FIRST THURSDAY: VISUAL ARTS
Raised in a strict Christian commune in which every day was structured with prayers and chanting, local painter Brian Strobel is fixated on daily rituals like urinating and bathing that have become charged with spiritual consequence in the vacuum created when he lost his faith. He paints toilets, sinks, TVs, and other everyday objects with a bleary-eyed but unwavering gaze, typically depicting them under a merciless fluorescent light, as in Assumption, above. Strobel says that living outside religion "[offers] great freedom from guilt. But I'm also left with a feeling of loneliness and longing." The bleakness of his vision is redeemed by the human triumph of facing squarely a cold, godless universe. Also opening tonight as a useful corrective: Patti Bezzo Fox's stylized, color-saturated, completely irresistible paintings of trees. DAVID STOESZ
Reception: 6-8 p.m. Thurs., May 1. Open Noon-5 p.m. Wed.-Sat. Ends Sat., May 31. Gallery 110, 110 S. Washington St., 206-624-9336.
If you want to start a fight in certain corners of the dance world, mention the work of Boris Eifman. From his roots as an independent choreographer in the midst of the Soviet dance establishment, Eifman's hyper-theatrical work has been breaking rules, and it's no different in these post-Soviet times. He turns the heat up on the considerable technical skills of his dancers, and combines them with revved-up plots from literature and history. His Russian Hamlet tore through Meany Hall two years ago (you rememberOphelia with a whip), and this year's Red Giselle, a retelling of the Romantic-era ballet through the prism of legendary ballerina Olga Spessivtseva's life during the Russian Revolution, is just as radical. It's not subtle work, but if you like your drama high, this is for you. SANDRA KURTZ
8 p.m. Thurs., May 1-Sat., May 3. Also 2 p.m. Sat., May 3. $35-$45. Meany Theater, University of Washington, 206-543-4880.
CINCO DE MAYO
Seattle gets its first big, citywide Cinco de Mayo festival this year (courtesy of the folks who produce the Bite of Seattle), and it comes with Seattle's usual pan-ethnic approach to everything unwhite: The Mexican holiday (celebrating a victory over the French) will take over the waterfront with mariachi, banda, and piñatas, as well as Puerto Rican salsa bands, tango demonstrations, and Cuban drinks. Well, so much the better. With music and dance all day, a beer garden, a Family Fun Zone, and an open-air crafts market, this sounds like an agreeable way to launch into summer. Even dull, lily-white Portland's got a waterfront Cinco de Mayo that attracts 150,000 people. Surely we can beat that. MARK D. FEFER
Noon-9 p.m. Sat., May 3-Mon., May 5. $5 adults, $3 ages 9-17, seniors and kids free. Piers 62 and 63. 425-283-5050.
SD PRISM DANCE THEATRE
Director Sonia Dawkins is doing good by doing good work, presenting her stylish dancers and evocative choreography in a benefit for the AIDS charity Rise and Shine, which supports children who are living with or have lost loved ones to the disease. Dawkins' expressive work is grounded in the sleek physicality of Alvin Ailey, a blend of ballet, jazz, and modern dance traditions, and this concert features the premiere of her version of Othello. The evening also includes an appearance by Indigo Rays, Dawkins' youth dance group with performers from the Pacific Northwest Ballet School and Rise and Shine, and an auction to benefit the charity. SANDRA KURTZ
7:30 p.m. Sat., May 3. $17-$25. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 206-292-ARTS.
One of the best films of 2000, this wonderful stop-motion/claymation poultry-escape picture comes from Britain's Aardman Animation, and it has all the droll British wit you'd expect from the creators of Wallace and Gromit. The movie's being screened for free as part of SAM's Saturday matinee kiddie series, which means screaming, squirming, and uncontrollable laughter will be allowed. Yes, it's fine to educate your children about proper movie manners, but such lessons will probably go unheeded as Rocky the Rooster (voiced by Mel Gibson) leads a plucky band of hens out of their industrial farm complex (with many obvious nods to genre classics like The Great Escape). Sharp-eared parents will also discern a fine stable (coop?) of English voice talent, including Timothy Spall, Miranda Richardson, Jane Horrocks, and Imelda Staunton. BRIAN MILLER
1:30 p.m. Sat., May 3. Free. Seattle Asian Art Museum, 1400 E. Prospect St., Volunteer Park, 206-625-8900.