The Pick List: The Week’s Recommended Events

Thursday, May 1

Eric Zener

Before summer, spring. Yet there are some watery and even summery themes running through tonight’s First Thursday art walk. At Gallery4 Culture, photographer Abby Inpanbutr offers her documentary images of the working waterfronts of Salmon Bay and Lake Union, soon also to be clogged with pleasure boats. Then there are the warmer, bluer waters of San Diego artist Eric Zener, whose The Great Escape series starts with underwater photos of figures floating and lounging beneath the surfaces of pools. He then applies new layers of color and paint to give them a hyper-real aspect. These somersaulting, contorted, twisting figures aren’t exactly athletic or restful. Nor do Zener’s pool scenes specifically recall those of David Hockney, which are typically framed from the deck looking down. They’re more like aquatic figure studies, the faces of his models turned away or obscured with bubbles, suspended like gymnasts in slo-mo as they plunge and bob. Zener will attend the opening of his first solo Seattle show. (Through May 31.) Foster White Gallery, 220 Third Ave. S., 622-2833, fosterwhite.com. Free. Opening reception 6–8 p.m.

Sci-Fi Film Festival

Paul Allen loves science fiction and he loves movies. How then to marry the two? In its second year on Seattle’s favorite big screen, this collection of three dozen space operas ranges from the ridiculous to the sublime. The fest opens with the fun, cheesy disco-relic Flash Gordon, full of campy costumes, slumming actors (Max von Sydow, Topol, etc.), and a memorable theme song by Queen. At the other end of the stellar scale are 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien (featuring a Q&A with local actor Tom Skerritt), and E.T. Somewhere in the solid, pulpy middle are Predator, Escape From New York, and the original Tron. Pay special note to David Lynch’s Dune (9:30 p.m., Tues., May 6), since a prior failed adaptation of the same book is the subject of the acclaimed new documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, which you really should see. Other worthwhile titles include John Carpenter’s The Thing, Planet of the Apes, The Matrix, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Special-effects maestro Douglas Trumbull will discuss this last movie and his work on 2001, and debut his new 3-D short UFOTOG—shot in 4K-resolution digital format at 120 frames per second. Supposedly a test for a planned feature in the super-high-res category, the 12-minute vignette has to do with a photographer seeking to document a visiting alien spaceship. For tonight’s gala opening, actor Sam Jones will be on hand to field your questions about playing Flash Gordon—and about wearing those fabulous costumes. (Through May 12.) Cinerama, 2100 Fourth Ave., 448-6880, cinerama.com. $25–$35 opening night. (Most tickets $9.) 8 p.m.

Friday, May 2

Othello

Boy, if there was ever a film that needed a full digital restoration, this is it. Orson Welles spent three years sporadically filming this 1952 Shakespearian tragedy all over Europe, picking up locations, performers, and cinematographers (five of them!) when and where he could find them. I have seen some shitty prints of this movie, with the sound and lighting levels all over the map. (Welles went back and dubbed many of the supporting roles before its 1955 U.S. release. Let’s not speak of the 1992 rehab.) The fitful filming process was driven entirely by financing, meaning the lack thereof—one reason Welles would later quip that he spent 98 percent of his career after Citizen Kane hustling for backers and 2 percent actually making movies. He tackled several Shakespearian projects during the postwar period. Chimes at Midnight is my favorite among them, but Othello is the most fully realized. In blackface, Welles plays the brilliant Moorish general driven insane with jealousy by Iago (the excellent Micheál MacLiammóir); Suzanne Cloutier’s Desdemona is the vague but lovely soul caught between them. Harkening back to Kane, Welles shot the film in deep-focus black-and-white, often wedging his players into stark architectural compositions (sharp eyes will detect landmarks in Morocco, Venice, and Rome). It’s not just Iago’s malign whispering that drives our hero to murder; there’s a cumulative weight of masonry and history pressing upon him, crushing his will and reason. (Critics in New York say this digital redo looks great; the picture runs through Thursday.) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, nwfilmforum.org. $6–$11. 7 p.m.

