Category Archives: Visual Arts

Joel McHale talks to the SunBreak about being part of a pop-up, football-themed, photo show (that is tonight only!)

Tonight, the Axis art gallery/event space in Pioneer Square is playing host to a unique photo exhibit, showcasing the work of three local photographers: Coco Aramaki, Patrick Bennett, and Nick Hall. It all takes place between 4 and 8 pm. It was centered around the theme of football, which seemed fitting because the Seahawks are now defending Super Bowl champions. There are some stunning portraits hanging on the Axis walls, and they cover a wide range of sites and scenes that can be tangentially related to football, like the concession stand. It was also quite cool to take a tour of the exhibit with a focus on the scent, feel, sound, and even taste of the exhibit. Others were more overt.

The whole shebang was put together by Canon, who are promoting their Pixma Pro line of high-quality printers. It’s the third stop, after Boston and Austin. All cities had different themes: Boston focused on “Iconic Boston,” Austin’s theme was live music, and Seattle’s was football. Oh yeah, and each city had a celebrity who took part. Seattle was quite fortunate that hometown-hero-turned-TV-star Joel McHale was part of the show, and he had his own photos in the show. While he won’t be at the show tonight, his photos will be.

Last night, there was a private reception for the show, before the public opening tonight. While possibly being mistaken for someone from the Seattle Times, we were able to get a few minutes to talk with Joel McHale about the photo show, and his partnership with Canon. My friend Jenna sat in on the interview and asked a few questions, which are noted below.

You’re taking part in this photo show in your hometown, what made you want to get involved with it?

Well, Canon is paying me money. Don’t say that! It’s a partnership, a partnership!! They hate that!

No, Canon came to me and said, “Hey, want to work for us for a bit?” It’s Canon, a blue chip brand and I use Canon cameras, so I would do this for free. But if you’re going to pay me, I’m even more excited.

It’s really about their printer, the Pixma Pro. I know this sounds like a sell, but go down there and look at those prints. Those were all printed off of those printers. You can have that printer in your home and the shit looks like that.

Were you always interested in photography?

I am what you would say, just like everything else, I want the best electronics and I can understand about 5 to 10% of it. Canon makes a lot of cameras that I can use. And with that printer, it makes my stuff look way better than it actually is.

The theme of this show is football, and I know you’re a big Seahawks fan and played for the Huskies. It has to be exciting to be a part of it now that the Seahawks are Super Bowl winners.

Right, but if you notice down there, there are no Seahawks logos down there because we’d have to pay for it and we don’t want to pay for any of that!

But yes, I’m a massive Seahawks fan and I’m a huge Huskies fan. With us beating Cal last week, I was very happy. With us losing to Dallas last week, I was not happy.

It’s very convenient to live in a city that doesn’t have an NFL team because you can stay very loyal to your home team. I would anyway, but you don’t get shit from anybody because everyone else is like “whatever, we don’t have a team.”

I’m sure we both remember how dismal Seahawks football was during the Tom Flores years…

I remember the Jack Patera years!

J: Where did you take your photos?

That was a high school on the Eastside.

J: Were you looking for specific photos because of the assignment?

Yeah, we were talking about the football theme. I was going to take a look around. It was a nice day and that all came together. It was awesome and it worked out perfectly.

J: How long have you been working on it?

Eleven years! Eleven years!!

I guess the relationship started about 3-4 months ago. I had a couple of other shots that weren’t a part of that shoot, which we liked and were going to use, but decided not to.

How often do you make it back to Seattle?

For real, about twice a year. Once in a while, I’ll get up for one day for something.

We both saw you at the Triple Door a few months ago…

Brooks (McBeth) was great. I was just there in a producer capacity. The night was about him and how funny he is. That’s why I didn’t do too much material, because a) I didn’t want to be there for that long and b) that was Brooks’ special. He said it’s coming together really well.

