Introducing: Talks on the Rock!

Because we know that Vashon Islanders have an enormous appetite for learning, we are thrilled to present a new series called TALKS on the Rock—a group of stimulating programs lovingly curated by Gerry and Mike Feinstein with a little help from their friends Tom Devries, Molly Purrington, Kathryn Stout, Steve Scher, and Ron and Mary Thomas.

Learn about art with everyone’s favorite art historian Rebecca Albiani and about music with Vashon’s very own musicologist Michael Tracy. Whether you are interested in climate science, documentary film, birds, wine, feminism, journalism, photography, food science, North Korea, earthquakes, or the pleasures of reading, TALKS on the Rock will give you something to think about. Each speaker has something to teach us and an interesting story to tell.

Seating for the talks is unreserved, with priority seating for VCA members and TALKS on the Rock Pass holders.

Tickets for all Talks: $10 in advance, $15 at the door  |  $5 for youth

All Seating is unreserved general admission

10 Talk Pass ($100)

Buy before 9/25/19 and receive 12 Talks for the price of 10.
No need to choose which talks in advance. Pass is good for all.

21 Talk Pass ($210)

Buy before 9/25/19 and receive a free VCA membership.

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› Talks on the Rock

Art History Talk: Documenting the Dust Bowl:  Dorothea Lange and Marion Post Wolcott

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, Rebecca’s first five lectures this season will feature the work of women artists, some well-known, others nearly forgotten.  Frida Kahlo has become a feminist icon, but how many people know that the sculptor of Lincoln in the US Capitol was the work of Vinnie (Lavinia) Ream?  Or that women photographers were crisscrossing Depression-era America making photographs of dignity amidst squalor?  A final lecture on Impressionist Gardens will serve to whet our appetite…

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Peter Rinearson & Steve Scher – Journalism Today—Polarizing Force or the Backbone of Democracy. . .or Both?

Join two seasoned journalists for a wide-ranging discussion of the news media, and in particular its role in polarizing society—today and historically. Fractious voices on the web bring news, rumors, lies and propaganda into civic discourse with alarming efficiency. Today Facebook, Twitter, Fox News, and even the New York Times contribute to the polarization of society. Vashon resident Peter Rinearson is a Pulitzer Prize winner who wrote a book with Bill Gates, an entrepreneur who developed web-publishing systems for community content, and a former vice president of both Microsoft and a cable network. Steve Scher was a popular host and interviewer at local radio’s KUOW for almost 30 years. He is a podcaster, interviewer, and instructor in the UW Communications Department.

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Laura Bialis – Documenting the Untold Story of Roman Vishniac

Documentary filmmakers are always on the lookout for a good, multi-faceted story—preferably one that has never been told. Some 20 years ago, at a lecture by the late Elie Wiesel, documentary filmmaker Laura Bialis met Mara Vishniac Kohn, daughter of the legendary photographer Roman Vishniac. Following his death in 1990, Kohn became the sole custodian of her father’s legacy, including 10,000 images. Bialis’ and Kohn’s chance meeting developed into a close friendship between the two women during which Bialis would…

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Art History Talk – Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo took up painting after a devastating streetcar accident and wed Diego Rivera a few years later. She adopted a flamboyant persona, slugging tequila and taking lovers of both sexes, and used art as a way of combating her physical and emotional pain.

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David Guterson – The Ambulatory Art: On Walking and Writing

David Guterson is a novelist, short story writer, poet, journalist, and essayist who is best known for his 1994 novel, Snow Falling on Cedars, which won the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award and was made into a major motion picture. A Seattle native and longtime resident of Bainbridge Island, he is an avid and inveterate outdoor walker with a half century of experience in the Olympics and Cascades. Guterson's appearance at Vashon Center for the Arts coincides with the publication of a new book, Turn Around Time: A Walking Poem for the Pacific Northwest. His talk will ponder the symbiosis between walking and writing, the myriad ways in which they resonate with one another, and their longstanding association in literature.

