Friday Fish Wrap 4.5.19

Five things worth knowing this week

1 – Vashon Nature Center Comes to Vashon Center for the Arts!!!!

I’ve been waiting to announce this for so long I thought I was going to burst. You read that headline right. Vashon Center for the Arts and Vashon Nature Center are forming a partnership to help bring art, science and community even closer together on Vashon Island.

Kevin Hoffberg, ED VCA and Biana Perla, ED VNC

What does that mean? So many things, but for starters, it means Vashon Nature Center will locate a small, movable field station on the north end of our lovely meadow. Their staff and volunteers will use it as a place from which they can launch projects and store field gear.

The meadow in question occupies the eastern side of our campus.  It is an important part of the Judd Creek water system and is made up of a central “dry pasture” bracketed by four small wetlands.

Last year, we began the work of restoring what at that point was a bit of a ‘field gone wild.’  In the process, we began talking with the folks at Vashon Nature Center and, well, one thing led to another.

Says Bianca Perla, Director of Vashon Nature Center . . .

“When we started VNC, we were excited to bring the community together around nature, to learn about nature in new ways.  Partnering with VCA gives us the opportunity to physically land someplace we can help care for, right in center of the island, and right near schools where we do a lot of work.”

“We’re excited to use our new home as a central meet-up location and as an experimental field station where we can do some community science around wetland restoration, hold naturalist workshops, do biological illustration . . . the ideas just keep coming out of our heads and hearts all the time about what we can do here!”

But wait, there’s moreVashon Nature Center will also help develop stewardship plans for the meadow and wetlands, do field studies on the site, and work with VCA to create classes and projects that will combine both art and the environment.

You can read more about Vashon Nature Center here.

2 – Amazing April Part 1

I’ve written a fair bit in the past weeks about the amazing April we have on tap for you.  Just to remind you, we have some awesome music on tap . . .

Island Connections: Chuck Roehm & Stephen Cline​ – 4/10
Pearl Django: Gypsy Jazz – 4/11
Max Hatt and Edda Glass: 4/17
Albert Cano Smit Classical Pianist: 4/26
Vashon Island Chorale 30th Anniversary: 4/27

We are also debuting absolutely sensational exhibits in the Koch Gallery, Mann Gift Shop, Fong-Wheeler Atrium, and Huggins Thumb Gallery. To get the whole story, go here.

One of the things I want to highlight are the broadsides. The what? You know, broadsides! To get you the inside scoop, I pinged Annie Brule, Vashon artist/illustrator, teacher, parent, and founder/publisher at Chatwin Books.

Annie Brule

Me: What are broadsides? Give us a bit of the history?

Annie: Broadsides, as we know them today are a frame-able work of both literature and art, typically marrying words and images on a single side of a single sheet of fine paper. They are a hybrid art form—illustrated poems—intended to be hung on the wall. Some broadsides are text-only, most include text and artwork, and the best ones feature a high-quality printing process like letterpress, giclée, or etching, and include the poet’s and/or the artist’s signature.

Invented almost as soon as the printing press debuted in Germany in the 1440’s, the broadside poster was first a vehicle for news and public proclamations, later for advertisements (think Toulouse-Lautrec), and has evolved through the centuries to become a fine art form favored mainly by artists and poets.

Me: How come you know so much about them?  What’s personally interesting?

Annie: I have had the pleasure of leading broadside workshops for poets, who wish to create a piece of art from their own or others’ words, and for several years I curated and created month-long exhibitions from an extensive collection of broadsides owned by a bookseller in Seattle. I have a small collection of broadsides myself, from PNW poets like Sam Hamill, and other more household names like Neruda. My introduction to them was a delightful show at The Hardware Store gallery in 2010, for the Vashon Literary Festival that year, drawing from the collections of many islanders, who collectively have quite an impressive collection!

Me: Say some things about what are you bringing to VCA

Annie: The kiosk this April will be showing a variety of broadsides, all limited editions, from premier American writers and poets like Marguerite Young and Mark Strand, with a couple from poets closer to home, like Oregon Book Award winner Lindsay Hill. There will be three from each edition for sale. One of the great things about broadsides is that they are typically a fine print at a very attainable price point—a high-quality broadside might sell for anywhere from $20 to $100, and this is true for the kiosk selection.

Me: What are you hoping people will get out of seeing the show?

Annie: I hope folks come away with the word “broadside” in their vocabulary! It’s a wonderful and seemingly little-known art form—kind of like art books—that just opens up people’s heads, once they encounter it. I’ve found that from every show I’ve put up, at least one person walks in knowing nothing about broadsides, and walks out just brimming with enthusiasm, either as a collector with something new under their arm, or as a poet or artist who now wants to go make one themselves. It’s a beautiful feeling, seeing that happen and facilitating more creativity.