South Lake Union Art Walk

Most Seattle galleries are clustered in Pioneer Square, Belltown, and Capitol Hill, where monthly art walks are fairly well established. But what of Seattle’s most booming neighborhood, SLU? Amid the Amazon towers and apartment buildings for all those weary coders are actually a few galleries and several temporary exhibition spaces arranged by the city’s Storefronts Seattle program. Tonight marks the inaugural quarterly art walk in SLU, with two dozen venues including proper galleries like Winston Wächter Fine Art (featuring painter Erin Parish) and Patricia Cameron Gallery (with Milan Heger), businesses including Glazer’s Camera and Modele’s Home Furnishings, some apartment lobbies, and the eight storefront installations. A guided tour, led by Shunpike’s Anne Blackburn, will help you find the latter. Among them, we always like the work of Evan Blackwell, who repurposes old lawn chairs, plastic forks, drinking straws, and other urban detritus to make interesting sculpture. And there’s even a concluding 8 p.m. happy hour at Row House Cafe. Maps and info: storefrontsseattle.com and discoverslu.com. Free. Tour departs John Street and Boren Avenue North at 6 p.m. Most venues open 5–8 p.m.

Seattle Dance Project

Dancers Tim Lynch and Julie Tobiason founded their company in 2007 to explore life outside Pacific Northwest Ballet. Since then, they’ve presented a mix of new and new-to-them works that expanded the performers’ horizons and gave the audience a new perspective on familiar artists. Tobiason stepped away from SDP after a few seasons, and now Lynch is preparing to leave as well. He and his wife—Alexandra Dickson, another former PNB/current SDP artist—will head off to Ohio to join BalletMet in June. For what’s possibly their last hurrah, they’re drawing on a trio of local choreographers for Project 7. Iyun Ashani Harrison, Wade Madsen, and Amy O’Neal bring a diversity of styles to their work, which was the SDP Project’s initial goal. Is this an ending or a transition for the company? Either way, it should be a satisfying benchmark. (Through Sun.) Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway, 800-838-3006, seattledanceproject.org. $20–$25. 8 p.m.

Saturday, May 3

The Tales of Hoffmann

The second most vexing problem in staging Jacques Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann is which version to use. The composer hadn’t finished the opera when he died in 1880; various orchestrations, inclusions, and omissions—even the order of the acts—all have to be sorted out. The most vexing problem is how to cast it. As the title suggests, the piece is based on three short stories by German fantasist E.T.A. Hoffmann. The tales parallel one another; each one, plus the framing prologue/epilogue, includes a heroine, a nemesis, and a servant role, and it can be greatly effective to cast one singer in each slot—if  you can find singers who can handle it. Seattle Opera did. For their production, opening tonight, Norah Amsellem sings all four lost loves, which altogether demand an intimidating range of color and style, from high-flying coloratura to weighty tragedy. Few sopranos attempt it. (Leah Partridge sings the four roles in the alternate cast, May 4 & 16.) SO’s 2005 staging of Hoffmann cast three separate sopranos as three of the heroines, leaving one a mute walk-on role (see what I mean about various versions? You can even choose to leave out some characters). That stunning and adored production, directed by Chris Alexander, is being revived as an opulent farewell for Speight Jenkins, who steps down as SO’s general director in September. (Through May 17.) McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St. (Seattle Center), 389-7676, seattleopera.org. $25–$220. 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 4

Ira Glass

Glass is so masterful at the art of storytelling that he can make the most mundane scene into a harrowing, suspense-filled tale. When I saw him live during his last local visit, he demonstrated this by telling a story just about a person waking up and going down the stairs. But damn, what a great story it was. After nearly 20 years of hosting the beloved public-radio show This American Life, Glass’ charmingly nasal voice has become synonymous with engaging storytelling and intensely personal journalism. Glass has interviewed everyone from small children with aspirations of becoming superheroes to survivors of genocides. His talk, “Reinventing Radio,” will let you see what goes into making the celebrated show and offer Glass a chance to amplify how he hopes to “push broadcast journalism” into areas it hasn’t gone before—chiefly by creating stories for real people instead of news-obsessed media junkies. If Glass has ever entranced you over the radio, know that seeing him in the flesh, chunky glasses and all, will elevate your nerdy cult-of-personality fandom to a whole new fever pitch. As it did mine. Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, 901 Broadway (Tacoma), 253-591-5890, broadwaycenter.org. $29–$75. 3 p.m.

 
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