Arts Picks

THURSDAY

BOOKS

PETER SíS

Just named the recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant, the Czech-born artist won asylum in the U.S. 20 years ago and has since done movie posters, MTV film shorts, and illustrations for plenty of top magazines, while also becoming one of the leading illustrators of kids' books. His latest, The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $18), wonderfully renders what is perhaps the most important sea voyage in history: Darwin's 1831-36 passage on the HMS Beagle that provided the foundation for On the Origin of Species. Sís' book is a perfect way to get your kid (and yourself) thinking about science, travel, heredity, and nature. The illustrations are marvelously evocative, inviting, and not at all pedantic. Tree is the rare children's title that rewards both parent and child without demeaning the intelligence of either. Three appearances on Thurs., Nov. 13: 10:30 a.m. at Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., 206-366-3333; 4 p.m. at University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., 206-634-3400; 7 p.m. at All for Kids, 2900 N.E. Blakeley St., 206-526-2768. BRIAN MILLER

WEDNESDAY

DANCE

SPECTRUM BENEFIT

Spectrum Dance Theater and its artistic director Donald Byrd are sending out an SOSSave Our Season! Byrd's dynamic choreography has energized the company's work but hasn't done the same with its bank account, so the group needs a boost to support its scheduled performances this spring. Spectrum regulars will give a sneak peek of their upcoming shows and will be joined by guests from Pacific Northwest Ballet and D.C.'s Washington Ballet in other excerpts from Byrd's repertory. 7:30 p.m. Wed., Nov. 12. $40. On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., 206-325-4161. SANDRA KURTZ

WEDNESDAY

CLASSICAL

SEATTLE NEW MUSIC ENSEMBLE

Poet Edith Sitwell and composer William Walton were rebelling against Edwardian stuffiness when they collaborated on Façade, rhythmic recitations with instrumental backgrounds. Her snappy, surreal "patterns in sound" and his nose-thumbing dance-music parodies defined "au courant" in early-1920s England. The SNME, which has been premiering local works as well as reviving some of the 20th century's seminal music, has tapped drag diva Sylvia O'Stayformore (below) as the reciter. Also on tonight's program: music by Cage, Carter, Harrison (see related article, p. 74), and Seattle composer Tom Swafford. 7:30 p.m. Wed., Nov. 12. $13-$18. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 206-533-0347. GAVIN BORCHERT

THURSDAY

VISUAL ARTS

SAM RENTAL GALLERY

The Seattle Art Museum's new Rental/ Sales Gallery on the ground floor of the art deco Seattle Tower (formerly home to a bunch of stockbrokers) is a boon not just to the local artists who'll sell work there but also to the poor pedestrians trudging along Third Avenue, who now have an entire corner of stimulating window displays to enjoy instead of the blank walls that line the rest of the street. In celebration of the new spacedesigned by Thom Kundig, whose firm is known for its masterful redo of the Fryethe gallery will show and sell work from a bunch of its most popular artists, including Claire Cowie, Joe Max Emminger, and Gary Nisbet (whose mixed-media collage One Tree is seen above). Opening party: 3-7 p.m. Thurs., Nov. 13. 1220 Third Ave. (at University), 206-748-9282. MARK D. FEFER

SUNDAY

MUSIC

SHAWN COLVIN, MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER, DAR WILLIAMS, PATTY GRIFFIN

Separately, these top-drawer singer/songwriters can easily command your undivided attention: Colvin, who gave madness its catchiest hook ever in "Sunny Came Home"; Carpenter (below), author of smooth, soul-searching country-folk (like Lucinda Williams with less of a hangover); the self-deprecating Williams, whose witty, compassionate folk-pop would make Joni Mitchell proud; and Griffin, whose wearily gorgeous voice gives her well-written originals and masterful covers (like Springsteen's "Stolen Car") incredible depth and resonance. Sharing the stage and trading songs for an entire acoustic set, they should be damn near transcendent. 7 p.m. Sun., Nov. 16. $37.50-$47.50. McCaw Hall, Seattle Center, 206-628-0888. STEVE WIECKING AND NEAL SCHINDLER

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