April 2, 2013 at 7:31 AM
Transformation or narcissism?
Robert Ayers’ praise of “Mirror,” the new LED artwork by Doug Aitken commissioned by the Seattle Art Museum, illustrates what happens when more attention is paid to what the artist says than to what the artist makes. [“Street party will welcome SAM installation,” seattletimes.com, March 22.]
Aitkin describes his work as a “transformation” of urban spaces, spaces he calls “gray corridors surrounded by structures with little or no life to them.” This could apply to vast sections of Los Angeles, where Aitken lives, and other urban wastelands, but it hardly fits First and Union.
“Mirror” may be pleasant enough for Seattleites to look at, with images of Seattle and its environs displayed on its big screen. But will it be a transformative experience for the viewers or, more likely, as the title implies, a narcissistic one?
– Fred Holcomb, Seattle
This post, originally published April 2, 2013, was updated on July 11, 2013. An earlier version incorrectly attributed the review to Michael Upchurch. Robert Ayers wrote the review.
March 31, 2013 at 6:31 AM
Medicaid expansion will aid Seattle’s art scene
You can’t walk more than a few blocks in Seattle without passing a coffee shop. Local art covers the walls, and sometimes you can hear neighborhood bands playing. Seattle is an art destination, with monthly art walks in neighborhoods across the city. Our artists and musicians are valuable culture providers that attract international attention and robust tourist dollars to the city.
As a 15-year member of the Seattle music community and a self-employed artist, I have had to find my own health insurance and trust that it will be adequate. Sometimes it has not been enough to help me with occasional medical bills, and most people in my community have had the same experience.
Seattle’s exports of music and coffee make up the landscape of the Pacific Northwest. But what about the health care of these life-changing songwriters, baristas pouring the perfect foam, or awe-inspiring artists? Many of them, while healthy, are uninsured. And when the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) kicks in next year, they might not be able to afford comprehensive coverage, especially with an uncertain income.
That’s where Medicaid expansion comes in [“Gov. Inslee proposes extension of temporary taxes,” seattletimes.com, March 28]. Expanding Medicaid will give health care to 250,000 low-income Washingtonians (like me), some of whom may not have previously had access to health insurance and quality health care. That means your favorite band will now have access to preventive care such as vaccines and cancer screenings as well as treatment for chronic conditions such as diabetes. And they probably won’t have to cancel a gig because the drummer couldn’t afford to go to the hospital after leaping off the stage at Neumos.
–Alicia Dara, Seattle
Medicaid expansion provides health care safety net
As a Washingtonian, I stand behind Medicaid expansion. I am eager and excited to purchase insurance coverage on the exchange. But I know there are many people who don’t have access to Medicaid now, who might not be able to afford a plan on the exchange. Some of these people are my friends and neighbors. With Medicaid expansion, they’ll have a health-care safety net. They will have access to preventive care such as vaccines and cancer screenings as well as treatment for chronic conditions such as diabetes.
Medicaid expansion makes sense for Washington. Not only will it cover an additional 250,000 low-income Washingtonians, but it will also create at least 10,000 new health-care jobs. Expansion of Medicaid in Washington state will actually save money since Medicaid expansion will be fully covered by the federal government for the first three years. After that, they’ll still pick up 90 percent of the bill. It will save $225 million in this biennium as we transition away from state health programs such as Disability Lifeline and State Basic Health.
Medicaid expansion will bring federal dollars to our state to create healthier people, quality jobs and billions in local business activity.
–Megan Pahl, Seattle
March 25, 2013 at 5:07 PM
A premier venue for true ballroom dancers
A significant point I’d like to add about the Washington Dance Club at the Avalon Ballroom, is that it is (and probably has been for decades) Washington state’s premier venue for true ballroom dancers [“Avalon’s last dance: history can’t save it,” page one, March 22].
I’ve been dancing there almost weekly for more than 10 years, and have deliberately visited most other ballrooms in the Puget Sound area to see if any were better, from Tacoma to Bellingham, and I found none.
Yes, there were others that were newer, prettier, in better neighborhoods, and had better parking situations; but none had the combination of quality ballroom dance music, an excellent sound system, a perfect dance floor, adequate seating, and many skilled true ballroom dancers to match my skills.
Although the building became drab on the outside and will be demolished later this year, I believe the ballroom inside will live on in the memories of thousands who have found happiness inside it for more than 80 years.
