Five things worth knowing this week
1 – Art Blitz, Oh Yeah
Okay, show of hands. How many people know about the Art Blitz we helped stage at McMurray Middle School last Friday, April 19th? Okay, not a fair question . . . it’s only the second time we’ve done this, and the first in that building.
Art Blitz is basically a full-art-bearhug of the entire school by artists representing nearly every art discipline you can think of: literary arts, three types of dance, three types of theatre including playwriting (with our very own Maria Glanz), media arts (Eric Frith doing film at the Kay), six types of visual arts, and circus arts thrown in for funsies.
Two of the workshops were led by McMurray teachers, the rest by the good ship Vashon Artists in Schools.
Have a look at the lineup!
- Artist Name / Content
- Barb Gustafson/ Weaving
- Shawn Kellogg and Sadie LeDonna/ Circus Arts
- Mik Kuhlman/ Physical Theatre
- Maria Glanz/ Playwriting
- Darren Lay/ Shakespeare / Stage Combat
- Allison Trundle/ Artist books
- Adam Ende/ Puppets
- Carolina Silva/ Installation Art
- Daemond Arrindell/ Spoken word / poetry
- Scott Kovaks/ Choral/vocal technique
- Britt Freda/ Activist art/ drawing
- Alisara Martin/ Linocut prints
- Tiffany Adams/ Hip-Hop Dance
- Nidia Sahagún/ Baile Folklórico
- Eric Frith/ Big Sonia / Filmmaking
- Rico Lastrapes/ Tap
- Becky Blankenship and Amy Holmes/ Culinary Arts (Pizza!!)
- Katie Lewandowski/ Wellness
I think this is Vashon at our best. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to pull this together . . . and thank you Kaycie Alanis for doing so much to steward the VAIS program the way you do.
2 – Happy 30th Birthday Vashon Island Chorale. You don’t look a day over 23.
The year was 1989.
The first George Bush was President. So was Mikhail Gorbachev. Scientists pronounce that year as the warmest on record. A stamp cost 25 cents, and in some places in the US a gallon of gas cost under a dollar. Oh, those were the days.
Meanwhile on Vashon, two of our island friends asked and answered the question, “Why isn’t there a chorus on Vashon?” by starting one, and the rest, is history. Thirty years on, many of those early mothers and fathers are still involved in the Chorale and will be taking part in the festivities this weekend.
And if you really want to show off your classical music credentials, why not add a couple of tickets to hear the amazing pianist, Albert Cano Smit on Friday, April 26th! You’ve got this.
Here’s a good interview with Albert:
Get your classic on at VCA this weekend!
3 – Vashon braces for (spectacular) dancer invasion this summer
This is way sooner than we typically announce things, but this is so cool I just can’t sit on it a moment longer. Seattle Dance Collective is coming to VCA in July!!!
Yes, I should back up.
I wish I could say we planned this, but in this case, the universe did the job for us. In case you somehow missed it, Seattle is home to the storied Pacific Northwest Ballet (no need to guess what they do). During the season, their dancers are fully occupied with company productions. When that winds down, those dancers often scatter far and wide to study, practice, innovate, and perform.
So why not make a home for innovation in dance here in the Pacific Northwest? And why not on Vashon? Well that’s just happened thanks to the courage/vision/craziness/love/ambition of Noelani Pantastico and James Yoichi Moore, celebrated principal dancers with Pacific Northwest Ballet.
And did I say its summer home is Vashon Center for the Arts?
Their new adventure is called the Seattle Dance Collective, and it is to be a true collaboration between dancers and choreographers to put into the world engaging, thought-provoking programs to audiences in Seattle and beyond. The founders will run SDC during breaks in their PNB schedule.
Noelani and James are just about as fabulous as two people can be, and the thought of hosting SDC on our campus was too enticing to pass up. So, we said yes.
Says Noelani, “James and I have had the privilege of performing a rich and varied repertoire over the course of our careers, yet there are still certain choreographers and specific works that we have yet to enjoy. Starting our own company will not only help us achieve these dreams, but will also enable other dancers and choreographers to fulfill some of their own unmet aspirations.”
Says James, “The creativity that emerges from artistic collaboration is both exciting and necessary for the continued advancement of dance. It is our hope that SDC will provide a valuable platform for this inspirational process, and as a result, will generate expressive and transformative works for the stage.”
Rehearsals are set to begin at the end of April for SDC’s inaugural program, scheduled for July 12-14 at the Vashon Center for the Arts. I’ll keep you posted from time to time here. You can also follow the company directly on Facebook, Instagram (check out their page on your computer, it is stunning), Twitter, and on their SDC website.
I will try not to completely wear you out on this over the next few months. But I’m telling you now, the four performances in They Kay will be one of the cultural highlights of the summer. Be there!
4 – Catching up with photographer Roman Zlobin
I stumbled into Roman Zlobin’s studio during the VIVA studio tour last winter at the suggestion of island artist Hartmut Reimnitz. I loved his work.
Since first meeting him I’ve come to know him as an artist who works with a lightness and ease that I find inspiring and remarkable.
As luck would have it, we had an immediate need to create a pop-up show in our gift shop, and Roman was able to bring us a fabulous show we called “I Can See Russia from My House . . .” Everyone I talked with thought his images were sensational and the show a success.
