Tag Archives: Art

Verbal Oasis Spoken Word Festival Offers Creativity and Celebration for All Ages

by Chamidae Ford


September 3 marks the beginning of the first annual Verbal Oasis Spoken Word Festival. The four-day event represents a multigenerational depiction of art — from poetry and dancing to music and visual art. The festival allows attendees space to go beyond observing by providing workshops for them to engage. 

The free event, located at the Rainier Beach Community Center’s outdoor pavilion, is being hosted by Monique Franklin (Verbal Oasis). The festival is supported by the Seattle Park District and Created Commons, a program of the Office of Arts & Culture Seattle. 

“I’ve been performing in Seattle for over 15 years now, but in the process of being a performance artist, I’ve also been producing shows for that length of time. And I produce shows from children all the way up through adults with a specific focus on bringing together a multi-gender generational community of Black artists,” Franklin said. “So in some ways, you could say that this festival is about 15 years in the making.”

Beginning on Sept. 3 and running from 6:30 to 9 p.m. will be the Muezz Poetry Show. Each night stars a different lineup of local poets and performers and will feature the Seattle Civic Poet Jourdan Imani Keith, Amber Flame, Robert Lashley, and many more. There will also be an open mic portion of each evening, with a writing workshop before the show to allow attendees to create something to share. 

“There is the invitation to engage in art. So when [people] come, we’ll have some art activities that they can participate in, including being a part of the show. …” Franklin said. “What they can expect is a warm welcome, some great music, some of the best artists in Seattle in painting, dancing, and spoken-word poetry.”

Creating a multigenerational festival was very important to Franklin. That’s why on Sept. 5 and 6, the Inspired Child’s open mic from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. will encourage children from 2 to 12 years old to take the stage. 

“Young people will be featured in those events to give them opportunities to build their performance resumes, perform, and curate their own performances for an audience,” Franklin said. 

This weekend is not just for performing but discussing the power of spoken word, art, and community. Franklin challenges those in attendance to come with an open mind and be willing to participate. 

“I think [the festival] is gonna be an experience,” Franklin said. “I would love it for people to come open to that experience and leave inspired. I think art is healing and art is also transformative and it allows us to learn from others. And so I think to be engaged in a community where everybody is participating in that is truly a give and take, whether the audience is choosing to become a part of a show in the open mic or if they’re just choosing to give that energy and attention to the artist who’s on stage, they’re a part of it. I think what people can expect is to feel.”

Events like these also represent a cost-effective way to explore different artistic routes before investing deeply in them. Cipher Goings from Northwest Tap Connection will be teaching free tennis shoe tap lessons. There will be writing workshops and painting sessions, allowing families to explore whether they are truly interested in pursuing an artistic path. 

“It gives exposure so that families and individuals can say, wow, I actually liked that. I actually want to invest in this now,” Franklin said. “Exposing people to art creates an opportunity for them to activate the artist that I think is in all of us and find the road that best suits them.”

The festival represents an opportunity to get outside with your family and connect with your community through art. The weekend offers a wide range of artists across different disciplines and generations expressing themselves. 

“Being able to celebrate and to share and keep an open mind provides an opportunity to really share your experiences with other people and for other people to hear what’s going on in the hearts and the minds of their community members,” Franklin said. “Activating these [public] spaces is critical, especially right now.”

Admission to the festival is free, but there will be capacity limitations to allow for social distancing. You can secure a spot by going online and claiming a ticket for the Muezz Poetry Show and Inspired Child Open Mic before the event. Masks are required for admittance and attendees are asked to wear them throughout the entirety of the event. Temperature checks and contact-tracing will also be done upon entrance. 

The community partners of this event are Inspired Child Studios, Northwest Tap Connection, Central District Forum For Arts and Ideas, Seattle Filmmakers of the African Diaspora, Abstract Media, ONYX Fine Arts Collective, and African-American Writers’ Alliance.


Chamidae Ford is a recent journalism graduate of the University of Washington. Born and raised in Western Washington, she has a passion for providing a voice to the communities around her. She has written for The Daily, GRAY Magazine, and Capitol Hill Seattle. Reach her on IG/Twitter: @chamidaeford.

Featured Image: Photo courtesy of Verbal Oasis Spoken Word Festival.

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South Park Collab Presents Day Party: Celebrating Art, Music, and Community

by Chamidae Ford


On August 15, the South Park Collab is throwing a party. Day Party, an outdoor dance event, will take place from 2 to 7 p.m. along the Duwamish River, with picturesque views of Downtown Seattle, and will feature arts-filled fun for those over 21. 

The event has been organized by Cheryl Delostrinos, the co-founder of Au Collective. Delostrinos views herself as a connector, and Day Party aims to remind South Park that even after over a year of isolation, a powerful community exists there. 

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The Morning Update Show — 8/12/21

The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.

We also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.

Morning Update Show — Thursday, August 12

Live from Liberty Bank Building | LIVE — Elisheba Johnson of Wa Na Wari | LIVE — Stephanie Morales of The Liink Project | LIVE — Edimbo Lekea Artist | Community Building Through Art

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George and Gerard Tsutakawa’s Artistic Legacy Honored in New Wing Luke Museum Exhibit

by Kamna Shastri


The life-size metal sculptures of George and Gerard Tsutakawa — father and son — are solid mainstays gracing public parks and fountains across Seattle today. The sculptures are almost always curved, edges rounded. Rarely will you see sharp, angled corners or ridges in these designs. Continuity runs through each individual sculpture — and between the sculptors themselves. A new exhibit at the Wing Luke Museum, titled “Gerard Tsutakawa: Stories Shaped in Bronze” dives into the public art, inspiration, and processes of both father and son.

