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Arts and culture

People sit near the fire during a 2016 Silent Reading Party, at the Sorrento Hotel in Seattle.
Christopher Frizzelle / The Stranger

Lots of events have moved online since the pandemic forced bans on public gatherings. 

That includes The Stranger's popular Silent Reading Party. Once a month, people would gather in the Fireside Room of Seattle's Sorrento Hotel and just sit together in silence, and read. Christopher Frizzelle is editor of The Stranger, and co-founded the party about 15 years ago.

In this 2015 file photo, Marina Albero performs in KNKX's Seattle studio. Albero is one of the artists featured in a virtual concert series put on by Town Hall Seattle and Earshot Jazz.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Venues may be closed due to the coronavirus, but there is still a lot happening virtually in the music scene.

Locally, Town Hall Seattle and Earshot Jazz are livestreaming a weekly series on Saturdays featuring local artists. Cafe Racer also has taken its more avant garde improvisational sessions onto the Zoom videoconferencing platform.  Jazz fans can even watch a virtual festival through April 7 that benefits New York musicians.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. The Seattle Pro Musica choir is marking the centennial in an upcoming concert that features songs entirely by American women composers. The concert, "Shall Not Be Denied," takes place March 7-8, the weekend of International Women’s Day.

Curatorial contributor Sasha La Pointe is Coast Salish, from the Upper Skagit and Nooksack Indian Tribes. Many of her tattoos  commemorate her heritage, as do her traditional earrings, made of dentalium shells.
Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

An exhibition at Seattle's Museum of Pop Culture celebrates tattoos. "Body of Work" provides a historical overview of the genre, along with profiles of some of the most prominent artists based around the Pacific Northwest. And it offers practical tips for people considering getting one for the first time.

It also starts with something new for MoPOP.  

Port Angeles Fine Arts Center

Time was, being called “nerd” was a bad thing.

That is happily different now, says Sarah Jane, gallery and program director at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, which is home to the exhibit “Obsessed: The Art of Nerd-dom” through March 15. Admission is free.

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.

The Seattle Times has released its second annual critics poll of the best Seattle music albums of the year. The Times solicited input from more than 20 writers, radio tastemakers and plugged-in media folks. Michael Rietmulder curated the list and joined us to talk about the top five albums. 

5. Reckless Endangerment by Travis Thompson

Tanesha Ross sings during a rehearsal of "Cabaret," along with cast members Azaria Johnson, Natalie Thompson and Alie Orme.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Just before “Cabaret” begins, actor Casey DeCaire, in character as the M.C., walks out on the stage and barks at the audience.

“Before we start, turn off your cell phones!” he shouts in a German accent. “Ja! And anything that buzzes. We have many beautiful actors on the stage. We will not touch you, so please do not touch us.”

Ruth Fremson / Viking

In Timothy Egan’s new book, “A Pilgrimage to Eternity,” the Seattle author walks the Via Francigena, a nearly 1,100-mile pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome – the seat of the Church of England, to the epicenter of Roman Catholicism.

The cast of "The Falling and the Rising" in rehearsal at Seattle Opera.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

When you think of opera, you probably don’t imagine a contemporary story about wounded veterans — or untrained singers taking the stage. But both are aspects of Seattle Opera’s “The Falling and the Rising.”

Most of the production’s chorus have never been in an opera or even on stage before. The chorus members are all veterans.

Performers at the opening day celebration of the Sea Mar Museum of Chicano/a/Latino/a Culture in Seattle.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

A first-of-its-kind museum has opened in the Pacific Northwest: a historical showcase of the state's Spanish-speaking communities from World War II to the present. KNKX's Rebekah Way takes us to the museum's celebratory opening day in this audio postcard.

Photo by Randy Korwin Courtesy of the National Liberty Museum

An exhibit of glass works made by all LGBTQ artists is making its West Coast debut at Tacoma's Museum of Glass. The national exhibit "Transparency: An LGBTQ+ Glass Art Exhibition," which opened Saturday, is curated and organized by the National Liberty Museum. It's the first of its kind.

A screen shot from the 1925 film "Body and Soul," which is showing October 14th at the Paramount Theatre.
Courtesy of Seattle Theatre Group

African-American artists are on screen this week and next at the Paramount Theatre’s Silent Movie Mondays series.

The upcoming films are by Oscar Micheaux, and early African-American director. Tonight it’s “Body and Soul,” the 1925 film that was the first role for Paul Robeson, who would go on to widespread fame.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Tula's Restaurant and Jazz Club in Seattle has seen a full house nearly every night this month. Its last show Sunday evening was no different.

Samantha Mbolekwa and Kelsee Sweigard portray Joanne and Maureen, standing on a tabletop singing during the 20th Anniversary Tour of RENT.
Amy Boyle / Rent 20th Anniversary Tour

When the musical “Rent” debuted in New York in 1996, it put things on stage that had never been on stage before.

