Friday, November 23, 2018

Tis the season

 Holiday shows around town
By Alec Clayton
Published in The News Tribune, Nov. 22, 2018

John Serembe as Scrooge and Zachary Clark at Tiny Tim in "Tiny Tim's Christmas Carol" at Olympia Family Theatre

Ready or not, the holidays are coming, and South Sound stages are promising quite a few live shows in celebration of the season.
Tacoma Musical Playhouse will do Irving Berlin’s classic “White Christmas” directed and choreographed by Harry Turpin. "’White Christmas’ is such a timeless classic,” Turpin says, “The challenge and opportunity is how to manage audience expectations with what they know and love while looking at the story with a fresh set of eyes. I think the audience will be pleased. This is such a wonderful, warm, cozy show, filled with energetic dance numbers, great songs, and of course, THE song – the one that melts our hearts every time. It's truly been a treat to work on this show.”
Turpin has worked on both local and national levels, with appearances and work seen at the 5th Avenue Theatre, Village Theatre, Seattle Musical Theatre, Tacoma Musical Playhouse, and Reboot Theatre Company, where he currently serves as president of the board. As a performer, he has performed with the 30th Anniversary cast of “Annie” (National Tour/Special Broadway engagement). He is the 2018 Gregory Award's People's Choice Winner for Outstanding Director, and Outstanding Musical for “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Lead actors in “White Christmas” include Josh Wingerter, Jake Atwood, Kaitlyn Terrill-Rose, Tasha Smith and Gary J. Chambers.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 16
WHERE: Musical Playhouse at The Narrows Theatre, 7116 Sixth Ave., Tacoma
TICKETS: $22-$31
INFORMATION: (253) 565-6867,

Lakewood Playhouse brings to life the most famous Christmas letter ever written in “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Clause.”
The true story: More than100 years ago 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun asking if there really was a Santa Claus, and the newspaper’s response became an instant classic.
This production will mark Lakewood Playhouse’s debut of director Aaron Mohs-Hale, who also serves as the theater’s technical director, and it features an all-star roster of local actors of all ages including: Tom Birkeland, Parker Dean, Christine Choate, Kyle Yoder, Audrey LaRoy, Ed Medina and many more.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23 to Dec. 16, Special Showings 8 p.m. Nov. 29 (pay what you can) and Dec. 6 (pay what you can actor’s benefit)
WHERE: Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., Lakewood TICKETS: $20-$26
INFORMATION: (253) 588-0042, 

The ever-popular “Scrooge! The Musical” is Tacoma Little Theatre’s Christmas offering, directed by Micheal O'Hara, musically directed by Zachary Kellogg and choreographed by Eric Clausell. Get ready for ghosts and the well-known tear-jerking story and great music. For those who might not know the story by Charles Dickens – as if there can possibly be someone who doesn’t know it – the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge undergoes a profound experience of redemption over the course of a Christmas Eve night, after being visited by the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Andrew Fry plays Scrooge, TLT artistic director Chris Serface plays The Ghost of Christmas Present, Evie Merrill is Tiny Tim and Joseph Woodland is Jacob Marley.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 30 with added performances 2 p.m. Dec. 15 and 22 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 26-27
WHERE: Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 North I St. Tacoma
TICKETS: $22-$27
INFORMATION: (253) 272-2281,

For the eleventh year running, Centerstage in Federal Way is doing a traditional English-style Panto for its Christmas show. Panto’s are fractured fairy tales with raucous rock and roll music, cross-dressing characters and lots of audience participation – all based on popular children’s stories. The characters and costumes appeal to children, as does the throwing of candy into the audience, while the puns and sexual inuendo appeal to adults. It’s the kind of thing everybody should see at least once, if not over and over. This year’s Panto is “Rapunzel.” Guaranteed to have audiences laughing out loud from start to finish.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 30 to Dec. 23
WHERE: Centerstage at Knutzen Family Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road, Federal Way
TICKETS: $29 adult, $25 senior and military, $15 student, $12 under age 17
INFORMATION: (253) 565-6867,

 Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol,” is Olympia Family Theater’s holiday offering. It is a child-friendly updating of Charles Dickens’ classic tale. Tiny Tim (Zachary Clark) is now 15 years old and Scrooge (John Serembe) is still a greedy old bah humbug. When Scrooge refuses to give Tim’s father Christmas day off, Tim dreams up a spectacle involving pie sellers and booksellers and puppets and ghosts to scare the old curmudgeon back into the Christmas spirit.
“Who could pass up the opportunity to play Scrooge during the holidays,” Serembe said. “It’s been a joy to work with this cast and director and in this great theater. This is my fifth go-round at the role of Scrooge, but all have been in vastly different versions of the classic.”
Serembe moved to Olympia a few years back after working in film and television in Los Angeles. He was in popular television series including “Cheers” and “Scrubs” and has been in many shows with Harlequin Productions.
OFT founder and artistic director Jen Ryle said of this show, “There will be puppets and carol singing. It should be a festive holiday show, perfect for the whole family.”

