Arts & Entertainment

Gyasi Ross “Harvard”

K Records - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 1:29pm
A view into two minds in what may be a typical teacher-student relationship. Cranky over-worked teacher going out of her way to help a student, yet unable to contain her pessimism. A hopeful student with a realistic world view. Powerful stuff from Gyasi Ross and his Isskootsik (Before Here Was Here) [KLP257] album. Says Gyasi […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

3rd Annual Northwest Literary Showcase!

K Records - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 3:05pm
The 3rd Annual Northwest Literary Showcase at this year’s Helsing Junction Sleeopver presents a broad mix of novelists, poets, essayists, and zinesters from around the Northwest. Combining seasoned award-winning authors with up-and-coming writers, the showcase brings an entertaining assortment of local talent. Cari Luna is the author of The Revolution of Every Day, which won […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Shivas “Beach Heads”

K Records - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 1:16am
The sweetest day in the studio yields these soothing sounds. It being the Shivas, it is still rock’n'roll until the end. K Song of the Day: Shivas “Beach Heads” from their album You Know What to Do [KLP252]. The Shivas album You Know What to Do [KLP252] is available now from the K Mail Order […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Heroes and Survivors

South Sound Arts - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 9:02am


Two important exhibitions coming to TAM and MOGPublished in the Weekly Volcano, July 23, 2015Kia Labeija,“Mourning Sickness,” 2014. Inkjet print, 16 × 24 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Hey Tacomans, do you know how fortunate you are to have two world-class art museums? Few cities the size of Tacoma have such treasures Tacoma Art Museum and Museum of Glass. These museums not only bring great art and great artists to town (and show the works of great artists already living and working here), but they also touch our hearts and minds and educate the populace about critical social and political issues and events that touch the lives of everyone. Scheduled for fall openings are two exhibitions that should be of interest to many Tacomans and, particularly, to the soldiers and their families at JBLM.Art AIDS America at Tacoma Art Museum Art AIDS America at Tacoma Art Museum explores the AIDS epidemic from the early days in the 1980s when no one fully understood what it was, how it was contracted and spread; to today when many people have now lived with HIV/AIDS for decades —albeit with drug regimens that are themselves devastating. Ten years in the making, and featuring more than 115 works of art created over a 30-year span, Art AIDS America is America’s first comprehensive exhibition of art by and about the AIDS epidemic. Throughout that 30-year history, artists have created AIDS-related art that is angry, sad, hopeless and hopeful, including political protests against the lack of government reaction to the epidemic and against drug companies that were more concerned with the bottom line than the lives of fellow citizens. Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire at Museum of Glass In 2013 Museum of Glass piloted a new program called Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire. Led by glass instructors, soldiers from Joint Base Lewis McChord’s Warrior Transition Battalion worked in the museum’s hot shop to fire glass art expressing their experience as warriors. Hot Shop Heroes is an exhibition of work created by JBLM soldiers who are veterans of tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The soldiers in the program have all served at least one deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan; some have multiple deploymentsNot all work created in the program is included. The exhibition is from spring and summer classes in 2015, classes that are ongoing at the time this article is being written, meaning we do not yet know what works will be included.A MOG press release states that the works includes personal expressions of the soldiers’ personal experiences and feelings about war and life in the military and also "a few pieces that are more lighthearted and are representational of the basic glass-working skills acquired during their participation in the program."Hot Shop Heroes opens Sunday, Nov. 8 at Museum of Glass, 1801 Dock Street, Tacoma, http://museumofglass.org.Art AIDS America opens Oct. 3 at Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, http://www.tacomaartmuseum.org
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Wordstock Olympia

South Sound Arts - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 9:12am



I just finished reading ebook/dp/B00UW51OLW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1437672910&sr=8-3&keywords=the+protest" target="_blank">The Protest by Dianne Kozdrey Bunnell. Wow! What a powerful and moving story. It’s a classic tale of good and evil with the good personified by a naïve and open hearted young mother and the evil in the guise of a charismatic and manipulative fundamentalist preacher.  And it is a fictional memoir, meaning it really happened, only the names (and maybe a few other things) have been changed.

I was lucky enough to get to read an advance copy of The Eagle Treeby Ned Hayes. It is set in Olympia, Washington and is the self-narrated story of a teenage boy with severe autism who takes on big-time developers who are dead set on destroying a part of a local nature park. Hayes is the author of previous novels Couer d’Alene Watersand Sinful Folk (a 2014 Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Award nominee).I was also honored to be able to read an advance copy of Christian Carvajal’s Mr. Klein’s Wild Ride, an hilarious adventure in a theme park devoted to sexual pleasure. Imagine Disneyland for swingers. Forget 50 Shades of Grey, this is a rainbow of primary colors celebrating libidinous pleasure. Carvajal is a well-known local actor director as well as a writer for the Weekly Volcano and author of the novel Lightfall.So why am I introducing these novelists? Because they will be joining me as featured writers at Wordstock Olympia 2015 at the Midnight Sun in Oympia on Wednesday, July 29 — graciously hosted by Theater Artists Olympia whose Improbable Peck of Plays IVopens  in The Midnight Sun Aug. 7. Wordstock will be an evening of readings by local actors from these books plus my novel Visual Liberties. Carvajal and his wife, Amanda Stevens, will read a selected scene from Visual Liberties. Deya Ozburn will read Carjaval’s short story “Retreat,” a “funnel” story for Mr. Klein’s Wild Ride written under the pseudonym Lynn Savage (no secrets here). Bunnell will read from her own novel, and actor Jackson Jones will read a selection from Hayes’s The Eagle Tree.Following the readings there will be book sales and schmoosing with the authors. If you’re anywhere near Olympia, you don’t want to miss this. Tell your friends about it.Wordstock Olymia 2015, Wed. July 29, 7 p.m., the Midnight Sun, 113 N. Columbia Street in downtown Olympia.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Angelo Spencer et les Hauts Sommets “Solid Home Life”