Born in 1910, George was Nisei, second generation Japanese American. He was never very interested in his studies, “preferring to practice his drawing and calligraphy,” writes his daughter Mayumi Tsutakawa. George received his B.A. from University of Washington (UW) in 1937 and volunteered for the United States Army during WWII, mostly teaching Japanese at a military intelligence school in Minneapolis. During WWII he also visited his relatives interned at the Lake Tahoe internment camps, where he met his future wife Ayame Kyotani.

Both husband and wife were artists in their own right: Kyotani a gifted practitioner of traditional Japanese dance and flower arrangement and George an architect, designer, and sculptor, among other things. After he completed his M.F.A., also at the UW, George took on faculty positions at the School of Architecture and later the School of Art. He would go on to teach for 37 years, make a home with his wife in Mount Baker, and raise four children surrounded by the rhythms and inspirations of his in-home studio. His artistic career would span 60 years, leaving footprints in Japan, Canada, and across the United States, making him a pillar of Seattle’s Asian American heritage.

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Executive Director Beth Takekawa Retires From Wing Luke Museum

by Yuko Kodama


Beth Takekawa came home one day to a newsletter from her grandmother’s church on her dining table. The priest had written about “this little immigrant lady” in his congregation, and Takekawa read on, wondering who this new person was. She got a jolt when she realized he was writing about her grandmother. To Takekawa, her grandmother was a giant in her household.  She says this was the first time she realized how important perspective is in conveying a story.  

Beth Takekawa, the executive director of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, is retiring after nearly 25 years of leadership at this 54-year-old cultural pillar in Seattle’s Chinatown International District (CID). Wartime took the Takekawa family to the Minidoka internment camp in Idaho during WWII. Post-war, the family moved to Minnesota with the help of a Japanese American relocation committee.  Minnesota was where Beth grew up, but she gravitated to Seattle, where her family has roots just a few blocks away from the museum.  

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Young Artists Will Design Limited-Edition ORCA Cards as RapidRide Expands

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Three young Seattle-area artists are designing limited-edition ORCA cards in anticipation of King County Metro Transit’s RapidRide expansion. Cultural funding agency 4Culture and partners King County Metro Transit and RapidRide have developed an art plan in conjunction with three new RapidRide lines that will be introduced over the next few years. One of the opportunities of the art plan was for three young artists to design an ORCA card corresponding to the upcoming H, G, and I lines. 4Culture recently announced the selected artists: Jovita Mercado, Yasiman Ahsani, and Rey Daoed.

“We wanted to do one special-edition card for each of those lines as they start service,” said Laura Becker, the senior public art project manager at 4Culture. “We have very few opportunities for young and emerging artists in public art. That’s something that we are committed to focusing on.” 

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Two Vivid Matter Collective Artists Collaborate on New Mural by Flo Ware Park

by Mark Van Streefkerk


There’s a new mural facing Flo Ware Park on South Jackson Street that will bring even more brightness to the area this summer. On the outer wall of the Seattle Girls’ School is “Find Yourself Outside,” a mural of Black people in a Pacific Northwest landscape swimming, paddleboarding, dancing, camping, and exploring the urban outdoors. At the center of the mural, rising out of a body of water, is a larger-than-life head made of two faces spliced together. The left side of the face is purple and lavender, made of repeating lines and eyes, a recurring archetype in artist AfroSPK’s work. The right side of the face is painted in purple, red, yellow, and cool blues, framed in a halo of curly hair, painted by artist Perri Rhoden. The result is a celebration of Black people in the outdoors and intriguing symbols that inspire the viewer to look a little closer. 

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Where Did the Soul Go?

by Rayna Mathis


Seattle’s Central District (CD) has gone through drastic changes over the last 20 years. Many communities have called this historic neighborhood home: Jewish people, Japanese Americans, and African Americans. Long-time residents and displaced families whose histories go back generations will lament this sentiment. 

If you’ve been to the CD in the last month, you might have noticed an important piece of 23rd and Yesler missing — the Soul Pole. In the summer of 1969, as part of President Johnson’s Model Cities Program (which ended in 1974), the Soul Pole was carved in a month by five teen artists, aged 14–16: Brenda Davis, Larry Gordon, Gregory Jackson, Cindy Jones, and Gaylord Young and was led by Seattle Rotary Boys Club Art Director, Gregory X. The sculpture honors 400 years of African American history by using four figures to represent significant moments of the Black man’s experience from primitive, to slavery, to liberation.

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Hungry

by Andy Panda


This comic is a story of common miscommunication between my grandmother, who didn’t speak much English, and young me, who didn’t (doesn’t) speak much Chinese. The dialogue is in both Chinese and English to emphasize the miscommunication, but includes enough of each so you, the reader, can understand what is going on. In the end, food becomes the ultimate communicator. Growing up with an immigrant grandmother, when neither of you spoke the same language, was sometimes difficult. My grandmother and I shared a room (that’s a whole other comic) and she babysat me often, yet we could barely communicate. Like many immigrant families, we had to just make it work. This is a story about one of the times we just made it work. Thanks to PARISOL for translation help and to Bill Cheung for the pun idea.

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King County Metro Unveils New BLM Bus Featuring the Work of Local Artist and Metro Employee

by Chamidae Ford


Last week King County Metro unveiled its new wrapped bus, coaches, and worksite posters that all feature artwork inspired by Black Lives Matter.

The contest began back in the summer of 2020, when Metro asked their employees what Black Lives Matter meant to them.

Robert L. Horton, an artist and transit operator, created one of the winning pieces. Horton has been a professional artist for over 20 years whose work has been displayed in numerous solo gallery exhibits. He is also a member of the ONYX Fine Arts Collective

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