African-American Museum

Long awaited project now on solid ground.

Museum Makes Headway

Ground was broken in more ways than one on June 1 at the Northwest African American Museum at the Urban League Village. In planning since 1981, and beset by no small amount of controversy over the years, the museum will inhabit the beautiful old Colman School on South Massachusetts Street, which is nearing its 100th year. Short speeches were given by U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, Mayor Greg Nickels, and Urban League President James Kelly, among many others. And a number of local artists performed, including the Leschi School Elementary Choir led by Director Debbie Cavitt. Eleven-year-old Rodnita Alexander from Edmonds is a fifth-grade singer in the choir and said her father spoke with her about the opening of the museum. "I think it will be cool," she said. "I'll come because I'm African American and I feel it's important to support the culture you're from." The museum is projected to open late next year. KATIE BECKER

Halls of Fame

The American Institute of Architects Washington Council cited nine exemplary new civic buildings at an awards ceremony in late May. Among the top award winners: Seattle City Hall (Bassetti Architects, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson) and the UW's Conibear Shellhouse (Miller/Hull). Other winners included Bellevue City Hall (SRG Partnership); Yesler Community Center (Mithun); and the Nathan Hale High School Performing Arts Center (Mahlum Architects). The jury rightly noted Seattle City Hall's "superb urban integration" and "bright, open, welcoming character"—both in clear evidence now that warmer weather has drawn brown baggers out to the steps on Fourth Avenue. For a complete list of awards, see www.aiawa.org/awards.html. LYNN JACOBSON

Critical Notes

Local company Mary Sheldon Scott/Jarrad Powell Performance made its New York debut last week at the mecca of indie performance, Dance Theater Workshop. New York Times critic Gia Kourlas was unimpressed, reducing the troupe's layered, imagistic work thusly: "Together they strive to make works that illuminate the natural world through movement and sound, but the results are less than harmonious." She did muster a few positive words about the troupe's fine dancers, though, calling their technique "effortless." LYNN JACOBSON

M-I-C-K-E-Y

Parents of future Mariahs and Ushers take note: This weekend, Radio Disney is looking for the best singing talent under 14. Kids will audition with one of three songs from the immensely popular Disney Channel Original Movie High School Musical for the chance to win a trip to Los Angeles and radio airtime. Why promising airplay on a radio station isn't payola is beyond us, but the competition's sure to be as heated as any round of American Idol. Experience Music Project's Sky Church, 325 Fifth Ave. N., 206-262-3221 or 206-281-5300, ext. 230. Free. 1 p.m. Sign-up begins at 12:30 p.m. Sun., June 11. FRANK PAIVA

A Nudity Complex

Since when do Capitol Hill vendors turn down an arts poster displaying nudity? At least since Akropolis Performance Lab started promoting its production of Oedipus with an image of a man suckling a woman's breast. Jeff Haven, the pioneer of Keep Posted, a company that is hired by arts and nonprofit organizations to solicit business owners to promote their events and shows, says he managed to place about 100 of the posters, but 20 or so businesses turned him down. "People shy away from nudity, that's just the way it is," he says. "Some places, it was not a problem, and some don't feel like it is appropriate, especially if there are kids and elderly coming in." He wasn't fazed, although Jennifer Lavy, co-artistic director of Akropolis, was slightly frustrated. "One of my cast members is all over Capitol Hill and says she's not seeing the poster hardly anywhere," Lavy writes in an e-mail. "She's putting copies up wherever she can, as are the rest of us." KELLIE HWANG

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