K Records - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 1:52pm
Mini-vans au go-go! Direct from the Angelo Spencer et les Hauts Sommets album Love in the Morning [KLP256] it’s Angelo Spencer and assorted cast of Olympia characters – just a typical day of kidnapping and throwing dice.   The Angelo Spencer et les Hauts Sommets album Love in the Morning [KLP256] is available now from […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

4000 Miles

South Sound Arts - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 11:37am





A little gem at Olympia Little TheatreRandy Graham as Leo and Sharry O’Hare as Vera. Photo by Austin Lang
Published in the Weekly Volcano, July 23, 2015Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles at Olympia Little Theatre has a you-are-there feel to it. It’s a smart script with a naturalistic mix of drama and humor without bombast, and it is performed nicely by four young actors and one seasoned professional, Sharry O’Hare, who has been in more plays than Carter has little liver pills and is old enough to know what that means, yet is at least 20 years younger than the octogenarian she portrays.Directed by Jim Patrick, 4000 Miles is an intimate portrait of the sometimes touching and often irritating relationship by a 91-year-old grandmother (Vera, played by O’Hare) and her young grandson, Leo (Randy Graham in his OLT debut). After a 4,000-mile bicycle ride from Minneapolis via Seattle, Leo shows up unexpectedly at his grandmother’s Manhattan apartment and makes himself at home with apparently no plans to ever leave or get a job or do anything but exist at her expense.Vera is a widow. Leo recently lost his best friend, Micah, killed in a bicycling accident. He also has a somewhat estranged girlfriend, Bec (Jodie Chapin) who is now in Manhattan, and he attempts to start a relationship with another woman, Amanda (Mae DeChaine). In comedy, drama and musicals, O’Hare never fails to thoroughly become whatever character she portrays, and she is certainly believable as the feisty old grandmother in this show. With a slumped and slowly shuffling walk, little or no makeup, and nothing other than a gray wig to hide her red hair and make her look like a spry 91-year-old, she transforms herself into Vera. If I didn’t know better I’d swear the character was written with her in mind.Since O’Hare is such a pro and the rest of the cast members are newcomers just starting their acting careers, you might expect her to carry all the weight in this play, but Graham’s role is just as big — he actually has more stage time than O’Hare — and he is utterly believable and enjoyable as Leo. Leo is infuriatingly self-absorbed, somewhat slow on the uptake, but well-mannered. He has a big heart, good qualities that are slow to manifest. It takes all of Vera’s patience and love to bring out the best in him. Both Chapin and DeChaine act their parts with naturalness and comfort unusual for young actors with limited experience. OLT regulars will remember Chapin as the outlandish young Sissy in a silly blonde wig in Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean. In 4000 Miles she plays a much more mature young woman and is thoroughly delightful.It’s a small play ably directed by Patrick and presented with a nice and unobtrusive set constructed by Paul Malmberg and Chet Derry (no one credited for design) and equally simple and effective lighting by Austin Lang.There are only four more performances, tonight, July 23, and this weekend.
4000 Miles, 7:55 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 1:55 p.m. Sunday, through July 26,Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave., NE, Olympia, tickets $10-$14, available at Yenney Music, 2703 Capital Mall Dr., Olympia, 360).786.9484, http://olympialittletheater.org/
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Tacoma Musical Playhouse Does West Side Story

