Shrek is family-oriented in more ways than one

HEAVIER-Shrek“Once upon a time, there was a little Ogre named Shrek…” So begins Shrek The Musical, the musical stage version of the Oscar-winning film presented by Heavier Than Air Family Theatre. In this adventure, everyone’s favorite ogre finds himself on a life-changing journey with a wisecracking Donkey and feisty princess. Shrek’s travels take him from swamps to castles, encountering everything from a short tempered royal to a cookie with attitude, a band of fairytale misfits, and a fiercely flirtatious Dragon. Along the way he learns that different can be wonderful and friendships are kindled.

As Shrek, the story’s unlikely hero, actor Patrick Roduin’s return to the stage has also been an interesting journey. Over 20 years ago he planned to pursue a career in theatre but, as often happens, life came along and set him on a different course. Patrick currently works as a drafter for a local cabinet company.

Good neighbors build great gates

scbg Gate I

by James Daly and Greg Bartol

If you are one who recognizes great organizations when you see them, then you know that two of them are near each other on Lea Hill in Auburn. Naturally, when Soos Creek Botanical Garden (SCBG) needed a gate to span their large entry, they should turn to their neighbors at Green River College (GRC) Welding Technologies program.

“Not a standard rail-style gate,” said SCBG Director Jim Daly. “This gate should be unique, and be what ‘represents’ us. We are a 20 acre botanical garden of unique trees, plants and more.”

County council designates County Maritime Heritage Area


Des Moines Beach Park is included in the new County Maritime Heritage Area.

The Metropolitan King County Council has voted unanimously to recognize the historic, recreational and economic value of the region’s waterways by designating certain county shorelines as “County Maritime Heritage Area.” The ordinance is intended to encourage the State Legislature to designate saltwater shorelines statewide as a maritime heritage area, and ultimately, to prompt the U.S. Congress to take steps to designate a National Maritime Heritage Area in our region.

“We have worked to build vibrant communities and a growing economy on Puget Sound for decades,” said King Countyt Council Chair Larry Phillips. “We are defined by our waters and shorelines and our interaction with them over time, and that story should be highlighted and celebrated.”

Brugger to retire as Auburn’s first Poet Laureate

BruggerOn September 11, the City of Auburn is hosting a public celebration in honor of award-winning poet Dick Brugger as he finishes out his three-year term as Auburn’s first Poet Laureate. (See SoCoCulture calendar for details.)

Throughout Brugger’s tenure as Auburn’s Poet Laureate, his work has heightened the awareness of poetry and brought additional visibility to the many great poets that reside within the area.  He has presented at City events and festivals, written poetry for cultural exchanges, participated in youth workshops and public events, had his poetry integrated into permanent public art projects, and written a monthly “Poets Corner” section in the Auburn Reporter.

RYC founder receives state honor

Leora Schwitters (2)Leora Schwitters, Artistic Director and Founder of Rainier Youth Choirs (RYC), has been presented the Washington American Choral Directors Association (WA-ACDA) Leadership and Service Award for 2014. The organization’s 400-plus membership honors one member with this award each year at its annual state conference.

The award recognizes Schwitters, who currently directs RYC’s Young Women’s Ensemble and Colla Voce choir and co-directs RYC’s Consonare choir, for her outstanding musicianship and leadership. The recipient of this prestigious award must have produced outstanding choirs worthy of regional and national performances, programmed the highest quality literature for all music periods appropriate to performers’ abilities, demonstrated excellence in rehearsal with singers of all ages and ability levels inspiring many to become skilled musicians, and supported ACDA as a loyal member, strong promoter and effective leader making a difference in opportunities for singers and choral directors.

Pianos on Parade in Auburn


IMG_8485 copy

Detail from the piano created by Amaranta Ibarra

Pianos on Parade is back for a third year, celebrating art and music throughout Auburn.  This temporary art project takes the shape of seven art-modified pianos that anyone can see and play. Previously only located in Downtown Auburn, the program has expanded to Les Gove Park and Lakeland Hills. Play one or more of the pianos, take a photo or video, and share it with all of Auburn! #PianoChallenge

Here is a list of pianos, artists and locations:

  • At the corner of Main and Division in downtown Auburn, the piano created by the brother-sister team of Michael  Taskey and Theresa Taskey was inspired by the 1920s German silent horror film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The artists used glow-in-the-dark paint, carved wood and solar-powered lights. The host for this piano is State Farm insurance agent Scott Hubert.
  • At 101 E Main Street, Nelson’s Jewelry hosts the piano created by artist Mary Ellen Bowers, who created a torn-paper collage to depict Mt. Rainier and the view from Auburn’s Centennial Viewpoint Park.
  • At 1406 Lake Tapps Parkway E, the piano by freelance multimedia artist/designer Suzy Fountaine is an updated version of her piano from 2013, with 3-D elements that can be viewed through glasses provided onsite. This piano is being hosted by Haggen Food Grocery Store, Lakeland Hills.
  • At the B Street Plaza at 144 E Main Street, Home Plate Pub is hosting a piano by Amaranta Ibarra, who depicts Día de los Muertos and invites passersby to consider their ancestors.
  • At Sound Transit Plaza (23 A Street), photographer Elise Koncsek created laser-cut wooden notes which began as digital images, and then affixed these to the piano – the public can share their own melodies by arranging the laser-cut wood musical notes on metallic staff lines.=============This piano is being hosted by Station Bistro.
  • In Les Gove Park (910 Ninth Street SE), the City of Auburn is hosting a piano that is no longer playable but is a visual surprise. Illustrator/animator Amy Collins collaborated with artist Jerrud Collins to reimagine this piano as a big fuzzy animal. It is located adjacent to the Discovery Playground.
  • And in tribute to street performers everywhere, the Penny Piano, hosted at 402 E Main Street by Zola’s Cafe, is covered with pennies and has a tip jar built right in.

These pianos are on display in Auburn and are available for playing through Monday, September 8.

Posted on 8/18/2014.



Rainier Youth Choirs sing in the Big Easy

SeaTacTwenty-two Rainier Youth Choirs singers, six parent chaperones, and RYC Artistic Director and Founder, Leora Schwitters traveled to New Orleans this summer for a remarkable week at the 15th annual Crescent City Choral Festival in New Orleans. They were one of only ten choirs that had been chosen by audition to participate in the festival held in one of America’s most historic cities.

The group included Joel Sigrist, Kevin Sweet, Lindsey Pavletich, and Duane Davis of Renton; Makoto Také of SeaTac; Angela Cimo and Haylee Ball of Auburn; Julia Wenndt, Russell Johnson, Janeé Green, Juliana Howe, Tyson Powell, Ariel Gire, Elena Cueto, and Olivia Gendreau of Kent; Sophia Heinz, Elizabeth Zosel, and Jonathan Zosel from Maple Valley; Nick Anderson, Fiona Higgins, and Hannah Burley of Covington; and Amanda Ross of Issaquah. Even before they left for New Orleans, this group of South King County teens was primed to sing, regaling fellow passengers at SeaTac Airport with an impromptu concert before they boarded their flight.

Auburn PAC to get long-needed upgrades

by Pam L. Smith, managing director, Auburn School District Theatres

AuburnPACbathroomsOne of South King County’s busiest performance halls is shutting its doors – but only temporarily. Hosting over 300 events a year, the 1100-seat Auburn Performing Arts Center, located on the campus of Auburn High School, has been a veritable cultural workhorse. Since it opened in 1981, it has served all of the Auburn School District as well as numerous local and regional groups, including the City of Auburn’s BRAVO Series, the Auburn Symphony Orchestra, and Pacific Ballroom Dance.

But over the years, some challenges have become apparent – from the PAC’s inadequate parking and delivery areas, to worn out theater seats. The theatre’s heating and air conditioning equipment is wearing out and the lighting and sound systems are in need of an upgrade. The building does not meet current structural codes and ADA regulations, and it also falls short in providing common sense amenities – there are only five stalls in the women’s restroom!

Covington Library hosts a Poetry Coffeehouse

The City of Covington is perhaps best known for a retail core dominated by shopping plazas and big box stores, but on the fringe of that consumer-driven landscape, the Covington Library stands as a bulwark of creative and cultural vitality.

Case in point: the Poetry Coffeehouse taking place there on Wednesday, April 23, 7 PM, in honor of National Poetry Month.

paul nelsonNorthwest poetic promulgator Paul Nelson, formerly of Auburn, returns to South King County for this event and is joined by fellow poets Peter Munro, Amber Nelson and Judith Roche to participate in an evening of open mike poetry reading for all ages. Nelson is the author of A Time Before Slaughter, an epic poem about the history of Auburn that incorporates Whulshootseed, the ancestral language of the Muckleshoot tribe. He has been a literary arts activist for more than a quarter of a century He is a driving force behind the Cascadia Poetry Festival, he writes an American Sentence every day, and his own work has been translated into Spanish, Chinese and Portuguese.

Judith Roche is the author of three poetry collections – Wisdom of the Body is an American Book Award winner. She has published widely in various journals and magazines, and taught at various universities and poetry workshops throughout the country. Currently she is on the Washington State Humanities Inquiring Minds roster. Roche’s poetry has been incorporated into several Western Washington public art projects, including Water Carry, a poem that is incorporated into a public art installation by artist Claudia Fitch at the Tukwila Water Treatment Plant.

Peter Munro is a fisheries scientist who works in the Bering Sea, the Aleutian Islands, the Gulf of Alaska, and Seattle. He is also the founder and host of Easy Speak Wedgwood, a monthly open mike at the Wedgwood Ale House.

AmberNelsonAnd Amber Nelson is the co-founder and poetry editor for alice blue review, as well as the editor of alice blue books, which creates handmade art books in limited editions. She’s the author of several chapbooks, including Diary of When Being With Friends Feels Like Watching TV (Slash Pine) and Your Trouble is Ballooning (Publishing Genius). Her first full-length book, In Anima: Urgency, is forthcoming from Coconut Books.

The Poetry Coffeehouse is free and open to the public – local poets and poetry-lovers are encouraged to attend and participate. This event is made possible thanks to the support of the Friends of the Covington Library and the Maple Valley Library Guild. Treats and coffee will be provided.