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Nancy Pearl & Steve Scher – Book Lust—A Conversation

Nancy Pearl is a voracious reader, a best-selling author, a librarian, a literary critic, and a well-known promoter of the pleasure and importance of reading. We can hear her on NPR’s Morning Edition or on her monthly television show in Seattle. She often speaks at libraries, literacy organizations, and community groups about her favorite books and the benefits of reading. She received the 2011 Librarian of the Year Award from Library Journal and the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association and is the creator of the internationally recognized program “If All of Seattle Read the Same Book.” She and old friend Steve Scher will discuss all things books and bookish.

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Art History Talk – Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold is a nearly 90-year-old painter, mixed media sculptor and performance artist, but also an award-winning author of children’s books and a pioneering activist.  She is best known for her narrative quilts exploring the African-American condition.

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Brian Reed – Birds, Song, and Poetry

As a professor of English with a specialty in modern poetry, Brian Reed became intrigued by the way poets across cultures and ages have written about birds. He is fascinated by the way the avian species has been a rich source of poetic inspiration. Reed, the Divisional Dean of the Humanities at the University of Washington, will take us on a visual and auditory exploration of this deep and creative relationship. He is a specialist in twentieth-and twenty-first century poetry…

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Mike Veseth – Around the World in Eighty Wines

Mike Veseth is editor of the award-winning The Wine Economist blog and author of four books on wine over the last decade: Wine Wars; Extreme Wine; Money, Taste & Wine: It’s Complicated; and most recently, Around the World in Eighty Wines. By profession, he is a political economist, and is professor emeritus of international political economy at the University of Puget Sound. His writings on wine and globalization have been widely praised, and he is a sought-after speaker at wine industry meetings around the world. Inspired by Jules Verne, he takes us on a mad global dash, collecting wines and their stories, not just to find the best wines, but to understand what they mean and why they are important to us. The lecture will be followed by a wine tasting hosted by Vashon wineries.

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Art History Talk – Louise Nevelson and Louise Bourgeois

Two of the most important American sculptors of the twentieth century were immigrants named Louise. Nevelson, who emigrated from Ukraine as a child, incorporated found objects, spray-painted a single color, into her distinctive constructions. Paris-born Bourgeois used a wide variety of mediums to explore the human body and psyche.

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Chandler O’Leary & Jessica Spring – Dead Feminists: Speaking Volumes

It started as a collaboration between two Tacoma artists who created a series of colorful broadsides featuring quotes by historical feminists tied to current political and social issues. The letterpress poster series was so successful that O’Leary and Spring created Dead Feminists, Historic Heroines in Living Color, a 2018 Pacific Northwest Award winning book using the original broadsides with archival photos and ephemera to describe the accomplishments of women like Eleanor Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, Harriet Tubman and Shirley Chisholm, with an inspiring foreword by writer Jill Lepore. Join us as they tell the story of this extraordinary collaboration, which continues to provide hope and inspiration through challenging times.

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Heidi Roop – From Data to Dialogue: Preparing the Northwest for a Warming World

From smoky skies to shifting shorelines, climate change will affect our lives in many ways here in the Pacific Northwest. Heidi Roop is Lead Scientist for Science Communication at the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group. She will explore the range of observed and projected climate impacts here in our region, discuss the factors that hinder and motivate changes in political will and social acceptance of climate change, and suggest ways we can work together to prepare our communities for…

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Art History Talk – The “White, Marmorean Flock”: American Neoclassical Sculptresses in Rome

In the mid-1800s, several American women sculptors were living and working in Rome. Harriet Hosmer settled there first, followed by Edmonia Lewis, Emma Stebbins, and others. They were drawn by the abundant marble, inspiring classical heritage, and surprising lack of societal prejudice.

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Music History Talk – The Spanish School

Toward the end of the 19th and into the early 20th century, Spanish artists, architects, writers, and musicians dazzled the world with their unique Iberian culture. Spain’s growing industrial economy, along with a more progressive political environment, helped give rise to a new wave in Spanish culture. Michael Tracy will discuss the Spanish orchestral suites, dances, and rhythms of Isaac Albeniz, Enrique Granados, Manuel de Falla, and Federico Mompou. With their work, Spanish culture joined the world stage of great national genres.

