The Making of a Museum

With the oFacade of African American Museumpening of the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) on March 8, 2008, Seattle’s cultural map expands to include one more unique and interesting destination. Through interactive exhibits, programs and events the museum promises to “document the unique historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.” NAAM is, clearly, the new kid on the block of established and honored museums in the region.

Planning a trip to the museum? Enhance your visit before you enter the Journey Gallery by reading In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990 by Quintard Taylor or The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District, from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era, also by Taylor.

The Northwest Gallery features painter Jacob Lawrence and sculptor James Washington Jr. In addition to their works of art, the tools each artist used to shape and develop their creations are on view. While Jacob Lawrence: Paintings, Drawings and Murals (1935-1999) A Catalogue Raisonné by Peter Nesbitt is Continue reading “The Making of a Museum”

Cherry blossoms bloom herald the spring

kanji for cherry blossom 'hanami'The appearance of cherry blossoms marks the arrival of spring in Japan, sending revelers of all ages outdoors to enjoy wine and picnic lunches under flowery pink canopies in the nation’s parks and orchards. One cannot delay cherry blossom viewing, or “hanami,” because the cherry blossom is like life: beautiful and tragically fleeting.

image-of-girl-looking-at-cherry-blossoms-courtesy-of-piero-sierraIn Seattle, consumption of alcohol on public land may not fly as it does in Japan, but the beauty and fragrance of the cherry blossom is just as sweet! The year the Seattle Center will be holding its annual Cherry Blossom and Japanese Culture Festival on April 18 – 20, providing folks in our area with a chance to welcome the spring in this centuries-old tradition.

If the beauty and barbarism, poetry and mysticism of medieval Japan have captured your imagination this season, you may be interested in these books and movies available at The Seattle Public Library.

 

Literature

A fantasy set in a world that closely resembles medieval Japan, this first book in the series Tales of the Otori provides an engrossing blend of history and magic that will leave readers anxious for the sequel. Our hero, Takeo, begins this story as a young man whose village was destroyed by an evil warlord. Tests of loyalty, romantic intrigue, secret cults, assassins, Continue reading “Cherry blossoms bloom herald the spring”

Turn It Up!: Cambodian Cassette Archives

cca.jpgUnless you were living in Phnom Penh in the 1960s, you’ve probably never heard anything quite like Cambodian Cassette Archives: Khmer Folk & Pop Music, Vol. 1  (Various Artists, 2004) before. Painstakingly compiled from over 150 cassettes found in the Asian branch of the Oakland Public Library (by folks at Seattle’s own Sublime Frequencies label), this album is an eclectic collection of rock, dance, new wave, ballads, and other pop songs made in Cambodia and the United States (by Cambodian expatriates) from the 1960s to the 1990s. Little is known about many of these artists, many of whom may have perished under Pol Pot’s despotic regime; indeed, many tracks have neither titles nor artist names.

Yet the lack of information about these songs doesn’t make this collection any less fun to listen to. Fusing operatic Cambodian vocals with psychedelic guitar noodlings, synth-driven beats, and funky horns, these tunes will startle and delight new listeners with their Continue reading “Turn It Up!: Cambodian Cassette Archives”

30,000 Years of Art: The Story of Human Creativity

30,000 Years of Art: The Story of Human Creativity Image source: Battle of San Romano http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Paolo_Uccello_035.jpgAcross Time and Space  inspires readers to think about art in a different way.  Accessible and not stuffy, this work looks chronologically across the centuries of art in a way that avoids the thematic conventions and classifications of the way we typically study art history.

This makes for a freeing and fun way to look at cross-cultural development. When the great painters of the Renaissance were at their peak, what was art like in other parts of the globe? Paolo Uccello’s iconic Battle of San Romano is opposite from representational Afghani art, both created within years of each other. This serendipity of comparison is part of the joy of the book. From a later era is the famous Jacques-Louis David painting of a proud and haughty Napoleon, astride a rearing charger as he crosses the Alps, across from a proud and haughty Persian shah, with scimitar and scepter. They are the same type of domineering personalities, mirroring each other but within their own culture. Similar delightful surprises wait upon each page turn.

This is a great browsing book but also literally a weighty tome, at over 12 pounds.  Pull up a sturdy table and a comfortable chair. Settle in and enjoy the tour.  ~ Carl

Gentrification and the Arts

Beautiful Things That Heaven BearsIf you have picked up this year’s Seattle Reads novel, The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu you’ve had a chance to get one novelist’s take on some of the issues and pressures that can fracture a community changing in the face of gentrification and immigration.

Facing similar issues, particularly those of gentrification pressures, local Capitol Hill artists, arts activists, neighbors and interested citizens are gathering at Seattle City Hall in April to discuss community concerns about rapidly diminishing affordable space for arts uses in the City’s core neighborhoods. Get details at:

Make Room for Art: Cultural Overlay Districts for Seattle
April 2, 5pm-6:30pm, Seattle City Hall

City Councilmembers will hear from Seattle residents, arts and entertainment venues and organizations, property owners, developers, and officials on how the Council might go about establishing an overlay district to offer incentives and controls in a specific area to encourage or preserve particular kinds of activities, spaces, and/or design. How can the city grow in a healthy balanced way that benefits all? This could be an exciting opportunity to add your voice as “A City Makes Herself.”