Posted 4/22/2014

Local teachers flock to the stage in HONK!


HONK! cast members include Heather Waugh, Crestwood Elementary, Kent SD; Tina Snyder, Shadow Lake Elementary, Tahoma SD; Terri Thibodeaux, Lake Youngs Elementary, Kent SD; Jeri Mahaffey, Northwood Middle School, Kent SD; Sunshine Glynn, Panther Lake Elementary, Federal Way SD

A bevy of talented school employees will be flocking to the stage in this award-winning musical rendition of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling.” Presented by Heavier Than Air Family Theatre, HONK! uses charm and humor to tell the endearing story of an odd looking baby duck and his quest to find his mother. Familiar cast members include teachers, para educators and staff from the Kent, Auburn, Tahoma, and Federal Way school districts. Several of these school employees recently hosted a Musical Theatre Night in conjunction with the PTA at Lea Hill Elementary. In addition to providing students with a workshop on the art of acting, singing and performing, the event allowed cast members to deliver HONK!’s message of tolerance in support of the anti-bullying campaigns widely featured at institutions throughout the state.

Rep. Zack Hudgins hosts Renton History Museum exhibit

Legislative aide Doug Honma helped arrange the exhibit in Rep. Zack Hudgins' office

Legislative aide Doug Honma helped arrange the exhibit in Rep. Zack Hudgins’ office

The Olympia office of Rep. Zack Hudgins (11th District) is hosting a selection of the Renton History Museum exhibit, I Am Here: Students Find Themselves in Renton, throughout the 2014 legislative session. I Am Here features the essays and photography of Renton High School sophomores, exploring their favorite places in and outside of Renton. The award-winning Renton History Museum exhibit, widely recognized for its success in engaging youth, represents Rep. Hudgins’ first featured history exhibit.

Duwamish pioneer served in Civil War militia

Henry Van Asselt – Image Credit: MOHAI, 1967.4236.1

by Pat Brodin, Tukwila Historical Society

Although the Civil War was under way on the eastern side of the nation which seemed far away from the Pacific Northwest, the conflict had coursed its way through the Washington Territory. Vast numbers of military personnel throughout the West were sent through San Francisco on their way to eastern battlegrounds and with their departures, the territorial forts were left vacant. Acting Gov. Henry McGill delivered a proclamation to form local militia, which was prompted by the May 3, 1861, presidential proclamation from Abraham Lincoln calling for 42,000 additional volunteers to serve for three years.

Anybody Can Do Anything – a guide to surviving the bad times

Anybody_coverNorthwest author Betty MacDonald is best known for her phenomenally successful first book, The Egg And I, published in 1945. MacDonald’s third memoir, Anybody Can Do Anything, fondly and wittily recounts her family’s struggles to survive the hard years of the Great Depression in Seattle. Published in 1950, Anybody Can Do Anything offers a nostalgic but realistic portrait of how her family — the Bards — survived the harsh 1930s in a modest home in Seattle’s Roosevelt district.

“There is no getting around the fact that being poor takes getting used to,” Betty wrote. “You have to adjust to the fact that it is no longer a question of what you eat but if you eat. That when you want to go to a movie you can stay home and read the book. That when you want to go dancing you can stay home and make fudge. That when you want to go for a drive in a convertible you can go for a walk in the park. When you want to go to a concert you can play Chinese checkers with Mother” (ACDA, p.94).

What in the world is Vertical Plank/Box Construction?

The Luigi and Aurora Pagani house in Black Diamond

The Luigi and Aurora Pagani house in Black Diamond

Some people quest for diamonds, shipwrecks, or prehistoric bones – but Seattle historic preservation specialist Kate Krafft seeks a different rare item – examples of Vertical Plank/Box Construction. In the Puget Sound region, vertical plank construction dates from the mid- to late-19th century into the early 20th century. It is a distinctly different construction method and structural system from the construction types (full log, hewn log, balloon frame, western frame) that are generally identified with settlement era construction in the region. One nice example of Vertical Plank/Box Construction can be found in Black Diamond – in the Luigi and Aurora Pagani house. Other known and documented examples include the Charles and Minnie Moore House in Fall City, and the Officer’s Quarters at both Fort Steilacoom and at American Camp on San Juan Island.

School boards hold the keys to arts education

Candidate Survey Project logoWith hundreds of Washington school board positions up for election this fall, voters have a critical opportunity to select leaders who are committed to providing the high quality, sequential arts learning that every student deserves – and that the law requires! But how will voters know which candidates support arts education and are willing to work to improve its provision?

Hubley’s Jack is back – along with The Giant and a saucy Bossy Cow


by Barbara McMichael, SoCoCulture

The guy with the big smile and graying ponytail may work wonders in his day job as Bob-the-Fix-It-Guy, but it’s after work that Bob Hubley really works his magic.

He’s been involved with Heavier Than Air Theatre, Green River Community College’s resident theatre company, since his daughter was young. More than 20 years later, Hubley is still here, a musical mainstay of this unique community theatre that makes use of the combined talents of children, local actors and professionals.

Nihon/WA celebrates Japanese aesthetic


AkioTakamori’s “Sleeping Woman in Yellow Dress

by Barbara McMichael, SoCoCulture

Art exhibit as apology? That’s a gross oversimplification of “Nihon/WA,” the White River Valley Museum’s new exhibit showcasing works by Puget Sound-based artists of Japanese heritage over the last 50 years. But Museum director Patricia Cosgrove and guest curator Kenneth Greg Watson acknowledge that one of the intentions of this extraordinary gathering of work is to honor a population that once thrived in the Auburn area, until it was driven away – literally – by the events of World War II.

Prior to December 7, 1941, the White River Valley had been home to thousands of Japanese immigrants and their children. But the bombing of Pearl Harbor led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to sign Executive Order 9066, which forced their removal and incarceration. Once the war was over, only a few families returned to the place they once called Shirakawa.


Guest curator Kenneth Greg Watson

“Nihon/WA” showcases an aesthetic that has overcome politics, bigotry and exclusion to become an enduring part of our region’s identity. Watson, former Auburn Arts Commission chair and an artist himself, worked contacts and wangled loans to bring together works from 18 different artists of Japanese heritage – Gerard Tsutakawa, Patti Warashina, Aki Sogabe, and Roger Shimomura, to name just a few. Diverse as these pieces are – expressions range from quirky cloisonné miniatures to kites to oversize sculpture – there are shared qualities in terms of gestural line, balance and, as Watson puts it, “letting the moment have its chance.”

The White River Valley Museum long has engaged in sharing the prewar Japanese history of the Auburn area. This exhibit, more contemporary in nature, is a consideration of how that heritage manifests now. It’s not only a celebration but also a homecoming invitation.

Says Watson, “I would love it if someone called this place Shirakawa again.”

For more details on the exhibit, read this coverage from the Tacoma News Tribune.

Posted 4/26/2013 

Jefferson Davis – unlikely champion for the Pacific Northwest

by Karen Meador

JeffersonDavisFor most people, the phrase Jefferson Davis and the Pacific Northwest sounds like the ultimate historical paradox. But before he became President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, Davis had had a long career of public service to the United States as a West Point graduate and Army officer, Congressman, Senator, Secretary of War and closest adviser to President Franklin Pierce. Matters concerning the Pacific Northwest commanded his close attention.

As an ardent expansionist, Jefferson Davis was a great supporter of creating a continental nation. From the time he entered Congress in 1845, through his final term in the Senate as Chairman of Military Affairs, he sponsored numerous bills and secured appropriations to promote American settlement of the West. In the 1840s, many in government discounted the value of the remote Oregon Country. Yet, in his first congressional speech, Davis addressed the boundary dispute with Great Britain, calling for the U.S. to assert its claims to the region. Expanding the Army presence along the Oregon Trail and throughout the Northwest, as well as sponsoring numerous surveys, topographical expeditions and scientific studies were among his top priorities.

Federal Way Symphony Swing Band Concert

by Maureen Hathaway, Federal Way Arts Commission

toddzimbergMost of us have heard the spellbinding words of “there’s no business like show business” and boy do we have a dazzling blitz of music coming to Federal Way and Puget Sound audiences when the Federal Way Symphony presents its annual Swing Concert on Sunday, January 27!

Todd Zimberg and Lonnie Mardis are the dynamic duo and architects of this nostalgic package of music that has people waiting a year to hear some of their favorite swing standards.

Saltwater celebrates centennial of state parks system

by Barbara McMichael, SoCoCulture

On the morning of January 1, nearly two dozen visitors from around Central Puget Sound started off 2013 right with a wonderful guided hike of Saltwater State Park. This event helped to kick off a year-long celebration of the Washington State Park System‘s centennial.

Oral history project launches in Federal Way

Maureen Holloway interviews longtime Federal Way activist Dave Kaplan

Maureen Hathaway interviews longtime Federal Way activist Dave Kaplan

by Maureen Hathaway – Oral History Project Director, Historical Society of Federal Way

The Historical Society of Federal Way has dreamed of having an Oral Historical Project for many years and now this dream is coming to fruition with a grant from 4Culture. Oral histories preserve our past, present and provide a portrait for future generations.

Halloween leads to early Christmas for Fiji M-CAWA

by Katherine Hernandez, Fiji Multi-Cultural Association of Washington

Wearing a stiff new chef coat, I carried a large, freshly hollowed pumpkin to my car. I was prepared for a networking event one chilly night in late October. It was almost Halloween, and the Pravda Pumpkin party and potluck seemed like a great opportunity to spread the word about my new catering business.

A special twist on S-Pam-a-lot

Kentlake High School drama teacher Pam Cressey and
Mackenzie Visser in character as Lady of the Lake

In 2009, Kentlake High School drama teacher Pam Cressey was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As she battled for her life, her current and former students produced a revue of the many musicals they were proud to participate in over the 10 years of Pam’s direction at Kentlake. They called this tribute “Pam-a-lot,” and it helped to raise over $8,000 for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, an organization that provides funding for research and patient support.

New cultural blog on the Plateau

A new member of SoCoCulture, Susan Etchey, 72, relocated to the Pacific Northwest in June of 2012 after living 20 years in rural Florida near Lake Okeechobee. She says her return back home to family and many relatives stretching from Lake Stevens, Washington to Corvallis, Oregon was long overdue but precipitated by entering her third age of life. “It was time to return even though I have visited my family many times over the years and we are very close, I needed to be closer.”