3 – Amazing April Part 2

By now I hope you’re on the scent that we have a big Literary Conference kicking off next week.  There are so many delicious parts to this epic feast it’s hard to know where to start. But I will try and spotlight just three.

The first is a free screening of Americanese, a movie written and directed by Eric Byler, adapted from the novel, “American Knees,” by Shawn Wong.

The film had its world premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) in 2006, where it won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature and a Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Ensemble Cast.

You can read a nice review of it by Roger Ebert here. Best of all, Shawn Wong will talk to us about his work immediately following the screening.

FREE, seating limited to 40 people
Lit Con pass holders will have priority seating
Date/Time: Thursday, April 11 at 3:30 – 5:20pm
Location: Greenroom, Katherine L White Hall

The second event I want to highlight occurs not long after in the Kay White Hall . . . you just have to come hear Pearl Django. It’s going to be the happiest time on Vashon that night.

The third highlight is actually a story in two parts.

Part 1 is a chance to hear Misha Berson will discuss her book “Something’s Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination,” and the show and movie that inspired it, as well as the upcoming Seattle production of the musical and the highly anticipated Steven Spielberg film version of the show.

Misha Berson is an arts critic, teacher and freelance journalist. She was the theater critic for the Seattle Times for 25 years. She’s the author of four books, most recently, “Something’s Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the Imagination,” and is a frequent contributor to, American Theatre and Seattle Times.

Saturday/13th at 3:15 – 4:15pm
Kay White Hall – Auditorium

Part 2 is a talk by David Armstrong, author of “The Importance of Story Structure In A Musical Libretto,” a crash course in how to design and create the most important, make-or-break element of a musical — the Book.

David Armstrong is an American stage director, writer, producer, lecturer, and choreographer. He is best known for his work at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle where from 2000 to 2018 he served as the Producing Artistic Director and Executive Producer, and where he is currently Artistic Director Emeritus.

Sunday/14th at 12:30 – 2:00pm
Kay White Hall – Auditorium

3.1 – Fish Wrap Bonus Item

We forgot to post this notice in our mid-week email, so here it is . . .

Join us for a scrumptious brunch buffet in the Fong-Wheeler Atrium catered by one of Vashon’s favorite farm-to-table restaurants, Earthen Bistro. Your ticket includes your choice of either a Mimosa or a Bloody Mary.

Sunday, April 14
11am – 12:30pm
$28 per person*

*Lit Con pass holders receive a 25% discount. You will be e-mailed a coupon code when you purchase your pass. You can also receive your discount by contacting the box office: 206-259-3007.

4 – We could use your help advocating for the arts

Can you spare a moment that could make a huge financial difference to VCA in the future?  Read on to find out how . . .

Two years ago, King County voters declined to pass a proposition that would have provided much needed operating funds for arts organizations like Vashon Center for the Arts. While the proposition was well supported on Vashon, it failed to garner enough votes elsewhere in King County.

Why? Many felt the program was not fair and did not achieve the goals of promoting equity and diversity while also distributing funds geographically. Me? I think voters, especially on the east side, thought too much of the funding went to the big downtown arts organizations.

So, many of us are working through something called Cultural Access Washington to bring a re-formulated proposition back in front of the public next year.  The State Senate has passed its version of the law we need called SB 5792.  The simple version of it is . . .

Modifies cultural access program’s statutory requirements and policies so they are the same in all counties of the state.

Seems simple enough, so this is where I am making a personal appeal for your help.

Please write to your state representatives, and if you are on Vashon, that’s Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon, to vote in favor of HB 1435, the House’s version of SB 5792. We need this bill to be voted out of the House of Representatives by 5 p.m. on April 17.

At this point, that’s all I am asking you to do.

I promise I will bring all the right people out to Vashon to talk about why this initiative merits our support. Not to ruin the punchline, but it could literally mean hundreds of thousands of dollars of direct support for the many arts organizations on Vashon!

There is a real penalty to us if we don’t provide more flexibility for our King County program . . . our 10-year effort to provide organizations like VCA with transformative funding may be lost forever. There is simply no time to lose.

Please do the following (soon!) . . .

Copy and paste the following text into an email and send to both Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon.

Subject Line: Please pass Senate Bill 5792, cultural access legislation

Dear [name]

I’m writing on behalf of a Vashon Center for the Arts.

As one of your constituents, I urge you to support Senate Bill 5792 without any further amendments. Simplifying the Cultural Access law is critical to our organization and will allow us to increase and enrich cultural programming in your district. Currently, SB 5792 is in the House Rules Committee.  Please urge Speaker Frank Chopp to bring the legislation to the full House for a vote.

Approval of SB 5792 is a priority to our cultural community and, therefore, to all of our audiences and supporters across King County. A simplified law will empower our community to create a more successful and equitable cultural program that distributes funding to diverse communities throughout our broad region. Please support us in this effort.


[your name]

. . . . .

Feel free to message with me at if you have any questions.  And thank you for helping!  Again, the drop date is 5 p.m. on April 17.