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Paul Bannick – Arctic Messenger: What the Snowy Owl Tells Us

Paul Bannick is an extraordinary photographer who not only captures gorgeous images of birds in their daily lives, but also makes a compelling case for preserving the habitat that sustains them. He is especially drawn to owls, particularly snowy owls, which is the subject of his talk. “For many of us, they embody the essence of wilderness,” he says. “They are also important messengers in that they tell us by their presence or absence about the health of vast ecosystems in the Arctic that are experiencing the pressure of climate change.” The photographer and author of two best-selling books, Owl, A Year in the Lives of North American Owls, and The Owl and the Woodpecker, Bannick is a frequent keynote speaker at Audubon events, bird festivals, and conservation events across North America.

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Stephen Jones – Notes from the Bread Lab: Art, Beauty, and Accessibility

Stephen Jones is founder and director of the Bread Lab in the Skagit Valley, where scientists, bakers, chefs, farmers, activists, and others experiment with improved flavor, nutrition, and functionality of wheats, barley, and other small grains. Jones, who has a doctorate in genetics, works with his graduate students and staff to develop and breed wheat and other grains to be grown on small farms in the coastal West and beyond. The talk will cover the work of the Bread Lab—through…

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Art History Talk – The Impressionist Garden

Gardens were an important motif of early Impressionist art, featuring prominently in the works of Monet, Renoir, Morisot and Cassatt. Several Impressionists were also passionate gardeners. Much later in his career, Monet would create a garden at his home in Giverny, which gave him the glorious waterlily theme of his final decades.

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Blaine Harden – North Korea—Stranger than Fiction

Blaine Harden is the author of a trilogy of highly praised books about North Korea: Escape from Camp 14, The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot, and most recently King of Spies, which has been described as “a thrilling and jaw-droppingly good story of intrigue, daring, and depravity.” Harden is a veteran journalist whose 28 years as a correspondent for The Washington Post and his expertise on North Korea have made him a sought-after contributor to programs like PBS’ Frontline and many national and international publications. He will bring us up to date on the books’ characters, like Shin Dong-hyuk, the only person born in a North Korean prison camp to escape to the West, and share his views on the current relations between the Kim Jong Un regime and the U.S. Government.

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Mouse Reusch – New Earthquake Warning System Coming Our Way

What would you do if you knew that the shaking from an earthquake was about to rock your location in 15 seconds? Mouse Reusch, regional ShakeAlert coordinator with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) at the University of Washington, will discuss the development and future public release of the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning program. After earning her doctorate from Penn State University, Reusch worked for a lending library of seismometers. During that period she spent some 12 years traveling all…

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Foss Miller – The Sawbones Story—An Innovative Island Enterprise

Foss Miller was a young, Washington State University engineering graduate when in 1972 he went to work for K2 Skis on Vashon Island. Three years later he was head of his own business, by chance developing and manufacturing a few plastic bones for the University of Washington Medical School that cut, drilled, and felt like real bones. For the first time, students studying orthopedic surgery could practice techniques, a hands-on methodology found to be superior to the then-practice of watching…

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Music History Talk – Beethoven 1770 to 1802

Beethoven’s formative years were spent in Bonn, Germany, until 1791 when he left for Vienna, Austria, then the leading musical and cultural capital of the world. Soon this young virtuoso pianist, who was clearly the heir to Haydn and Mozart, dazzled the salons of aristocrats. His first six symphonies, the first 7 quartets, and the first 15 piano sonatas mark a few of the major compositional works that are still performed on concert stages throughout the world. However, by age 28 Beethoven experienced ringing in his ears, losing the ability to hear high pitches, and faced the greatest horror for any musician: complete hearing loss. Lecture II, covering the years 1802-1827, will be held next season on November 29.

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