Since returning Susan has become involved in several arts organizations, volunteering her marketing skills, and she recently started an arts blog eager to express her feelings about the importance of creatives in society.

If These Walls Could Talk

Neely Mansion Association board members (l. to r.) Karen Meador, Karen Bouton, Linda Van Nest and Hilda Meryhew

by Karen Meador

Over 200 people recently attended the premiere screening of “If These Walls Could Talk” at the Neely Mansion. The video depicts vignettes in the lives of each of the five families who lived at the historic farmhouse from the 1890s through the 1970s.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Black Diamond resident and historian Ken Jensen observed: “Interpreting history is about understanding the context in which it occurs – and the Neely Mansion Association’s video does just that. The arrival of the railroad and modern conveniences, the stock market crash and the Great Depression, immigration and racial discrimination – it’s all there and provides a window into the world of the families that lived in the mansion.”

Boogie-woogie to Enumclaw

Bob Milne is not only one of the world’s best boogie-woogie pianists, he’s also a “traveling ragtimist.” At the age of 72, this indefatigable musician keeps up a nationwide touring schedule that entails approximately 250 concerts annually. He also gives special overseas performances of American music in events arranged by the Department of State at venues from Japan to Switzerland.

Milne is an author and the composer of several musical works. Most recently, he has researched and composed a full-length opera based on Washington Irving’s classic story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Not surprisingly, he has been dubbed a national treasure by the Library of Congress.

Welcoming the salmon home – a public art project

by Barbara McMichael

I’d love to invite everyone to come to Des Moines before the month of October is over to enjoy the Salmon Homecoming Project. To welcome returning salmon, over 300 local residents decorated fishtail-shaped banners that we strung up along the pedestrian bridges that span Des Moines’ salmon-spawning creeks. Students at Parkside and Midway Elementary Schools participated, as did students at Mt. Rainier High School and kids in Des Moines Parks & Recreation’s After-School Program. We held banner-decorating workshops at Des Moines and Woodmont Libraries, the Des Moines Farmers Market, and Highline Community College’s Marine and Science Technology Center (MaST). Des Moines Senior Services invited us to bring our project to two senior lunches – one of them catering to Hispanic seniors.

What motivates the business community to support local arts and heritage efforts

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Stewart, PhD, Renton History Museum Director

At our September 12th membership meeting, co-hosted by the Renton History Museum and the Renton Municipal Arts Commission, SoCoCulture welcomed Brad Brotherton, principal owner of Brotherton Cadillac Buick GMC. A strong community supporter, Brotherton gave SoCo members the following guidance for reaching out to the business community for support.

First and foremost you have to ask. Sometimes you must ask up to seven times to get a “Yes!” Ask them why there is a “No” and what it would take to get a “Yes.”

  • Ask why it is “No” now.
  • Do not ask in December.  (Consider the timing of your ask – sometimes December is a good time to get in when financial times are good, but not if they are bad. So the timing and condition of the market are important.)
  • If you are considering a request for next year, make sure you put some time between your “ask” and the event you are promoting. For example: start the relationship before Halloween in the year before you need the resource to get into their budget cycle.

Real life desperado inspires site-specific play

by Keri Healey, playwright

There’s an interesting story that happened on Auburn’s Mary Olson Farm 110 years ago, and it’s a story I might never have heard until Charlie Rathbun and Eric Taylor of 4Culture (King County’s cultural services agency) clued me into the tale of Harry Tracy, the notorious criminal who cut a treacherous path through Washington State on the way to his final act in Eastern Washington.

Trace Des Moines history via heritage trail

by Barbara McMichael, SoCoCulture administrator
Historical photographs provided courtesy of Des Moines Historical Society 

The Des Moines Beach Park Heritage Trail is a stroll back through time. The Des Moines Historical Society, with support from 4Culture, has erected several informative markers throughout the Des Moines Marina and Des Moines Beach Park so that people can get a sense of the lives of those who came before.

Who was Jerry Meeker?

by Linda Van Nest, Points Northeast Historical Society

Who was Jerry Meeker? A Native American teacher, a family man, a real estate developer, a Puyallup language interpreter, an advisor to chiefs, a weather man, a salmon bake expert, and a good neighbor. Brought up during the period of Native American assimilation, Meeker learned the ways of the white man from friends and at several Indian schools. He was a product of two cultures and lived in two worlds.

Meet Auburn poet Meghan McClure

by Marjorie Rommel, Northwest Renaissance Poets

Connecticut-born Meghan McClure, after 21 moves, a brief stint in the Midwest for college, and a short stay on Seattle’s Eastside, landed in Auburn nearly three years ago. The ripples are still working their way to the edges of the South County literary pond.

McClure, 27, who helps edit A River and Sound Review, a literary journal she describes as “hilarious, intelligent, and unpretentious,” grew up in a military family that bounced between coasts while she was growing up, along the way instilling her with a deep love of reading.

Federal Way pieces together Seattle’s neglected history

by Dick Caster

The Historical Society of Federal Way recently completed its restoration of the historic David T. Denny Cabin.  Historical Society secretary Dick Caster has written a detailed monograph about the Denny Cabin. Below is an excerpt.

As early as 1870 David Denny had expanded his real estate holdings and by the 1880s he owned over 1000 acres and in partnership with others controlled much of the land on southern Queen Anne Hill from Lake Union to Puget Sound as well as some land on the north slope of Queen Anne Hills as far as the Fremont District. In the 1880s David Denny formed a real estate company, D.T. Denny and Son, to market and develop his land holdings. He platted several sub divisions.

Assuming the helm and Rockin’ the Boat

by Brian Winnie

Choral music has been a part of social entertainment and the theatre since the times of Greek tragedy. Today choral music is often used in theatre, movies, and commercials to stimulate certain emotional responses and enhance dramatic plot points.

ChoralSounds Northwest (CSN) represents a community of talented vocalists from teenagers to retirees. Beginning in January of this year, we embarked on a journey of the discovery of great choral and solo music featured on the stage and screen. Through this rehearsal process CSN has studied the vast difference of vocal colors and styles in the classical music of Mozart’s Dies Irae, the popular music of Green Day’s American Idiot, the theatrical music of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd  and Into the Woods, the exciting music of John William’s Star Wars Phantom Menace, and more.

Top 10 places for romance in So King Co

In anticipation of the upcoming Romance Extravaganza taking place at Covington Library on Saturday, May 5, the staff there — always eager to help the public gain access to the best resources — thoughtfully put together this list…

10. Seek peace and inspiration together at Kubota Gardens, 9817 55th Avenue S, Seattle.

9. Relax together at Lake Meridian Park, 14800 SE 272 Street, Kent.

8. Stroll through the Lake Wilderness Arboretum, 22520 SE 248th Maple Valley.

MaST tells the poignant real-life tale of a whale

by Barbara McMichael

If you haven’t yet had a chance to visit MaST, Highline Community College’s Marine Science and Technology Center, this spring is the time to do it. For the last several years, this state-of-the-art marine laboratory at Redondo Beach has welcomed the public (free admission!) every Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM, to visit. The lab includes 3,000 gallons’ worth of flow-through saltwater tanks, holding over a hundred species of local marine life. If you’ve never touched a sea urchin or seastar, or seen a wolf eel up close (and chances are you haven’t, because wolf eels are very shy) this is the place to get acquainted.

Meet Auburn’s first-ever Poet Laureate

by Marjorie Rommel, Northwest Renaissance Poets

Richard K. Brugger, well-known and much-beloved former executive director of Auburn Youth Resources, is affectionately known as “Wicked Dick” in the area poetry community.  He was crowned with the figurative laurel wreath of Auburn Poet Laureate in January, and made his official debut during this year’s annual Uniquely Auburn festival, January 29, in the Auburn Performing Arts Center.

Museums and students – changing minds together

by Elizabeth P. Stewart

How connected do young people feel to the past? That was one of the things we set out to learn when we began planning for our current exhibit, Two By Two: Students Reinterpret Renton History. Thanks to our partnership with Renton High Language Arts teacher Derek Smith, in fall 2011 we were able to invite 58 Honors English students in to explore the Renton History Museum’s collection. Their task was to select historic objects and photos, research them, then compare and contrast them to their own meaningful objects and photos.

Federal Way Regional Library celebrates 20 years

by Donna McMillen, Federal  Way Library Cluster Manager

Federal Way Library celebrates the 20 year anniversary of the “new” building on February 11, 2011.

We’ve gone from being open 2 hours a week with 150 books in 1944 to being open 126 hours a week total for both Federal Way libraries in 2012, and with over 270,000 items in our combined collections. We have nearly 35,000 square feet in the library building on 1st Avenue that was expanded in 2010.

Becoming a Chautauqua scholar

by Joan Wolfberg, Chautauqua performer

I had never heard of Chautauqua until I moved to New Mexico from Florida  in 1991.  I was a working actress in Florida, but in New Mexico acting jobs were scarce.  Someone suggested I contact the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities and inquire about their Chautauqua program, which included performers portraying great humanitarians.  I called and found out that Chautauqua is the show that makes you think.  It is a theatrical transformation of time, which magically transports audiences out of the present and back into the past.

Silent film gets new film score by So King Co harpist








by Leslie McMichael, harpist/composer

I call myself a movie-loving musician, so I was pretty thrilled when I was given a serendipitous chance to write new music for a classic silent film. In 2007, the Northwest Film Forum commissioned me to write a new score for the 1924 silent film version of Peter Pan. After  being lost for generations, the film had been recently located and restored — it’s the only  film version of Peter Pan over which author J.M. Barrie himself had casting approval!

You can help shape King Co’s Comprehensive Plan

by Barbara McMichael, SoCoCulture administrator

Cultural advocates — particularly folks with an interest in local history and heritage, should be aware that the King County Comprehensive Plan is currently undergoing review.  The largest county in the state (and the 14th largest in the nation), King County initially adopted a comprehensive plan in 1994 as part of the Growth Management Act.  Since that time, the demographics of the county have shifted, with the incorporation of five new cities as well as numerous annexations to existing cities.  The population living within incorporated King County has swelled by more than half a million,  while the unincorporated population has decreased by 239,000 — some of this is due to sprawl and annexation.

