The Weekly Wire: The Week’s Notable Events

WEDNESDAY 5/20Visual Arts: Bodies in MotionIt's a mouthful, Motonic Simulacra, Evolved Diatomoton and the other wall-mounted sculptures, but the wall-size LED array by Claude Zervas properly belongs beneath a microscope. It's like a giant virus or undersea amoeba flickering and blinking at you. Seemingly spontaneous eruptions of light from its tendrils make the beast appear to move, to shimmy and vibrate with life. Down at the cellular level, such organisms are probably less complicated than Zervas' programmed diodes. The local artist also crafts more static, numinous works, such as his Yellow Formation, which casts the sort of warm glow you'd love in an alarm clock on your nightstand—only the numerals never quite emerge from the haze. Also on view through June 6 are dangling pendant sculptures by Beth Campbell. They resemble giant wire earrings or inverted flow charts. And indeed she's created a pair of pencil-and-paper decision trees on the walls. "I avoid speaking my mind," she writes. "I call 911." "I only allow myself $5 gambling money in the casino." All these consequences spring from single human acts or decisions. Life is more complicated for us than for Zervas' light-emitting invertebrate. James Harris Gallery, 312 Second Ave. S., 903-6220, www.jamesharrisgallery.com. Free. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. BRIAN MILLERTHURSDAY 5/21Books/Beer: Pint-Size PrimerLike a lot of men, Tom Robbins loves beer and women. Unlike a lot of men, he's capable of writing about both, eloquently and humorously. And Robbins can appreciate beer without women, and vice versa. But in his peculiar new "grown-up book for children," B Is for Beer (Ecco, $17.95), he keeps the women and the beer conjoined. His heroine in this breezy 125-page tome is a Seattle kindergartner named Gracie Perkel, who becomes obsessed with the foamy gold stuff at the urging of her salty Uncle Moe, who skips town with a lover before he can properly educate the wee one as to beer's transformational powers. Hence, she sets to acquiring that knowledge herself, with a mid-book assist from the Beer Fairy, who provides thorough lessons both in how beer is created and how it causes certain people to act. Robbins equates the consumption of beer with religion or, short of that, an out-of-body experience that brings the drinker closer to his or her inner divinity. But why gear the book toward the underage? "At the very least," he says, "they need a clearer understanding of why their dad keeps a second refrigerator in the garage, and why he stays up late out there on school nights with his shirt off, listening to Aerosmith." Robbins' fans shouldn't expect another Jitterbug Perfume; Beer is actually a book you could read to your (older) kids at bedtime. But like everything Robbins writes, it's singular, unique, and delightful. Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, www.elliottbaybook.com. Free. 7:30 p.m. MIKE SEELYScience/Wine: Old Bones, New GrapesMaybe it's time you learn to pronounce Gewürztraminer. As the quality and popularity of Washington wines continue to grow, local oenophiles should also continue their education on the subject. Thus the third annual Dino Wine-Oh tasting event, which mixes paleontology with a presentation by sommelier Arnie Millan. As you wander the ongoing "Dinosaurs" exhibit (they're not so terrifying now, are they?), he'll lead you through a selection from more than a dozen Northwest wineries, including Silver Lake and Sodovino. Chocolates and cheese are also part of this "Science With a Twist" mixer, with members of the Emerald City Soul Club providing the music. Pacific Science Center, 200 Second Ave. N., 443-2001, www.pacificsciencecenter.org. $17–$20 (21 and over). 6 p.m. IRFAN SHARIFFFRIDAY 5/22Visual Arts: Every DirectionGroup shows are always a mixed bag—too many artists with disparate styles competing for space on the gallery wall. For that reason, I actually rather like the confusion and lack of cohesion at "Open House" (through May 30). Where's the all-powerful theory? Where's the curator's windy manifesto? Where's the cult of the One Great Artist who'll revolutionize the field? Nowhere in evidence. Instead we get diverse works by over two dozen artists associated with the gallery, including Arthur S. Aubry, Jenny Heishman, and Karen Ganz. There's much to like, or not, in this enjoyably cluttered show—much of it priced to move. If I had the wall space, I'd spring for Amsterdam by Matthew Picton, which raises that city's urban grid in multiple dimensions off a white enamel map surface. The streets and thoroughfares become colorful ribbons elevated above the blue canals and otherwise featureless burg. Street names, ordinals, and other identifying details have been stripped away. The city's simplified into a three-dimensional lattice, useless for navigation but lovely to look at. Howard House, 604 Second Ave., 256-6399, www.howardhouse.net. Free. 10:30 a.m.