I’ll come back here and do standup sometime; it’s just a huge hassle to do it. I think I gave away 200 tickets last time I did standup. I was also managing the parking… People were texting me right before I went on stage asking “Where do I park?” I don’t fucking know.


Bumbershoot unveils its non-music, non-comedy lineup…and we have it


Wednesday night, Bumbershoot put on a show at Town Hall to reveal part of their lineup this year. The Labor Day weekend festival brought their “Why This? Why That? Why Now?” series to Town Hall, and hosted by gadfly-about-town John Roderick. This was “Why Selfies? Why Introverts? Why Now?” and while we can’t report on why exactly, because we weren’t there, Bumbershoot did send us a copy of the lineup they would be unveiling. Below is a preview of what you can expect Labor Day weekend.

The music lineup will be revealed at Neumos on May 8 with a show that features Pickwick and Naomi Wachira (ooh, I wonder if they’ll be at Bumbershoot?) and is hosted by Ken Jennings.

It should also be noted that the writers for “The Simpsons” and/or The Onion are invited to my apartment to watch whatever they want on TV.

Words and Ideas:

  • Black Weirdo with THEESatisfaction [Feat. Jusmoni, DJ Riz Rollins, Storme Webber, Erik Blood, DJ Mursi Layne, Larry Mizell Jr.]
  • Why Beards? Why Twerking? Why Now? with John Roderick
  • Town Hall Presents…Science
  • Needle Party!!! with Ken Jennings and George Meyer
  • Smrt Talk with the writers of “The Simpsons”
  • Failure Variety Show presented by the Project Room
  • Why Bronies? Why Juggalos? Why Now with John Roderick
  • Town Hall Presents… Civics
  • Wreck of the Omnibus with Tom Robbins
  • The Moth
  • Battle of the Word (“A spoken word competition between four of Seattle’s nationally recognized spoken word organizations.”)
  • Why Cats? Why Bullying? Why Now? with John Roderick
  • Town Hall Presents… Arts & Culture
  • Literary Death Match
  • Tu Stultus Es: The Onion Explains Why You Are Stupid

Visual Art:

  • Interstitial Theatre (Curated by Julia Greenway) (Fisher Pavilion)
  • Food for Thought (Curated by Shane Montgomery) (Fisher Pavilion)
  • Wendy Red Star’s Wild West & Congress of Rough Riders of the World (Fisher Pavilion)
  • Finger Power (Artwork by Peter Lynch, Andy Arkley, and Courtney Barnebey) (Fisher Pavilion)
  • Black Poem (Artwork by Seth Friedman) (Fisher Pavilion)
  • Boating with Clyde (Artwork by Clyde Peterson) (Fisher Courtyard)
  • Seattle Rock Photography (Curated by Lance Mercer) (Fountain Pavilion)
  • Bumbercade (Curated by Sam Machkovech) (Fountain Pavilion)
  • Fine Arts Poster (Artwork by Robert McCauley) (Fountain Pavilion)


  • Blood Squad: improv with Molly Arkin, Jon Axell, Brandon Felker and Elicia Wickstead
  • Jennifer Jasper’s Family Affair
  • The Death of Brian: A Zombie Odyssey
  • Fussy Cloud Puppet
  • Alligators and Debutantes with the Moon Shine Revival Tent
  • Present Your Present with a Present (the Gift of the Future) by LanceLife
  • I Can Hear You…But I’m Not Listening with Jennifer Jasper

Sister Signs at Hard L

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Sister Signs

Sam & Corbin Lamont (Photo: Kelsey Kaufman)

Corbin Lamont in front of her own piece ((Photo: Kelsey Kaufman)

A collaborative piece from Sam & Corbin (Photo: Kelsey Kaufman)

Guests were encouraged to send postcards to their sister (Photo: Kelsey Kaufman)

Sister Signs Seattle (Photo: Kelsey Kaufman)

Guests writing postcards (Photo: Kelsey Kaufman)

Guests writing postcards (Photo: Kelsey Kaufman)

A piece by Sam Lamont (Photo: Kelsey Kaufman)

The participatory website (Photo: Kelsey Kaufman)

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On Thursday night at Hard L in Capitol Hill, two sisters brought the love from Portland with their single-night reception, Sister Signs. A collaborative showcase between Samantha and Corbin LaMont, Sister Signs showcased the bond of “platonic love greater than biology or gender” that exists between the two siblings.

