Five things worth knowing this week
1 – Amazing music in The Kay
Stepping firmly into my role of promotor and appreciator in chief . . . as I write this, we’ve just hosted two delightful concerts in The Kay.
On Wednesday we opened our doors and hearts to a delightful evening with Chuck Roehm, Stephen Cline, and a whole bunch of musicians near and dear to our hearts (without playing favorites, I am transported every time I hear Kat Eggleston sing, even if it’s just back-up vocals). There were guitars, fiddles, mandolins . . . well you just should have been there. It was sweet, sweet music and I love the message and spirit behind what Chuck is doing with his Onward and Upward album and foundation.
Thursday night was hang-onto-your-hat gypsy jazz with Pearl Django. As someone who comes to everything (nearly) we put on our stage, I think I’m qualified to say “wow.” The band was super tight. The music was in turn romantic, hip, hopping, swinging, and swaying. These fellas are seriously talented musicians and, to a person, the people in the comfy seats were just plain happy to be there.
Pearl Django is a great onramp to Max Hatt and Edda Glass, a jazz-meets-roots-meets-Americana duo that I have been impatiently awaiting since last November (regular readers surely have picked up on that). We still have tixavailable. Come give them a listen. I promise you’ll be glad you did.
2 – Summer Arts Fest just got one step closer
This past week we began the process of sorting a tasty assortment of artist submissions into a solid working schedule for this summer’s Vashon Summer Arts Fest (Redux). To remind you (or fill you in), this is a two-month long celebration of art that is open to Vashon resident artists only . . . but open for all the world to come see!
The fun kicks off July 5th, and as we did last year, we’ll hang new art every week . . . so there will be a “first Friday” nearly every Friday of the summer. It’s true.
Here are some fun facts about what’s on offer.
- There were 30 solo and eight group show proposals. We were able to accept, schedule, and place all of it and artist notifications will be out by Monday, April 14.
- Over 75% of the submissions came from artists who did not submit last year . . . which I think is just fabulous. What a great opportunity for folks who have not been seen widely on the island to show their stuff. Bravo.
- You’re going to see art from a wide spectrum of ages, experience levels, and media.
- As was true last year, we have some wonderful group shows. Three group shows, by Makerspace, the ceramic artists, and a photography group are returning, but with (mostly) new artists. Another five shows were submitted by newly formed groups of artists.
- For the first time, the Joy & Chai Mann Gift Shop will part of SAF, serving as home to three rotations of shows and merchandise: Chris Beck’s Waterworks Collective, Gordon Barnett’s GRBells, and Jeanine Bauer’s collection of fiber art, jewelry, altars and photos exploring ceremonial practices, tools and icons.
- Taken together, the groups will put on display the work of some 60+ artists. By the time the exhibits go up, I’m expecting that total to go up. Add in the individual submissions and it looks like we should be showing between 90 to 100 Vashon artists this summer.
Massive thanks to our Gallery Business Manager Lynann Politte and Board Member Britt Freda (who has hung the last three shows for us) for managing the process of translating all these fabulous submissions into a coherent and exciting two month show schedule.
Says Lynann, “Never think that there is a shortage of talented visual artists on Vashon. Summer Arts Fest applications run the spectrum of artistic expression. Over 75% of the applications are from artists that have not participated in SAF an and a majority have not shown at VCA before. Of the returning artists, they are presenting new works or new collaborations. VSAF once again offers a showcase for Vashon to proudly showcase our island talent.”
Stay tuned for more details.
3 – A very fine First Friday
I spent most of last week posting everywhere I could think about the exhibits that were gathering energy and taking shape in our galleries. Anyone coming in and out of the building could feel it was going to be something special.
And then we opened the doors Friday night, and it seemed like half the island came to see what was going on. One guest told me, after she had spent more than an hour taking it all in, that “I had no idea it was going to be this amazing.” And she wasn’t the only one.
We hosted a full house from 5:30 to well past 8:00. All our food got eaten (it’s possible the large and enthusiastic assemblage of middle school encaustic artists had a hand in that). We had to raid our storage for more wine. And we sold lots and lots of art.
Thank you to all of our artist partners. Thank you to our guests and patrons. Thank you to all the people who worked so hard to make this a show for the ages.
There is so much to see, I hope you’ll make time (a big chunk of it) to come see for yourself. We’re here all month.
4 – Loving Lexicon of Light
In so many ways the centerpiece of our show is the sweeping oeuvre gathered on the big south wall of the Fong-Wheeler Atrium called Lexicon of Light. The project was conceived and stewarded by long-time island photographer/teacher/artist Michael Elenko. Here’s what he had to say about the show.
Me: What inspired this project?
Michael: My goal with the Lexicon of Light is to nudge artists to push into new areas of introspection and personal creativity. I’ve never been comfortable with working or even thinking in boxes and categories.
Me: Why reverse ekphrasis?
Michael: Ekphrasis is creating poetry that is directly inspired by a work of art. Turning the tables, so to speak, puts the pivot point on the artist to perform the “alchemy” of transforming verse to image. As far as I know, this “reverse ekphrasis” process has not been accomplished in a formal art exhibition before.
Me: You have had the opportunity to see all the verses, all the work . . . what stands out for you?
