Category Archives: Arts & Culture

PHOTO ESSAY: CD Traffic Box Art, by Desmond Hansen, Honors Black Seattle Icons

by Susan Fried

If you’ve recently driven in the Central District, you may have noticed some new, colorful portraits appearing on traffic signal boxes at important neighborhood intersections. Artists or organizations can submit applications for permits to paint signal boxes online through the Seattle Department of Transportation services portal. The art program began in 2009 and has resulted in the transformation of hundreds of gray uninspiring boxes all over Seattle to beautiful artistic expressions by artists and community groups. 

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Che Sehyun’s ‘The Future Ancient’ Embraces Culture Without Borders

by Beverly Aarons


Certain human qualities are innate: the suckling instinct of a newborn baby, eating when hungry, drinking when thirsty, a reflexive kick when your knee is thumped. But there are other human qualities that only emerge through collective agreement, or what we call culture: the belief in individualism or the nuclear family, the desire to eat poultry instead of insects, the preference for a hike in the woods or a Saturday night watching football. Beyond the surface, culture shapes the way human groups (and individuals) view the world and their place in it.

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Legendary Children Takes the Virtual Stage, Celebrating Ballroom and QTBIPOC Culture

by Mark Van Streefkerk 


The fifth anniversary of Legendary Children, a celebration of QTBIPOC art, performance, and ballroom culture, takes the virtual stage this Saturday, November 21. Featuring the work of 25 creatives, including six houses, the star-studded event spotlights the creativity and fierceness of queer and trans Black and Brown communities in the Pacific Northwest. Hosted by CarLarans and Aleksa Manila, Legendary Children will include live house music from DJ Riz Rollins and video content from Seattle Public Library (SPL) artist-in-residence Momma Nikki. Last year the event was held at the Seattle Art Museum in partnership with SPL and other community partners. Due to the pandemic, this year the glitz, glamor, and talent will be live streamed via Facebook and YouTube with production help from Michael B. Maine. The free event begins at 8 p.m. this Saturday, and those wanting to participate in the virtual runway are encouraged to RSVP for a Zoom link here.  

Multi-disciplinary artist Dakota Camacho and performer and artist Adé are co-curators of the event, with guidance from curator-at-large and icon Dr. Stephaun Wallace (Blahnik). Through the unique opportunities of an online platform, Wallace encouraged Legendary Children to reach beyond the spectacle of ballroom culture to its foundation of QTBIPOC community care. The artistry and resilience of ballroom has sustained queer and trans Black and Brown communities for decades, including during the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, adverse political administrations, and now COVID-19.

SPL’s Public Engagement Programs Manager, Davida Ingram, said, “Stephaun Wallace asked us to consider, ‘What’s the substance of house and ball culture?’ Yes it’s fashion, yes it’s fierceness, yes it’s bold, and at its essence is about radical care and love and nurturing.” 

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Seattle Author Daudi Abe Explores Hip Hop’s Political Roots and Seattle Rappers’ Cultural Influence

by Beverly Aarons


Crumbling brick buildings litter a once thriving business district. Two-story homes blackened with soot sit boarded up and abandoned. Children find pipes and needles in sandboxes. Twenty students share five books in a freezing classroom … no heat. No food tonight, just too expensive. No new shoes — wear your older sibling’s pair and line the holes with newsprint. This is America: Late ‘70s and ‘80s. To be clear, this is America’s urban ghettos: Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and yes, even Seattle. One generation earlier, much of Black America fled the vicious Jim Crow south seeking safety and opportunity in the north only to find itself pinned into economic wastelands with no capital and little opportunity for growth. And it is within this context that hip hop was born. During my interview with Daudi Abe, a Seattle Central College professor and the author of Emerald Street: A History of Hip Hop in Seattle, he shared his thoughts on hip hop and its political and cultural impact. 

Abe, who was born and raised in Seattle, teaches a class on the history of hip hop at Seattle Central College. Most of his students are in their late teens and early 20s, and they have a hard time understanding the context from which hip hop was born, he said. But context is key to understanding why hip hop survived and thrived while other music genres such as disco faded into history. 

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Beyond Pandemic and Hibernation: Moving Into 2021 With Nicole Tsong

by Mari Kim, Ph.D.


24 Ways to Move More: Monthly Inspiration for Health and Movement is South End author Nicole Tsong’s third book. The Seattle Times’ “Fit for Life” columnist has created a manual of sorts, with photography by Ericka Schultz, written from the vantage point of a supportive energy coach calling for us all to find work/life balance. Tsong challenges us to embrace more movement by exploring two new movements each month for a year. Her starting place for us is simple: We can do more than we think we can. With that she plants a mustard seed of change as she releases a volume put together to “make movement fun and inspiring again.”

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Pork Filled Productions Unleashes A Fresh Batch of POC Theater

by Beverly Aarons


As Seattle’s theater scene continues to migrate to online platforms, Pork Filled Productions has joined the shift. This year’s Unleashed Festival is going all digital. Beginning Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at 7 p.m., Unleashed will live-stream staged readings of new works by POC playwrights via YouTube. The online staged readings will begin on November 10th with I Thought I Was Safe by Patrick Zhang, and end on November 14th with Mustard Seeds by Michelle Tyrene Johnson. The festival will also include a selection of short plays and two other full-length staged readings. The full schedule is available online. Tickets are being sold on a “name-your-price” model. 

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Marshall Law Band’s Debut Album ‘12th and Pine’ Examines Leadership and Responsibility After a Summer of Protest

by M. Anthony Davis


I once read an article by Larry Mizell, Jr. where he quoted some famous guy who said “great music is often sparked by a revolution.” As I listened to “12th and Pine,” the new Marshall Law Band album that was birthed from the summer protests in Seattle, those words reverberated in my head. This album, the latest creation of the band that garnered national media attention during a six-day residency playing the soundtrack to protests outside of the East Precinct in Capitol Hill, was literally conceptualized, written, and recorded during the protests.

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Ampersand LIVE Artist Shaina ShepHerd’s Reflections on Personal Restoration

by Beverly Aarons


Ampersand LIVE is back for its seventh annual one-night showcase of art, storytelling, science, dancing, activism, and more on Oct. 29, 2020, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Virtual and free to the public,  attendees can livestream the event from anywhere with an internet connection. This year’s Ampersand LIVE will feature 10 artists and contributors exploring the theme of restoration: 

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Young Seattle Rapper Skye Dior Is on the Rise

by Bri Little


Skye Dior is ready for stardom, and she’s not just waiting around for it to come to her. She’s starting earlier than most: the 8-year-old South Seattle recording artist recently released a video for her pop banger “Clap,” and before the pandemic, was performing with other Seattle greats — such as Rell B. Free — and planning a tour. 

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Seattle Isn’t Dead But it Is Vanishing: A Conversation With Vanishing Seattle Filmmakers

by Beverly Aarons


Rat City Records & Relics — gone. Cow Chip Cookies — gone. The famous downtown Elephant Car Wash — also gone. If you just arrived in the Emerald City, you can be forgiven for not noticing that Seattle’s cultural and business landscape has been … terraformed. Yes, I know the old saying: “The only constant in life is change.” But what happens to a city when the places where people gather, connect, and build community disappear? What happens to a city’s soul when locally owned and quirky is replaced by corporate-owned and … well, boring? Since 2018, Vanishing Seattle filmmakers Cynthia Brothers and Martin Tran have been documenting Seattle’s rapid transformation in a six-film series, so they’re intimately acquainted with the city’s metamorphosis. I had the opportunity to speak with them about how the city has changed, why they’re documenting disappearing places, and how they’ve been personally impacted by it all. 

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