Tag Archives: Arts

Mayor’s New ARTS Interim Director Appointment Prompts Community Unease

by Alexa Peters


Over the last 10 days, tensions between Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, the City Council, Seattle Arts Commission (Commission), the Office of Arts and Culture (ARTS), and local Black arts community members have mounted following the mayor’s early September appointment of Royal Alley-Barnes as interim director of ARTS. The mayor made the appointment with a little more than 100 days left in her term and without having consulted with local arts community stakeholders about her decision.

Following the resignation of permanent ARTS Director Randy Engstrom in December 2020, the mayor agreed to a plan in which then Deputy Director of ARTS Calandra Childers would step in as interim director and oversee a committee of staff members and arts community members, called the Seattle Arts Director Advisory Committee, with the objective of centering community voices in the process of selecting a new permanent ARTS director.

“The Office of Arts and Culture [asked] me to co-chair the Seattle Arts Director Search Advisory Committee in early 2021, in hopes of ensuring there would be community input in the process [of finding] the new director of the Office of Arts and Culture,” said Sharon Nyree Williams, a storyteller and executive director of the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas. “So that process began and … the mayor, at that time, had said that she would not be searching for a new director during her term.”

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ARTS at King Street Station Presents the BIPOC-Focused Exhibit ‘Close to Home’

by Chamidae Ford


As a part of their soft reopening, ARTS at King Street Station presents “Close to Home,” an exhibit that explores how we understand the meaning of the word “home.” 

Showcasing the work of 14 different BIPOC artists, the exhibit features work with a wide range of mediums, from painting and sculptures to textiles and artifacts. 

The exhibit is assembled by Ricky Reyes, the ARTS at King Street Station gallery lead and public art project manager. He turned towards their collection of purchased pieces for inspiration. 

“I looked through pieces we had purchased last year as part of the Seattle Together Initiative, which was a multi-departmental initiative really looking at how we support communities [during] COVID,” Reyes said. “We had purchased, last year, a bunch of artwork and I just looked through those [pieces] and tried to find a common theme throughout all of them so that we can exhibit these works and they don’t just stay in our storage when ideally they’d be shown, since they’re all just really beautiful pieces.”

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‘Thriving Peoples, Thriving Places’: Pop Art Campaign Honors the Contributions of Indigenous Women to Global Biodiversity

by Nia Tero

(This article originally appeared on Real Change and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


We are in a critical moment. In the midst of an ongoing global pandemic that is leaving no family untouched, compounded by increasingly extreme weather events linked to climate change, a unique global art project is shining a light on voices essential to the ecological solutions and collective healing we seek: Indigenous women.

“Thriving Peoples, Thriving Places” is a collaboration between two Seattle-based not-for-profit organizations — Indigenous-focused Nia Tero and design lab Amplifier — launching on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which is Aug. 9. The global exhibit includes six original portraits commissioned from Washington, D.C.-based artist and illustrator Tracie Ching. The art will be available digitally as well as at public art events in cities, including Seattle, Washington, D.C., New York City, São Paulo, and London. The project celebrates Indigenous women who have acted as stewards of biodiversity across Earth and prompts action amongst an engaged global audience.

The nine Indigenous women at the center of this project are robust examples of real action we can take to strive for the health and future of the planet. They are from communities spanning the globe, from the Philippines and New Zealand, to the Brazilian Amazon to Scandinavia, to the global north, embodying Indigenous experience while carrying generational knowledge and inherited dedication:

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Nina Yarbrough Will Be 4Culture’s New Arts Program Director

by Chamidae Ford


4Culture recently announced Nina Yarbrough will be their next arts program director. Yarbrough will begin her new role this September after she finishes her duties as the business development manager for the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas.

According to a press release from 4Culture, the position is a senior leadership role that “oversee[s] the development, implementation, and evaluation of our arts funding programs and serves as a liaison to the King County arts community.” 

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yəhaw̓ Indigenous Creatives Collective is Here to Lift the Sky and Make a Space for Indigenous Art

by Kamna Shastri


There is a Coast Salish story about a number of neighboring villages, each speaking a different language but sharing the same land. While they did not understand one another, they had a shared challenge: When the Creator had made the world, he had left the sky a little too low. The village communities realized that though they spoke different languages, they had a shared word that could help them change the situation.

yəhaw̓ — a Lushootseed word meaning “to proceed” or “move forward.” Together they called out synchronously. Each time the word escaped their lips, a collective sound powerful and potent, the sky moved up just a little more.

This is the story behind yəhaw̓ Indigenous Creatives Collective, a newly birthed nonprofit which became a larger movement after beginning as a one-time art show at King Street Station in 2019.

“We felt like that was a really beautiful story in terms of art and the power of art and culture to unite communities and become a source of shared empowerment,” said Asia Tail, one of the collective’s three founders.