Normandy Park Yule Craft Bazaar this weekend

High school seniors Sophy and Annastasia are
learning how to market the arts.

The Normandy Park Yule Craft Bazaar is the brainchild of Annastasia Nichol and Sophy Hildreth. Both girls are seniors in high school, Sophy attends Mt. Rainier High School in Des Moines, and Annastasia attends online classes with Insight Schools of Washington. Annastasia and Sophy are dedicated to arts and their community, so this project seemed like the perfect way for them to not only bring recognition to artists and crafters in the area but to give something meaningful back to their communities.

It’s not easy being green

Lanny Caudill, who plays the role of the Grinch in the new Heavier Than Air production of Seussical, the Musical, spends about 45 minutes turning green before every performance.

First he uses a base coat of white, then Mehron performance makeup to color his face, neck, and ears green. He dresses in green sweat pants, sweatshirt, gloves and socks. He highlights his eyebrows in black and dons a bright red lipstick, an old Santa coat, and Santa stocking hat.

On Saturday and Sundays when he is in two shows in one day, he doesn’t take off his makeup between shows…but many times he must touch up his makeup. At the end of the curtain call, he washes his face once or twice with Ivory soap and water to remove all the green.

Pinocchio in panto

by Alan Bryce, Centerstage Artistic Director

The raucous story of Pinocchio, the headstrong puppet who gets into all sorts of mischief on his way to becoming a real boy, is the perfect subject matter for a traditional English Christmas panto.  Most Americans might think a pantomime is a silent art form but — to the contrary — this kind of pantomime is anything but quiet!  Its roots go back as far as commedia dell’arte. With gloriously silly traditions, comic routines as old as the hills, stock characters such as The Dame (a grotesque woman always played by a man), audience participation and popular music of the day… pantomime is a glorious, noisy hybrid.

Ground penetrating radar at the Saar Pioneer Cemetery

Story and photos by Karen Bouton, SKCGS Saar Cemetery Project Coordinator

In late 2004, the Saar Pioneer  Cemetery was dark, gloomy, and horribly overgrown with blackberries and ivy.  One could barely determine it was a burial place for many of the Kent area pioneers. The South King County Genealogical Society (SKCGS) took on the monumental task of getting it cleaned up, and through countless volunteer labor hours and several generous grants the cemetery is now a well-maintained place of reverence.

NWSO concert to feature Karin Stevens Dance

by Karin Stevens, Karin Stevens Dance

In its first concert of the season (Friday, 10/28, at the Highline Performing Arts Center), the Northwest Symphony Orchestra will present two pieces in conjunction with performances by Karin Stevens Dance. Below, Ms. Stevens explains how she came to choreograph these works.

I was commissioned by Glacier Symphony and Chorale  in 2010 to create rep for a Baroque to the 20th Century program that we (ksd-6dancers) would travel to Whitefish, MT and perform with GSC during their Festival Amadeus in August 2010.

The repertoire included Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Grieg, Corigliano, and Copland.

Dancing Classrooms

by Christine France – Teaching Artist and Dancing Classrooms Program Liaison, Pacific Ballroom Dance

This is the second year Pacific Ballroom Dance has offered Dancing Classrooms to area schools.  What is Dancing Classrooms? It is an inter-curriculum program taught to 10- and 11- year-old 5th grade students in public schools, during the school day, as part of a 10-week, 20-lesson course. The students learn the Merengue, Foxtrot, Rumba, Tango, Swing, and Waltz. Dancing Classrooms also qualifies under the Washington State EALRS for the Arts.

Local topography is subject of new public art

Orcas Island artist Bruce Myers recently completed installation of his latest artwork, “Auburn Valley Topography,” which had been commissioned by the City of Auburn for the Les Gove Park Activity Center. The two-panel 13’ x 13’ painted steel artwork is a representation of the local landscape as sculpted by the Green and White Rivers. Flanking each side of the climbing wall, this most recent addition to the City’s Public Art Collection references the elevation of landscape as the climbers literally climb upward… gaining perspective. The seating boulders surrounding the wall are a physical reminder of the natural setting in which the sport of climbing originated.

Act now: charitable deductions under threat

by Elizabeth P. Stewart, Director, Renton History Museum

The American Association of Museums recently offered a webinar titled “Congress Takes a Hard Look at Charitable Giving: How Will Museums Fare?” This topic should be of particular interest to lovers of arts and heritage in Washington state, because our own Senator Patty Murray is a co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the committee that will be exploring changes to the charitable tax deduction as part of their package of options to reduce the federal deficit. Their work must be completed by November 23, so there is no better time to make our voices heard on this issue.

Reflections on 9/11

by Barbara McMichael, SoCoCulture administrator

The ripple effects of 9/11/2001 have extended across the miles and through time.  This point was driven home to me last week as I listened to a flight attendant recount her memories of that terrible day a decade ago when terrorists flew passenger jets into the Pentagon and New York’s World Trade Center.  Even ten years later, her tears flowed freely as she remembered where she was and how she felt, and reflected on how it has affected her work ever since that day.

Creating a Monster in Burien

 Burien Little Theatre is producing the world premiere of Roxanne Linnea Ray’s newly conceived version of Mary Shelley’s classic story, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. One of the central characters in the story is the Creature, the daring creation of young Victor Frankenstein – but modern audiences who are familiar only with the movie version may be startled to realize that Shelley viewed the Creature as the victim, and intended the real monster to be the scientist who created life and then disdained it.

Boomtown! The Making of a Renton History Museum Exhibit

by Elizabeth P. Stewart, Director, Renton History Museum

The Renton History Museum is opening our second Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition, “Journey Stories,” thanks to the Museum on Main Street program and Humanities Washington. This special exhibit will be on display from September 6 – October 15, 2011. “Journey Stories” draws on the Smithsonian’s extraordinary collection to explore Americans’ history of immigration, migration, and transportation. Given Renton’s history of transportation manufacture at Boeing, PACCAR, and Kenworth, and its location at the crossroads of rivers, lakes, highways, railways, and air routes, the city seemed like a perfect location for this exhibit about Americans’ hunger for travel.

To complement the Smithsonian exhibit’s national focus, the museum also organized an exhibit that speaks to Renton’s massive wartime in-migration. “Boomtown! Renton During World War II” looks at the experiences of thousands of defense workers who made the city their new home in the 1940s. Renton’s WWII population explosion fundamentally changed the city, as newcomers and long-term residents negotiated ways of coming together at work, school, church, and home.

Irene Emmons receives a war bond

The Renton History Museum’s collection is rich in photos and artifacts between the 1880s and the 1920s, but we continue to look for ways to build our collection to represent more recent decades. Exhibits like Boomtown! often uncover new donations that help us tell the story. We already held a set of Rosie the Riveter coveralls labeled “This Garment [Manufactured] Exclusively for the Woman War-Worker.” Our preparations for the exhibit also uncovered a donor who shared her mother’s WWII-era Nurse’s Aide uniform, and another who donated a series of photos of his mother working at Pacific Car & Foundry as a driver. These objects and photos, which do so much to bring the era to life, might not have come to us otherwise.

“These people came from all over the United States – Boeing gave them free transportation and had their recruiters out … We had to have the people to build the planes, but the community didn’t seem to understand that…. All of a sudden they would go to their little local service on Sunday, and here would be a whole family – somebody they’d never seen before. So this was too much for them.”

                                — Frank Conklin, Head of Renton Housing Authority Projects

Our oral histories are also invaluable in telling the story. In his interview in the 1980s, Frank Conklin candidly shared his experiences as an administrator of the federal housing project in the Renton Highlands. And a recent interview with Pearl Espetveit Jacobson revealed the experience of an insecure, small-town North Dakota girl transplanted into what she perceived as a huge high school when her father took a Boeing job.

Together these oral histories, objects, and photos help the Renton History Museum piece together a sense of the changes that laid the foundation for the city we live in today. We hope that “Boomtown!” illuminates our small but significant portion of Americans’ “journey stories.”

The Renton History Museum is located at 235 Mill Avenue S in Renton.  It is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 AM – 4 PM.

9/11 Tragedy Inspires Citizenship

The Auburn Symphony Orchestra is proud to join with the City of Auburn and the Auburn School District in sponsoring “The Triumph of the American Spirit,” a free commemorative event on September 11 at 2:30 at the Auburn Performing Arts Center.

The involvement of the ASO in the program is significant in that conductor Stewart Kershaw was moved to become a US citizen as a result of the tragic events of 9/11/2001. Stewart was born in England and had lived all over the world. By 9/11 he had been a resident of the United States for 20 years. On that day he experienced the deep raw emotions of the entire world, and as Americans came together as one, Stewart felt a part of our country like he never had before.

This program is one way for Stewart to continue to show his appreciation and pride in his citizenship. The 40 minutes of music, all by American composers, is both an expression of reverence for those who lost their lives and an expression of joy for the resilience of New York City and our country. This will be a beautiful program you won’t want to miss.

Federal Way Performing Arts and Civic Center Moves Forward

For over 20 years, the Federal Way Coalition of the Performing Arts has worked to promote and raise funds for a performing arts center that will have the capacity to host Federal Way-based groups.  Much more recently, plans were expanded to include a civic center in the design.  Following is an update from FWCPA President Joann Piquette, which was excerpted from a story on the FWCPA website

In December, with funds from the state, the City of Federal Way purchased the former Toys R Us site, which is located just north of the transit center and has a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier.

The City Council agreed to the process of hiring an architectural firm to begin conceptual designs on how the facility would fit on the land. The addition of the civic center aspect is relatively new, so little detail had been discussed. There had been three feasibility studies done in recent years, primarily on the performance hall. The civic center will add a multitude of potential uses to the facility, and will be more attractive for conferences, hobby shows, receptions, large organizational gatherings, classes, and various competitions that need rooms for both performance and meeting space. We anticipate some involvement, particularly at the high school level, for classes in technical skills in sound and lighting and set building. Discussions with the Federal Way School District are to be planned.