–Roger Douglas, Mukilteo
March 7, 2013 at 3:30 PM
Thanks to Poncho
It is with sadness and deep gratitude that we note the loss of Seattle’s longtime friend Poncho [“Pioneering arts patron Poncho to fold into larger fund,” NWSunday, Feb. 24].
Organized exactly 50 years ago, Poncho’s philanthropic volunteers stepped up to help the Seattle Symphony erase debts incurred in its 1962 production of Verdi’s “Aida” during the Seattle World’s Fair. Poncho’s efforts succeeded in retiring the debt, and provided an additional $50,000 for the following season’s production of “La Traviata” and the founding of Seattle Opera.
The Seattle Symphony is proud to have partnered with Poncho during its long history of support for arts and culture, and joins with the entire community in thanking all those who served at Poncho to help make Seattle’s cultural life as vibrant as it is today. In honor of this enormous contribution, the Symphony’s Masterworks Season performances on June 27-30, 2013, will be dedicated to Poncho.
–Simon Woods, executive director, Seattle Symphony
March 6, 2013 at 5:30 PM
References to age are unnecessary, misguided
I was appalled by the recent review of the Patti Smith concert, written by Charles R. Cross [“Ageless Patti Smith soars at Neptune Theater show,” NWFriday March 1]. It began, “Patti Smith is 66 years old, but at the Neptune Theatre Wednesday night she put on a vibrant and energetic performance that one would expect from someone 50 years her junior.”
It went on in that vein with four more sentences describing what a wonderful concert is was, followed by the word “but” and sheer astonishment that anyone that old could put on such a great show. At one point, Cross also referred to Smith’s “surprising awareness of the pop-culture mainstream.”
Such assumptions reflect a negative stereotype of people over 50 or 60 as being in steep decline, rapidly losing their ability to do work they’ve been doing so well for so long.
I think the reviewer may actually have though he was complimenting the performer. If one strips away the ageist language, he is saying that Smith was vibrant and energetic and that her voice has never sounded better. Why not just leave it at that?
–Madeleine Kolb, Seattle
March 3, 2013 at 7:01 AM
Original art should be preserved
The pictures of the magnificent murals created by artist Andrew Morrison were beautiful [“Beloved murals may disappear,” page one, Feb. 25]. The title of the article should have been “Beloved murals about to be demolished,” because that is the real story.
Seattle Public Schools has been indifferent, disengaged and dismissive of the artist and his artwork. Seattle Public Schools has made no constructive move to preserve the artwork, only offering to take digital pictures of it.
Original art is completely different from a reproduction. Lucy Morello is quoted at the end of the article saying the goal is to preserve the artwork, even though that is not what is happening and says they have several years to resolve the issue. This story has just begun!
–Ted Heekin, Edmonds
May 5, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Support bill and local artists
Concerning The Seattle Times’ May 22 editorial ["Bill to limit public art should be vetoed," Opinion, May 2] regarding proposed legislation to make artists residing outside of Washington ineligible to compete for public-arts funding for two years: Stating it is shortsighted is the opposite of what really will occur.
Enacting this legislation is important economically and is also artistically sound. The economics relative to utilizing Washington artists relate to the money artists spend locally and the taxes that they, as businesses, are required by license to pay. This is money that stays in the state.
There are two false premises in the editorial. One is that other states will follow suit and Washington artists will end up on the losing end. This has not proven to be the case, as most arts commissions select works based on merit. To not accept this premise is demeaning to our own arts commission.
Secondly, you state that the Washington State Arts Commission is not offering huge commissions to out-of-state artists. Thirteen out of 35 is 37 percent –that’s a Hall-of-Fame number for a baseball player. The numbers that matter are the percentages of money allocated for those contracts. Research I published in the 1980s on public spending in the arts, specifically the Seattle Arts Commission, showed project money was 41 percent for Northwest artists versus 59 percent for out-of-state artists. I have seen no evidence to show any changes in this attitude.
The statement that this proposal would close the doors for great works of art is an insult to the art community of this state. One should only look at the art of Washington artists acquired by the state.
– Phillip Levine, Seattle
May 1, 2009 at 10:00 PM
Appreciate the parks we have
The mayor of Bremerton should take a walk — to the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park and on to Myrtle Edwards Park — before he spouts off about Seattle’s lack of public waterfront space ["Harnessing the potential of Seattle's waterfront," Cary Bozeman guest commentary, Opinion, April 29].
