Seattle Museum Resources

Would you believe that just as Seattle moves into the best weather season of the year, I move out of Seattle and resettle in Sedona, Arizona? Well it’s true, and giving up Seattle museums and all of its cultural resources is one of the most difficult aspects of the move. I have been so fortunate to have been able to see remarkable traveling exhibits at the city’s larger museums and to experience creative locally developed art and science experiences at our region’s museums galleries, and exhibition spaces large and small.

I have been introduced to new-to-me local artists. I’ve revisited some of the works of my favorite world-renowned artists. I’ve been given new insights into the paintings of so many of these artists.

I’ve learned new historical facts, been made aware of hitherto unrealized connections. I’ve been introduced to science facts and connections that I never knew about. And I’ve never forgotten how lucky I have been to live in a city with these assets.

It’s not easy to give this up, and, of course, I can’t do it totally. So I will be returning to Seattle a few times a year, and will hope to catch some exhibitions when I do. Of course, I’ll post reviews of them as quickly as I can.

Thanks to all of you in the museum community for providing me and all the other Seattleites and their guests with these eight years of wonderful experiences and opportunities to learn and see. And thanks to you readers who have found value in this blog. Keep ArtsStage-SeattleRage alive on your computer, and sooner or later there might be something posted that will resonate with you.

Heading Southwest

Would you believe that just as Seattle moves into the best weather season of the year, I move out of Seattle and resettle in Sedona, Arizona? Well it’s true, and giving up Seattle theatre is one of the most difficult aspects of the move. I have been so fortunate to have been welcomed by theatres big and small for more than eight years, graciously welcomed even after I’ve posted less than favorable reviews.

I have had the opportunity to see stunning acting, brilliant direction, to see remarkable works by modern playwrights as well by the old masters. I’ve been mesmerized by creative production values. I’ve loved seeing appreciative audiences, and been amazed at both the variety and vitality of Seattle theatre.

It’s not easy to give this up, and, of course, I can’t do it totally. So I will be returning to Seattle a few times a year, and will hope to catch some plays when I do, and post reviews of them as quickly as I can.

Thanks to all of you in the theatre community for generously sharing your talents with me these eight years, and thanks to you readers who have found value in this blog. Keep
ArtsStage-SeattleRage alive on your computer.

This is not a final curtain; it’s just an extra long intermission.

“Lady Windermere’s Fan” at Taproot Theatre

Oh Oscar Wilde, your astute impressions of the British upper class seem as sharp today as they were in the late 19th Century when you wrote your plays. And I must tell you that you aren’t entirely successful at hiding your attitudes toward class and politics, but then you never wanted to, did you? Your humor, of course, is still pertinent, and your characters, with just a little imagination, could be our contemporaries. Their snobbery and marital distrust are features of our own society, yet how we love to see all this revealed, as you do it, in lives from past generations.

We’re certainly immersed in a snobbish society in this play, just as we are immersed in a society in which males were in charge (totally and absolutely). Wives were expected to be utterly faithful to their husbands just as they were expected to obey his rules. They bore his children, entertained appropriately, made the proper social connections, and, if they were particularly inventive, perhaps they did some watercolor paintings (landscapes, no nudes) or excelled at needlework. Of course they carried fans in an age before air conditioning, but those fans did much more than keep them cool. They served also to deliver subtle messages. Lady Windermere, as we see, was not as careful with her fan as she should have been.

Taproot’s presentation of “Lady Windermere’s Fan” plays out on a suitably classy, period perfect set (Mark Lund). Lund is also responsible for sound. Kent Cubbage’s lighting reinforces mood and period just as Jocelyne Fowler’s lush costumes epitomize the late 19th C. upper class English.

Directors Karen Lund and Marianne Savell have assembled a fine cast, all of whom seem to settle well into the period. This is a good ensemble whose members play off one another with grace and impeccable timing.

I happen to love Oscar Wilde. If you are unfamiliar with his work, this is a good introduction. If you know his work well, this will please you.

Through June 23 at Taproot Theatre, 204 N. 85th St., Seattle, 206-781-9707, taproottheatre.org.