South Sound Arts - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 10:48am



Published in The News Tribune, July 17, 2015 Anita (Melanie Gladstone) and the Shark girls. Photo by Kat Dollarhide
Tony (Ryan Anderson) and Maria
(Melissa Maricich). Photo by Kat Dollarhide
I tend to think everyone in the world has seen West Side Story, yet I wonder if people younger than 40 know the story. After all, it’s been 58 years since is premiered on Broadway and 55 since the popular film starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn rocked America’s movie houses. With music by the great Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and choreography by Jerome Robbins, it was a sure-fire hit. Yet it seldom plays regional theaters. In the nine years I’ve been reviewing plays in the South Sound I’ve not seen it once until this week at Tacoma Musical Playhouse.I suspect it’s too big for local theaters to handle. Robbins’ choreography, and the athletic dance moves as adapted locally by Jon Douglas Rake and co-choreographer Jimmy Shields, is probably as tough a challenge as that of any musical. At TMP the dancing may not be as sharp or as smooth as it was in the movie, but these are amateurs and they don’t have multiple takes as in the movies. The set is also a challenge, but designer Bruce Haasl does a superb job of creating a 1950s Manhattan Upper West Side street scene that smoothly converts to the interiors of Doc’s Drugstore and Anita’s apartment.What everyone should know by now is that it is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet set in a slum area of Manhattan with Puerto-Rican and Italian street gangs instead of Montagues and Capulets. Maria (Melissa Maricich) is the modern day Juliet and Tony (Ryan Anderson) is the modern day Romeo.An interesting point that says a lot about the time and place is that the Italians were not called Italian, but simply American; whereas the Puerto-Ricans were called Puerto-Ricans. By the 1950s Italian immigrants had assimilated into the American culture, while the Puerto-Ricans had not, and there was hot debate among them as to whether or not they wanted to assimilate, as humorously illustrated by the catchy tune “America,” a duet between Anita (Melanie Gladstone) who wants to be American and Rosalia (Brynne Geiszler) who longs to go home to Puerto Rico.The street gangs, the Jets (“American”) and the Sharks (Puerto-Rican) are at war. Tony is a former leader of the jets who has outgrown the gang activity. He meets Maria at a dance and they immediately fall in love and try tragically to consummate their love amidst the ongoing rival warfare. Tony tries to be a peacemaker, as does Doc (Joseph Woodland) and the cops, Lt. Schrank (Martin Goldsmith) and Officer Krupke (Chris Serface), who are stupid, incompetent and racist.The story is romantic and tragic, but there are wonderfully comic moments such as the aforementioned song, “America” and the most comical bit in the whole play, “Gee, Officer Krumpke,” wonderfully sung by Action (Jake Atwood) and danced with great style by the Jets.The songs “Maria” by Tony, “Tonight” by Tony and Maria with the entire cast, and “Somewhere” with solos by Tony and Maria plus Clarice (Maggie Barry) and Francisca (Francesca Guecia) are among the most beautiful love songs ever written.There is a lot of fighting and a rape scene, all of which are executed with highly stylized yet tasteful dance moves. Bernstein’s music, which blends the operatic with popular music, and Sondheim’s inventive lyrics go a long way toward making this among the best of musicals. While TMP’s production might not place this among the top two or three musicals of the year (I’d give that honor to TMP’s Evita, Cabaret at Tacoma Little Theatre, and Center Stage’s For All That), it is certainly more than worth the price of admission.West Side Story, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Aug. 2, Tacoma Musical Playhouse at The Narrows Theatre, 7116 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, $20-$29, 253-565-6867, http://www.tmp.org



Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Shirley Klinghoffer

South Sound Arts - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 10:38am

 
Cancer Survivor Art at Museum of Glass 
Published in the Weekly Volcano, July 16, 2015Shirley Klinghoffer, “CRT Revisited, 2015,” slumped glass installation. Photo by Duncan Price.Artist Shirley Klinghoffer is a cancer survivor; she has used her own and others’ experience with this deadly disease to create haunting and touching works of art now on display at the Museum of Glass.Her large-scale installation pieces are inspired by hospital armatures used as support for women’s bodies during radiation therapy. Alongside one wall and extending outward like a thrust stage in a theater are platforms upon which lie transparent glass shapes barely recognizable as casts from the torsos of women who have undergone radiation therapy. They are disturbing yet beautiful, delicate yet powerful.Klinghoffer writes, “Discovering beauty in ugly truths is a challenge.”That is the challenge of her art. On the wall above these clear glass body forms, written statements from and about cancer patients are projected. Similarly, against one wall is a bulletin board with statements written by cancer survivors and/or their doctors, family members, caregivers and museum visitors. Next to this bulletin board sits a desk with writing supplies. There are no instructions, but apparently anyone who wants to write something to be added to the bulletin board may do so.On yet another wall is a line of the armatures. They look like woman-shaped life preservers that have been beaten and torn and repaired with masking and duct tape and hunks of foam. They are rough, gray in color, and horrible in their associations. They look like implements of torture. Even though the women whose bodies these armatures supported may now be cancer free, one gets the impression when looking at these that they must not have survived."Going through cancer treatment has so many challenges, but somehow along the way we connect with special people and certain objects that become truly meaningful in sustaining us through our journey and become healing objects," Klinghoffer wrote. The exhibition includes a mixed-media wall sculpture of her personal healing object. It is called “Witty in Pink.” It is a sculpture that looks like a flower. It is pink. The center is a large ball with many little nipples on it. The petals are made of vintage tulle. Like the other works, it is simultaneously strong and delicate. Interestingly, she chose the color pink as a symbolic color before pink came to be associated with cancer.On display along a back wall in the museum’s lobby area is “Vanity,” a mixed-media installation by Joseph Rossano that deals creatively and memorably with the extinction of certain animal species. I would rather not describe these works but would prefer encouraging visitors to the museum to view the work for themselves and be surprised as I was. Rossano’s piece is beautiful and thought-provoking. Be prepared to take some time with it; it is worth the effort.Shirley Klinghoffer, Museum of Glass, Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., through Oct. 11, admission $5-$15, free to members, free Third Thursday, Museum of Glass, 1801 Dock St. Tacoma, (866) 468-7386 http://museumofglass.org]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Southwest Washington Juried Exhibition at SPSCC