The City appointed an Advisory Committee, with representatives from the business community, a hotelier, a City Council member, a school board member, a structural engineer, and from the Federal Way Coalition of the Performing Arts.

The first action taken by the Advisory Committee was to send out a Request for Qualifications for the architectural firm.  There were fifteen responses from around the world.  The committee narrowed the selection to four, interviewed the finalists, rated them, and finally selected LMN Architectural Firm of Seattle.  LMN designed Benaroya Hall and McCaw Hall in Seattle as well as McIntyre Hall in Mount Vernon, which the FWCPA has adopted as a model for what might fit in Federal Way.

Upcoming discussions with LMN Architects, potential user groups and then some public meetings are being organized, once the contract is approved.

Fund raising will be the next important step, and whether the city decides to pursue bonding or focus on grants, partnerships, private donations, and naming rights to raise funds is in the early stages of discussion.   What role the FWCPA will play has not been determined, although discussions have begun.

Fiestas Tempranas – Early Literacy in Spanish

by Teresa Luengo-Cid, KCLS Early Literacy Parties Coordinator










Ed. Note:  This is our first bilingual blog!  Read on for Spanish AND English versions!

En el condado de King somos afortunados de que las Bibliotecas del Condado King — KCLS — ofrezcan los talleres gratuitos de Alfabetización Temprana conocidos como “Fiestas.” Desde que los talleres comenzaran ofrecerse en el 2007, más de 3500 padres y personas a cargo de niños en edad preescolar y 4200 niños se han beneficiado del programa.

El objetivo de las Fiestas es enseñar a los asistentes como preparar y ayudar a los niños a que lleguen a la escuela con una buena base y se refuerce la educación bilingüe.

Si bien podemos pensar que el hecho de crecer en un ambiente bilingüe es una ventaja, la realidad es que las familias hispanas con niños en edad preescolar no siempre cuentan con todas las herramientas para hacer que los niños lleguen a estar a la par de sus compañeros al llegar al kíndergarten.

Las Fiestas proveen a las familias con las herramientas. Una está directamente relacionada con el éxito escolar y es la adquisición del hábito de lectura a edad temprana.

Las Fiestas contribuyen a mejorar estos hábitos de lectura entre los niños latinos. En cada Fiesta se ejemplifica y se inculca el amor a la lectura de forma divertida. Además leer, se llevan a cabo actividades como son recrear una obra de teatro inspirada en la lectura, narrar la historia usando títeres, cantar y hacer un proyecto de arte basado en el tema del libro o un juego.

Para reforzar la lectura en el hogar, en cada taller las familias reciben como obsequio uno libro en español para leer con sus niños. Las familias saben apreciar enormemente los libros de regalo en español, difíciles y caros de adquirir los libros en español de en los EEUU.

El currículo de las ocho semanas en las que transcurren los talleres ha ayudado a muchas familias a concienciarse de lo importante que es involucrarse en la educación de nuestros niños desde que nacen. Conversar en nuestra lengua materna cada día, hacer que el niño enriquezca su vocabulario y que adquiera habilidades de pre-lectoescritura es muy importante.

La familia de Roxana ha repetido ya varias series y nos comenta como desde que asistió a las fiestas ha visto cambios muy significativos en la conducta de su hijo. “Ahora él sabe cómo comportarse en grupo y se enfoca mas, le encantan los libros y se sabe las canciones de las fiestas, mi familia habla español mucho más que antes. Siento que todos nos beneficiamos de esta oportunidad y convivimos aquí para reforzar la práctica de nuestra lengua materna en casa, le estoy muy agradecida al programa.”

Se ofrecen las Fiestas este verano en las bibliotecas de Algona-Pacific, Black Diamond, y Federal Way 320th.

And now for the English version…

We are lucky that KCLS (the King County Library System) is offering free Early Literacy workshops, otherwise known as “Fiestas.” Since the workshops first started being offered in 2007, more than 3500 preschool-age parents and caregivers and 4200 children have benefited from the program. The Fiestas goal is to teach attendees about how to prepare young kids for school and how to reinforce bilingual education.

Although you might think that growing up in a bilingual environment is an advantage, the reality is that not all Hispanic families with preschool-age children have the same tools to prepare their kids to be at the same level as their classmates when they reach kindergarten.

The Fiestas workshops provide families with these tools: directly linking school success with the acquisition of reading habits at an early age. The Fiestas contribute to improved reading habits among Latino children. In each Fiesta reading is modeled and the love for reading is transmitted in an entertaining way. Apart from reading, supplementary activities include performing a dramatic play inspired by the act of reading; narrating a story by using puppets; singing and making an art project based on a book’s theme; or playing a game.

To reinforce reading at home, families receive a free book in Spanish to read with their children for each workshop that they attend. Families appreciate the Spanish giveaway books enormously because books in Spanish are difficult and expensive to acquire in the States.

The 8-week curriculum has helped many families to be aware about how important is to be involved in our children’s education from the time they are born. Having conversations in our native language everyday so that the children can increase their vocabulary and gain pre-reading and writing skills is very important.

Roxana’s family has come to many of the workshops. She comments how since she attended “Fiestas” she has seen lots of remarkable changes in her child’s behavior; now he knows how to behave in a group, he focuses more, he loves books and he knows the Fiestas songs. “My family speaks Spanish much more than before. I feel that we all benefit from this opportunity and come here to reinforce the practice of our native language at home, I am very grateful to this program.”

This summer the  Fiestas will be offered at the Algona-Pacific, Black Diamond, and Federal Way 320th Libraries.

Music in the War Effort

by Nancy Salguero McKay
Highline Historical Society Curator

On May 5, 2011, the last combat veteran of WWI, British- born Claude Choules, died at the age of 110. Earlier this year, on February 28, the last American WWI veteran, Frank W. Buckles, also died at the age of 110.

“We have lost a living link to an important era in our nation’s history,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said of Mr. Buckles. With that in mind, the Highline Historical Society is honoring that momentous period with our new exhibit at SeaTac City Hall. In this exhibit we are exploring the development of American Popular Music during WWI — how it contributed to the war effort through patriotic means and how it helped people deal with the horrors and fears of war.

America in 1914 was still a relatively naïve and simple society. But by the end of that decade, America found itself in a world war. Mr. Buckles said he was just a naïve schoolboy chasing adventure when he enlisted on August 14, 1917. The events of 1914-18 were seen as the end of an age of innocence, the end of a way of life identified with the 19th century and the time of transition to the age of modernity.

In “American Music Goes to War,” we focused on how music related to the war itself. Songwriters are people too and their own positions can clearly be seen through the music they write. One display case shows how the boys are ready and heading overseas, saying their last good-byes and loading up in the troop carriers to go off to war. In the other display case we see the nature of the music changing somewhat, sowing the seeds of disillusionment and bitterness that eventually led to WWII. All the romantic claims that war was a glorious expression of national loyalty seemed smashed by the reality of war.

World War I, the “War to End All Wars,” provided incredible music and art that some people say actually helped win the war effort.

School Outreach: It’s Worth the Work

by Ronda Billerbeck, City of Kent Cultural Programs Manager

His name was Luka,
He lived on the second floor,
He lived upstairs from her,
Yes, she got his mail all the time . . .

A bit of a deviation from how the song goes, but that’s how the real story went. I know because I heard it straight from Suzanne Vega herself. She told the story of “Luka,” her celebrated and heartbreaking song about child abuse, to a group of high school students in Kent, Washington.

I presented a concert by Suzanne Vega as part of the performing arts series I produce. In addition to her public performance, I arranged for Suzanne to conduct a workshop in a local school. I try to incorporate these types of educational outreach activities with professional touring artists as often as I can. Interacting with an artist in an intimate setting, hearing them discuss their vision and process, offers depth of experience that a traditional concert performance cannot provide. Getting that kind of glimpse into the creative process is unique and powerful.

So, I had the privilege of sitting in the library of Kent-Meridian High School, along with about 40 students and a handful of staff, on a chilly January afternoon while Suzanne Vega spoke openly about her art. Listening to any artist talk about their work is interesting at the very least and more often than not quite compelling. This was not just any artist. Suzanne Vega is widely regarded as one of the most brilliant songwriters of her generation. She is a masterful storyteller who rewrote the book on what female singer-songwriters can say and do, paving the way for artists such as Sarah McLachlan, Tracy Chapman, Shawn Colvin and the entire Lilith Fair revolution.

I grew up listening to Suzanne Vega. I have distinct memories of spending sunny Saturday mornings on my trampoline with Billboard’s “Top 40 Countdown” playing on the radio. I remember practicing back flips to the relentlessly catchy “Tom’s Diner” . . . I am sitting, in the morning, at the diner, on the corner . . . I am waiting, at the counter, for the man, to pour the coffee . . . I rested to “Luka,” knowing it was a serious and sad song, even though my young mind was not entirely able to fathom the tragedy it described.

It was more than a little thrilling for me to watch Suzanne Vega interact with these students – a Grammy Award winner, an iconic voice in American song standing in a humble high school library speaking to the students with an obvious conviction that they each have the potential to achieve as much as she has achieved. She spoke about her creative process and gave them tips on finding and honing their individual artistic voices. She read poetry, told stories and discussed the music business.

She told the story of “Luka” in response to a student’s question about how long it takes her to write a song. She explained that she had been working on the concept for “Luka” in her head for many months before she actually sat down to write the song (that part took about two hours).  She knew she wanted to write a song about child abuse, from the perspective of the abused child. There was a young boy who lived upstairs in her building named Luka Vega. Because they had the same last name, she often received his mail by mistake. She doesn’t think he was actually abused; he just seemed quiet and a little different from the rest of the kids, and she liked the name because it seemed universal.

A highlight of the afternoon was when Suzanne performed a spellbinding, a cappella rendition of “Tom’s Diner,” her voice was barely louder than a whisper and the students leaned in, transfixed. It is important to note that this educational activity was completely optional and students chose to sign up and stay for an hour after school to participate. It was the Friday after semester finals and I was honestly worried no one would show up. Not only did the students show up, they were thoroughly engaged and asked thought provoking questions.

