Five things worth knowing this week
1 – Art for Elders’ Sake
It seems whenever there’s a pile of wonderful art supplies, a clever project, and an eager group ready to explore their inner artist . . . lo and behold there is Alisara Martin, one of Vashon’s pied pipers of art and all that goes with it.
So, no surprise to find a familiar scene unfolding at our Blue Heron Education Center the other day. There were the art supplies . . . ink, rollers (Alisara does love her monoprints), paper, leaves and such. There were the tables set for splash and fun. Alisara herself was aproned-up, better to deal with any random application of ink by an overly eager student.
But what’s this? Are these walkers I see?
Indeed, the gathered artists were a touch older than we’re used to seeing around these parts. The “familiar yet not” art class tableau unfolding this Thursday was a brand-new workshop series called “Nature in Monoprint,” that we cooked up with and for Vashon Community Care Center. The process of using natural elements like feathered fern leaves & veined maples to transfer images with paint to paper is fun, easy to do with hands of any age, and produces immediately satisfying art.
Thank you Alisara. Thank you VCCC. Thank you seniors!
We cannot wait to host these students again—and to see this program develop in the months ahead.
2 – Passion on display. Part 1
Another weekend is fast upon us. The restaurants will all be humming . . . perhaps you’ll be there. There will be music here, there and everywhere. There are movies. Game of Thrones is blessedly done, but I’m confident there is something on television to watch. And most of all, the weather promises to be brilliant, offering ever lengthening nights and the walks, last minute gardening, or the glass of your favorite beverage on the deck to go with.
Hmmmm, what to do?
Well, when in doubt, pick live art. Pick it, buy a ticket to it, drink it in, marinate in it, celebrate the work, passion, clumsiness, messiness, moments of despair, and moments of triumph that go into making it and making it happen.
Here at VCA we have the culminating work of this season’s dance class, including the last performances of island treasures Duncan Barlow and Talia Roybal.
May 31 | 7pm
June 1 | 1pm & 7pm
June 2 | 1pm
$12 Student/Senior in advance, $14 Member in advance, $16 General,
$16 for all at the door
Buy (lots of) tickets here.
We also have on offer your new favorite singer / songwriter / poet / philosopher Peter Mulvey (and Kat Eggleston too!!!).
The concert is Sunday, June 2. You can buy a whole pile of tickets here.
Come see for yourself!
3 –Passion on display. Part 2
I wanted to follow up on the bit I wrote last week about our student string players with a shout-out to Gaye Detzer, one of the giants (and a very petite one at that) of our local arts teaching community, she of string music.
Gaye started playing violin in the fourth grade. Like many kids of that era, she had first learned her scales and notes on the piano. Unlike most, she both found a musical passion (the violin) and stayed with it.
As years went by, Gaye wound up playing “semi-professionally” (her words) in several orchestras in Seattle and began teaching more than 30 years ago.
If you decide to come listen to the students play on June 4th at 6:30 (buy lots of tickets online here) you’ll hear enthusiastically played work of some of the greats. The part that you won’t hear is the entire point of the program. In Gaye’s words.
“This concert will represent hundreds of hours of practice time on the part of the youth and huge support on the part of their parents. Why? Because music is so important to us as human beings that people are willing to put in the effort in order to play pieces by the world’s great composers: Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi and many others.
In the process these young people are developing their brainpower, their empathy, their self-discipline, their teamwork skills, and their ability to rise to a challenge. Actually, the list of what they learn can go on and on because a musical instrument is one of the most complex tasks anyone can undertake. I am always in awe when everyone plays the final Twinkle variations together. Everyone is on the same team, working for the same goal, supporting each other, playing inspiring music—this is how we contribute to peace in our community.”
And in the next breath, this from a parent with a kid in the program . . .
[name] had his lesson this morning and learned the Allegro in one go. What Gaye said was interesting to me (I’m a nerd): Paraphrasing now . . . The Suzuki method leans heavily on repetition and the allegro has a verse that repeats three times (in different rhythm at times, but the notes all come in together). And it’s so cool to see the kids take these skills and turn them into honest-to-goodness music. (he was terribly smug afterward.)