South Sound Arts - Fri, 07/10/2015 - 4:16pm


Photo: “Jungle Crossing” acrylic on wood, by Bernie Bleha. Photo courtesy South Puget Sound Community College
Published in the Weekly Volcano July 9, 2015"Jungle Crossing," painted wood construction by Bernie Bleha. Photo courtesy
South Puget Sound Community CollegeThe Southwest Washington Juried Exhibition at South Puget Sound Community College is better than your average juried exhibition. It’s such a stellar collection of regional artists that I should be able to list the names and leave it at that, and readers would rush to see it.There are a lot of artists whose work I know well, such as Tom Anderson, Susan Christian, Evan Clayton Horback, Hart James, Becky Knold, Barlow Palminteri and Gail Ramsey Wharton — all of whom I’ve reviewed before — and some I’m not familiar with, such as Bernie Bleha and Eric Sandgren whose work I’ve not seen before, but whose pieces in this show I like a lot.Sandgren’s cleverly titled acrylic landscape “Raven and Cranes” is a waterfront scene with cranes in the foreground (the type that unloads boats, not the birds). Seen across the water are amorphous and mist-shrouded buildings on the farther shore and a sky with swirling clouds like a daylight version of van Gogh’s “Starry Night” but in soft tones of yellow and violet. It is a beautiful image, but try as you might, I’ll bet you can’t find the raven.Bleha’s “Jungle Crossing” is a small free-standing sculpture with sensuous frond-like shapes that, on one side, have faces on them — almost hidden pop-surrealist faces that remind me a lot of faces seen in paintings by Nathan Barnes, who runs the gallery at SPSCC (coincidence, or is he influenced by Barnes?). Conceptually Bleha’s piece is a painting even though it is three-dimensional and designed to be seen from two sides, but not from all around. The colors are highly saturated and fiery.Christian is showing two of her wall hanging pieces made from painted scrap lumber. These are works I reviewed when she showed them at Batdorf & Bronson in April. If you missed that show, I urge you to take this opportunity to see these works at SPSCC.Nancy Thorne-Chambers is represented by a single figure from her life-sized ceramic diorama, “A Story Place,” which was installed in the former Matter Gallery before they went out of business. The full installation is magical. I hope she gets opportunities to show it in other venues. The single figure of a sporty hare shown here is also delightful, but nothing compared to the full installation.Also enjoyable are two nice landscapes by Mary McCann and a mixed-media abstract painting by Mia Shulte called “Looking Out,” which has rich colors and an excellent use of shallow space.Barlow Palminteri’s “Console” is densely packed with realistic images and patterns.Knold’s “Night Comes” is moodier and more ominous than many of her paintings, and Horback’s mixed-media and acrylic painting “Subhadra” hangs just inside the door as an excellent welcoming image.This is a show featuring the best of the best of mostly Olympia artists. There will be an opening reception with artist talks tonight, Thursday, July 9 from 6-8 p.m.[Southwest Washington Juried Exhibition, South Puget Sound Community College, Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts Gallery, Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m. and by appointment, through Aug. 26, 2011 Mottman Rd. SW. Olympia, 360.596.5527.]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

August Strindberg’s Miss Julie

South Sound Arts - Thu, 07/09/2015 - 10:27am





New Muses Theatre Company presents August Strindberg’s Miss Julie at Dukesbay Theater
Published in the Weekly Volcano July 9, 2015Miss Julie (Katelyn Hoffman) and Jean (Nick Spencer). Photo by Niclas Olson.Strindberg’s classic play Miss Julie was extremely controversial when first produced in France at the end of the 19thcentury. This newly adapted version by Niclas Olson’s New Muses Theatre Company and performed in Tacoma’s Dukesbay Theater in the Merlino Arts Center building is dark and slightly confusing, but definitely in keeping with the author’s naturalistic style. By slightly confusing I do not mean that the story doesn’t make sense, but rather that the main characters, Miss Julie (Katelyn Hoffman) and Jean (Nick Spencer), are confused about their own motives, desires, and feelings for each other. During the opening night performance I was swept up with their confusion and felt disoriented throughout much of the play. It bothered me at first that no matter how excited or angry Miss Julie was, Hoffman portrayed her with cool detachment, and it bothered me that I could not get a handle on whether or not Jean loved or hated, idolized or was indifferent to Miss Julie. I thought Hoffman’s strange way of staring off into space and her tightly controlled passion were signs of stifled acting, but I gradually began to realize that she was portraying a strange character with utmost naturalism.Kristin (Kelsey Harrison) with the dog Dianna (Roxy). Photo by Bethany BevieNaturalism to Strindberg meant everything from sets to lighting to acting should be unadorned; i.e., not theatrical. Olson, who not only adapted the play but also directed it and designed the set, created a simple kitchen with heavy wooden tables and simple kitchen implements of a style that would have been used in the day (with the possible exception of the terrycloth wash rags, and I’m not too sure about the beer bottles). His only concession to theatricality was a beautifully painted floor, an even more beautiful scrim at the back of the set, and lighting that is subtle but which becomes strikingly dramatic in a moment when Miss Julie looks up at the rising sun burning through the kitchen window and the light glows on her face.During the course of a single evening, the spoiled daughter of a French count, Miss Julie, and her father’s valet, Jean, engage in flirting and fighting, an implied sexual tryst, and heated arguments about class, religion, and the roles of men and women. Some of this takes place within the hearing of Jean’s fiancé, the cook Kristin (Kelsey Harrison), whose relationship with Jean is also convoluted and strife-filled.Miss Julie is haughty and demanding but wishes she could come down to Jean’s level. She dreams of falling from her aristocratic heights, and she demands that Jean the servant tell her what to do and says she will follow his orders. And Jean, who is more worldly and well-read than one would expect from someone in a servant role, vacillates between being subservient and defiant. He asks her to run away with him, but neither of them is really sure they want to. Their seemingly unsolvable conflicts culminate in a tragic end that is strongly suggested but not explicitly stated. The story is deceptively simple yet filled with complex social, philosophical and moral questions. It is well acted and directed.Miss Julie runs 80 minutes with no intermission.Miss Julie, Friday.-Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Sunday, 2 p.m. through July 19, added production July 16 at 8 p.m., Dukesbay Theater in the Merlino Arts Center, 508 South 6th Ave., Tacoma, $10, www.NewMuses.com/Miss-­‐Julie.html    

