Film still depicting a Black-presenting individual in a black swimsuit holding up a book of another's face while reclining in a sun lounger.

Arts in the South End: A May 2023 Roundup

by Amanda Ong

Art, film, break dancing, and stories — the weather has turned around in the South End, and the arts scene is turning out too! Enjoy getting out and exploring some of these fantastic events happening around the South End this month.

Below, the Emerald has compiled a list of arts, music, theatre events, and more throughout the South End and beyond, so keep reading to find what May has to offer. 

May is also Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage month, so stay tuned for our upcoming guide to AA&NH/PI events. 

Know of something that should be in our roundup? Let us know at!

Abstract artwork with colorful lines and shapes.
“30,000 Years of Art” (54″ x 60″) by Xavier Kelly. (Photo courtesy of Wa Na Wari.)

New Exhibits at Wa Na Wari

Now through July 9
Wa Na Wari, 911 24th Ave., Seattle

In a number of new exhibits at Wa Na Wari, check out the artwork of Theda Sandiford, Sotonye Jumbo, Dez’Mon Omega Fair, Xavier Kelley, and Amber Henry. From working with fibers, film, and oil painting, these artists come together in a diverse selection of works for Wa Na Wari. Wa Na Wari will also host Theda Sandiford for an artist talk on Thursday, May 25, at 12 p.m. that will be streamed on Wa Na Wari’s Facebook Live and YouTube page. The gallery hours are Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Photo depicting a beaded artwork of an Indigenous woman with long black hair against a blue ocean background.
“Counting Coup On Curtis 1” (14 x 8.5) by Tammie Dupuis. (Photo courtesy of Columbia City Gallery.)

arnaq, hana’ack, smɁem

May 3 to June 18; opening reception on May 6, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Columbia City Gallery, 4864 Rainier Ave. S, Seattle

The Columbia City Gallery will feature the work of four Indigenous women artists, Jennifer Angaiak Wood, Savannah LeCornu, Paige Pettibon, and Tammie Dupuis. The title of the exhibit, “arnaq, hana’ack, smɁem,” is the translation of “women’’ in each of the artist’s tribal languages, Yup’ik, Tsimshian, and Confederated Salish and Kootenai. With mediums ranging from painting and carving, to beadwork, each piece reflects cultural symbolism practices and the experiences of Indigenous women. The exhibit was curated by Kari Karsten, Columbia City Gallery manager and a member of the Seneca Nation. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Photo depicting three Black- and femme-presenting dancers posing with copper silk fabric wrapped around their heads.
(Photo courtesy of The Seattle Project.)

The Seattle Project, ‘Chapters’ 

May 5 and May 6
Northwest Film Festival, 1515 12th Ave., Seattle

The Seattle Project, a platform for interdisciplinary, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists, presents Chapters, a live dance performance and film showcase. Each chapter will focus on one of five Black femmes: Akoiya Harris, Ashton Edwards, Nia-Amina Minor, Amanda Morgan, and Kenya Shakoor. Featuring film, home video, poetry, music, and photography, the event will be a reflection on Black femininity through a number of mediums. Tickets are available on the Northwest Film Forum website.

Upper Left Comedy Festival 

May 11 to May 13
Multiple Venues

With opening night on May 11, Upper Left Comedy Festival will kick off three days of hilarious standup and performance events before closing on May 13. With a range of passes and ticket options, you can see all or just your favorite Pacific Northwest comedians, with some of the biggest-name acts performing on opening and closing nights. Some names you might already know include comedians Amy Miller, Kermet Apio, Josh Gondelman, Dewa Dorje, and more! Tickets and details are available on the Upper Left Comedy Festival website.

Flier advertising the 2023 Beacon Art Street Fairs occurring second Saturdays of the month from May to September.
(Photo courtesy of Beacon Arts.)

Beacon Arts Street Fair

May 13 to Sept. 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
Roberto Maestas Festival Street, Beacon Hill, Seattle

Kicking off a new season, the first Beacon Arts Street Fair of 2023 will be on May 13 and will continue on second Saturdays of the month through September! Live music, food, pop-up art markets, and family entertainment will light up the street. Important community resources and Beacon Hill garden share information will also be available. Performer, vendor, and volunteer applications are available on the Beacon Arts Street Fair website.

Flier advertising the Seattle Arab Film Festival.
(Photo courtesy of Northwest Film Forum.)

