Arts Picks




Firm of nipple, steely of gaze, brazen yet skulking, sultry and slutty and haughty, pioneering Chinese-American vamp Anna May Wong practically invented the Dragon Lady on-screen. She's coming back big-time?in a recent play (China Doll), three bios (including Perpetually Cool, by über-cool UW prof Anthony Chan), and her lost 1929 classic, Piccadilly, just restored by the British Film Institute to a critical awards chorus. In E.A. Dupont's tinted black-and-white silent, Wong is Shosho, a dishwasher whose suggestive shimmying so steams up the scullery that the dishes don't get washed, enraging fat-cat customer Charles Laughton. So the horndog club owner promotes her to the main dance stage, making her famous, then dead. No masterpiece, but Piccadilly's artful shadows and world of woozy song are good to have back in the land of the cinema living. Anthony Chan lecture: 5:30 p.m. Fri., Feb. 13. Film: 7 and 9 p.m. Fri., Feb. 13-Sun., Feb. 15. $5-$7.50. Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. TIM APPELO




OK, I admit to enjoying a chuckle last week during his four-part PBS series, America Behind the Color Line: Conversations With African-Americans, when the Harvard prof, seen strolling the Chicago projects with a young brutha describing the dead-end lives around him, empathetically comments: "So you feel like the die has been cast." Yes, Skip! Verily, the ides of March are upon us here at the Ida B. Wells Homes! As the scholar strove to show himself down with the highest and lowest rungs of black society, it was hard not to cringe. But he's more than fascinating on his own, and what he distilled from his visits will be nothing to laugh off. 7:30 p.m. Wed., Feb. 11. $15. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 206-652-4255. MARK D. FEFER




In "Doubt Has a Place (the raft)," Seattle artist Patrick Holderfield engages in a series of abstract riffs on Théodore Géricault's famed Raft of the Medusa. Migrainelike shimmers of paint intersect fragments of the French Romantic's work, as if a grenade were set off in the midst of the shipwreck. All that's left are hints, intellectual wisps of the original: a few timbers of the raft, sketched in pencil or pieces of wood jutting from the gallery wall like scattered Lincoln Logs; a foot here; a hand there; a dead dove among the wreckage; a crumpled piece of what could be a satellite, wandering lost in space, resulting in a tightly controlled study in form and hopelessness. 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Wed.-Sat. James Harris Gallery, 309A Third Ave., 206-903-6220. Ends Sat., Feb. 14. ANDREW ENGELSON




William Saroyan's Pulitzer Prize-winning play shines light into an Embarcadero dive where the denizens are allowed their necessary delusions. This is the wildly hailed Tina Landau staging from Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, with members of the original ensemble as well as such sterling Seattle performers as Suzanne Bouchard (above, left). The Rep usually scores big when it opens its doors to out of towners—think Proof, Jitney, and Topdog/Underdog—and, this may be the perfect moment to reconsider Saroyan's Depression-era paean to optimism. Previews begin 7:30 p.m. Thurs., Feb. 12. $10-$46. Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center, 206-443-2222. STEVE WIECKING




Choreographer Stephen Petronio's trio of works reflects post-9/11 New York City. The Island of Misfit Toys opens with a nod and a wink as the dancers' vibrating legs match the "tap, tap, tapping on my chamber door" from Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven," heard on the soundtrack by Lou Reed. From there, the work becomes darker, when movement quirks?limping and twitching?resemble disabilities rather than games, presided over by a totem pole of implacable doll faces. Companion pieces Broken Man and City of Twist (pictured) have the same sinuous elegance, arms and legs looping around as the torso coils and stretches, with a sad undercurrent. 8 p.m. Thurs., Feb. 12-Sun., Feb. 15. $22. On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., 206-217-9888. SANDRA KURTZ

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