    
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

The Ghost Ease “Qwi Mai Yab”

K Records - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 7:10pm
From the Quit Yer Job EP (Cabin Games) it is “Qwi Mai Yab”. The Ghost Ease will make you forget to go to work.   The Ghost Ease Quit Yer Job EP is available now from the K Mail Order Dept.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Silas Blak “Yeah Yeah”

K Records - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 6:49pm
Continuing with the Blak Friday series, Silas Blak presents “Yeah Yeah” from his release #BlakFriday: The Mixtape (Cabin Games). Find out more at the Cabin Games website, or follow Silas Blak via @RealSilasBlak.   Silas Blak has made appearances on several K releases including the All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255] NW hip hop compilation, the […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Roger Shimomura’s An American Knockoff

South Sound Arts - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 8:22am

Pop Art that Packs a Punch
Published in the Weekly Volcano, July 2, 2015"American Infamy #5" acrylic on canvas, collection of Jordan Schnitzer, Portland, Ore. Photo courtesy Tacoma Art Museum
The Roger Shimomura painting exhibition at Tacoma Art Museum mines the tradition of pop art and the history of Japanese-American relations to skewer prejudice and stereotype with painfully satirical paintings.Shimomura, an American artist living in Seattle, was born to a Japanese family shortly before the outbreak of World War II. He and his family were interned in the Minidoka War Relocation Camp in Idaho for two years when he was a small child. Wall text for the show states that his earliest memories are from the camp. Much of the history of his years at Minidoka are illustrated in paintings in this exhibition.“Far too many American-born citizens of Asian descent continue to be thought of as only American knockoffs,” Shimomura writes. “This latest series of paintings is an attempt to ameliorate the outrage of these misconceptions by depicting myself battling those stereotypes, or in tongue-in-cheek fashion, becoming those very same stereotypes.”There are self-portraits of the artist in the guise of American icons including George Washington, Superman, Popeye, Mickey Mouse, and a host of comic book characters. We see him fighting other Americans, and we see him fighting Japanese, Chinese and other enemies, all to satirically prove himself a real. In some of these battles — most noticeably those with the Chinese, wherein he appears as Chairman Mao among other apparitions — he is battling the notion that all Asians look alike.Although most of his images attack stereotypes with humor, his paintings of life in the internment camp are dead serious depictions of too-real history. The most powerful image in the show, both graphically and in terms of content, is “American Infamy #5.” Painted in a comic-book style, it is a birds’-eye view of the camp with three soldiers on a guard tower in the foreground. Two of the soldiers are holding rifles; one mans a machine gun. In a printed statement, the artist explains that while the government said the machine guns were aimed outside, they were in fact aimed inward at the people living in the camps. Ominous black clouds hang over the camp.  One of the soldier’s faces is black and in shadow, while the other one grimaces. None look toward the viewer. It is a menacing image.Also powerful is a simple group of 10 small, childlike paintings depicting 10 days in the camp. One of the last ones is called “Santa comes to visit in the mess hall.” Santa is seen in silhouette through a window and behind barbed wire. Next to it is a picture of when a child from back home in Seattle comes to visit and they can touch each other only by reaching through the barbed wire.The paintings are executed in a style derived from comic books and from pop art. The majority of them are  large, colorful, and beautifully designed, with figures grouped to create abstract patterns that force the eye to move around the canvas. One group of four paintings acknowledges Shimomua’s influences by containing a “brushstroke” borrowed from Roy Lichtenstein and copies of Andy Warhol’s portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in collage-like compositions with Japanese women in traditional garb.“Halloween” depicts a group of kids trick-or-treating in Halloween costumes. They are all white except for one African-American, and they are chasing the kid in the Japanese soldier costume like angry villagers with pitchforks and brooms chasing the Frankenstein monster. In a wall text, the artist explains that when they were kids nobody wanted to wear the Japanese costume because they were all taught to hate and fear the Japs. In various forms, some humorous and some not, this is the underlying message of all his paintings.This is the kind of show that makes Tacoma Art Museum a local treasure.Roger Shimomura’s An American Knockoff, Tue.-Sun. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Third Thursday 10 a.m. to –8 p.m., through Sept. 13, $12-$14, Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave. Tacoma, http://www.tacomaartmuseum.org/


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Pug Bujeaud and Christian Carvajal Pick Their Fab 5

South Sound Arts - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 9:49am




Some time ago actor Rick Pearlstein asked fellow actors and directors on Facebook to pick the favorite five plays they’ve been involved with. The responses were many and fun to read. I asked two local theater personalities if I could reprint their responses (originally intended for publication in the Weekly Volcano but now appearing here).