“Hand to God” at Seattle Public Theatre

“Hand to God” at Seattle Public Theatre

Hysterically funny, the funniest play I’ve seen all year, well, no, maybe in the last five years! But it’s not only funny. Playwright Robert Askins has written a wildly creative, totally unexpected, simply delightful play, and infused it with exquisite poignancy despite its irreverent humor. Kudos to Kelly Kitchens for her adroit direction of this little gem.

Here we are in a Christian church that supports a puppet club designed to reinforce the Christian message to the youth of the congregation. Unfortunately for poor, and somewhat naive, Pastor Greg (Martyn G. Krause), when Jason (Ben Burris), one of his young parishioners, introduces his hand puppet, Tyrone, things go wildly out of control. Tyrone is outrageously irreverent and impossibly behaved. To say he wrecks havoc is to understate his impact.

Puppeteer Burris is simply remarkable. He not only provides rich emotions for his human character, but at the same time controls puppet Tyrone with consummate skill and wit. Tyrone is, of course, the major character in this irreverent comedy. The puppetry is magical, and it should be mentioned that Tyrone has some of the best lines. But it’s the skill of Burris that makes Tyrone into star material.

It’s an adept cast that supports Tyrone and his handler Jason. Martyn G. Krause exquisitely captures the cluelessness and sexual hunger of Pastor Greg. Hannah Mootz brings scintillating sexual energy to the stage, and Sunam Ellis and Arjun Pande are able supporters with their own sexual interests.

For those who revel in wit and skill, this is a must see. It played on Broadway in 2015 and received 5 Tony nominations.

Through June 3, at Seattle Public Theatre (in the Bathhouse at Green Lake), 7312 West Green Lake Dr., N., 98103, Seattle, 206-524-1300, www.seattlepublictheater.org.

Towards Impressionism: Landscape Painting from Corot to Monet Now at the Frye Museum through August 5

If the Impressionists are among your favorite artists, and if you love dreamy 19th C French landscape paintings, the Frye Museum has an exhibition for you. Fifty-one glorious landscape paintings by artists including such greats as Corot, Rousseau, Boudin, Courbet, Renoir, Sisley . . . need I go on? This is an extraordinary exhibition in which most of the works are on loan from the Mussée des Beaux Arts in Reims, France. The Frye curators have wisely added to them selections from the museum’s own collection, providing the viewer with insight about the interests of Mr. and Mrs. Frye.

The Reims Museum is widely recognized as having one of the world’s foremost collections of French landscape paintings. And remember, the 19th Century was really the birth of landscape painting. During these years, artists began moving away from their studios and out into the countryside. They began experimenting with paintings of the natural world. Before this time, the vogue was for classical depictions of imagined environments. The new plein air paintings were groundbreaking, and were important in the development of Impressionism. One of the interesting aspects of this exhibition is the way it reveals that shift.

Many of these artists travelled to the Normandy coast. I was particularly captivated by two of Boudin’s seaside paintings. One shows rough waters with numerous boats fighting the wind. The other is a beach scene of well-covered ladies and gentlement gazing out at saiboats. When you go, compare these early Boudin works with Monet’s painting of the rocks at Belle-Ile. Boudin was a generation older than Monet. The contrast of their works provide a good example of how the Impressionists moved on from the landscape painters who preceded them.

Of all the artists represented in this exhibition, Corot is primary. Again, a comparison of his many works, with those of Piassarro, Renoir, and Caillebotte, reveals the evolution to Impressionism. Gradually the classical principles of the esteemed French Academy gave way, and Modernism was born.

This is a remarkable retrospective. Enjoy noting the changing style, and pay attention to the details. You’ll see tiny people engaged in daily activities, animals grazing or working, villages, and more, all embedded in lush landscapes. I doubt that you’ll ever have an opportunity to compare so many landscape painters of the 19th C. unless you visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Reims.

Through August 5, at the Frye Museum, 704 Terry Ave., Seattle, fryemuseum.org. (Don’t forget that the parkiing lot is closed because of constuction).