Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Punk Rock Flea Market

I almost forgot to mention... the next Punk Rock Flea Market is right around the corner, taking place this Saturday, December 4. The particulars are the same as ever - at the Underground Events Center, hosted by the Low Income Housing Institute, just $1 to get in - but the specifics are a little different. About 2/3 of our vendors are BRAND NEW this time, including many craft vendors, record sellers and junk dealers who are unknown to me. Very exciting - I love our old friends, but I'm psyched to see the new treasure trove of goodies. As always, DJ Port-a-Party spins the tunes, the bar is open, and the event is all ages, all day. For God's sake people: don't miss this.

Also worth noting: the graphic and poster for PRFM9 were designed by none other than Seattle street art heroine 179. AND true blue PRFM honcho The Corey has got our new website up and running. Cheers!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

...speaking of Harry

This is an excerpt of one of Harry Smith's earliest film experiments, created between 1946 and 1957. This movie was made through a combination of hand-drawing directly onto the film strip, and batiking each individual cell, a process involving successive layers of dye, through which masked areas of the strip form abstractions. The process is involved and exhausting, the results fascinating and beautiful. It took him 9 years to create his first 10 short films, they are well worth 6 minutes of your day to watch.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wild About Harry Smith

On the night after Thanksgiving, American Standard Time and Columbia City Theater present a night of history and song honoring hometown counter-cultural hero Harry Smith and his celebrated Anthology of American Folk Music.

Harry Smith was a film maker, painter, ethnomusicologist and collector born in Portland and raised in the Pacific Northwest. His parents were Theosophists, who encouraged his fascination with unorthodox spirituality and philosophy. By the age of 15, Harry had spent time recording songs and rituals of the Lummi and Samish peoples and had compiled a dictionary of several Puget Sound dialects. He studied anthropology at the University of Washington between 1943 and 1944, and moved to San Francisco in the late 1940's where he began to build a reputation as a leading experimental filmmaker. His work in Non-Objective Painting led to a Solomon Guggenheim grant in 1950, at which point he moved to New York where he lived for the rest of his life. In addition to his many other accomplishments, Smith donated the largest known paper airplane collection in the world to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, was a collector of Seminole textiles and Ukrainian Easter Eggs, and was the world's leading authority on string figures, having mastered hundreds of forms from around the world.

As for the Anthology of American Folk Music, Smith's six-album anthology featured songs recorded by unknown artists for obscure record labels in the 1920's and early 1930's. Smith collected the vinyl records as a personal obsession, but in 1952, in need of money, he offered to sell his extraordinary record collection to Folkways Records. Instead, Moses Asch, the label's president, challenged Smith to cull his collection into an anthology. The records went on to become a vital compendium of American music and a touchstone for the folk music revival on the 1960's.

Inspired by Harry Smith's pivotal release, many Seattle folk musicians - including Zoe Muth, Pufferfish and Shenandoah Davis - will perform selections from all three volumes of the Anthology at the Columbia City Theater on Friday November 26. The evening is hosted by Greg Vandy, the DJ behind "The Roadhouse" on KEXP and the visionary behind American Standard Time, a new enterprise which collects and presents contemporary and historical research on Americana and Roots music.

The show begins at 8:00 and costs just $8. Tickets available here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Paul Celan

Today is the birthday of Paul Celan, born November 23, 1920.

Born into a Jewish family in Eastern Europe, Celan bore witness to the atrocities of World War II while in his 20's, the most cataclysmic being the deportation and murder of his parents. Celan escaped from a forced labor camp, living in Bucharest and Vienna before settling in Paris. Though familiar with at least six languages, and fluent in Russian, French, and Romanian, he continued to write poetry in his native German.

During and immediately following World War II, Celan’s poetry contained some of literature's strongest verse capable of reflecting the war and the Holocaust. His later poems often contain brief, fractured lines and stanzas, with compressed and unpredictable imagery, with the forms of the poems echoing the difficulty of finding language for the experiences he witnessed. About confronting the horrors he witnessed during the war he wrote:

Only one thing remained reachable, close and secure amid all losses: language. Yes, language. In spite of everything, it remained secure against loss. But it had to go through its own lack of answers, through terrifying silence, through the thousand darknesses of murderous speech. It went through. It gave me no words for that was happening, but went through it. Went through and could resurface, ‘enriched’ by it all.

Celan lived in Paris until his suicide by drowning in April 1970.


In Kohln, a town of monks and bones,
And pavements fang'd with murderous stones
And rags, and hags, and hideous wenches;
I counted two and seventy stenches,
All well defined, and several stinks!
Ye Nymphs that reign o'er sewers and sinks,
The river Rhine, it is well known,
Doth wash your city of Cologne;
But tell me, Nymphs, what power divine
Shall henceforth wash the river Rhine?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

WK in DF

Street artist WK Interact is in Mexico City right now, having just completed work on a massive mural on the walls of the Archivo General de la Nación or General National Archives. The image above is just one cropped section of the 200 meter long design that WK has been installing for weeks. More images from the mural in progress here.

With WK’s characteristic energy and dynamism the mural expresses the power-struggle between the federal and revolutionary armies during the Mexican Revolution, which commemorates its 100th anniversary this year. The building commonly known as the “Black Palace of Lecumberri” was built by Porfirio Diaz’s government in 1900 and served as a prison until 1976. The notorious jail held such figures such as Pancho Villa and the legendary muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros and was the site of the assassination of President Francisco Madero, the event that sparked the most violent period of the Revolution. Today the Archivo houses an important part of Mexico’s graphic legacy, and a section of the building will soon be transformed into a museum.