– Anne Fontaine, Seattle
April 5, 2009 at 4:22 PM
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Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times
Could have been an inspirational museum
Editor, The Times:
It’s an eyesore ["Love, money can't save Hendrix's old home," page one, March 31]. I think ghettos and German concentration camps are a bit of an eyesore, too. However, they should not be torn down. People visit them to remember the cruelties and injustice served there. They may be ugly, but they are of great importance. There are many ugly places that should be torn down. Places that offer nothing of benefit.
Jimi Hendrix’s house was not one of these places. Though it may have looked ugly on the outside, it offered inspiration to musicians on the inside.
I’m surprised that Seattle was foolish enough to demolish its most famous resident’s residence. It should have been fixed up and made into a museum of some sort. I think guitar enthusiast volunteers could have fixed up the house, and been proud to be a part of that.
I guess Jimi said it best: “Castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually.” How sad.
— Brady Nord, Salem, Ore.
April 1, 2009 at 4:00 PM
He championed art that existed on the margins
I realize how difficult it must be to fill an obituary column with all the virtues of one who has passed on ["Champion of the arts put Seattle on the map," page one, March 30]. However, in the case of Peter Donnelly, it feels as though the surface was only slightly scratched.
While Peter deserved all of the accolades related to his work with the Seattle Repertory Theatre, ArtsFund and the Building for the Arts fund, one would think that he only delved into promotion and sustainability for those well-heeled, richly supported arts organizations. He did much more.
While Seattle audiences often look as segregated today as they did in 1964 when Peter arrived here, it’s worth noting that his work reached those whose art existed on the margins. He saw the margins and was willing to step across the lines.
When the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center was still known as a cultural center, it was Peter who made it possible for CCA funding to flow to that institution. ArtsFund continues to support programs there to this day.
Other small, ethnically specific arts organizations can look back and note that Peter Donnelly, while shrewd and sometimes above reproach, was honest and willing to help when organizations had their acts together and warranted support.
It was Peter who recruited one of the smartest and most passionate advocates for the arts, an African-American woman who provided community support on behalf of Pacific Northwest Bell (now Qwest) and US Bank, to sit on the CCA review panel and the Building for the Arts Advisory board to give voice to the needs in our arts community that strive to tell the stories of varying ethnic cultures.
It was Peter’s work that created the Mary Helen Moore Diversity Fund in her honor after her sudden death. The Hansberry Project at ACT has had the honor of being a recipient of this vital funding.
The arts are in a fragile state in our community, but not unlike other times when Peter Donnelly knew that they were essential to assure that our quality of life was enhanced by what art brings to us all and that multiple forms and origins deserved expression.
It wasn’t just that such enhancement was only available in the plush, most comfortable seats in town, but those smaller, fledging organizations had a story to tell and would be silenced without the support by corporate and foundation contributions. Peter knew this and he walked with us so many times to assure that we, too, could participate.
We appreciate all that you did, Peter, to allow us to also participate in Seattle’s arts community. It’s true, we were unable to save our grandest symbol of diverse art, the Group Theatre, but we will continue to strive for equity, excellence and solid placement in this city, where world-class arts abound, with your memory intact.
It’s like an old saying –when you lose a friend, you gain an angel you know. We’ll continue to keep working to carry out the legacy you recognized was possible, and hope that you will continue to appear as that angel on our shoulders to show us how to do what is right over what is convenient and easy — words seldom found in your vocabulary.
– Vivian Phillips, Seattle
Seattle sparkles in tribute
I had the good fortune to arrive on the Seattle arts scene just as the turn of time brought our legendary Peter Donnelly back from Texas to the shores of the Puget Sound so that he could create his singular role of arts-commander-in-chief as head of the newly minted corporate council.
My first audience with this titan-in-the making was prophetic. He was gracious as he listened to the entirety of my impassioned plea for more money than mere facts could sustain. A smile erupted on his face as he laughingly read me out loud for all to hear, “You use the word opportunity like a Texan,” a pronouncement that served me well in my years of service to the arts and beyond.
Peter Donnelly, now upon your passing, I’m going to read you right back. You had the heart and soul of a Texan. Everything of your making was bigger than life. You gave us big ideas, big actions and big results.
By the grace of your enduring, large gestures, Seattle stepped upon the stage of world-class cities and emerged as a darling of destinations on the American continent. Some come for a visit, some come to stay. But they all come to drink in the fountain of liveliness and livelihood that springs from the deep well of your vision for the arts. Your work still showers Seattle with creative spirit that sparkles in tribute to the life and times of Peter Donnelly.
— Stephen Guy, former director of development, Seattle Group Theater, and assistant director, Seattle Arts Commission, Seattle
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