One student who sat in the front row with his guitar was the first to raise his hand and ask a startlingly insightful question. After the session, two separate teachers told me that the young man is typically very quiet and rarely speaks in class. Another student was thrilled to share his original poem with Suzanne. It happened to be his birthday. After she autographed the poem, he walked away, beaming and said, “This is my best birthday ever!” A teacher who participated in the activity said that “Luka” made a profound impact on her as a young person, influencing her to study psychology and spend the first 15 years of her career working with victims of domestic violence. She emphasized to the students that they should never underestimate the power of their voices, and who they might influence and how.

The group was very diverse, including Somalian, African American, Latino, Asian and Caucasian students. Approximately 70% of the student population at Kent-Meridian participates in the free or reduced lunch program, so it is safe to assume that many of the participants were from lower-income families. As we talked after the workshop, Suzanne described herself as a “hot-lunch kid.” She explained that she enjoys reaching out to kids in a similar situation to help them imagine a future full of potential.

These are the times that I truly love my job. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out so well. At some point during the process of setting up every educational outreach activity, I end up swearing that I will never attempt to pull off such an activity again. “Why?” you ask; because it is nearly impossible to find someone to host them. “How can that be?” you say, “Who wouldn’t want to bring such a valuable experience to their school?” Good question. I’ve had more than a few opportunities go unused because I couldn’t find anyone to take them. I don’t mean to be too critical of teachers and administrators. I know they have a lot going on. Between classes and administrative demands and trainings and various tests, it’s difficult to make time for extra activities. But it is SO worth it when they do. I’ve seen it time and time again, and when I call and email and knock myself out and get nowhere, I want to yell and scream and shake somebody.

Part of the problem is the lack of a neat and tidy way to get the word out. The Kent School District is big – 40 schools and more than 25,000 students, big. I keep thinking there should be a central person to contact, or maybe even a standard group of people. I’ve tried starting with the district arts coordinator. I’ve tried going to the principals. I’ve tried approaching all the music, art and drama teachers. None of these strategies work as a rule. The only approach I’ve found to be effective is very labor intensive and nerve-wracking – making repeated phone calls and emails to varying people until I happen upon the right one. Sometimes it’s a principal; at other schools it’s a teacher.

Two schools passed on the Suzanne Vega opportunity before I finally connected with an energetic English teacher at Kent-Meridian High School. He got excited. He wasn’t daunted by having to work extra hard. He made a promotional video that he played in the cafeteria during lunch periods. He talked it up and, as a result, nearly 40 kids showed up for an experience they will never forget. He wrote me a thank you note the next week, saying “The world needs more artists who make themselves accessible like Suzanne Vega.” I agree. I also think the world needs more teachers who are willing to go the extra mile to connect artists to students. Additionally, the world needs more artist agents and managers who are willing to change travel schedules at the last minute or do whatever else it takes to make it happen. It required the work of a lot of people to make the Suzanne Vega workshop happen. Some people might look at the effort involved for the number of kids served and question whether it’s worth it, but they would be underestimating the depth of the impact on those 40 kids.

As I made emails and phone calls to set up another school assembly recently, a high school teacher told me he “really didn’t want to give up a day of rehearsal.” I understand the importance of regular rehearsals, I really do. I grew up dancing and playing music and performing in plays. I get it. But there are rehearsals every day. Students aren’t going to go home at night and excitedly tell their parents about rehearsal. They aren’t going to remember the rehearsal they had on Thursday, March 17, 2011 ten or twenty years later. The things they’re going to talk about, and remember, and be inspired by are the Suzanne Vegas, the artists who take the time to share their thoughts, skills and passions. These unique and powerful experiences are the ones that create a spark; the ones that will be remembered.

Tacoma News Tribune Cuts Cultural Coverage

by Barbara Lloyd McMichael, SoCoCulture administrator

In remarks made to the opening night audience of Centerstage’s original production “I’m Into Something Good,” Artistic Director Alan Bryce publicly lamented the news this week that the Tacoma News Tribune is making drastic cuts in its arts coverage.

Sitting out in the audience, I found myself nodding knowingly. Full disclosure: for many years I have written the Bookmonger book review column that highlights Northwest books and authors. It runs in the Tacoma News Tribune, as well as several other papers. My editor at the Tribune had e-mailed me earlier in the week with the woeful news that not only was the TNT eliminating nine staff positions, it also was cutting way back on its syndicate and freelance budgets, and that meant the end of my column’s long run in the paper.

I certainly was not getting rich off of the Tribune’s sponsorship, but I was glad to perform a service for Northwest authors. Vampire fiction and celebrity tell-alls don’t need my help, but marketing other genres is a challenge these days. In an era that seems to favor blockbuster books, I have felt strongly about giving exposure to some of our region’s newer authors or smaller but still worthwhile books, many of them published by small, local publishing houses.

Bryce voiced concerns in a similar vein. Centerstage has developed several new plays in recent years (“Nightmare of a Married Man,” “Carl Sagan’s Contact”) and reliable coverage from the TNT has been a vital component in educating the public about these new works. Centerstage is not the only arts organization to have gotten this kind of consistent attention from the TNT. Many of SoCo’s members have been featured in the pages of the TNT – whether good or bad, newspaper reviews help to keep local productions in the public eye. Thank goodness we still have community papers that do this, but for this kind of coverage to disappear from a major metropolitan daily is discouraging, and it will have an impact.

The TNT, by the way, plans to convert its Sunday features section to an outdoors section.

I’m all for raising a hew and cry for the retention of local arts and literary coverage at the TNT, although it may be a futile gesture at this point. I would like to point out, however, that SoCoCulture is here precisely to support and promote local cultural activities. To that end, you can:

  • bookmark the SoCoCulture website – we frequently update our calendar of events, our exhibits page, our list of “opportunities” (auditions and calls to artists), and much more
  • subscribe to SoCoCulture’s monthly e-news to find wonderful events in your community – there’s a sign-up on the home page of our website
  • if you are on Facebook, check out SoCo’s Facebook page and “Like” us, and when you find intriguing stories there be sure to “Share” them with your Facebook friends

In the end, it has always been about spreading the news – it just may be that we no longer can count on newspapers to do it for us.

Composer’s Notes on a Horn Concerto

by Samuel Jones, composer

I am excited that the Northwest Symphony will be playing my Horn Concerto for South King County music lovers soon. Saturday night, April 30, is the date. The concert will be conducted by Anthony Spain, the Northwest Symphony Orchestra’s wonderful conductor, and the soloist will be Jeffrey Fair, who is the Assistant Principal Horn of the Seattle Symphony and a great player.

I wrote this piece four years ago, and it was played by the Seattle Symphony’s principal hornist, John Cerminaro, at that time. Jeffrey Fair was playing in those performances, so he knows the piece from the ground up, so to speak.

The horn, of course, is a notoriously difficult instrument to play, and a composer has to keep very much in mind not to write beyond the limitations imposed by the physics of that long piece of coiled, tubular brass. John helped me with some of my first excessive exuberances. Although his recent CD “Screamers” proves he can play anything, he was nonetheless anxious that I write a work that all professional horn players would find practical, as well as challenging. He tells me that I have succeeded, especially on the challenging part.

Jeff will prove he is up to all the challenges. One of the great pleasures of hearing a concerto is to hear, in fact, how it does challenge the soloist and how he or she can meet those challenges. It’s kind of like a high-wire performer. You’re on the edge of your seat, holding your breath and keeping your fingers crossed for the soloist. No need to worry here—Jeff Fair is a fabulous horn player, and you’ll get to hear some exciting solo horn playing as well as your own impressive orchestra tackle and conquer this piece.

That imagery—“tackling and conquering”—very much fits the last movement of the work. It’s a musical depiction of climbing a great mountain. (You’ll never guess which mountain was in my thoughts!) Here’s how I describe that movement in my program notes to the piece:

“The third movement, which melds rondo form with that of the Baroque binary pattern, portrays the struggle and exhilaration of ascending a large mountain. One senses, amid the fits and starts of the melodic figures, a steadily climbing pitch level. When the climber has reached the summit, a suddenly breathtaking panorama is the result, portrayed by a blazing chorale in first the brass then the full orchestra. The soloist responds with exulting horn calls and listens for—and receives—echoes as they come from neighboring peaks. After the precarious descent, the difficulties of the struggle are assuaged by a reflective passage which quotes the celebrated spiritual, ‘There is a Balm in Gilead.’”

I hope you’ll be interested in attending this concert. I will love sharing this music with you. After all, that’s what it’s all about.

Samuel Jones, longtime Composer in Residence with the Seattle Symphony, is a resident of South King County.  His work has been performed many times by the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, which will be presenting Jones’ Horn Concerto on Saturday, April 30, at the Highline Performing Arts Center, 401 S 152nd Street in Burien.



Notes on Framing

Artist Shelli Park looks over “Dream of You,” one of her works on display at the Normandy Park City Hall Gallery through April 15.

by Shelli Park

I am in love with the patina and history of old wood, the story it tells, coupled with the concept of recycling/repurposing/salvaging wood. I design and build my painting frames, taking inspiration from the painting and how it interacts with the wood. I have been very fortunate to find lumber with amazing history.

For the paintings “Dream of You” and “Hers”(this one isn’t in the current show at the Normandy Park City Hall) I found the beautiful flat stock at Second Use, which appears to be Black Walnut (I am sad that there is no more to be had — I bought it all). I also used 2×2 trim, and 2×4’s from Second Use, as is or minimally finished, to create a multi-dimensional frame. Because I bought it at a store, I don’t know the history of that wood, but I can see it, smell it, feel it.

For “Triptych,” “Self-Portrait,” and “Atlas: Her” I found wood with a known history. The vertical-grained fir is derived from the construction of a purpose-built boathouse, and templates, for the building of the 42’ yacht BLUE LEADER, a one-off Ed Monk and Bill Garden design; with lines massaged by William Kaseburg. Bill Kaseburg assembled the vessel beginning in 1959 on his property in Normandy Park. She was launched in 1972.   If you look at the outside of the frame for “Atlas: Her” you can see Bill’s handwritten direction, and the blue paint that was used for marking hull template. While Mr. Kaseburg is remembered as a brilliant aerospace engineer, he was also an early advocate/organizer for the founding of Normandy Park, where he served as mayor from 1967-1973. He served on the council again in the late 1980’s, which brings things full circle with this exhibition. I met Mr. Kaseburg, who passed away last Fall, when we signed a rental agreement to keep my daughter Alex’s horse on his property. I thank Scott Kaseburg for the gift of the wood.