Michael: What exceeds my expectations is the consistent high quality of both the poems and their corresponding images. We had zero rules governing the scope of creativity for artists—if they created an image that was a literal representation of the words in the poem, then great–but I also encouraged abstraction and even visual puns. And the exhibition reflects this broad diversity of interpretation.
Me: What are your top three takeaways?
Michael: First, the words of a poem read aloud are released into the wild. The artist in the Lexicon of Light receives those words and transforms them into a different dimension. This is not an easy process.
Second, Vashon Island has so much talent! Our poets and photographers exceeded my high expectations.
Finally,stories from stories. The poems birth stories and the photographs extend those stories to new places, serving up a rich art experience.
Me: One of your photos is in the show. Say some things about what it was like to shoot using verse as your inspiration.
Michael: I assigned myself to join five other artists in interpreting the remarkable “Last” by the late Ina Whitlock. Since poetry is intended to be an oral medium, I read Last aloud to the universe multiple times daily. This enabled me to feel its meaning and align with its rhythms. Photography communicates rhythm, pace, and color really well, so when I stumbled upon the perfect place [the dusk-lit hot house at Matsuda Farm], I knew it deeply.
Me: What are you hoping people will take away from the exhibit?
Michael: First, I’d like people to allow themselves enough time to absorb the Lexicon of Light fully. There are a lot of words and much art to savor, like a fine multi-course meal. Secondly, perceiving the intention of how the artists visually interpret each poem is just an enjoyable challenge. Finally, I’d invite all viewers to come up with their own creative interpretations of each poem in whatever medium they favor.
. . . . .
This is a show you can’t just see once. The poetry alone demands multiple readings and no small amount of reflection, and that’s before you begin the process of inhaling the inspired photography twined with each verse.
Come see for yourself!
5 – A classy week this way comes
By the time you read this, we’ll be inside two weeks until we open our doors to two events that should make any fan of “classy-cal” music jump for joy.
The first is a solo performance by piano virtuoso Albert Cano Smit. This young man is ridiculously talented. I fully expect the next time anyone hears him in these parts it will be in a much bigger hall for a much bigger ticket price that we’re able to charge.
Here he is playing when he was 13!
And he’s so much better (and older) now!!
Seriously, if you have even a passing interest in classical music, you were bothered by my use of the term “classy-cal”, or you’ve ever been in the same room with a piano, you need to come listen to Mr. A.C.S. play. Get your tix here. You’ll be able to brag to your friends and neighbors that you did.
But wait, there literally is more. Much more.
It’s taken them three decades to get to this point, but the much-loved Vashon Island Chorale opens their 30thAnniversary concert series the next night. If you have any thought of being part of this historic event, you should buy your tickets now. Two nights only. My money is on a sell-out.
The good folks at the Chorale were kind enough to send over some fun historical bits. Behold . . .
- When the Vashon Island Chorale began in 1989, it was known as Island Singers. The name was officially changed in the mid-1990’s and the organization became a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation.
- There have been seventy-two concerts in the Chorale’s history. The first was held on Nov. 12, 1989 at the Burton Church.
- Besides the formal spring and winter concerts, there have been Sing Along Messiah events, Strawberry Festival gigs, summer concerts in the park, New Year’s Eve concerts, and two 9/11 Memorial concerts.
- At least 350 singers have sung with the Chorale at one time or another. Founders of the group, Susan Hedrick and Judy Whitney are still members.
- During its 30-year history, the Chorale has been under the direction of six conductors: Kendall Campbell, Jerry McGee, Marita Ericksen, Patricia Hudson, David Kappy and Dr. Gary D. Cannon. Guest conductors Anthony Spain and Elizabeth Nye each directed a concert.
- Presidents of the organization have included (in order) Doug Dolstad, Jim Boulé, Dan Brown, Dick Paulsen, Kristen Peterson, Marijke van Heeswijk and Jo Ann Bardeen (current).
- The Chorale is looked after by a volunteer board of directors that currently includes Jo Ann Bardeen, Karen Baer, Mecky Chappelka, John de Groen, Joe Farmer, June Langland, Mary Frances Lyons, Leslie McIntosh, Margie Morgan, Paul Peretti, Kathleen Rindge, Stuart Tribble, and Don Wolczko.
- Volunteer section leaders are Kaycie Alanis, Shannon Flora, Jim Gardner and Dan McDevitt. Peter Dorman leads the Chorale’s Ensemble Singers.
6 – Finally, and this is a 6th thing
Jo Ann Bardeen was kind enough to share with me some clips and notes the Chorale used to get in the spirit of the upcoming concert. Here are three of the numbers you’ll be able to hear (but they’ll be so much better live in our building!) Give a listen!
Aaron Copland: “Stomp your foot.” This is a country-dance featured in the opera “The Tender Land”, which was staged in Vashon Opera’s first season. It is included here as a symbolic connection of the Chorale not only to the Opera company, but to the Island arts community at large. And it’s raucous fun.
Gabriel Fauré: “Cantique de Jean Racine.” It just doesn’t get more beautiful than this. Also, a chance for the group to continue to hone its French!
Steven Sametz: “I have had singing.” The Chorale is devoted to living American composers, and not only locals. So, here’s a sumptuous unaccompanied recent work.
Alexander Borodin: “Polovtsian Dances.” From the late-19th-century opera “Prince Igor”, this is a series of very Russian dances, variously pastoral and vigorous. They’ll show off our orchestra, and also you all. And yes, they’ll sing in Russian.
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.