Gaye has students close their eyes and listen. She employs these little devices for them to feel the music in their bodies. All of these pieces translate to learning. Super fun to geek out down that musical line . . . and Gaye is definitely full of good examples/stories/enthusiasm for the subject.
Art, the process or the outcome, doesn’t have to have a point: You know, the whole “art for art’s sake” thing. But if it does, is it not just this . . . that through learning a craft, through finding the muse, through the hours and hours of applying the skills, we find something worth knowing, worth holding dear, worth putting into the world?
Passion and purpose on display June 4th. Come see for yourself.
Buy lots of tickets online here.
4 – The importance of “TREE”
“The reason trees share food and communicate is that they need each other. It takes a forest to create a microclimate suitable for tree growth and sustenance.
Tim Flannery, Introduction to The Hidden Life of Trees (2015)
Next week we open a show curated by Dawna Holloway, the founder and visionary behind the edgy and cool Seattle gallery called studio e. I’ve been enthusiastic about this show since the first conversation, and this interview with Dawna just doubled it.
Me: Starting a gallery feels like a brave move. What motivated you to open studio e gallery?
Dawna: Kevin, you are correct, if someone actually did the research and analyzed market trends prior to opening an art gallery, they would have to be very courageous. Luckily for my artists, I’m not one to sit down and make a plan. The gallery grew out of just one exhibition, a spark of enthusiasm that simmered and continued to grow as we did the work.
In 2014, we had an idea, some lights, and a great space. This July, when the TREE exhibition at the VCA is wrapping up, we will be celebrating our 5th year of existence, having created about 47 gallery exhibitions, four art fairs or special installations, and 23 roaming pop ups.
My greatest successes in life have come not from laying out a plan but from following a spontaneous inspiration as far as it will take me.
Me: We’re really excited about the June show. Say some things about your curatorial vision.
Dawna: I am really excited about this show as well. Interconnectedness of trees and of arts community is the heart of the exhibit.
It was just a little over a year ago when I first visited the VCA and met with Ann Nicklason. It was the first sunny spring day of the year and I arrived to the VCA in this enchanted state and became overwhelmed with the potential of such a first class and lofty facility that was tucked away in such a lovely setting. I was surprised that I hadn’t known about the VCA prior to Ann’s invitation to visit. I left the VCA completely on fire with all the things that could be done in such a fantastic building.
At the time, I happened to be reading a book that a friend had told me about called The Hidden Life of Trees. I also happened to have three studio visits that week in which each of the artists happened to be working in some form or another on a tree. I thought I could do something to bring the attention of Seattle to this amazing facility and its many classes and special events, exhibits and performances just a short ferry ride from the city, and at the same time bring something new from the city to create a special exhibition for the folks on the island.
Me: You’re known as an innovator. Is there some aspect of the show that you think is especially edgy?
Dawna: The edgy part is the underlying connection to the environmental crisis and need for ecology to be more than just a marketing catchword — that it needs to be integrated into our consciousness consistently. We have to wake up to the fact that when we harm the environment, we’re harming ourselves. This is not a matter of altruism anymore — it’s a matter of mass suicide vs taking care of ourselves through caring for the planet.
My personal edgy, similar to the edgy of the artists who I work with, is not about being overtly political or about creating dramatic gestures which are designed to slap people to attention. I instead find joy in seeing what can be made with whatever “materials” I have available. In my case, past work experience, skills, a space, and enthusiasm.
The fun part is seeing what we are able to build together. A few years ago, I realized that studio e is a stone soup, my building was the pot, and I guess I was the stone, and then somehow all these people gathered around tossing things in to the pot. Today we have this delicious stew and this show at the VCA is us pouring out a huge helping of our stew into the VCA’s pot.
