Some artists with deep Seattle roots are getting the kind of attention elsewhere which the if-they-live-here-they-can't-be-any-good syndrome prevents them from getting at home. Last Sunday actor R. Hamilton Wright, finishing up a run of Molière's Scapin in Phoenix, was the subject of a full-length portrait in Arizona's Republic. On the same day the Sunday New York Times paid admiring tribute to Julyana Soelistyo, a Seattle Children's Theater veteran who's just been nominated for a Tony for her performance in the title role of David Henry Hwang's The Golden Child. Meanwhile, Seattle's Young Composers Collective orchestra is in San Francisco for two gigs: Last week the group presented two dance-theater works by composer-performer Haruko Nishimura at the Oberlin Dance Collective studios; this weekend it's at Venue 9 to air its score for Fritz Lang's silent-film classic Metropolis.
If much of the material selected by artistic director Sharon Ott for her second season at Seattle Rep bespeaks a certain caution, the show settled on for the season finale is definitely out there. Actually, it's not the show but the performers Ott has settled on: the trio of Latino writer-performers known as Culture Clash. Best known for its hallucinogenic-laced-salsa portrait of Hispanic Miami Radio Mambo, the LA-based Clash has been an Ott favorite since the long-ago days when it was doing school-outreach tours for the Berkeley Rep.
The Rep hasn't decided yet whether Clash will be doing Radio Mambo or its latest show, Radio Borderland, about the bubbling, boundary-blind cultural stew of Southern California/Northwest Mexico today; Ott will see the premiere production at the San Diego Rep before making up her mind. Whichever show she opts for, "It's definitely going to push the envelope in terms of content and language. I love these men, can't even talk about them without laughing, but no question they're going to break some boundaries of taste for this very polite audience. I just hope people don't jump out of seats but go along for the ride, because if they do, they're guaranteed to, pardon me, bust a gut."
Homeless in Ballard
It's the old story: Low-rent neighborhoods attract artists, artists bestow hipness, hipness leads to gentrification—and higher rents. Latest to suffer: Ballard-based theater ensemble The Compound. Having endured leaks, electrical problems, lack of heat, backed-up sewage, and infestations of rats in the Ballard Avenue storefront it has occupied for the past four years, the group received its eviction notice on April 1, but was allowed an extension to the end of May. While its theatrical experiments—featuring a mixture of herky-jerky dance, trapezes, stream-of-consciousness dialogue, and gigantic stuffed animal heads—earned critical praise, the group didn't earn enough cash to pay the higher rents its landlord will want once he's invested in improvements to the building. A neighborhood going-away party and musical benefit for the Compound featuring Wayne Horvitz is set for Tuesday, June 16 just across the street at the Tractor Tavern.
Museum of Virtual Art?
Most art shows emphasize what's on the gallery walls: The Burke Museum has found a way to put the spotlight on what isn't. This week the University of Washingtonbased state museum was awarded $5,940 by the Washington Commission for the Humanities to mount a traveling photo show about the construction of Grand Coulee Dam,designed, in the words of the commission's press release, to "confront the lack of information surrounding this period... [and] identifying and expanding on the shortcomings of the existing photographic collection." Art Town hears that other institutions are already considering following the Burke's lead, with the Seattle Art Museum working on a show called "Masterpieces of Impressionist Art Not Available for Loan," while the ever-venturesome Henry Gallery has commissioned 12 leading American conceptual artists to contribute to its groundbreaking show "Closed for Installation: Imaginary Art at Millennium's End."
The other tap shoe has finally dropped: Last week the 5th Avenue Theater announced the cast for its July run of Victor/ Victoria,and guess who's still not over her throat ailment. Instead of Julie Andrews,Anne Runofsson, Andrews' Broadway understudy, will play the title character. Runofsson took the stage for the ailing star more than 120 times during the New York run.
Ken Behring was the butt of a lot of sophisticated-Seattle sarcasm while he owned the Seahawks: not one of our crowd, you know. Last week Behring tossed a cool $40 million the Smithsonian Institution's way, and a lot of fund raisers for cultural and charitable foundations are wishing they still had Ken to kick around; and maybe that they hadn't kicked him around quite so much while they did have him....