Pug Bujeaud has acted and directed more plays than Carter has little liver pills (who’s old enough to remember that?). Christian Carvajal is also an actor and director, and until recently a theater critic. Bujeaud and Carvajal each graciously shared their comments (slightly edited).
Ryan Holmberg (back) and Dennis Rolly (front) in Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol. Photo Matt Ackerman CrimsonFlick Photo.
Pug Bujeaud
Ten Years ago I directed my first Shakespeare for Theater Artists Olympia. Macbeth. It was the first time I really put my own spin on a concept, WWI never ended and it is modern day. It was a study of what happens to good people living in terrible times. Something I have continued to explore in various shows and writings. I hope to get my hands on this one again someday soon.

Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol was a joy to work on. The script was a find. The cast was full of some of my favorite people who were all working at the top of their game. Ryan Holmberg, Tim Goebel, Chris Cantrell, and Dennis Rolly. The sound design was Matt Ackerman, the first time we actually worked together on something.  And Cecelia Sommerville's   lighting design was sublime. I was especially proud of the opening moments of that show. OLT didn't know what hit 'em.
I have put Reservoir Dogs on the list. And I am going to have to tap both productions. Because well, I directed them simultaneously, so for me it was one very large show. What I was thinking I ...don't really know. But man what a wild ride. A great study in what actors bring to the table, and how they affect the direction a show takes. Same director different actors totally different shows.
Inherit the Wind was one of the first shows I was in back in High School, I never fell out of love with it. When The Evergreen Playhouse gave me a chance to direct it I jumped on it.
from left: Tom Sanders, Michael Christopher and Deya Ozburn in MacBeth. Photo by DK Photography.There were almost 30 people in this, I think. And the world they built was amazing. I totally believed them as a township. I particularly loved the church rally and the way the congregation was intermingled with the audience the way it moved one emotionally because you were totally a part of the action. I tried very hard to portray both sides of this story without vilifying either side. Keeping my own personal politics out of it. I think I managed it quite well. And Scott Petersen and Dennis Rolly as Drummond and Brady were a joy to watch every night.

So for my final entry on the Five Day Artist Challenge I am going to have to cheat. I gotta have three. I have a three-way tie. Three totally different pieces as my favorite for totally different reasons.
The Weir at The Tacoma Little Theatre was hard, it was frightening, we were swimming upstream for the majority of the rehearsal process. The script is brilliant. It had been on my bucket list for a long time. The final product ... as close to perfection as I can ever hope to come. Just five actors sitting around telling stories and listening to each other. And it was magic, theater at its best. I never got tired of watching them spin their yarns. Special thanks go out to David Wright for saving our collective bacon on that one.
The HEAD! that Wouldn't DIE! with TAO of course. What fun. What a freezing our butts off, what the hell are we doing, lets just jump into the deep end, labor of love. The writing, the music, and the wonderful cast made all of the sleepless nights and near frostbite worth it. Such funny, funny people. And the reception was the frosting on the already tasty cake. So gratifying. Can't wait to do it again in the fall.

Titus Andronicus with Theater Artists Olympia! Titus was a raging blaze of over-the-top, brutal performances. Everyone pushed their comfort zones in commitment to the cause. I am honored that folks trusted me and allowed me to take them to such hard places. I miss this show more than any other. I got to become real friends with a number of people who to this day are some of those closest to my heart. It was an audacious production and boy did that cast embrace it. Special thanks to the amazing Matt Ackerman  for scoring the whole thing. I miss it really all the time.

from left: Robert McConkey, Brian Jansen, David Wright, Ellen Peters and Gabriel McClelland. Photo by DK Photography.
Christin Carvajal

As some of you may very well have expected, this brings us to Frost/Nixon at Tacoma Little Theatre (January 2011).

I'd been wanting to play Nixon in Peter Morgan's riveting play for several years. In fact, after Don Juan in Chicago, I lobbied to have Keith Eisner direct it in the Midnight Sun. So when I heard some yahoo named Brie Yost was directing it for TLT, I decided to squelch my anxiety about some kid fresh out of PLU helming a show about events that transpired before she was born. I auditioned in a 1960s style suit with my hair slicked back. I didn't perform an actual Nixon monologue, but I may as well have. It was pretty on-the-nose, but frankly, I thought I crushed it.

When I arrived at callbacks, I felt even better about my chances. None of these guys looked anything like Richard Nixon, I thought. I got up on stage, did my scenes, and there was an audible mumble of approval. And then ... friggin' Steve friggin' Tarry took the stage, and my dreams jackknifed clean off the 405. I knew he had the part before he finished his first scene. I was so crushed that when Brie offered me another part in the show, I told her it was too small to justify the drive back and forth from Tumwater. Jerk move, I know, but you can understand my feelings.