Also, the simplicity of the content of the exhibit could be called edgy. Many exhibitions are concept-heavy to the point that it can overshadow the work in the show. In TREE I hope that the work of each individual artist has the space to speak for itself.
Me: What are you hoping our guests/visitors will take away from their experience with the show?
Dawna: This is going to sound a bit cheeky, but I literally hope that visitors will leave with a piece from the exhibition. Purchasing art is an act of support (people vote for the kind of world they want to live in every day when they choose what to spend their money on).
We have included something for everyone, from a 13-foot oil painting that transforms an entire interior environment to tiny wooden trees in a take-home box.
Most importantly I hope our guests leave the show inspired. Inspired to contribute in some way to their greater ecological and creative community and that they leave knowing the strength that is gained by acknowledging our interconnectedness.
. . . . .
This will be a fabulous opportunity to see the work of a suberb group of Pacific Northwest artists, including: James Arzente, Brian Beck, Cat Clifford, Brian Cypher, Michael Doyle, Warren Dykeman, Marilyn Frasca, Damien Hoar de Galvan, David E. Kearns, Paul Komada, Molly Magai, Kate Murphy, Sarah Norsworthy, Tuan Nguyen, Sue Rose, Brian Sanchez, Gabriel Stromberg, Emily Tanner-Mclean, Gillian Theobald, and Cappy Thompson.
“TREE” opens Friday, June 7th at 6:00 pm.
Special guided gallery tour by Jim Demetre is Saturday June 22nd (Garden Tour weekend), with two tours, 12:00 noon and 1:0 pm at the Koch Gallery.
Opening reception Friday, June 7th 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Gallery art walk with tour guide Jim Demetre, Saturday, June 22nd (12 & 1:00 pm)
5 – Keeping up with Seattle Dance Collective
Just keeping the first banked . . . our friends at Seattle Dance Collective have just released the “play list” for the world debut performance of Program One.
The show features the work of five choreographers from around the world, and there is exactly one and only one place you can see the show, the debut, the dancers, and all that goes with it . . . right here at Vashon Center for the Arts.
Program One includes six diverse pieces of contemplative emotional journeys, high-octane athleticism and riveting exploration of movement, all designed to inspire audiences and challenge expectations:
- The Grey Area (an excerpt) by British choreographer David Dawson: Dawson’s award-winning breakthrough piece points towards a place of no time and no place – a ‘no-man’s land’ – with free-flowing phrases set to Niels Lanz’s haunting score.
- Mopey by German choreographer Marco Goecke: Set to music by C.P.E. Bach and the 80’s rock band The Cramps, Mopey is an inwardly reflective, yet volatile solo work—dark, moody and potentially unsettling.
- Frugivory and Anamnesis by Portuguese choreographer Bruno Roque: Frugivory is a light, unphilosophical take on the idea that the object of our desire can drive us,or blind us; that we are often “prisoners” of our needs and longings. Anamnesis touches upon the concept of how defining moments in our formative years leave apermanently ephemeral imprint that echoes throughout one’s existence.
- Shogun (an excerpt) by the late Brazilian-Japanese choreographer Ivonice Satie: Dedicated to Satie’s grandfather who taught her the traditional Japanese arts of laido and Shinto-ryu, Shogun explores the relationship between master and disciple.
- Sur le Fil (by a Hair’s Breadth) by American choreographer Penny Saunders: Sur le Fil was inspired by Saunders’ thoughts around the mischievous nature of life, and the common reality we share of having personal secrets that we would prefer kept in the dark.
- SDC’s performing artists include nine dancers from PNB and two from Seattle-based contemporary dance company Whim W’Him: Angelica Generosa, Dylan Wald, Elle Macy, Elizabeth Murphy, Ezra Thomson, James Yoichi Moore, Jim Kent, Liane Aung, Lindsi Dec, Miles Pertl and Noelani Pantastico.
“One of the goals we have laid out for SDC is to deepen our audience’s understanding of what dance looks like today,” says Artistic Director James Yoichi Moore. “In addition to demonstrating this on stage, we will complement our performance run with two days of master classes in the studio to give students further insight into this dynamic art form.”