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Tyrone Brown: Where Art and Activism Meet

by Kathya Alexander


When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020, Tyrone Brown was in Lesotho, an independent country of 2 million people completely surrounded by South Africa. As a volunteer for the Peace Corps, he was teaching English, life skills, and HIV/AIDS prevention to Lesotho elementary school students. But the Peace Corps decided to withdraw all their volunteers worldwide and send them home. 

Born and raised in Seattle, Tyrone Brown, the founder and artistic director of Brownbox Theatre, credits his mother for introducing him to the arts when he was very young. Brown feels Seattle gave him more freedom and exposure to the arts that he wouldn’t have received, especially as a young Black male, had he grown up somewhere else. Still, being involved in the arts in a single-parent family had its challenges.  

“I remember I was in the Northwest Boys Choir for a short period of time. I don’t remember a lot about the experience except for one thing. We had a big concert that was happening in downtown Seattle. And my mom couldn’t get me there. She said, ‘I don’t have money for bus fare. So you’re going to have to call somebody.’ It was a predominately white institution, a group of white boys basically. And I didn’t know those kids, who came from two-parent homes and had money. I was just so embarrassed.”

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4Culture 2021 Arc Artist Fellowship Recognizes Six BIPOC Youth Artists and Activists

by Mark Van Streefkerk


At the end of March, 4Culture announced this year’s Arc Artist Fellows: six BIPOC artists and activists all between the ages of 18 and 25. The annual Arc Artist Fellowship supports each artist with an unrestricted $12,000 grant. The fellows will receive marketing support through 4Culture’s website and social media platforms and come together later in the year as a cohort to publicly present and celebrate their work. This year’s Arc Artist Fellows are multimedia artist Diego Binuya, dancer, artist, and maker Mikhail Calliste, storyteller and visual artist Monyee Chau, visual artist Joyee Runninghawk, storyteller, director, and aural producer Kayla Stokes, and visual artist and clothing designer Saiyana Suzumura. 

Now in its fourth year, the Arc Artist Fellowship is unique in that it is intended to be flexible to the needs and feedback of the fellows, who also get to determine the eligibility requirements for next year’s cohort, thus creating the “arc” of the program. The 2020 fellows were five artists over 40 who identify as transgender, Two Spirit, nonbinary, genderqueer, or gender nonconforming. When it came time for their input on the next cohort, they wanted to shift the focus to youth artists and activists.

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The Art of Moses Sun Reflects Seattle’s Diaspora, Cultures, and Jazz

by Mark Van Streefkerk


It’s been almost three months since Moses Sun finished his mural “Flourish Together” on the south-facing exterior wall of The Columbia City Theater. The ground-to-roof-sized mural is made up of floral designs in gold, green, and light blue, set against an indigo background, with two abstract hands clasped together in the middle. It wasn’t easy working on an outside mural during the rainy months. The process officially started on Dec. 16, with Sun and his team patiently on call, showing up to paint as the weather permitted. Finished in early January, “Flourish Together” pays homage to a space where cross-cultural connections thrive. Since then, Sun has been hard at work, completing another mural for Starbucks in January and sharing dynamic artworks fused with jazz and hip hop on Instagram, and he’ll be part of a Vivid Matter Collective show debuting this week at Vermillion Art Gallery & Bar. Though his next projects are under wraps, expect to see much more from Sun in the coming months. 

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Xavier Raymond Kelley Debuts ‘Going Thru thEMOTIONS’ at Columbia City Gallery

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Xavier Raymond Kelley’s Instagram bio reads “Jumping and Art,” two concepts he says are more interrelated than you’d think. The 19-year-old sophomore competes on Seattle University’s (SU) track and field team in the Long Jump, Triple Jump, and High Jump events, and is also an artist rising to citywide recognition, poised for his first gallery debut “Going Thru thEMOTIONS” at Columbia City Gallery from March 21 to May 9. 

An alumni of Franklin High School, Kelley’s athletic and artistic expressions only keep on growing. His first love was basketball, but Kelley picked up track his senior year where he excelled, eventually leading to a spot on SU’s team. Always an artist, Kelley explored drawing with markers and pastels long before moving to acrylic paint on canvas within the last year and a half. His latest work features Black athletes, basketball, ancient Egyptian imagery, and symbols that point to the complexities of racism. 

“My background is definitely in athletics — that really informs my art and the concepts and motifs that show up in my art,” Kelley said. “Art and sports are very intersectional, and they’re both very acute forms of self-expression. Just like dance is a form of art, I believe sports is also a form of art and self-expression.”

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Black Imagination: Sites of Power, a Conversation With Natasha Marin

by Beverly Aarons


“What happens if we regard each other as powerful beings?” That’s Natasha Marin’s essential question in “Black Imagination: Sites of Power,” a virtual exhibition/experience originally slated to open at the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) pre-pandemic. “I’m thinking about individuals as power conduits,” Marin said during our telephone interview. But in mainstream society, Black existence is not contextualized within the framework of power — not in the media, not in the movies, books, or games. “How does that change?” Marin asked. “How can we hear each other?” 

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