I continue to search for wood that can be re-used. I look for pieces that show its history and is rich with patina. It adds undeniable dimension to the work, and honors the sacrifice of felled trees. I have plans in the near future to use found pieces in other ways besides framing.

Cass Nevada at the Carco Theatre Gallery

In 2008, Cass Nevada was given a bundle of maps from WPA project #2541 (1932-40), a massive project which resulted in the first systematic property records of King County. The maps, recorded on linen and cotton sheets, were drawn up by teams of unemployed workers during the Great Depression and beyond. After the maps were transferred to microfiche in the 1970s, they were discarded, and in some cases, retrieved from dumpsters by ceramicists and artists for the quality of the fabric.

Those maps formed the basis of the 10 piece Maps: the Nature of Change project, which will be on display at the Renton Carco Theatre from April 4 through May 13.

Nevada uses natural and local plant pigments to create a narrative of sorts that complements the WPA project. The narrative involves change over time, disruption, continuity, and a meditation on how we as humans organize and conceptualize space. The many birds depicted in the pieces suggest a perspective that is curious, detached, aware.

Nevada is an artist and writer who channels her passion for nature through the use of natural plant pigments, found objects, recycled materials. The themes of change, history, dis/illusion, and humor figure prominently in her work. She shows in multiple venues in the Seattle area, facilitates mixed media workshops, and is part of Shift Studio Gallery in Pioneer Square.

The Renton Municipal Arts Commission will host an artist reception for Nevada on Saturday, April 23, from 5-7 PM.  The Renton Carco Theatre Gallery is located at 1717 Maple Valley Highway in Renton.

For more information on the artist, visit

Professional Development for Artists

On April 9 and 10 the City of Auburn is partnering with Artist Trust to offer “I Am An Artist” Professional Development workshop. This two-day intensive symposium is a great way for artists to jumpstart or refresh their creative careers. The class will be taught by Miriam Works, who since 1993 has consulted on businesses and marketing with creative artists, small businesses, museums and non-profits, alongside several guest speakers. The class teaches artists to present and promote themselves professionally, create a business plan, approach for-profit and non-profit markets for funding and support, and develop an effective web presence.

“There are so many great artists in the South Sound that could benefit from a workshop to hone the skills of the business of being an artist” noted Arts Commission Chair Patricia Judd. The unique feature of this class is that it emphasizes working alongside your peers and the importance of networking.

Local metal artist Greg Bartol participated in the Artist Trust EDGE Program, that is a similar artist training focus but is a seven week commitment. Greg noted that the training is “great exposure to the business, administration and marketing side of Art, including organization, legal and all of the other skills that successful artists make seem so easy. EDGE brought in guest speakers who are perfect models… . My classmates included fiber artists, a wood worker, a photographer, and a paper artist, which was a great mix and good exposure to the skills they have.”

Greg and seven of his EDGE Graduate colleagues (Debra Calkins, Nikki deRelle, Ren Lis, Glenda Powers, Joan Schlichting, Maggie B. Stokes, and Larkin Jean VanHorn) will be displaying their artwork in the Auburn City Hall Gallery from April 6 – May 3, 2011. Part of the result of the networking and friendships formed throughout the class, is that now they continue to seek ways to support and gain exposure for each others work.

There will be an opening reception on Saturday, April 9, 5:30 – 7 PM that will have a PechaKucha style presentation by the artists on display. PechaKucha draws its name from the Japanese term for the sound of “chit chat”, it rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It’s a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace. The artists participating in the “I Am An Artist” workshop will be attending the reception as guests.

Registration to participate in the I Am An Artist workshop is $50 for Artist Trust Members, $95 for Non-Members (but includes a membership). For more information about this event click here or contact Nirmala Singh-Brinkman, Program Manager,, 206.467.8734 x20, 1.866.21.TRUST (toll free). Everyone is invited to the artist reception on Saturday, April 9, 5:30 – 7 PM.

Spotlight on David Roby








David Roby and Adrienne Grieco in “West
photo by Michael Brunk

David Roby is returning for his second show at Breeders Theater, this time as George Dokken in West, the sequel to the critically acclaimed Prairie Heart, which premiered at BT in January 2009.  Roby made his debut with BT in last summer’s production of Withering Heights.  He played Austin Janeway, the man who didn’t like to think too much.

Roby says he got started acting in junior high.

“We were required to be in the school musical. So, my first lead role was a guy named Rip Page in a production affectionately titled Gone With the Breeze,” he recalls.

In college, Roby thought about psychology before he decided that was crazy and so pursued a degree in drama at Seattle Pacific University.

“I very quickly came to the conclusion that I did not want to sit behind a desk the rest of my life, and I certainly did not want to trudge through so many more years of college in order to start my own practice,” Roby says. “Thus, the title Theatre Artist was born on my tax documents under ‘Occupation.’”

Roby has been acting professionally for the past two years since graduating from SPU.

In that time, favorite roles have included Benny in Footlight Frenzy at Renton Civic Theatre; the Genie in Aladdin: An English Panto at Centerstage; and a couple of roles at ACT in Lieutenant of Inishmore. His work at both Renton Civic and at ACT are typical both of Roby’s approach to the theater and the kind of roles he likes — physical.

“I absolutely loved it,” Roby says of playing Benny. “I played the stage manager character who had to step in for the actor who didn’t show up. Tons of physical comedy and very demanding physical stunts — timing was key. My type of show.”

Roby says the physical aspect of acting is what gets him started on each role.

“I think a lot about physicality,” he says. “The characters must carry themselves distinctly differently than any other.

“I am a physically driven performer. In my opinion, this is what separates live performance from recorded performance — the physicality of it all. How do you hold your body? What part of your body do you lead with (what part dominates your presence as a person)? How can I communicate how this character feels and what they want out of this situation without using words as well as in addition to the lines I have?”

Roby says he also has enjoyed his stints with Breeders Theater. “I also have made some great friendships as a result of working with BT,” he says. “My favorite part of working with this company is that it is such a family. They look out for each other.”

Working in the middle of a winery, in the middle of the audience, also has been different, he says.

“The space is awkward to perform in. I say this with neither hesitation nor remorse. It is a real challenge to be natural up there in performance when you’re surrounded, but not completely surrounded by audience,” Roby says.

And that’s OK with him. “I love a challenge, you see. Why perform if I won’t be stretched and grow and if it isn’t fun, right?”

This piece was originally published in Breeders Theater’s February 2011 newsletter.

Dynamic, Effective Board of Directors

One of the benefits for member organizations of SoCo Culture is access to two hours of complimentary professional coaching for your board of directors and leadership teams. Marcia Holland, CAE, CEO, of Outcomes Unlimited LLC, and board member of SoCo Culture, offers two hours of free coaching time for either your board and/or your volunteer members. She will customize a presentation to meet the needs of your volunteer leaders.

She has already provided professional services to: Burien ARTalks, Evergreen City Ballet, Kent Historical Society, Pacific Ballroom Dance, Renton Municipal Arts Commission.  You can talk with their leadership to find out the benefits of using her services with your organization.

The effectiveness of her presentations is summarized in this comment from Gina Kallman, Cultural Arts Supervisor for the City of Burien: “Marcia Holland focuses on general board conduct and best practices, effective leadership team qualities (accountable, responsible behaviors of leaders), creating a culture of peak performance (completing volunteer activities once a commitment is made to do so is not voluntary), how to recruit and retain volunteers, and the necessity of a streamlined strategic plan. I have seen Marcia speak at SoCoCulture and she is a wonderful and very knowledgeable speaker with an incredible background.”

Local and National Jazz Acts Coming to Burien

Although there are a lot of fine music festivals in the Puget Sound area, the only one that celebrates the first half century of Jazz in all its forms is the Highline Classic Jazz Festival, which takes place this year on February 19. From its birth in New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century through the wildly popular mid-century Big Band era, America’s unique art form constantly reinvented itself, lending its exuberant rhythms and tonality to other musical styles and borrowing from them as well.

Presented by Burien Arts, a non-profit group dedicated to providing access to visual and performing arts in the Burien/Highline area, the Highline Classic Jazz Festival seeks to keep alive the diversity and freedom of expression of that wonderful era by presenting a variety of early Jazz styles in a fun one-day event at the Highline Performing Arts Center.

The afternoon program will include vocalist Rebecca Kilgore with pianist Dave Frishberg performing favorites from the Great American Songbook; the Gypsy-style quintet Pearl Django; and traditional jazz pianist Ray Skjelbred.

The evening show will feature the Butch Thompson Trio, best known for ragtime and a long run on “A Prairie Home Companion” radio show; the Chicago and New Orleans Dixieland septet Holotradband; and jump and jive artists Casey MacGill & Blue 4 Trio, whose members hail from West Seattle and White Center.

For more information visit

Redondo in the Early Days

Early Redondo shoreline – photo courtesy of Historical Society of Federal Way

The beautiful Puget Sound area now known as Redondo was well known long before settlers arrived in the mid-1800’s. Native Americans passed through periodically, collecting berries, fishing and digging for clams. Capt. George Vancouver sailed near the area in 1792.

But it wasn’t until Sam Stone homesteaded in about 1871 that the area acquired its first name, Stone’s Landing. The Stone family, along with others who arrived, was primarily interested in logging. Five hundred year old trees were abundant, and waterways for transporting logs were near. Loggers set up a small sawmill near the beach and then floated the timber to a log boom during high tide. The logs were towed to larger mills in either Seattle or Tacoma.

By the late 1800’s, steamships were chugging through Puget Sound between Seattle and Tacoma, transporting supplies, equipment, and visitors. People soon recognized that Stone’s Landing and its public beach combined to be a wonderful recreation area.

Progress was on its way. In 1904, Charles Betts opened the first store, which had a shop downstairs and rooms for rent upstairs. The community’s name was changed to Redondo in 1906 following a tragic accident that killed 13 people. About 2,000 people were in town when the pier collapsed as many of them waited for a steamship. Betts selected the name Redondo because he envisioned a recreation area like Redondo Beach, California.