Having a sister of my own, I’ve come to understand that we are stronger together than we are on our own. The same held true at Sister Signs last night, with Sam and Corbin’s collaborative pieces displaying the true magic of sisters entirely in sync. I spoke with my friend and designer Corbin Lamont about the project and what it was like working with her sister.

This isn’t your first participatory/submission site. How is this one different? 

I was thinking about it from a lot of different avenues. I feel like everything else up to this point has been different exercises into thinking about how people interact with things. I came at this show very directly — what is the best way to engage people and what are different methods of doing that. So I wanted to go beyond solely digital or having constraints based on space. In this show, we have people interacting in the space and sending physical things out of the space as well. We also have people who are interacting with the show that aren’t here (online). I tried to think about it in as many ways as possible.

Have you had any favorite submissions?

It’s been really fun in the first couple hours of the show to see people talking selfies in front of the background that we made. It’s such a dumb idea in a lot of ways — it’s something we do innately with our sisters, like send pictures of our outfits — so it’s fun to see it in a gallery setting. Also, to see people actually writing long postcards to their sisters is incredible because I feel like people don’t write each other anymore. The digital submissions have all been great, but I think I’m more excited about the handwritten notes and interactions because I like to see people actively engaging.

You collaborated with your sister on this project. How did you both come up with the idea for Sister Signs?

Leigh — who is a part of the space (Hard L Gallery) — offered the idea to both of us. My sister had been to the gallery’s opening and was really excited about the space. So when we came back together after I’d been traveling for a while, we were like, “I don’t think we can make this show about anything else besides being sisters.” That’s where all of our ideas were and that’s how we relate to each other. It’s a huge part of relationship. We could have come up with something else, but that would have felt too imposed. This was the natural thing to do.

Did collaborating with your sister come naturally? What was it like working together?

We have similar tastes when it comes to clothes, color schemes and that sort of stuff. She went to school for ceramics and is a painter, an illustrator, and I’m a graphic designer. I do things in other mediums. We have very different skill sets but they mesh together. For example, I would ask her to illustrate the icons and then I would arrange them. Sam was excited for me to think about the participatory aspect and the language of it. Collaborating with anyone is a challenge because it adds another level of thinking, conceptualizing and discussion to your work. It was well worth it, and mostly enjoyable.

What’s a favorite memory you have with your sister?

The thing that’s funny about our relationship is that were 10 years apart. When I was six, she was supposed to babysit me and I have this distinct memory of playing with Barbies outside her door for hours. I just kept thinking, “She’ll come out and hang out with me. She’ll come out and hang out with me.” Finally I knock on her door — the thing is she would get really mad about me going into her room — and she goes “OH MY GOD! I forgot about you!” It was the worst thing she could have said! (Laughs) Then she rushed me to bed and I had to go to sleep.

We’ve always been interested in art and had similar tastes in music, so that has brought us together. I’m so glad to be where we are. I think a lot of people don’t have relationships with their sisters, but Sam is such a young spirit. So it’s very, very easy to have the relationship we do.

Glimpses: “Where the Bee Sucks”

(Photo: Greg Pierce Images, from our SunBreak Flickr photo pool)
(Photo: Greg Pierce Images, from our SunBreak Flickr photo pool)

Even a quick perusal of Greg Pierce’s photography reveals he likes to get in close, on his subject’s level. He captured this bee with a 50mm on his Canon EOS REBEL T1i. It looks almost embroidered on a floral middle-ground, which in turn pops out from a lightly blurred, fronded background. See the bee’s shadow? The freeze-frame quality of the shot is impressive considering it’s just 1/400 of a second, but that allowed an f/10 aperture, giving the flower’s bell a papery, yet sculptural impact.

