The Pick List: This Week’s Recommended Events

Thursday, June 19

Modernism in the Pacific Northwest: The Mythic and the Mystical

Summer is usually the season for tourist-friendly blockbuster shows at SAM, like Japanese fashion last year, traveling from other institutions. This one is entirely local, celebrating the native quartet of Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan, and Guy Anderson. How did the Northwest become a school? Isolation, for one thing, since prewar Seattle was remote and provincial when the four got their start. Institutions also played a part: Cornish, the UW, and especially the brand-new SAM helped form a community of artists and collectors. (SAM founder Richard Fuller was particularly instrumental, employing and buying from the Big Four.) Seattle had a little bit of money then, but it was dowdy old money, two generations removed from the Denny party—derived mostly from the land, the port, and timber. What Tobey and company brought to national attention during the war years and after was a fresh regional awareness and reverence for place. This meant not simple landscapes, but a deeper appreciation for the spiritual aspect of nature, traces of Native American culture, and currents from across the Pacific—including Eastern religion and Asian art. Many of the paintings here, publicly exhibited for the first time, come from the 2009 bequest of Marshall and Helen Hatch. They, like Fuller and the Wrights, were important collectors and patrons of the Big Four during the postwar years. What they preserved can now be a fresh discovery to all new Seattle residents unfamiliar with the Northwest School. (Through Sept. 7.) Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., 654-3121, $12–$19. 10 a.m.–9 p.m.

Friday, June 20

Fremont Fair

Fremont fairgoers have famously ushered in the arrival of the sun’s solstice zenith by riding through the streets on bicycles, completely nude. (That contingent trails the traditional procession of floats and marching bands, which commences at 3 p.m. Saturday.) But there’s so much more to the 43rd annual Fremont Fair than painted dongs and breasts. There’s a parade for dogs, too, where completely nude—or sometimes costumed—pups get a chance to strut as their masters proudly smile behind them (2 p.m. Sun.). Some choose to greet the sun with “Yoga for the Solstice,” a outdoor session “complete with summer salutations.” This year also packs a hefty lineup of musical entertainment, with local legends Built to Spill leading the bill on Friday. Saturday features Seattle hip-hop staples The Physics and Blue Scholars and the Afrobeat groove of Cascadia ’10. But it wouldn’t really be a Fremont event without all sorts of odd craftiness. The Fremont Craft Market’s labyrinth maze of vintage clothing, postcards, and various doohickeys will be open alongside an “Art Car Blowout,” an exhibit of vehicles decked out with weird paint jobs, glued-on dental equipment, and lobsters. (Through Sun.) Downtown Fremont, Free (music stage passes $35 two-day, $20 one-day). 5–11 p.m.

Escape From New York

One of the undersung bad-ass screen heroes of the 1980s, Snake Plissken was a signature role for Kurt Russell in John Carpenter’s blunt dystopian satire, set in the far-off year of 1997. Everyone knows the plot to the 1981 movie: Snake has to break into prison (i.e., Manhattan) to rescue a president who’s run our country into the ditch and oppressed the underclass, whose numbers certainly include Plissken and his criminal cohort. (Payback is sweet, so long as you’re paid for it.) Carpenter’s oeuvre generally depends on a no-nonsense, working-class hero fighting a corrupt system—or monsters, as in The Thing, his best pairing with Russell. The two reunited less successfully for 1996’s Escape From L.A. (set in the far-off year of 2013), and if ENY isn’t a great movie, it’s the template for a franchise with an iconic hero. Talk of a remake has been swirling for years (to star Gerard Butler? Jeremy Renner? Jason Statham? Tom Hardy?). Mega-producer Joel Silver wants to reboot it as a trilogy, natch, since New York itself is an internationally salable brand. And who today can’t relate to ENY ’s themes of social inequality? Mostly shot in St. Louis, of all places, ENY boasts a supporting cast too weirdly diverse to have been equalled before or since: Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau, and Ernest Borgnine. Try matching those players today on IMDb. (Through Wed.) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 686-6684, $6–$8. 9:30 p.m.

Deep Pulls

In Seattle, we often take for granted how many amazing posters are around us. The city’s light and telephone poles serve as far more than convenient perches for birds to poop on you; they act as miniature galleries for the everyman walking by. The group show Deep Pulls celebrates seven top local screen printers, makers of rich and varied street art—with no clip art allowed! On view are works incorporating obscure pop references that define the millennial generation, with cheeky reimaginings of Thomas the Tank Engine or nods to the almighty Atari 2600. This isn’t highbrow conceptual art, but the careful attention to the craft of screen printing is impressive. Frida Clements’ fine, almost scientific detail, Trevor Basset’s wide-ranging styles, and Mike Klay’s clever use of space elevate what might seem like cultural detritus to gallery-quality collectables. In addition, those looking to dive into screen printing can watch an artist demo at tonight’s reception. (Through July 13.) Ltd. Art Gallery, 307 E. Pike St., 457-2970, Opening reception: 7–11 p.m.

Sunday, June 22

Joan Rivers

This pioneering comedienne, now 81, would probably never touch the dread F-word, feminist. Joke about it, sure; mock the notion that men would ever recognize women as their equals (look what happened when she tried to launch a rival talk show against Johnny Carson, who cut her dead). Yet she’s been a trailblazer since the ’60s, forging a career in an era when the number of women doing stand-up basically amounted to her and Phyllis Diller. (Elaine May came a little later.) Today, I hate to say, she belongs to that class of living-legend comics whose each new tour might be their last. (Don Rickles and Bob Newhart are in the same fragile category.) Rivers has always made hay of her looks and surgical hold-backs against the press of time. You can’t separate the defiance from the bitchiness; if she was a little harsh recently about Kristen Stewart, let’s see how the latter has maintained a career 50 years hence. With all her Emmys, TV shows, books, and 1.5 million followers on Twitter, Rivers has persevered not just by wit but by work. That’s why she’s still touring and still an influence on all the women who’ve followed her into comedy. Never mind Lean In—Rivers simply succeeds by leading. Snoqualmie Casino, 37500 S.E. North Bend Way, 425-888-1234, $40 and up. 7 p.m.

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