So says Kelsee Sweigard, who plays the character Maureen in the touring company arriving in Tacoma for two shows at the Pantages Theater on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Centrum Foundation

This story originally aired June 25, 2016.  

When Stuart Dempster learned about the empty 2-million-gallon water tank on the Olympic Peninsula, he had one thought: he had to make music there. Dempster is a well-known composer and trombonist, an emeritus professor at the University of Washington with a longstanding interest in recording music out in unusual spaces.

The Women's Compline Choir performs at St. Mark's Cathedral.
Ken Johnson / Courtesy of St. Mark's Cathedral

For 63 years, the Sunday evening Compline Service at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, has been sung by men. But this month, that changed.

The men's Compline Choir is on tour in England, so a women's choir is performing in their place for the next three services. The services are open to the public -- and not just the faithful. Rebekah Gilmore directs the Women's Compline Choir and said the service is meant to offer quiet reflection time to anyone who wants it, even if they're not religious.

Actress Ivy Zhou applies makeup in preparation for her role as Chloe in the Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society production of "Princess Ida."
Courtesy of Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society


The Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society is staging the operetta "Princess Ida" this month. The show debuted in 1884, but this production has a fresh take, in part because of controversy the theater company faced over a different production five years ago.


Texas artist Beili Liu said her daughter Cyan, 5, inspired her to build Each and Every, a new installation in Seattle's MadArt Studio and an expression of concern for migrant children held in immigration detention centers as their families seek asylum.
Enrique Pérez de la Rosa / KNKX

Beili Liu is soaking her daughter's old clothes in concrete. They lose their bright colors and patterns as soon as she submerges them in the gray goo. When the concrete dries on Liu's shop table, the cloth stiffens straight and loses its soft texture. Wrinkles and folds in the fabric are frozen in swirling waves.

Liu is working on an installation in Seattle’s MadArt studio. It’s how the Texas-based artist is expressing concern for the well-being of children in immigration detention centers, as their families seek asylum.

The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board has designated The Showbox theater downtown as a landmark, a significant step in the nearly yearlong battle over the future of the music venue.
Ashley N. / Flickr

Preservationists won a couple victories at Seattle City Hall this week in determining the fate of The Showbox theater. But the fight to halt the redevelopment of the 80-year-old venue is far from over.

Roosevelt High School jazz band in New York at the 2019 Essentially Ellington competition
Ayano Hisa / Jazz at Lincoln Center

Seattle's Roosevelt High School won first place in the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival on Saturday.

The band played against 14 other finalists in the prestigious national competition put on by Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Elise Bakketun / Courtesy of Seattle Children's Theatre

As freshmen crowd onto the bleachers in the gym at Tyee High School in SeaTac, it's hard not to imagine boring assemblies where people act out "real problems" that seem to magically go away when someone tells a "trusted adult."

The play "Ghosted" isn't really like that. It features four high schoolers who learn to talk to each other about their struggles.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

 This story originally published Nov. 26, 2016. Bonnie Guitar died early Sunday, Jan. 13. She was 95. 

Growing up in Seattle in the 1930s, it was Bonnie Buckingham’s brothers who played the guitar. But Bonnie coveted it, and would take any opportunity to get her hands on the instrument. Soon, she says, “they couldn’t get it away from me.” So began the musical life of the woman who would become known as Bonnie Guitar.

A.J. Barse


Downtown Bellingham is an inviting place. It’s easy to walk around, and there are plenty of shops and cafes to visit. It’s lively, but not overcrowded. And pretty soon, it’ll have a direct connection to Bellingham Bay, once a portion of the waterfront is redeveloped to allow for mixed-use buildings and parks.


A very nice docent / KNKX

The members of the Lewis County Writers Guild meet every Friday at a coffeehouse in downtown Centralia. They welcome everyone who's interested in sharing their work. 

Faye Fox

Angela Meade thought, when she was growing up in Centralia, that she might be a doctor.

Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times

KNKX music host Abe Beeson is celebrating his 20th anniversary of hosting Evening Jazz. He sat down with KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick to talk about his early days in radio and what he has planned to commemorate the milestone. 

You can join Abe for his 20th anniversary show tonight at 8 p.m. on KNKX.


Alice in Chains has a new album out Friday called Rainier Fog. The band got its start in Seattle back in the late 1980s and rose to fame as part of the grunge movement.


Rebekah Way / KNKX

Cutting through the horizon with sharp edges and curved red arms is "The Eagle," one of 21 art pieces at the Olympic Sculpture Park. It looks vibrant as ever, but it’s on Seattle Art Museum’s list of pieces that need some extra care soon.

Logan Ellis / Theatre Battery

Going to see live theater can be expensive, but a theater group in Kent has figured out a model for putting on a professional show with paid actors without charging anything for admission.