A Photography Show Tries to Fit Seattle’s Theatre Scene into the Frame

Photo Sister's LaRae Lobdell (Photo: LaRae Lobdell)
Photo Sister‘s LaRae Lobdell (Photo: LaRae Lobdell)

Though there are more than 200 prints — photographs of more than 150 people from 20 Seattle theatres — the “Celebration” exhibit from studio Photo Sister is a view through a keyhole at the larger performing arts scene. Keep that in mind as you traverse the exhibit, spread out over three floors of the historic ACT Theatre building. It opens June 20th –with, fittingly, a celebration from 6 to 10 p.m., RSVP here — and will be on display through October 17th.

Interspersed with portraits of faces familiar to any regular theatre-goer — the ACT gallery includes Marya Sea Kaminski, Julie Briskman, Pamela Reed, Kevin Tighe, Jeff Steitzer, Kurt Beattie, Marianne Owen, and Tim Gouran, among others — are photographs of offstage participants as well, from designers to development officers. That’s an artistic statement in itself, because support staff are so often cropped out of close-ups of the performing arts.

Other galleries document Intiman’s comeback as a summer festival, and smaller theatres doing more experimental works: you see Aimée Bruneau, Hannah Victoria Franklin, and Ali el-Gassier for Washington Ensemble Theatre, and Tommy Smith, Waxie Moon, Matt Drews, Markeith Wiley, Paul Budraitis, John Osebold, and Montana von Fliss as well.

The curse of Seattle’s tightly-knitted social networks means that if you know one or two of these names, you likely know them all — or you’ve never heard of any of them. In insular Seattle — yes, even in theatre circles — people at one organization may not know who’s working in another department, let alone their counterparts in another. “Celebration,” by making a start at looking at the theatre community, means to redress that.

Of course, the portraits also reward closer, individual inspection. In the relatively short 16 months of her project’s existence, Lobdell has “altered the way we see Seattle performers,” writes Brendan Kiley in The Stranger. Partly that’s because performing arts marketing tends to be an underfunded, strangely staid exercise, consisting of stock artist headshots (smiling or serious), and production shots from rehearsal.

While Seattle is home to other inventive photographers, their work is often associated with a particular organization or group: Tim Summers with On the Boards, Zebravisual with Spectrum Dance. Lobdell stands out for having cut such a wide swath through the scene (though she admits she can’t keep up this amount of free photography, and wishes, ruefully, that she’d applied for a grant for herself).

But she also stands out because her photographer’s eye is joined with an uncanny sense for a show’s essence, considering she often shoots in advance of a show existing in any visible form at all. It’s a rare skill to produce something with the required visual impact, but which is still true to the creative work in question. (Here’s a recent highlight.)

A wedding photographer for more than a decade (she began shooting on film, and only switched to digital in 2006), Lobdell says a lot of the skills she picked up were transportable to the arts environment — you’re part photo-journalist, part portraitist, you rely on props and landscape to create atmosphere, shoot in all lighting situations and under extreme pressure, and have to keep in mind a “supporting cast,” as well.

Photo Sister’s physical studio is over by Gasworks Park, an airy lightbox of a room for Lobdell’s use. A large bag contains her Nikon D700, wearing a workhorse 18-to-70mm zoom lens, extra batteries and lenses and lights, and a camera strap she created for women, in collaboration with a fashion designer. (She’s also involved with creativeLIVE, who produce in-person and streaming seminars for creative professionals.) It’s culturally, one suspects, a long way from Spokane County, where she was home-schooled until about 8 years of age. At least, it’s difficult to place Lewis Black, whom she’s photographed, out in an eastern Washington wheat field. But maybe that’s where her ability to visualize what’s not there arises from.