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Archives: March 2013


Critic’s Picks: Edible Book Fest at UPS, Pam Ingalls at Brick House, new work at American Art Co and Mark O’Connor fiddling the Rialto

image004Edible books at UPS

Yes, you can have your book at eat it too. The University of Puget Sound’s annual Edible Book Festival is on again this Monday in the Collins library, spurring dozens of highly competitive and wacky entries from “Much Andouille About Nothing” to “Of Rice and Hen.” It’s part of the international Edible Book Festival. The categories are extensive – including Most Humorous, Most Geautiful, Most Delicious and Creeps Me Out – and the only rules are that it be (mostly) edible and inspired by a book. The festival is held April 1. Entry drop-off 8-11 a.m., show hours 11 a.m.-4 p.m., awards ceremony 3:30-4 p.m. with light refreshments (but, alas, no book eating). Free. Collins Memorial Library, University of Puget Sound, 1500 N. Warner St., Tacoma. pugetsound.edu, books2eat.com

Pam Ingalls’ paintings at Brick House

Pam Ingalls shows still lifes, landscapes and nudes painted in the Russian Impressionist style with deep vivid colors and loose brushwork at Brick House Gallery. 5-9 p.m. third Thursdays and by appointment. Free. Brick House Gallery, 1123 S. Fawcett St., Tacoma. 253-627-0426, thebrickhousegallery.com

New work at American Art Co. Read more »


Continuo conference and concerts bring the best in early music to Pacific Lutheran University next week.

Harpsichordist Byron Schenkman. Courtesy image.
Harpsichordist Byron Schenkman. Courtesy image.

Early music lovers, rejoice. Pacific Lutheran University is teaming up with the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies (based at Cornell University in New York) to hold its annual spring conference right here in Tacoma/Parkland, with workshops, presentations and no less than five concerts featuring the best in regional and national musicians, all open to the public.

The focus of this year’s conference is the art of continuo – the accompaniment line that underscores all baroque solos, constructed often from just a single bass line with “figures” (numbers indicating chords) to tell the musician which harmonies to play, and leaving the rest up to improvisation, collaboration and musical know-how. It’s tricky to learn, even trickier to do in performance, changing each time (rather like jazz, but 200 years older).

Among the presenters and clinicians are Edward Parmentier (University of Michigan), Charlotte Mattax Moersch (University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana), Gregory Crowell (editor, “Clavichord International”) and Seattle’s Stephen Stubbs (artistic director of Pacific Musicworks). Local students and professionals alike will benefit from the masterclasses, lectures and demonstrations offered next Friday and Saturday in PLU’s music buildings (see westfield.org to register).

But it’s the public concerts that are the real treat for the general public, offering a banquet of early music over five days (beginning next Thursday) from Haydn choral masses to recitals to Handel’s opera “Apollo and Daphne.” Here’s the line-up: Read more »


Graffiti knitting warms up the chain-link along St. Helens Avenue, thanks to Tacoma Urban Landscaping and more

Knitted flowers decorate Tacoma chain-link. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti
Knitted flowers decorate Tacoma chain-link. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti

Knitting art has always given me warm, fuzzy feelings (get it?) and especially guerrilla knitting. So the latest urban-cheering-up installation on the ugly chain-link fence along St. Helens Avenue at 6th in downtown Tacoma is a delight, perking up the gray steel and grayer view, and generally making a statement that even though Tacoma can be ugly, we can still show it love through art.

Masterminded by a local coalition of Tacoma Urban Landscaping, Downtown On the go, Coalition for Active Transportation, 35 Ways to Safer Streets, The Grand Cinema and the New Tacoma Neighborhood Council, the graffiti knitting is a brilliant idea, and much more elegant than the alley of love letters that preceded it. Colorful knitted flowers soften the fence, knitted flags wave brightly overhead, and sweaters knitted deftly into letters spell “SPRING” along the entrance to the chain-link walkway that protects pedestrians from the precipice down into the vacant lot on the street’s east side. Who knows how long that fence is going to be there and be that ugly – and so, in a neighborhood that’s rapidly on the up-and-up (think the swanky Maxwells, the delicate decorating vibe of Dwelling and Giraffe, the hip eateries at Amocat and Stink) this chain-link deserves some charm.

And here it is, along with groovy knitted tubes for the stop signs at either corner, and a board on the south end explaining the process with a survey to inspire more creative ideas. Read more »


Four free dance shows by Dance Theatre Northwest bring arts education to Tacoma schools over the next few weeks.