SDC’s Dance Immersion Workshop will take place on July 9 and 10. Each day will begin with a one-hour pilates class taught by former Pittsburgh Ballet Theater dancer and PNB conditioning coach Kristen Moore, followed by a 90-minute ballet technique class taught by James Yoichi Moore (July 9) or Noelani Pantastico(July 10). Program One choreographer Bruno Roque will conclude each day with a contemporary improvisation class.
Tickets are selling at a brisk pace. You can get yours here.
6 – Finally, and this is a sixth thing
The headline read like click-bait . . .
Ooooooookaaaaay. Not clicking. I mean really??? One key habit? One little thing? Haven’t we seen this movie?
But I clicked anyway. The power of good copy should not be underestimated.
It turns out, and I’ll get to the punch line presently, the 80-year part is the key. Unlike nearly 100% of the advice given by nearly 100% of the rich and famous self-help gurus, these bits actually have a strong research focus. Maybe it doesn’t matter because the advice will hardly rock your world.
So here it is. After eight decades, this breaking news is just in . . . Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.
What seems increasingly true is that we in America are collectively facing an epidemic of loneliness, amplified and stoked by a shared addiction to digital content that is curated and designed to hook, provoke and alienate us from each other.
Need some data to back that up? Consider these morsels from the Health Resources and Services Administration. . .
- 40 percent of Americans say they “sometimes or always feel their social relationships are not meaningful.”
- 20 percent describe themselves as, “lonely or socially isolated.”
- 28 percent of older adults live alone.
- From a pure physical health perspective, researchers say loneliness is as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Adding to this pile of depressing news is a finding from insurance giant Cigna . . . only about 50 percent of Americans have “meaningful in-person social interactions” on a daily basis — and the numbers are worst for Generation Z.
I can think of lots of ways you can combat this horrible downdraft. Indeed, that’s the entire point of writing this blog . . . to encourage and remind you of the great big house of anti-alienation at the corner of Vashon Highway and Cemetery road.
But (and wait for it) there’s more. You can also volunteer . . . the one absolutely positively surefire way to cure what ails you.
Could it be that simple? Well, a recent study of 10,000 peoplein the United Kingdom reported that two-thirds said volunteering “helped them feel less isolated.”
Meanwhile, a U.S. study involving 6,000 widowed women found that those who started volunteering for just two hours or more per week found that “their average level of loneliness subsided to match that of married adults.”
Could it be that simple?
I want to close this missive by leaving you in the good hands of Dr. Robert Waldinger, the Harvard psychiatrist who has been running the Grant Study since 2003. That’s the 80 years of work I mentioned at the beginning (he’s the fourth person to run it since it began).
The study, you might know, followed the lives of graduates of Harvard University beginning in 1938, including men like (they were all men) future President John F. Kennedy, and Ben Bradlee, who would go on to become editor of The Washington Post during Watergate.
Waldinger says there are three key findings about relationships that predicted how happy and healthy the men were as they grew older. Quoting from the article I referenced . . .
1. Loneliness kills.
“People who are more isolated than they want to be from others find that they are less happy, their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain functioning declines sooner and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely. And the sad fact is that at any given time, more than one in five Americans will report that they’re lonely,” Waldinger said.
2. Quality of relationships matters more than quantity.
“It turns out that living in the midst of conflict is really bad for our health,” Waldinger said. “High-conflict marriages, for example, without much affection, turn out to be very bad for our health, perhaps worse than getting divorced. And living in the midst of good, warm relationships is protective.
3. Good relationships protects the brain.
“People who are in relationships where they really feel they can count on the other person in times of need, those people’s memories stay sharper longer,” Waldinger said. “And the people in relationships where they feel they really can’t count on the other one, those are the people who experience earlier memory decline.”
You can see Waldinger’s TED talk (viewed more than 6.5 million times) here.
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.