By 1911, Redondo, Redondo’s population had reached 200 persons. There were two restaurants, two churches, and a number of businesses. A seawall and road had been constructed to make way for visitors and model Ts. A new dock had been built, and homes were beginning to appear on the shore.

Bett’s plans to turn Redondo into an entertainment/resort town were materializing. He brought in a Ferris wheel, carousel and miniature train. About 1922, he and his son Weston built an Amusedrome that included bowling and dancing. Later it was converted into a recreation center and roller-skating rink before burning to the ground in 1951.

As the entertainment business slipped away, Redondo changed. There is little left to remind one of its vivid past. Condos have replaced old businesses, modern homes dot the shore, and rush-hour traffic continues nonstop. But people still head to the beach. It is a beautiful place to visit.

Excerpted from the book “Images of America Federal Way,” courtesy of the Historical Society of Federal Way. The Society will be hosting a program on Redondo on February 26.  See the SoCoCulture calendar for details.

Federal Way Symphony Swings into Spring

Gordon Greene and his Orchestra at the Spanish Castle - photo courtesy of Des Moines Historical Society

by Maureen Hathaway, Federal Way Arts Commission

Set your clocks, because it is time to “Swing into Spring” with the upcoming Federal Way Symphony’s “Swing, Jazz and Blues” concert! This performance will take audiences down memory lane with toe- tapping, finger snapping rhythms of music which was developed in the 1920s and matured in the 1930s by artists such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman.

By the early 40’s, “swing-big band” music was the most popular musical style in the U.S. In fact during that era there were numerous dance halls in the Federal Way area. Generally these were part of one of the many resorts that had been built on local lakes.  Longtime residents might remember clicking their heels at such dance halls as the Spanish Castle, the Century Ballroom, Star Lake, Steel Lake, etc. But no matter where you danced, this crackerjack music appealed to teenage and young adult jitterbuggers who worshipped their favorite bands and songs.

Dance hall at Steel Lake - photo courtesy of Historical Society of Federal Way

In contrast to smaller jazz combos where most of the music is improvised or created spontaneously, music by big bands (which typically consist of 10-25 musicians) is highly arranged. The orchestration is also slightly different than in other types of jazz. Strong clarinet and saxophone instrumentalists often take the lead lines with dazzling offerings of a strong rhythm section of bass and drums.

The “Music of America” performed by the Federal Way Symphony Swing Band on Sunday, February 6th, 2:00 at St. Luke’s Church, is right on the musical charts by featuring Seattle woodwind player, Eric Likkel. Eric is known locally both on the radio and stage with Origin Records jazz recording artists, the Earshot Jazz Festival, Ballard Jazz Walk, the Lynden Music Festival and the Smiling Scandinavians.  A riveting rhythm section plays a strong anchor for a swing band, and Federal Way Symphony percussionist Todd Zimberg captures the moment. Todd has held the Timpani chair with the orchestra since 1990, and also keeps busy working with the Island Jazz Quintet and his commitment to recording and club dates.

For more information regarding the “Swing, Jazz and Blues” concert contact the Federal Way Symphony at 253.529.9857 or visit

Dance hall at 5 Mile Lake - photo courtesy of Historical Society of Federal Way

Renton Artists on Exhibit in Olympia

by Britt McKenzie, Renton Municipal Arts Commission

Last year, during the Renton Municipal Arts Commission’s excursion to Arts Day in Olympia to lobby for arts and cultural programs, we had the chance to meet with Representative Zack Hudgins, who represents the 11th District, encompassing Tukwila, southern Renton, and south Seattle.

The commissioners were pleased to discover an art exhibit on display in his offices! Rep. Hudgins has been exhibiting art from different areas of his district for the last few years: in 2010, it was a collection from Tukwila; 2009 was represented by Georgetown White Center.

Our chair, Pat Pepper, invited Rep. Hudgins to attend one of our RMAC meetings, and in April 2010, we had the honor of hosting him. Rep. Hudgins discussed with us the challenges of securing funding for the arts in our difficult economy, despite the various benefits the arts provide his constituents. He encouraged us to continue lobbying our state legislators about the importance of the arts, since art advocates are in the best position to know the facts about how the creative industries facilitate economic, community, and cultural growth. Also, he extended an invitation to provide the 2011 exhibit in his office, and as the Carco Theatre exhibit manager here in Renton, I was chosen to curate the show.

I selected the work of five Renton artists, and on December 17th, I was joined by two of them when I went down to Olympia to install the work. I thought it was important to show a variety of artistic mediums and styles, and I think we did a pretty good job: Helga Jacques‘ impressionist acrylic and watercolor scenes of old (but hopefully not forgotten) Renton landmarks; Dennis Harrison’s amazing marquetry vignettes and landscapes; Wil Kerner’s colorful cut-out paper collages of friends and animals; Jennifer Brooks’ graphite drawings of quiet and melancholy landscapes, and RMAC commissioner Doug Kyes’ fantastic ceramic painting of abstract seascapes.

The exhibit is on display until the end of the Legislative session in April. Please stop by on Arts Day and tell Rep. Hudgins you appreciate his dedication to the arts in his district. You may also make an appointment to view the exhibit by calling 360.786.7956.

Meet CFC’s Interim Director

Dean Suess brings over thirty years’ experience conducting volunteers and professionals, largely as a full-time musician for the Lutheran Church.  He holds degrees in French Horn Performance and  Choral Conducting, and has done extensive work in the field of musicology, holding two graduate fellowships at the University of Washington.

He has conducted or sung countertenor for most of the notable early music ensembles in the Northwest, including NBC, CVC, Choral Conductors’ Guilds, twenty years with Seattle’s Compline Choir, Fred Hauptman’s Versailles Ensemble, Dr. Karen Thomas’ Seattle Pro Musica, the Seattle Bach Choir, the Portland Baroque Orchestra, the Oregon Repertory Singers, Alex Lingas’ Cappella Ronmana, Dean Applegate’s Cantores in Ecclesia, Doug Fullington’s Tudor Choir, George Shangrow’s Seattle Chamber Singers, and several professional chamber ensembles sponsored by The Early Music Guild of Seattle.

After a season singing with the Cascade Foothills Chorale, Suess is eager to have the opportunity to take the interim position at the podium to conduct their upcoming spring program.  He is confident this will be an excellent experience for chorale and conductor alike, and invites any interested persons to attend the opening 2011 rehearsal on Thursday, January 6, at 7 PM at the Enumclaw High School choir room.

Cascade Foothills Chorale is non-audition and encourages anyone who loves to sing to join them!

Pantomime – the British Translation is Loud

by Linda Pratt

Where would we be without British imports? No American Idol to discuss around the water cooler. No mind altered memories of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. No fish and chips, Bass Ale, or Cadbury chocolate. And there’s yet another British import that’s become a Christmas tradition right here at Centerstage Theatre in Federal Way.  For the past several years, Centerstage has presented a panto each Christmas season. This year it is  Sleeping Beauty.

It’s called Panto or, more formally, British Pantomime, and for the last several years Centerstage has presented a panto each Christmas. This year it’s Sleeping Beauty.  Here in America, we think of pantomime as the silent clown. British panto is almost the opposite.  The recipe calls for familiar fairy tales or children’s stories, some fantastic contemporary music and local references, mixed with audience participation. What you end up with is raucous, noisy entertainment that’s a blast for the entire family.  Its origins draw on 15th and 16th century traditions of  traveling comedy troupes and, even 600 years later, it maintains certain characters and conventions:a cross-dressing character, for example, and a comedy animal.

Of course this very British form of entertainment is best done by the British. This is where Paul Hendy fits in. Hendy is a celebrity well known  in England for numerous productions, but especially for his pantomimes.  He has been working with British-born Alan Bryce, Artistic Director of Centerstage, to bring this latest production to enthusiastic audiences.  For more information on the show, which runs through December 22, visit

Linda Pratt is a member of the Federal Way Arts Commission.

Going Bald for One’s Art

Just in time for opening night, Daddy Warbucks went bald.

John Legas, pastor at Cornerstone Community Baptist Church, plays Daddy Warbucks in the Heavier Than Air production of “Annie.” He joined the ranks of many famous actors when he decided to sacrifice his hair for the sake of his art. John had a fan club waiting when he arrived at rehearsal on Tuesday. Fellow cast members were there to offer support and bear witness to John’s head-shaving with cameras and cell phones. Bravely, John allowed the cast of orphans to start the process.

“Anyway, he can’t chicken out because it’s already in the program,” said one little girl.

The cast of orphans, students from local Kent, Renton, Auburn, and Covington elementary and junior high schools, took turns shaving John’s head from start to finish amid giggles and words of advice. The cast of “Annie” includes members ranging in age from 8 to 68.

John joins the ranks of many other actors who have had their heads shaved for a role: Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks in the movie “Annie,” Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now,” Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Batman and Robin,” and Demi Moore in “G.I. Jane.” Even Oscar, the famous golden statue, is bald.

For more information on performance dates, visit the SoCoCulture calendar.

Celebrate Chopin’s 200th

by Linda Pratt and Jim Triller

Born in 1810 in Poland, Frederic Chopin was a great master of Romantic music. A renowned child prodigy pianist and composer, he grew up in Warsaw. After the Russian suppression of the Polish November Uprising, he settled in Paris.

Chopin seldom performed in public. Once a year he would give a concert in a venue that seated only 300. More frequently he played at small social gatherings. His favorite place to play was at his Paris apartment for small groups of friends. Income from teaching and composing allowed him to keep his performances so intimate. As a pianist, Chopin was unique in acquiring a fantastic reputation on the basis of a minimum of public appearances; just over thirty in his lifetime.

In honor of Chopin’s 200th birthday, pianist Mark Salman will be performing Chopin’s classics with personal commentary in the intimate setting of Federal Way’s Knutzen Family Theatre. This special performance will be at 2 PM on Sunday, November 7. The Knutzen Family Theatre is located at 3200 SW Dash Point Road in Federal Way. Seating is limited and reservations are recommended. Tickets for the performance are $25 Adult ($20 Senior/Military/College and $10 Youth) and can by reserved by contacting Centerstage Theatre at 253-661-1444 or online. For more information visit