Arts | KNKX

Arts

Paige Pettibon is a multidisciplinary artist with an insatiable desire to explore all the facets of her creativity by boldly diving into wildly varied mediums. And she intends to never stop learning more.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Paige Pettibon wants Tacoma to do more — and be more — for artists.

But we’ll get back to that.

Pettibon (Salish and Black) is a multidisciplinary artist, working in mixed media, jewelry design, graphic arts, Lushootseed language and creative writing – and that’s just the beginning. She has an insatiable desire to explore all the facets of her creativity by boldly diving into wildly varied mediums. And she intends to never stop learning more.

Dance is Victoria Tangata’s first love; it is about moving freely and exploring storytelling. But she also wants to use the power of photography, poetry and film to open people's minds about how Black women/African women move through this world.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Victoria Tangata’s eyes are bright, large and smoky. They either want to tell you a secret or take in all of the secrets your ancestors ever held. She is a proud African woman from Kenya; she moved to the United States at the age of 8. She believes in God. The more I talk with her, the more I walk and relax in my own relationship with God. 

In Seattle, spoken word and social justice are deeply intertwined. For Ebo Barton, their connection to the form is a historical one, dating back to the oral traditions of many Black, Indigenous and other people of color.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It’s after 1 a.m. at the Capitol Hill IHOP in Seattle. Ebo Barton is sitting in a corner booth with another poet, both of whom had performed earlier at Re-Bar in South Lake Union, home of the Seattle Poetry Slam. A few of us have stumbled in, closing out another Seattle summer night filled with poetry and juvenilia. It’s the first time I meet Barton.

Eric “Blakk Soul” Mercer, Jr. is a singer-songwriter from Tacoma who has written songs for industry heavyweights such as Dr. Dre and Macklemore.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Eric “Blakk Soul” Mercer, Jr. is a singer-songwriter from Tacoma. Known as a soul man of the highest order, “Blakk” is respected across the music industry for a haunting, muscular voice and evocative, romantic lyricism. His songs are best described as dispatches from the heart of the modern man through all of its variations and situations.

For Perry Porter, art and activism are one and the same. He may not go out of his way to “Do the whole activism thing,” but it is there embedded in his work. “Sometimes just being a Black man doing what I do is a form of activism in itself.”
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Pablo Picasso once said: All children are artists. But the problem is how to remain an artist once the child grows up. This has not been an issue for Tacoma painter and rapper Perry Porter, whose mother encouraged him to be as creative as he wanted. 

“She made me a very fierce person and allowed me to chase my dreams,” he says. 

A public art installation by Tacoma's Jessica Spring allowed the public to take a poster in exhange for their own messages of healing.
Courtesy of Jessica Spring

If you’re traveling around Tacoma this month, you might see something that makes you smile. On the roof of the First Methodist Church, there’s a giant paper-mache megaphone and “I LOVE YOU ALL” spelled out in LED lights. This is one of 14 temporary art installations, created by public artists who received training and mentorship through the Public Art Reaching Community (PARC) program. Many of the artists are new to public art. 

Saiyare Refaei stands in front of the Parkland Community Mural project she organized. The mural on the side of the Post Office building spells out “PARKLAND,” with each letter representing a theme drawn from community discussions.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Saiyare Refaei’s art and activism does not prioritize the prestige of spaces like galleries or museums, but rather the value of community. The Tacoma artist’s work lives at the intersection of the issues and the communities affected by them.

“I feel more like this conduit or bridge,” Refaei says.

Northwest Folklife Festival has shifted online and will take place May 23-25.
Photo courtesy of Christopher Nelson

Countless staple regional events that typically mark the start of summer have been canceled due to COVID-19. But the 49th annual Northwest Folklife Festival has made the shift to online. “From Home to Home: Northwest Folklife Festival” takes place this Memorial Day weekend. 

Photo courtesy Joseph Lambert

Arts, cultural and scientific nonprofits in the central Puget Sound region could face up to $135 million in lost revenue by the end of September. That’s the latest projection from a survey by ArtsFund, a group that supports arts organizations through advocacy and grant-making.

 

Seattle poet J Mase III and Vashon artists Beka Economopoulos and Jason Jones will receive a $100,000 award from Creative Capital for the production of new projects

Being black and transgender is at the center of J Mase's work. The poet will collaborate with Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, a Washington D.C.-based artist, on a book and documentary project called The Black Trans Prayer Book: A Performative Documentary.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Voters in this fall's election made Tacoma the first city in Washington state to say yes to an expansion of arts and culture programs funded by a new sales tax.

Courtesy of the Greg Kucera Gallery

The first things you notice upon stepping into Greg Kucera's art gallery in Seattle's Pioneer Square are gigantic oil paintings of Hispanic men standing in their work clothes or sitting on luggage. 

The portraits are by the artist John Sonsini, who picks up day laborers and pays them to sit in his Los Angeles studio. Those workers then find their images hanging in some prominent places.

Ariel Van Cleave / knkx

When the radio drama “The War of the Worlds” first aired in 1938, it caused mass hysteria. And now the actors with Youth Theatre Northwest are trying their hand at the infamous radio play with performances Dec. 2-4. 

At the time of the original broadcast, you couldn’t check Facebook to make sure aliens weren’t actually landing on Earth. People just believed it.

 

London Brunelle says capturing that same mood for the Youth Theatre’s interpretation of the drama has been one of her favorite parts about rehearsing.

 

KPLU News

Capturing and playing back video of your kid’s first steps or a few minutes of concert footage is almost too easy with smart phones. The immediacy kind of makes you forget how much effort it was to break out the Super Eight camera and project it later in your living room. 

This week as the Association of Moving Image Archivists hold their annual convention in Seattle, we are reminded that sometimes there is value in hanging on to outmoded technology. Hear to KPLU’s Monica Spain story by clicking the listen button above.

The Zurich-based Mona Lisa Foundation said today that it has evidence that a painting that first came to light in the late 1800s is an early "Mona Lisa" also done by Leonard Da Vinci.

Today's 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam got us thinking: What if Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner could revisit some of the original sites he photographed? If he used his equipment today, what would the images look like? That is: How have the landscapes changed — or stayed the same?

How These Work

Paula Wissel / KPLU

Just steps away from the Monorail station at the Seattle Center, a wall is being constructed out of Jell-O.  A lightweight mortar holds the raspberry, orange and blackberry fusion "bricks" in place.   

The Jell-O brick wall is the work of sculptors Lisa Hein and Robert Seng. It was commissioned as part of the 50 year celebration of the Seattle World's Fair.