Seattle Arab Film Festival

May 13 and May 14
Northwest Film Festival, 1515 12th Ave., Seattle

The fourth Seattle Arab Film Festival starts on May 13 and will feature 13 short films made by emerging and established Arab filmmakers. The festival has been divided into four screenings, and each ticket includes the two screenings of the day — Short Documentaries + Loss and Resilience on Saturday, May 13, and Family Matters + Luck of the Draw on Sunday, May 14. All screenings will include a range of films that will engage the audience while highlighting Arab voices, experiences, and talent. Tickets and details are available on the Northwest Film Forum website.

Rendering depicting the installation for "Leviathan Rising."
“Leviathan Rising” installation at the Georgetown Steam Plant by Eirik Johnson.

Leviathan Rising

May 13 to May 21
Georgetown Steam Plant, 6605 13th Ave S., Seattle

A photographic and sound-based installation in three chapters, Eirik Johnson’s Leviathan features large-scale photographic projections, a multi-track sound piece of recordings from beneath the surface of the Duwamish River, and daguerreotype photograms made with Daniel Carrillo.

The installation is free and open to the public with an opening reception on May 13 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in conjunction with Georgetown Art Attack. Open hours will continue Sunday, May 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday, May 15, through Friday, May 19, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, May 20, and Sunday, May 21, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Flier advertising "A Benefit for Turkiye and Syria" occurring at The Royal Room on May 14.
(Photo courtesy of The Royal Room.)

A Benefit for Turkey and Syria 

May 14, 7 p.m
The Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave. S, Seattle

To aid in relief following the earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye on Feb. 6, The Royal Room is hosting an evening benefit for the Bridge to Türkiye Fund, which is offering comprehensive relief to affected communities following the earthquake. The evening will include performances by Greek and Balkan group Drómeno, Balkan musician, Eleni Govetas Kompania, and seven-piece Klezmer brass band Shpilkis. Tickets are available on The Royal Room website.

Flier advertising the ACES: Artists of Color Expo & Symposium from May 20 to May 21.
(Logo and style: Briaan L. Barron; Poster: Maddy Berkman)

ACES: Artists of Color Expo & Symposium 

May 20 and May 21
Multiple Locations

A BIPOC-led and community-curated program, the fifth annual ACES will be held at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute & Pratt Fine Arts Center on May 20 and May 21. ACES will include art exhibits, live performances, presentations, workshops, film screenings, artist talks, and artist opportunity tables, with the intention to help artists of color empower each other and connect while recognizing and finding solutions to the challenges artists of color face in the Pacific Northwest. Tickets and details are available on the Shunpike website with suggested donation.

Madaraka Festival

May 26, 5 p.m.
Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle

After last year’s success, OneVibe Africa is hosting the Madaraka Festival again this year as a traveling tour with Seattle as their final stop. To empower African communities, this year’s Madaraka Festival in Seattle features three incredible East African musicians: Sauti Sol, Eddy Kenzo, and King Kaka. Proceeds from Madaraka Festival go towards One Vibe Africa, MAMA HOPE, and Refugee Artisan Initiative. Tickets and details are available on the Benaroya Hall website.

7 Stories, ‘Disconnecting. Unplugging. Uncoupling.’

May 26, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. 
Highline Heritage Museum, 819 SW 152nd St., Seattle

7 Stories is a free storytelling event hosted by the Highline Heritage Museum on a monthly basis, with May’s theme being “Disconnecting. Unplugging. Uncoupling.” Storytellers apply in advance, and seven are selected to tell a true story based on the monthly theme. 7 Stories is meant to be an earnest night of storytelling to help build community, empathy, and celebrate diversity. To sign up go to or email them at

Massive Monkeys Day

May 27 to May 29
Multiple Locations

For their 24th annual Massive Monkeys Day this Memorial Day weekend, Massive Monkeys will host their annual break dancing competitions with a number of first, second, and third place awards. Top 16 and Top 8 Open Styles crews will advance to the main event, which will be held on May 28 at the Neptune Theatre and will end on May 29 with a Massive Community Jam and BBQ at Jefferson Park. Find out more from the Massive Monkey’s Facebook page and purchase tickets for the main event on May 28 on the Neptune Theatre website.

Amanda Ong (she/her) is a Chinese American writer from California. She is currently a master’s candidate at the University of Washington Museology program and graduated from Columbia University in 2020 with degrees in creative writing and ethnicity and race studies.

📸 Featured Image: A scene from the film “Prayer III” by Dez’Mon Omega Fair, showing at Wa Na Wari. (Photo courtesy of Wa Na Wari.)

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