Normally, visiting the Northwest under gloomy spring skies wouldn't count as much of a getaway for a veteran Sunbelt resident, but Antoine Predock probably found it a refreshing change of pace. Best known for his powerful modernist designs all over the Southwest, the architect tapped to design Tacoma's new art museum ran into trouble on his home turf last month when a Phoenix politician called for a redo of Predock's just-opened Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix. "The Science Center should stand out as a wonderful, pleasant, and attracting site," City Council member Cody Williams told the Arizona Republic: Instead, "It stands out as being a very large block of concrete." Among the improvements a council subcommittee is considering for the stark, fanglike bulk of the center are accent lighting, a paint job, a coat of stucco, and maybe awnings.
Asked if he would emulate the hero of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and blow up his handiwork if anybody mucked with it, Predock didn't flatly reject such an option but preached nonviolence, "constructive dialogue and consensus." He was also gentleman enough not to say that if the city fathers were looking for candidates for architectural cosmetology downtown, the nearby Arizona Diamondback's just-opened Bank One Ballpark deserves priority. But hey, the way pro sports are going these days, grandiosity, arrogance, and sheer eye-bending ugliness are exactly what's called for.
The face is familiar...
Seattle readers of The New York Times theater pages may have done a double-take the other day when they encountered a review of a one-woman show called Jodie's Body, "written and performed by Aviva Jane Carlin." No, it's not a case of plagiarism or of twins separated at birth: When she first staged her conceptual dramolette about an artist's model in Seattle, Aviva Jane was known as Kia Sîàn—or maybe Kîa Sían, or... —anyway, it's the same gal, give or take a few diacritical marks, and cheers to her for not only getting the Times to venture south of 42nd Street but praise her "quiet and very powerful" play and her "wonderful" acting in it.
A Northwest symphony orchestra was honored last week for its commitment to programming contemporary music: the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, in fact, whose conductor, Anthony Spain, included new work—by local composers, no less—in every NSO concert this season. The award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) to the Burien-based community orchestra was one of three in the category for groups with annual budgets of $300,000 or less. The Seattle Symphony didn't even make it into the top three in its own category, despite a substantial number of new works in its season (two world premieres this month alone, not to mention the half-dozen or so in March): the Kansas City Symphony, the New Jersey Symphony, and the San Antonio Symphony took the top slots. Gee, maybe (voice lowered as the heresy is whispered) contemporary composers don't suffer quite as much neglect from pandering, bottom-line-obsessed orchestra management as the critical cliché would have it....
Comings and goings
And speaking of orchestra management, does the Seattle Symphony still have one? With boss lady Deborah Card out till when on maternity leave and the PR department decimated by the back-to-back departures of Alice Kaderlan and Angela Gamba, who's presiding over the run-up to the grand opening of Benaroya Hall less than four months from now?
Well, at the moment, Mary Langholz, a recent immigrant to Seattle but a veteran publicist with credits at the Kennedy Center and Tampa's bustling Ruth Eckerd Performing Arts Center. Listed on the SSO roster as "associate director of public relations," Langholz will be working for a joint director of marketing and PR yet to be named and with a publicist to assist her, ditto.
Over at the Rep, publicist Jeff Fickes is leaving his post, "homesick for Minneapolis," according to a colleague. No, wait a minute, hold the phone.... Correction: Fickes is staying in Seattle, repeat: Fickes is a stay: "I changed my mind," he says, "and [artistic director] Sharon [Ott] and [managing director] Ben [Moore] were gracious enough to let me stay."
Rep education and outreach director Ted Sod, on the other hand, is leaving, and no second thoughts about it, to take up a similar position at New Jersey's George Street Playhouse with frequent Rep guest director David Saint. Sod's replacement will be Andrea Allen, ex of Annex Theater, who's been involved in Sod's Mobile Outreach Bunch (MOB) since 1993.
With Frank O. Gehry's balloonoform Experience Music Project building finally beginning to take shape at the corner of Fifth and Broad, EMP has appointed an administrator to oversee day-to-day operations: It's Constance (Mrs. Norm) Rice, currently a vice chancellor of the Seattle community college system. Rice's responsibilities will be wide, ranging from supervising all public programs to overseeing the rock-music museum's state-of-the-art exhibit technology, but the release announcing her appointment makes it clear she'll have not one but two bosses looking over her shoulder: EMP founder/funder Paul Allen and Allen's sister and family foundation honcho Jody Patton, who will continue as EMP's executive director.