–5 p.m. BRIAN MILLERFilm: Kraut NoirChristian Petzold's Jerichow wryly riffs on The Postman Always Rings Twice for late-capitalist Deutschland. Mostly cool where James M. Cain's novel and subsequent two film adaptations run hot, Jerichow is interested less in the frictions of bodies rubbing up against each other than in the static of class and cultural tensions as wads of euros exchange hands. As in Petzold's previous movie, Yella, the dehumanizing qualities of commerce drive the narrative. But where the earlier film lost some of its punch to a cheap plot contrivance, the tight twists and turns of Jerichow suggest that Petzold has become a far more robust storyteller. The players in Jerichow's love triangle—Ali (Hilmi Sözer), a Turkish snack-shop proprietor; his wife, Laura (Petzold regular Nina Hoss); and Thomas (Benno Fürmann), the ex-soldier Ali hires as a driver—are consistently excellent, with Sözer's broken, pathetic magnate starting out pitiful before becoming contemptible and finally human, his tentative swagger constantly undermined by his outsider status. Petzold's film forgoes Cain's prolonged double-crosses, its simpler ending made all the more powerful—and a little heartbreaking. (Through Thursday, not rated, 89 minutes.) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935, www.grandillusioncinema.org. $5–$8. 7 and 9 p.m. MELISSA ANDERSONSATURDAY 5/23Music: Surround-SoundThe goals of the concept and teaching of Deep Listening, as musician/philosopher Pauline Oliveros defines it, are to recognize "the difference between the involuntary nature of hearing and the voluntary selective nature of listening" and the "appreciation of sounds on a heightened level." Well, yeah, but don't all musicians do that? You'd be surprised. It's a devotion to an intense focus on sound, in itself, as an end (rather than a means—to, say, showing off, making money, getting laid), and to improvisation procedures that encourage generous interaction with other musicians and with one's environment. Performances by Oliveros' Deep Listening Band, together 20 years and celebrating tonight in two sets, exemplify her ideas: collaborations among herself (on accordion, mainly), David Gamper (keyboards and electronics), and Seattle's Stuart Dempster (trombone, plus just about any brasslike sound-maker from conch shell to garden hose). The three explorers favor rich layers of long tones in highly resonant spaces; their quest for acoustic grandeur—living sound—has taken them to a cave in the Canary Islands, a rotunda at Columbia University, and most famously an abandoned underground cistern at Fort Worden State Park with a 45-second reverb time. As their sound builds, mutates, and envelops you, it becomes something you breathe, internalize. Chapel Performance Space, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N., waywardmusic.blogspot.com. $5–$15. 7 & 8:30 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERTMuppets: Bigger Than Big BirdWhile Kermit and his fuzzy cohorts are recognized the world over, few know that Jim Henson (1936–1990) also had a prolific career in TV commercials and received a 1965 Oscar nomination for an experimental short film. There's much to learn about the man behind the Muppets in Jim Henson's Fantastic World, an official, company-branded touring retrospective that opens today. Original drawings, photographs, videos, Muppet Show episodes, and of course Muppets will be on display through August 16. Opening weekend events, associated with Folklife, include a presentation on the music in Henson's work (think "The Rainbow Connection"), a performance by the Clay Martin Puppet Theatre, and a Muppet sing-along in the Sky Church (Sunday at 1:30 p.m.). Kids will also appreciate the interactive "Mudgarden Experience" designed by local puppeteer Annett Mateo, who will also lead a sock puppet–making workshop. For older children, and not a few adults, there will be a June 16 screening of Labyrinth with local puppeteer/voice actress Karen Prell, who worked on that film—and portrayed Red Fraggle on Fraggle Rock! Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum, 325 Fifth Ave. N., 367-5483, www.empsfm.org. $12–$15. Noon–7 p.m. JENNIFER K. STULLERTUESDAY 5/26Books: StrandedLike the protagonist of Aleksandar Hemon's 2008 The Lazarus Project—and indeed like Hemon himself, a Bosnian-born writer famously stranded in Chicago in 1992 on the eve of war in Yugoslavia—the narrator of Love and Obstacles (Riverhead, $25.95) is a man who can't go home. Though the gods of exile literature lurk—Conrad, Nabokov—Hemon's newest interlocking story collection is unified as much by his hero's wildly vulgar, incisive mind as by any pervasive sense of displacement. Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, www.elliottbaybook.com. Free. 7:30 p.m. (Also: University Book Store, 7 p.m. Wed., May 27.) ZACH BARON

 
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