The grand opening took place yesterday, November 20, and the monumental mural will be exhibited until January 20, 2011.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Catch and Release

Seattle artist No Touching Ground, aka. NTG, has long explored the spaces within our urban environments that play host to wildlife. His work not only focuses on the lives of the coyotes, wolves, bears and birds who become displaced as city landscapes take over their habitats, but he also prophesies their eventual return. NTG's most recent project looks closely and poetically at pigeons.

Using hand built traps, carriers and coops, NTG caught 50 pigeons in Seattle. He then wrote a 50-word story, cut the story into sections, and released the birds back into the wild carrying a single word of the story affixed to its leg. The resulting show, titled "Catch and Release," combines elaborate and delicate "portraits" of each pigeon along with the traps, coops, seeds and other artifacts of the process in a lovely and unexpectedly touching installation.

The exhibit opens tonight at pun(c)tuation on Capitol Hill and runs through December 29.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Daniel Beltrá

Photographer Daniel Beltrá has made a career out of traveling to the world's precious ecosystems to document scenes of environmental devastation. Based in Seattle, Beltrá has traveled from Indonesia to the Arctic to the drought-ridden waterways of Brazil to the marshes of Louisiana to capture images of nature fouled by industry run amok. Yet his photographs are so well composed, so energetic, so artful in their composition that they lure your eye into lingering before you quite realize the extent of the devastation you're seeing.

He was recently named first runner up for the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year award, and two just weekends ago Beltrá was the subject of a lengthy article in the Seattle Times. His blog also features hundreds of his images, arranged by geography.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Patterson Clark's day job is working as an artist for The Washington Post, where he specializes in science graphics and natural history illustration. When he gets home to his garden near Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC, Clark rips out invasive plants like English ivy, white mulberry and multiflora rose, brings the plants into his basement studio, and has been perfecting the process for turning the invaders into paper, ink, and art. The current issue of American Craft magazine has more info and images on Clark’s process.

Thanks to Heidi K of Luminous Yolk for the tip!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bicycles in Iran

For those of us getting used to the idea of a wet winter bike commute, gorgeous photos of the bicycles of Isfahan by the Iranian photographer Alieh Sâdatpur. Via the highly literate travel and photo blog Poemas del Río Wang.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Survivors

A poem in remembrance of The War to End War.
by Siegfried Sassoon

No doubt they'll soon get well; the shock and strain
Have caused their stammering, disconnected talk.
Of course they're 'longing to go out again,'--
These boys with old, scared faces, learning to walk.
They'll soon forget their haunted nights; their cowed
Subjection to the ghosts of friends who died,--
Their dreams that drip with murder; and they'll be proud
Of glorious war that shatter'd all their pride...
Men who went out to battle, grim and glad;
Children, with eyes that hate you, broken and mad.

The image "Night-time Encounter with a Madman," is by Otto Dix from his series Der Krieg.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


“Wishery” is the newest track from sample magician Nick Bertke a.k.a. Pogo. Bertke uses nothing but sounds from Walt Disney’s classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to construct a mesmerizing trip-hop soundscape. Absent for the past year due to, it would seem, a contract with Disney, it’s good to see the man who brought us Alice return, and in such spectacular fashion. For those of us living in the Northwest, these may well be the brightest sounds and colors we experience until Spring.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dykeman at Vito's

Seattle artist Warren Dykeman was commissioned to paint a large mural on the wall of the newly reopened and revamped Vito’s Restaurant and Lounge on First Hill. The now complete 35 foot-long mural features Dykeman's signature male and female silhouettes surrounded by sumptuous red, green and yellow abstract patterns scattered across a dark gray background. It's a terrific and mysterious design, beautifully executed, an electric and engaging new backdrop for the re-invented visage of one of Seattle's finest dives.

Dykeman's work on paper is also currently featured as part of a group show at the Seattle Art Museum Gallery in the Seattle Tower.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


The Belgian-born street artist ROA has been painting his wonderfully detailed and insanely large images of animals all across Europe for years. Just this summer he put up amazing pieces at the Nuart Festival in Stavanger, Norway, in Bassano del Grappa, Italy, at Critica Urbana in Madrid, in London, and on the streets of Moscow. On November 1st he arrived in Los Angeles for his first-ever US show, presented by Thinkspace at the New Puppy Gallery. ROA's larger-than-life and nearly-as-threatening organic animals have already been spotted on the streets of LA reminding the residents of the City of Angels that they can't escape from nature, however hard they may try. You can follow his progress around the city here and check out ROA’s own international Flickr set here.

If you find yourself in LA, the show opens on Saturday Nov. 13th at 6PM and runs through Nov. 24th.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Poem for Day of the Dead

Interview with the Boatman
by Laurie Kutchins

The boatman’s boat bumps up against the dock—
he waits for his passengers to step in—
coins in hand, they look up, find the circling hawk.

But a job he winks, set to punch the clock.
All paths lead to the river’s mud and din.
The boatman’s boat bumps up against the dock.

How do you get this job, checking the rock
Shore of the living, recognizing kin—
Coins in hand, they look up, watch the circling hawk.

Dunno, his shoulders ripple, his keys knock.
He padlocks his barrels of rum and gin.
The boatman’s boat bumps up against the dock.

Crossing is wide; don’t plan to swim or walk.
Across the river the dog-god is thin.
Coins in hand, look up, land the circling hawk.

Someone’s always arriving in a travel frock.
Passengers, come a dime a quick dozen.
Coins in hand, look up, mind the circling hawk.
The boatman’s boat bumps up against the dock.

Photo by Roman Loranc.