Thursday, April 2
In their new show, Kate Wallich and Lavinia Vago (of The YC) are testing the old saying that nothing succeeds like excess. Beginning with the super-self-reflexive world of social media, they examine the current state of pop culture and the ownership society, Instagramming as they go. With a long list of collaborators to juggle (including composer Johnny Goss, designer JD Banke, videographer Jacob Rosen, and fellow stage performers Matt Drews and Waldean Nelson), Wallich has turned up the intensity on her usual dreamy, kinetic approach—this next stage in her choreographic development sounds pretty sleek. (Through Sun.) On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., 217-9888, ontheboards.org. $23–$25. 8 p.m.
Since his big career retrospective at the Frye two years ago, Seattle’s pre-eminent creator of environmental and salvage art has been busy. And he’s been traveling—spending time in Italy and Florida on various residencies. New work has resulted from both trips, though his first show at Greg Kucera will sample sculptural installations and photography reaching back 40 years. Back when he came to Seattle (from Michigan), Simpson found a city in turmoil. Pioneer Square and the Pike Place Market were in jeopardy, and he was arguably the first local artist to incorporate our historical discards—often gleaned from demolition sites and abandoned old buildings—into his work. His totemic character of the stooped Woodman, bundle of scrap timber on his back, speaks to that scruffy early-’70s era, when lofts were cheap and shiny expensive Statement Art was suspect. Simpson has always used humble, repurposed materials that remind you of past uses, antecedents, and—implicitly—the passage of time. In his show Double Bound, Simpson reuses old cathode ray tubes (turned into stools), license plates, shovels, a humble iron fence post (clad in gold leaf), scraps of steel and other metals, and reclaimed wood (always with the wood). You can’t really separate Simpson’s aesthetic from a deep, parallel sense of ecology: He’s always preserving as much as he is transforming. Simpson will attend the opening and give a talk at noon Saturday. (Through May 16.) Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Ave. S., 624-0770, gregkucera.com. Free. First Thursday opening reception: 6–8 p.m.
Friday, April 3
Spring came early this year, and filmmaker Ethan Folk was more than ready. His new project uses Igor Stravinsky’s iconic Le Sacre du Printemps as a skeleton for a contemporary exploration of ancient rituals and “the intersections of ecstasy and oblivion—of fertility and mortality.” Just over 100 years after its premiere, Sacre still captures the attention of artists in all disciplines. Folk’s film-in-progress is the centerpiece of an immersive live-performance installation featuring multiple Northwest artists. The duo known as The House of ia (kb Thomason and Jillayne Hunter) co-created Vernae with Folk and Devin McDermott; Alice Gosti helped with the choreography; live performers include McDermott, Patrick Kilbane, Anna Conner, and Nathan Blackwell. Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, nwfilmforum.org. $12–$15. 7 p.m. prelude/venue tour, 8:30 p.m. show. (Repeats Sat.)
Sunday, April 5
Mad Men: The End of an Era
For six and one-half seasons, Mad Men has explored social roles, chauvinism, identity, and self-definition through the lens of the ’60s. We’ve watched Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and his fellow Madison Avenue execs resist the changing times, creating ad campaigns that looked both creatively forward and socially backward to the comforts of a ’50s paradigm that never actually existed. (Though that illusion was maintained for a while in in the boys’-club atmosphere and office wet bars of the executive inner circle.) As the second half of Season 7 takes us to the end of the ’60s, Don’s protege Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) is now his boss and former office manager Joan (Christina Hendricks) is a partner, but has their culture really changed? I’d like to say that’s the question on everyone’s mind, but really we want to see how series creator Matthew Weiner ends Don’s long, strange trip from mysterious golden boy to self-sabotaging narcissist to whatever final role awaits at the end of this seven-episode arc (concluding May 17). Weiner’s already put one rumor to rest: Don’s wife Megan (Jessica Pare) will not be murdered by the Manson Family, but that still leaves a lot of possibilities for other character fates. I for one want to see how schmooze-meister Roger Sterling (John Slattery) fills the firm’s leadership vacuum. For tonight’s premiere party, hosted by Will Viharo and Monica Cortes Viharo, viewers are encouraged to dress in period attire, with prizes to be awarded as incentive. Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 686-6684, central-cinema.com. Free. 7 p.m.
Monday, April 6
Why Thomas Pynchon would go back to 1970 with his late (2009) hippie detective spoof is obvious: nostalgia, command of period color, and unfinished business as one optimistic decade curdles into another—trying to locate Where It All Went Wrong. But what mysteries are there for Paul Thomas Anderson to plumb? Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is a mutton-chopped gumshoe operating near the L.A. beach, salt air and cannabis fumes constantly in his lungs, vaguely pursuing a missing-person case in which the real-estate developer in question may not actually be missing.
His “old lady” Shasta (Katherine Waterston) turned him onto the case, which sends him stumbling through a gallery of SoCal eccentrics. (These include Martin Short, Owen Wilson, and Benicio Del Toro.) The squares of Nixon’s silent majority are represented by Martin Donovan (as a string-pulling tycoon), Reese Witherspoon (a D.A. and Doc’s new squeeze), and Josh Brolin as Bigfoot Bjornsen: police detective, part-time actor, and Doc’s possible doppelganger. Both Bigfoot and Doc are confronting the MacGuffin that is the Golden Fang: possibly a conspiracy, possibly a paranoid stoner misunderstanding. Don’t expect any mysteries to be solved here; Doc is a P.I. who collects very little hard evidence, yet he persists, unperturbed by the absence of such facts. In Anderson’s loosest, most purely enjoyable film to date (to be screened in 35 mm), plot matters less than the telling and serendipitous details of the tale. SIFF Film Center (Seattle Center), 324-9996, siff.net. $7–$12. 7 p.m.