WHEN 7:00p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. SaturdaySunday, Nov. 30- Dec. 23, one Thursday performance Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.
WHERE Olympia FamilyTheatre, 612 4th Ave. E, Olympia
HOW MUCH $15-$20
LEARN MORE (360) 570--1638 ,

Easily one of the top three Christmas stories of all time is the eponymous “A Christmas Story” by the great Jean Shepherd. It’s the laugh-filled story of little Ralphie Parker, who more than anything wants a Red Ryder air rifle for Christmas. In a clever twist, Olympia Little Theatre offers this adaptation by Philip Grecian updated to the 1970s and presented as a live radio play.
“Hear amazing voices and watch as we create all the classic sound effects right in front of your eyes in the KOLT studio in the Holiday classic. Come see this fabulous twist on the beloved story of a boy, his family, his friends and, of course, the leg lamp,” said irector and OLT artistic director Kendra Malm.

WHEN 7:25 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 1:55 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 23, one Thursday performance Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.
WHERE Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave., NE, Olympia
HOW MUCH $11-$15, available at Yenney Music, 2703 Capital Mall Dr.,
LEARN MORE (360) 570-1638,

Traditionally Harlequin Productions does a musical review wrapped around the performers and workers at New York’s Stardust nightclub. The Stardust series started in 1993 and has delighted audiences almost every years sense, first with 1940s music and then moving up to the 1960s. This year they go back to the beginning with a new version of “The 1940s Radio Hour,” the show that started the series. A (fictional) live radio broadcast is taking place in the Hotel Astor’s Algonquin Room on December 21, 1942. With top songs of the day such as “Strike Up the Band” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” 

WHEN 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29-Dec. 31
WHERE Harlequin Productions in the State Theatre, 202 4th Ave. E., Olympia
HOW MUCH $25-$49
LEARN MORE (360) 786.-151,

In the Shadow of the Master

Alfredo Arreguin and Doug Johnson at Tacoma Community College
by Alec Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Nov. 21
“El Joven Zapata” oil painting by Alfredo Arreguin, courtesy Tacoma Community College
Learning art by copying the masters is as old as art itself. Artists of the Italian Renaissance traditionally did it, and even today European artists continue to copy paintings in the Louvre. Peter Paul Rubens as a prime example, painted a version of Titian’s “Venus at the Mirror.” Both artists’ “Venus” hang in major museums; stylistically, they are almost indistinguishable, but one is a back view of Venus and the other is a front view, and in Rubens’ version there is a servant standing by who does not appear in Titian’s version. Thus it is with the many paintings of the same subjects and in similar styles by Alfredo Arreguin and Doug Johnson in the show at Tacoma Community College. 
Arreguin is an internationally recognized artist, born in Mexico and now living in Seattle. His paintings are in the collections of two Smithsonian museums: The National Museum of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery. Johnson is a multi-talented artist, a writer who learned to write by copying sentences from Raymond Carver’s stories, a musician who learned to compose symphonies by copying Beethoven, and a painter who learned by copying his hero, Arreguin. 
There are a few paintings and ink drawings by Johnson is this exhibition of works by the master and the student, and there are — to our delight — many more paintings by the master.
Arreguin’s paintings are dense, exciting and exotic. His color, especially his liberal use of deep midnight blue and shining ultramarine blue and velvety shades of purple, is indescribably lush. He paints portrait heads that are made up of floral patterns and letters in the background and in the faces, much in the manner in which Chuck Close creates realistic faces out of dots and circles. In the most elaborate of Arreguin’s paintings, figure and ground become almost indistinguishable as faces, figures, animals and flora weave in and out in peekaboo fashion on the canvas. The painting is precise, tight and controlled, a little too controlled in my estimation, which gives it a cold or calculated feel (but alleviated or at least balanced by the warm colors).
Many of the patterns that fill his canvases are made up of words in Spanish and English. Many of his paintings depict Mexican life, folklore and mythology, and many of them depict religious iconography.
“Family Portrait” presents an energetic swirl of plants, animals, human figures, masks, butterflies, parrots and monkeys — many of which are hidden in the dense imagery. Most striking, there is a large monkey with a man’s face perched on a tree limb and the artist’s name spelled out but hidden on the major figure’s forehead.
There are many portraits of famous people, including revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata and artist Frida Kahlo. “Frida and the Wolf” is a large portrait face almost completely hidden in the swirling patterns of trees, river, deer and wolf.
There’s also a quadruple portrait of Frida with versions by both Arreguin and Johnson.
Johnson paints with loose, brushy strokes with thin paint. No matter the media, they look like watercolor sketches. Many of them appear unfinished. His pen and ink drawings are tight and controlled. They employ stippled ink marks, as in “Portrait of Juan Rulfo,” a large portrait head in tiny dots and dashes with repeated smaller heads making up the background, which overlaps the edges of the larger face.
Much of the enjoyment of Arreguin’s paintings is in seeing what you can find in them — true also of Johnson’s art, but to a lesser degree. 
In the Shadow of the Master, noon to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, through Dec. 15, Tacoma Community College, Building 5A, entrance off South 12th Street between Pearl and Mildred, Tacoma, visitor parking in Lot G. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Raven and the Box of Daylight