Fast forward to the end of last month. We had a hitch with an artist we had selected for our April confabulation of photographers . . . so again, we reached out to Roman. And on 24 hours’ notice, he brought us a splendid array of art nudes which have graced the east wall of our gallery this past month.
I caught up with Roman via email the other day. I think his comments are incredibly insightful. I hope you’ll take the time to read them.
Me: When did you discover your love of photography?
Roman: In 2001 I picked up an old German camera and developed my first film. I was instantly won over by the magic and unbearable ease with which photography can convey feelings, thoughts, and mood.
Me: Are you self-taught? Trained with a master? Something in between?
Roman: I am self-taught.
Me: We are showing a series of your art nudes in our gallery. Say some things about that body of work?
Roman: The photographs were taken in Russia between 2008 and 2014. The models pictured are mostly my friends. The photographs were taken with both digital and film camera. Some of them were hand printed with salted paper process.
Me: Are there any artists/photographers who have influenced your work?
Roman: We are surrounded by photos. We think we are looking at a photograph, but in fact the photograph is looking at us. From everywhere – magazines, advertising booklets, banners, brochures, and so on, influencing us, shaping our tastes, changing our outlook.
Since my childhood, I loved to look through any magazines that had photographs, be it my mother’s fashion magazine, my father’s magazine about cars and travel, or children’s magazine about animals and children’s life.
And of course, at times I came across photos that left a particularly strong impression: a man jumping over a puddle, a man dropping a rifle because a bullet hit him, a naked woman being swallowed by a crocodile, antique portraits of super humans… It all caused an insatiable curiosity in me and only when I grew up, I realized that this was and is the love of photography, and only when I grew up I learned that the authors of those photos were Henri Cartier – Bresson, Robert Capa, Helmut Newton, Leni Riefenstahl.
I call a photo a good photo the one that tells a story. In any case, in my photography I try to tell a story. The best photograph (if it is not a documentary) invokes in the viewer a story of its own, but sometimes a brief description by the author greatly enriches the plot.
Me: There are three images I’d like to ask you about. I find each of them “iconic” in their own way. The first is “Raven Wing.” Tell the story about shooting that photo.
Roman: We loved each other from a distance. She lived in Seattle, and I, in Vladivostok. The days of rare meetings we tried to fill with love and creativity. “You remind me of a black raven, I want to take a photo with you in black tones. Show me the bird.” We pulled black fabric, set up the lights. Done! A raven spread a wing over me.
Me: The second is the “Be My Rock!” That shot didn’t just happen. Say some things about making that image.
Roman: As friends, we loved to travel to the wild coast of the Pacific in Eastern Russia, near Vladivostok. The girls did not consider it necessary to wear clothes, because there were no strangers around, and this way they
could get an even tan. Autumn came early that year. The photo depicts a farewell photo session on the last day before returning to the city. The north wind blew, bringing cool air. She hugs herself for warmth… Summer is over… There is melancholy in the air. And her Russian name means “snowy”.
Me: The third is “ViewFinder #3.” It feels like it belongs to the 1930s. Say some things about that photo shoot.
Roman: She just turned 18 and she wrote to me and asked for a nude photo session, because now she could. Everything in my studio was interesting to her, she was natural and curious, and her life was just beginning, a woman was waking up in her. The photograph as a metaphor – an old camera and a young girl looking through it at him who is looking at her.
As I write this, these images are still for sale through Saturday at 4:00, after which you’ll have to chase Roman at his studio.
5 – Member meeting, April 29th
We have a member meeting on April 29th. We’ll open the Atrium around 6:00 and the auditorium around 6:30. We begin promptly at 7:00.
It is my plan to speak for about 40 minutes and take questions for about 20. You can be confident I will address our financial condition and prospects.
We have a decently large auditorium, so I don’t anticipate problems in seating anyone who would like to attend. While this is a member meeting, we welcome guests as well.
6 – Finally, and this is a sixth thing
For those used to a string of music posts, this 6thitem takes us in a different direction. Taking a deep breath, I am offering something weightier for your consideration.
The gist is simply this: modern, algorithmically driven digital culture is atomizing our views of ourselves, our world, and each other. It is addicting, overpowering, and isolating, designed to manipulate and appeal to our worst impulses. To put a face on it, Facebook, Google, Instagram, and YouTube, just to name the obvious culprits, are not our friends.
The second shoe to drop for me is the companion crusade launched by Roger McNamee, Tristan Harris, and Renee DiResta and others. The lede on the home page for the Center for Humane Technology lays it out plain as can be.
“Our mission is to reverse human downgrading by inspiring a new race to the top and realigning technology with humanity.”
The authors go on to post a sort of anthem for the future called The Way Forward:
This is a historic moment– never before has technology had the power to so profoundly change the beings that create it. We are at a turning point where we can either allow that power to continue unchecked, or contain it by building Humane Technology that protects our minds and replenishes society.
Humane Technology requires that we understand our most vulnerable human instincts so we can design compassionately to protect them from abuse.
We envision a world where Humane Technology is the default for all technology products and services. A combination of new design processes, new goals and metrics, new organizational structures, and new business models would drastically reduce harmful externalities, actively supporting our individual and collective well-being.
I realize the irony of railing against technology and then suggesting you watch a big long video, but I promise if you take the time, this will get your attention.
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.