Brie called a few days later and asked if I'd play another part, ABC News producer Bob Zelnick, instead. Having rethought my letdown and refusal, I said yes. And so it was that I found myself sharing a stage, and dressing room, with Curtis Beech, Charlie Birdsell, James A. Gilletti, Bob Gossman, Josh Johnson, Brian Lewis, Gabriel McClelland, Paul Neet, Duane Petersen, and the inimitable Mr. Tarry. That's a hell of a lot of talent in one dressing room. It's also a lot of warm, smelly bodies and clothes, so after a week of that I bid a hearty adieu and promoted myself to the much more spacious women's dressing room. Luckily, those actresses were game, so I spent the next two months in the half-dressed company of Sarahann Elizabeth Rickner, Alleena Tribble, and Anjelica Wolf (now McMillan). I can tell you I've never had a better time rehearsing or performing a show in almost four decades on the boards.

Consider: I had a couple of fun scenes to perform, including a comically over-the-top impersonation of Richard Nixon. I got to bitch out David Frost and wear an awesome suit selected by Naarah McDonald. Then I got to sit there and emote with no lines for most of an act—which meant limited memorization! I believe that was the show on which I met Nic Olson, who was stage managing for Brie. I found Brie herself to be knowledgeable, passionate, smart, engaging, and in all respects the perfect ringleader for our merry circus. It was, at least from my point of view, a charmed show. It was how I met ASMs Jess Allan and Sergio Americo Vendetti. I'm looking at the program now and realizing how many wonderful people came together behind the scenes to make that show a success. They were all at the top of their game, and crowds were gracious and responsive in post-show Q&As.

Mostly, though, I remember the undergraduate-style camaraderie. I hadn't felt as joyous in my work since ECU. It brought back all the feelings of being in my HOUSE, the place I was meant to be at the time I was meant to be there, and I saw very clearly how my talents meshed with so many others to form something richer than its parts. Four years later, I still consider most of these people dear friends, even the ones who drifted away on distant orbits. Shortly after Frost/Nixon closed, I was able to propose to Amanda Stevens, so I felt I'd been gifted with a two-month-long bachelor party. I would've done that show for years if it'd been an option. Amanda and I were married in May of 2011, and Brie Yost performed our wedding ceremony.

In the years since, actor Carv has had his ups and downs. As I said previously, I loved doing radio shows at Lakewood Playhouse. Performing 12 Angry Men there was a blast, and I have nothing but good things to say about the cast and experience of Angels in America, Parts 1 and 2 at Olympia Little Theatre—directed by Nic Olson. I directed Steve Tarry as the Great Detective in Sherlock's Last Case at Lakewood Playhouse, and Jess Allan as Susannah in Laughing Stock at OLT. Both shows were wonderfully rewarding experiences for me and, I gather, their fine casts.

I intend to direct The Credeaux Canvassomehow, somewhere, by the end of 2016. I might even self-produce in a found space, with attendance by invitation only. Amanda and I are currently rehearsing Tartuffe for Theater Artists Olympia, a rehearsal process that in some ways reminds me of that of Frost/Nixon. Maybe it's all the corsets. (Note: this was written before Tartuffe was performed. See my review here.)


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

The Hive Dwellers “Streets of Olympia Town”

K Records - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 1:17am
 Nothing feels quite like a dumpster dive while bike riding through every alley in this town. Here are the Hive Dwellers chasing down all the streets of Olympia Town.   K Song of the Day: The Hive Dwellers “Streets of Olympia Town” from their  Moanin’ [KLP249] album. The Hive Dwellers album Moanin’ [KLP249] is available […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Pine Hill Haints “Villian vs the Kid”

K Records - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 1:27am
Match of the century! The Kid’s got spunk, no doubt about it. With Pine Hill Haints on his side, he’s a real contender. K Song of the Day: Pine Hill Haints “Villian vs the Kid” from their The Magik Sounds of Pine Hill Haints [KLP254] album. The Pine Hill Haints album The Magik Sounds of […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Marco Rossi for Mayor of Olympia!

K Records - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 3:52pm
There’s going to be a new Mayor in Olympia next year. His name is Marco Rossi and he is running on a slate of progressive candidates with the theme “Olympia for all”. They advocate a living wage, open and accessible government and police accountability. You can learn more at his WEBSITE. Mr. Rossi has lived […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Solving the Mystery of Edwin Drood at Lakewood Playhouse