Preston Singletary at Museum of Glass
by Alec Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Nov. 15, 2018

 “Wealth Eagle Rattle” blown glass, hot-sculpture and hand-carved glass, cedar bark, by Preston Singletary, photo courtesy Russell Johnson

Internationally renowned Native American glass artist Preston Singletary returns to Museum of Glass with Raven and the Box of Daylight. The exhibition narrates in glass art the Tlingit story of Raven and his transformation of the world, bringing light from the stars, the moon, and sun.

In addition to stunning artwork, the exhibition includes multi-media immersive storytelling in which the Tlingit story unfolds during the visitor’s experience. 
Like the best of Northwest Indian artists, Singletary’s work blends the traditional art of his tribal ancestors with the innovative methods and aesthetic principles born of contemporary art movements, in his case the Pacific Northwest glass art movement. He studied glass art with Seattle area artists Benjamin Moore and Dante Marioni, and he studied in Europe, where he learned the methods of Lino Tagliapietra and other European masters. His artworks feature themes of transformation, animal Spirits and shamanism with blown glass and sand-carved Tlingit designs.
Raven and the Box of Daylight is the Tlingit story of Raven and his transformation of the world—bringing light to people via the stars, moon, and sun. This story holds great significance for the Tlingit people. The exhibition features a dynamic combination of artwork, storytelling, and encounter, where the Tlingit story unfolds during the visitor’s experience. 
Tlingit objects were traditionally used to show wealth and tell stories by representing elements of the natural world, as well as the histories of individual families. By drawing upon this tradition, Singletary’s art creates a unique theatrical atmosphere in which the pieces follow and enhance the exhibition narrative. Art objects and exhibition text are supported by audio and video elements, including recordings by storytellers, music, recordings of Pacific Northwest coastal sounds, and a backdrop of shadows and projected images
Singletary’s blown-glass animal figures such as “White Raven,” are classical in their simplicity and elegance and include carved designs in the Tlingit tradition. His baskets and other containers combine simple textural contrasts and geometric designs. The human and animal figures on the title piece, “Raven and the Box of Daylight,” cast lead crystal and glass, are like totem figures only shorter and more compact. These works of art and the stories they illustrate should provide for a wonderfully enlightening visit to Museum of Glass.
Raven and the Box of Daylight, Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., through September 2, 2019, $5-$15, free to members, free Third Thursday, Museum of Glass, 1801 Dock St. Tacoma, (866) 468-7386

