create collaborative artworks and community connections. This year’s roster will include the work of 12 artist pairs curated by Brian J. Carter, Tim Detweiler, Greg Kucera, S. Surface and Emily Zimmerman. EMILY POTHAST



Weird and Awesome with Emmett Montgomery
On the first Sunday of each month, comedy, variety, and “a parade of wonder and awkward sharing” are hosted by the self-proclaimed “mustache wizard” Emmett Montgomery.

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