South Sound Arts - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 1:44pm



  Published in the Weekly Volcano, June 25, 2015
Steve Tarry (Chairman), Gary Chambers (Jasper) and the ensemble cast. Photo by Kate Paterno-LickThe Mystery of Edwin Drood at Lakewood Playhouse is a deliciously funny romp through merrie olde England. Based on an unfinished novel by Charles Dickens, Drood is a musical comedy that asks the audience to vote on whodunit. What a fun and ingenious concept by Rupert Holmes, who wrote the book, music and lyrics. Holmes is a Gilbert and Sullivan fan and a lover of Victorian mysteries and English music hall, all of which play prominently in this production. 
It is ably directed by Chris Serface, who played the part of Nick Criker in this same show at Capital Playhouse in 2004. 
In the English music hall tradition, actors mingle with the audience as they are taking their seats, cajoling them to vote for them and to boo and hiss the villain, John Jasper (Gary Chambers). These antics prior to curtain seemed to be uproariously fun for most of the audience, but from where I was seated in a the middle of the middle section is was a babble — so I urge you to get seats close to the aisles if you want to join in the fun.
The story is a play within a play, with each actor playing an actor in London’s Music Hall Royale, so Chambers plays Mr. Clive Paget as John Jasper and Christopher S. Cantrell plays Mr. Nick Criker as Durdles, and Brynn Garrett plays, plays Miss Alice Nutting, London’s most famous male impersonator, as Edwin Drood. As in pantos and other English stage nuttiness, there are cross dressers and an emcee (Steve Tarry as Mr. William Cartwright) who constantly stops the action to deride the audience with quips both improvised and scripted. There is even a set of identical twins who are of different races and different genders (DuWayne Andrews, Jr. as Mr. Victor Grinstead as Neville Landless, and Heather Malroy as Miss Janet Conover as Helena Landless).
Lex Gernon’s set replicates a seedy 19th century music hall with its box seats in the wings and tacky red curtains and his brilliant use of a moveable thrust. The costumes by Alex Lewington are both authentic looking and funny.
Steve Tarry is an absolute natural as the emcee who pokes fun at actors and audience alike and appears to be having a wonderful time doing it. 
Chambers seems to equally enjoy playing the villain, plus he is articulate and sings wonderfully.Another actor who falls into his role so naturally as to become the character is Cantrell. His every move and facial expression is entertaining, down to the slightest movemen
Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson turns in a stellar performance as Miss Angela Prysock as the happiest of hookers, Princess Puffer. 
Also outstanding are Jed Slaughter as Mr. Cedric Moncrieffe as Rev. Chrisparkle and Derek Hall as Mr. Phillip Bax as Bazzard. Like Malroy as Helena Landless and Noah Goucher as Master Nick Criker as Durdles, Hall overplays to the hilt and does it like a pro. Plus his voice is astounding on the solo performance of “Never the Luck.”
There is some great music in the play provided by an eight-piece orchestra directed by Deborah Lynn Armstrong and some acrobatic dancing that is a treat to watch. The big numbers performed by the entire cast are particularly enjoyable. On some of the smaller numbers the music almost drowns out the singers.
At almost three hours, Drood is a little longer than I would have liked. By the time we got to the voting at the end I just wanted it to end. I wish Holmes had edited his script down closer to two hours. Other than these minor objections, I think it is a marvelously entertaining and delightfully bawdy musical romp. This weekend (((June 26-28) is the last chance to see it.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through June 28,
Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., Lakewood, $29.00, $26.00 military, $27.00 seniors and $24.00 students/educators, pay what you can June 1, 253.588.0042, www.lakewoodplayhouse.org
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Jean Mandeberg’s ‘Now or Never’

South Sound Arts - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 7:56am



Published in the Weekly Volcano, June 25, 2015"Gameboard" mixed media assemblage by Jean Mandeberg
"Keepers" mixed media assemblage by Jean Mandeberg. Photos courtesy Salon Refu
 If you don’t study them carefully, Jean Mandeberg’s metal and mixed media assemblages at Salon Refu appear to be sweet wall decorations and little more, but if you make the effort to look carefully you’ll see there’s much more to them that meets the eye in a cursory glance. There is a wry pop sensibility to Mandeberg’s assemblages. They are inventive and full of surprises, and well composed. She employs classical balance and a creative use of repetition and, most enjoyable to me, a visual trope I always highly admire: the subtle and often surprising use of variety within unity. Repeat, repeat, repeat, and suddenly there’s something different and unexpected.By way of analogy, it’s what Warhol did with his countless celebrity portraits with color changes and patterns within patterns of endlessly repeated images that were exactly alike yet different. Mandeberg does the same thing, but hers are much more nuanced.Featured in this show are numerous assemblages made of what I would call cages, square boxes made up of a dozen or so inner boxes in a grid pattern that extend three or four inches from the wall with found or made objects inside each inner box. The boxes are made of woven wire, and the objects within repeat in alternating patterns. Also featured are similarly made objects that hang like totems on the wall with repetition and variety within a vertical pattern, and boxes covered with decorative tin sheeting taken from commercial containers such as coffee tins or lunch boxes.She fills these assemblages with objects that in her hands become talismans, such as balls, dice, and enameled fortune strips of the kind found in cookies. The object in each seems to be a prayer for good luck.  There is a group of four that go together and represent popular games: bingo, bingo, bingo, and tic-tac-toe.“Measuring Up” is a box made from four corner pieces made of wood and covered with decorative tin; they fit together to form a bowl. The printed images are of a boy in blue that looks like Gainsborough’s famous “Blue Boy” and a similarly romanticized girl in a red dress. On each corner of the box is a length of tape measure, which hints at the double meaning of the title.Another classically balanced piece using patterns within patterns is called “Dirty Roll.” It’s a square cage of woven wire with a die in each section in alternating red and blue. Many of them (again in alternating patterns) are stamped with the words “Olympia Washington” in gold letters. Along the outer edges are buttons with the word “Luck” on them. But in keeping with her penchant for subtle surprises, two of the buttons have finger prints instead of words.Only one piece breaks the pattern of repetition within a grid. It is titled “Keepers,” and it is a seeming random collection of various amulets such as a star cookie cutter, a bullet, dice, and a gloved hand. They are like the trophy heads of animals killed in the hunt.These are interesting works of art with multiple meanings open to many interpretations. Salon Refu, Jean Mandeberg Now or Never, Thursday-Friday-Sundays 2-6 p.m., Saturdays 2-8 p.m. through July 4,114 N. Capitol Way, Olympia
Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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