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Familiar Faces & New Voices

Surveying Northwest Art at Tacoma Art Museum
By Alec Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Nov. 8, 2018
Minidoka No. 5 (442nd)” acrylic on canvas by Roger Shimomura, Tacoma Art Museum, gift of George and Kim Suyama, photo by Richard Nicol
The exhibition Familiar Faces & New Voices: Surveying Northwest Art has been on display since this past spring but has not received the fanfare of blockbuster shows like Art AIDS America or Hide/Seek or 2015’s Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition. But it is a solid and historically important show highlighting works by some of the Pacific Northwest’s best artists, as well as many little-known but worthy artists with more than 55 works from the museum's collection of PNW art from the 19th century until today. Included are works by Louis Crow, Morris Graves, Kamekichi Tokita, William Ivey, Jacob Lawrence and many more.
One of the earliest works in the show is Vincent Colyer’s oil painting “Home of the Yakimas.” This moody, hazy landscape offers a precious view of a Yakima Indian village on the banks of a river in 1875. The light is veiled and mysterious — a misty scene typical of the Northwest.
In Walter Isaacs’ 1936 “In the Paddock” we get a glimpse of the artist’s Cezanne influence prior to his more abstract modernist works associated with the famous Northwest School of painting made famous by Morris Graves, Guy Anderson and Mark Tobey. “In the Paddock” is a painting of horses depicted in flat planes of color.
From these early works, the show carries viewers to bold contemporary art such as Patti Warashima’s “Amazed,” a maze of human and animal figures in porcelain and Plexiglas. Nude female figures perch on shelves in a wall-size maze. Some seem to be falling, while others appear to be ascending or descending on ropes, and there are larger-than-human rats prowling through the maze. The obvious message is that modern humans are caught in a rat race in which there are no winners and from which there is no escape.
Among the more interesting contemporary works are Joseph Park’s “Chess,” a delightful painting of rabbits playing chess, painted in an almost photorealist manner but all in tones of brown, and Roger Shimomura’s Minidoka No. 5 (442nd),” a Pop Art picture of a fierce warrior painted in a style reminiscent of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein in tribute to the Japanese interred at the Minidoka relocation center in Idaho.
And fascinating to study is Sutton Beres Culler’s “Convenience Booth,” a telephone booth with everything a person could need in it, including a gum machine, first aid kit, a clock, and a condom and tampon vending machine.
"When we talk about art history we often reduce it to a few orderly lines, a few key figures, so that it's easier to get our arms around," say TAM Curator Margaret Bullock. "But in reality it's messy and changeable."
Expressing similar sentiments, Chief Curator Rock Hushka said, "Exhibitions such as this one share the multifaceted art history of the Northwest with our visitors and are key to TAM's work of studying and celebrating that artistic heritage."
 If there is any downside to this exhibition it is that it is too heavily weighted with 19th century landscapes that look alike.
Notice: some works on view will change during the run of the show.

Familiar Faces & New Voices, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, $15 adults, $13 students and seniors, free for military and children 5 and younger, free Third Thursday from 5-8 p.m., Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, 253.272.4258,

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Birds of a Feather

Chris Maynard’s feather creations at Childhood’s End
By Alec Clayton

All photos by Chris Maynard, courtesy Childhood’s End Gallery

"Morning Crow 6" turkey and small parrot feather
Chris Maynard’s feather art at Childhood’s End begs the questions, how do you distinguish between art and craft, and when does cleverness become trickery? Bev Doolittle’s famous paintings of horses hidden in trees because the spots on their coats match the spots on trees in snow are clever gimmicks. But her oeuvre becomes a one-trick pony through repetition, and thus her painting’s value as art are lessened. Maurits Cornelis Escher employs similar tricks in his paintings of flocks of birds that morph into schools of fish and negative spaces that become positive and paintings of buildings with disorienting architecture, yet his work is generally considered greater art than Doolittle’s paintings. The difference might be hard to quantify. It has to do with the greater variety in Escher’s work and his larger vision.
"Swallow's World" turkey feather

'Pluck 2" argus pheasant feather
Maynard’s feather art has a lot in common with both Doolittle and Escher. He even blatantly borrows from Escher with repetitive images of birds becoming fish or stars and vice versus. But his vision is unique to him and conveys a deep love for the world of nature he depicts. And as in Escher’s work, there is a lot of variety in his imagery.
Maynard cuts images out of feathers and mounts them under glass. He cuts out the shapes of birds and fish and mounts them along with the feathers with the negative shapes he has cut out to create inventive worlds of his imagination — literally in the case of one piece called “Swallow’s World,” in which he created an entire world, including a globe made of turkey feathers.
In these pictures he employs many fine art elements such as unity created through repetition and a sophisticated interplay of positive and negative shapes.
In “Pluck 2,” an eagle hovers in attack more at the top of a feather, and as the eye travels down we see schools of fish. As in many of his pictures, the feather from which the pictures are made becomes a part of the picture.
Also on display are wire and metal sculptures of animals by Colleen Cotty. These are created by twisting wire into animal shapes and mounting them on driftwood and stone and other materials from nature. The most interesting one of these one called “The Becoming,” which is a mass of twisted and overlapping wire inside a shell form made from a bent sheet of brass. Only upon close inspection does it become clear that the tangled wire is in the form of a horse lying on its back with its legs in the air. It is most interesting when seen as a purely abstract shape playing off the contrasts between the brass shell and the twisted wire.
Also showing are pastel landscapes by Mary Denning.

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, through Nov. 11, Childhood’s End Gallery, 222 Fourth Ave. W, Olympia, 360.943.3724.