5 – Member Meeting date set: April 29th

If you are a VCA member, please join me and our Board of Trustees for a (first in a long time) member meeting on Monday, April 29th in the Katherine L White Hall.  Doors will open at 6:30 and the meeting will start in the Auditorium at 7:00.

We’ll use the time to look back at some of our 2018 accomplishments, many of which have been chronicled in real time in the Friday Fish Wrap. We’ll spend some time talking about our 2019 programs and plans, as well as our future direction.  And finally, we’ll talk about our financial needs and resources.

I expect the meeting to last about an hour and I and the Board will stay after to talk and answer questions.

If you have a specific question you would like me to address, please feel free to drop me a note at

6 – Finally, and this is a sixth thing

Last week I wrote of my delight in finding NPR’s American Anthem series, mistakenly thinking the editors had only managed three entries, This Land, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA and Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown, and Beige. It turns out I needed to scroll further.

A closer read reveals the full, and most excellent story of this project. From the opening article . . .

Anthems are songs that tap into the collective emotions that listeners and performers have around an issue, whether it’s joyful pride in one’s country or rage over injustice.

The stories behind these musical manifestos — why they are written and how they are embraced — can reveal much about the cultural pulse of the societies that create, share and celebrate them. Beginning July 4, NPR will zero in on 50 different anthems across a range of themes: patriotic, civil rights, anti-war, female empowerment, sports, mental health and more, in a series we’re calling American Anthem.

And what a list it is! Given my constant search for fresh content, I can see coming back here a time or time.  For now, let me draw your attention to these few.

After a couple of set-up episodes, the first deep dive is into the Battle Hymn of the Republic. It’s worth a read and listen . . . I’ll bet you don’t know the whole story.

The first popular song/anthem listed by the authors is White Stripe’s Seven Nation Army. If you don’t spend your weekends in massive sports stadiums, you are excused for not knowing the tune.

“Seven Nation Army” didn’t catch on right away: The song only made it to No. 76 on the Billboard Hot 100 after its release in March 2003 (though it did top the Alternative Songs chart). Its life as a sports anthem began six months later, when fans of the Belgian soccer team Club Brugge KV traveled to Italy for a UEFA Champions League match against one of the giants of European football, A.C. Milan.

Today, it’s part of the big stadium pantheon, along with Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.”

Here it is

Here it is live at Michigan Stadium

The very next entry in the series feels in so many ways, a polar opposite.  Written in the vanguard of World War II, Fanfare for the Common Man announced both the aspiration and pending reality of the emergence of the United States as a global colossus.

“Fanfare for the Common Man” premiered on March 12, 1943, in observance of income tax time — something every “common man” has to endure. Since then, it has been performed for presidents, played to honor victims at the opening of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and lent a sense of gravity to television sports and news programs. It’s even been heard in space: In 2008, NASA pilot Eric Boe chose it as wake-up music for his crew of astronauts on the space shuttle Endeavor.

Truly, one of the most stirring openings of any piece of music I can think of.


I’m delighted to report that Dancing in the Street, immortalized by Martha Reeves and Vandaellas, is among the first few anthems profiled in this series.

In 1964, Reeves was singing in clubs around Detroit and working as a secretary at Motown Records. One day, the 23-year-old saw the company’s biggest star, Marvin Gaye, in a studio, working out a song he’d written with Mickey Stevenson and Ivy Joe Hunter.

Reeves says all she could say to Marvin Gaye upon hearing the song was, “Wow.” Gaye did her one better. “He looked over and saw me in awe of him and said, ‘Hey man’ — and this is his exact words — ‘Hey man, let’s try this song on Martha.'”

And they did.  Prepare to get moving!

And just because I need to wind up this overly long Fish Wrap, I’ll highlight just one more, Bob Dylan’s indeed anthemic “The Times They are A-Changin,” a song that comes as close to defining an era and a generational sensibility as any.

Dylan wrote the song in 1963. The war in Vietnam is kind of on the public radar but blanched from the public view by the searing scar of the Kennedy assassination. Two years later, in 1965, the troop count soars by over 200,000. The times indeed had, and were, changing.

Here’s a version from 1964.

I’ll stop the narrative there other than to point out that like so much else, Dylan’s song largely faded from view . . . until recently when others find reason to revisit the lyrics and message.

Consider this version from Brandi Carlile

Or this gospel version featuring Jennifer Hudson

Can it not be said that the measure of an anthem is its ability to speak the truth of generation after generation?

Why “Fish Wrap”? Years ago, living in San Francisco, I became a devotee of a legendary journalists named Herb Caen. While he may not have been the first to use the phrase in connection with “yesterday’s news,” he is the one I remember. Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish wrap. Maybe it’s a generational thing. At any rate, we call our Friday wrap up, The Friday Fish Wrap . . . Five things worth knowing about VCA this Friday.

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