Katie Neumann and Chhay Mam in "Swan LAke." Photo: Maks Zhakarov.
Katie Neumann and Chhay Mam in “Swan LAke.” Photo: Maks Zhakarov.

It’s a rare school that still has the budget for dance education – which is why four upcoming outreach concerts by Dance Theatre Northwest will have such an impact. The ballet school is offering free performances at three Tacoma schools (and one senior living facility) over the next few weeks with the goal of educating students about performing arts through live dance, including excerpt from “Swan Lake.”

From the press release: “Arts education budgets have been cut in most of our area schools and this type of quality educational programming is intended to help keep the arts alive in our schools and in the hearts and minds of our youth.”

Pointing out that a rich arts education helps kids get better grades and stay in school, DTNW director Melanie Kirk-Stauffer says that at previous performances, “students and staff who have had this opportunity to view a live dance performance and be able to interact with DTNW artists have been awestruck. For many,” she says in the release, “it was their first such experience.” Read more »


Critic’s Picks: Tacoma Youth Chorus in Olympia, Easter oratorio at LDS Sumner and Tacoma, Rich Ridenour with the Tacoma Symphony and “Joy Luck Club” at Tacoma Little Theatre

Tacoma Youth Choruses in Olympia

The Tacoma Youth Chorale, the Young Men’s Chorus and the Young Women’s Chorus will perform at the by-donation music series at St. John’s Episcopal, Olympia. Music includes choral classics, gospel standards and 21st-century compositions by Bach, Brahms, Schubert, Mendelssohn and more. 3 p.m. March 24. Entry by donation, free child care and artist reception. St. John’s Episcopal Church, corner 19th Ave. SE and Capitol Way, Olympia. 360-352-8527, stjohnsoly.org

Easter oratorio at Mormon churches in Sumner, Tacoma

After successful performances last year, Sumner and Tacoma Mormon churches are remounting the Easter oratorio “Lamb of God” by Rob Gardner this and next weekend, directed by soprano Erin Guinup. There’s an accompanying video presentation. 7 p.m. March 24 at LDS Church, 512 Valley Ave. E., Sumner; 7 p.m. March 31 at LDS Church 1102 S. Pearl St., Tacoma. Admission free. lds.org

Pianist Rich Ridenour with Tacoma Symphony Read more »


Free writing workshops for youth courtesy of Write@253 this Saturday on Tacoma’s Hilltop

Since it began last year Write@253 has been steadily encouraging Tacoma’s young people to write, and write well. Made up of professional writers and instructors, and helped out by students, the non-profit group is modeled on the hugely successful San Francisco group 826Valencia, which grew from a storefront to a national non-profit with sub-groups in New York, Seattle and many other cities. They’ve been offering kids aged 11-18 help with writing, both in schools like First Creek Middle and at their Hilltop storefront location – and this Saturday and next they have free writing workshops focused on Tacoma itself.


Read more »


Free day at Seattle Art Museum on Sunday to celebrate new Doug Aitken art installation on the façade

It’s not often you get to see Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Gainsborough for free – but you can this Sunday if you hustle. Seattle Art Museum, where these treasures and more are currently visiting from Kenwood House, England, is holding a free admission day this Sunday to celebrate the launch of a new permanent art installation on the building’s façade. Advance tickets are already sold, but more will be available online this Friday for a few lucky souls.

But even if you don’t get free entry, the outdoor installation is definitely worth checking out. Created by international artist

Read more »


Northwest Sinfonietta strikes gold, playing live to Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush” in Tacoma’s historic Temple Theater

Saturday night was a first for a lot of Tacoma folks: the first time many had watched a silent movie with live orchestral accompaniment, and the first time the 21-year-old Northwest Sinfonietta had played in the Temple Theater. And although the ensemble had done Charlie Chaplin before, it wasn’t a 2-hour feature film. So the effect was even more impressive as the chamber orchestra struck gold, playing for Chaplin’s 1925 “The Gold Rush” with warmth, delicacy and the kind of precise visual synchronization that made you occasionally forget they were even there.

Of course, playing live music for a film in a historic theater built just one year after the film was made is delightfully appropriate, and watching the orchestra tune up in front of a big screen on that enormous stage flanked by art deco Egyptian pillars of aqua and gold is enough to send shivers down your spine. But the tricky part of accompanying film music as a group is keeping together and keeping up with the images – and the Sinfonietta, under phenomenally precise direction from Christophe Chagnard, did this brilliantly.

Interestingly, the evening began with a peek into just how difficult the task is. Chagnard pulled up scans from his 500-page score on the screen, pointing out the verbal cues (characters standing up, fighting, leaving) and his own extremely highlighted notes on cueing his orchestra. Read more »