Toasting a Year of Poetry at Dia de Muertos

Poetry on Buses: Writing Home launched with a celebration at the Moore Theatre in November 2014. Photo by Tim Aguero.

Poetry on Buses at Dia de Muertos

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Poetry on Buses: Writing Home launches with a celebration at the Moore Theater in November 2014. Photo by Tim Aguero.
Poetry on Buses: Writing Home launched with a celebration at the Moore Theatre in November 2014. Photo by Tim Aguero.

Poetry on Buses at Dia de Muertos

Saturday, October 31, 12:30 – 4:30 pm 

Poets begin reading at 3:20 pm 

Seattle Center, Armory Main Floor, 305 Harrison Street

It’s hard to believe we are nearing the end of Poetry on Buses: Writing Home. The past year has seen writing workshops, road shows, filled-to-capacity celebrations, and communities coming together to foster creativity. The work of hundreds of King County poets – many of whom had never written poetry before this program – has traveled thousands of miles on Metro buses. We at 4Culture are inspired by this tremendous effort by countless individuals!

We invite you to commemorate this year of Poetry on Buses with us at Seattle Center Festál’s Dia de Muertos: A Mexican Celebration to Remember Our Departed on Saturday, October 31. Stop by our table any time from 12:30 – 4:30 pm, and be there at 3:20 pm for a special presentation by our Spanish-speaking poets, including: Catalina Cantú, Laura Cruz, Amaya Beroiz Elizalde, Jose Luis Espinoza, Victor Fuentes, Ana Garcia, Nora Giron-Dolce, Lindsay Little, Baudelio Llamas, and Raul Sanchez. They’ll read their work in both Spanish and English, and we’ll share a toast to all who helped make the program such a success – many thanks to our good friends at DRY Soda for providing the “bubbly!”

Be sure to explore the entire Dia de Muertos celebration as well. Experience the cultural roots of Mexico all weekend long through live performances, community altars, special hands-on activities, food, face painting and exquisite rituals. This incredibly popular yearly event honors the lives of loved ones who have passed, as well as the art and spirituality of Mexican culture. We’re honored to bring Poetry on Buses to this event, as we honor home and family through this year’s collection of poems.

Jacque Larrainzar, who will emcee the poetry reading and is both a long-time organizer of the annual Dia de Muertos festvities at Seattle Center and the Latino Community Liaison for the Poetry on Buses project, sees a natural connection between the two:

Poetry has always been an important aspect of Dia de Muertos. La calaca litararia is another way to honor our ancestors and keep our families together as we share stories and anecdotes about our loved ones, or make fun of those who made our lives difficult thought out the year.  We are very happy to have local Spanish speaking poets as part of this years celebration and of our partnership with Poetry on Buses. We hope to support writers and poets for many years to come!

Visit poetryonbuses.org to enjoy these last weeks of a new poem every day, and keep visiting to explore past favorites. While the Poetry on Buses: Writing Home collection will be coming down from buses soon, we are happy to announce that the the online collection will be available for another year!

Caring for Our Shared Heritage: 2015 Collections Care Grant Recipients

Collections Care is about important stuff – the “stuff” that teaches us about where we come from and where we can go. All over King County, archivists, librarians, and historians help preserve the real, tangible objects that make up history so that future generations can continue to learn from them. Our annual Collections Care grant program supports this work by providing the funds necessary to assess, organize, catalog, clean, repair, photograph, scan, and, ultimately, save, the things we value.

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Collections Care is about important stuff – the “stuff” that teaches us about where we come from and where we can go. All over King County, archivists, librarians, and historians help preserve the real, tangible objects that make up history so that future generations can continue to learn from them. Our annual Collections Care grant program supports this work by providing the funds necessary to assess, organize, catalog, clean, repair, photograph, scan, and, ultimately, save, the things we value.

We’re proud to announce the recipients of this year’s grants! Reviewed in July by a panel of collections care and heritage experts, 16 out of 28 proposals received a total of $78,000 in awards, ranging from $1,940 to $8,000. Here are some highlights:

Blues singer Dee Dee Hackett at the Union Club. Onstage left-to-right are Hackett, Al Hickey, Al Marshall, Vernon Brown and Al Pierre. The woman in the audience is Shirley Norris Phelps. Seattle 1940's
Blues singer Dee Dee Hackett at the Union Club. Onstage left-to-right are Hackett, Al Hickey, Al Marshall, Vernon Brown and Al Pierre. The woman in the audience is Shirley Norris Phelps. Seattle 1940s, MOHAI, Al Smith Collection

MOHAI, Al Smith Photo Collection

The Museum of History & Industry recently received over 40,000 photographs taken by photographer Al Smith, who documented the lives of his friends and neighbors in the Central District through almost every decade of the 20th century. In collaboration with the Black Heritage Society of Washington State, MOHAI is digitizing and preserving this massive collection, and recording oral histories of the stories behind the photographs. MOHAI’s Curator of Photography Howard Giske welcomes volunteers for this project! Please contact Howard at photos@mohai.org.

The Kubota Garden Memorial Stone, circa 1963.
The Kubota Garden Memorial Stone, circa 1963.

Kubota Garden Foundation, Archive Project Phase II

The Kubota Garden Foundation plans to use their Collections Care funding to digitize audio and video records that document the oral tradition of the Garden’s development. These include interviews with Tom Kubota, former employees of Fujitaro Kubota, and landscape architects. Digitizing these records will preserve the information – that now exists only on fragile cassette recordings – and make the interviews accessible for research and site interpretation.

 

Analog video is digitzed at Moving Image Preservation of Puget Sound, 2015.
Analog video is digitzed at Moving Image Preservation of Puget Sound, 2015.

Moving Image Preservation of Puget Sound, King County Pilot Project

Video formats like VHS, Betacam, and U-Matic are no longer being manufactured, yet many organizations have troves of analog video housed in their collections. MIPoPS enables them to rediscover, digitize, and make these unique and historic files accessible to the public. In its first year, MIPoPs has already digitized hundreds of hours of video. With 4Culture funds, they will be able to broaden their outreach, digitizing video free of charge to several Seattle-area organizations. We can’t wait to see what they find and save!

 

Congratulations to all recipients of 2015 Collections Care grants. You can view the full list of organizations and projects here.

Creative Justice Mentor Artist Daemond Arrindell Embraces Challenge

Mentor Artists Daemond Arrindell leads Session 3 of the pilot year of Creative Justice. Photo by Tim Aguero.

With the pilot year of Creative Justice—4Culture’s arts-based alternative to youth incarceration in King County—almost complete, we are reflecting on lessons learned and looking towards the future. We asked Session 3 Mentor Artist, Daemond Arrindell to provide some insight into his experience working with participants and helping to shape this ground-breaking new program. The call is open for 2016 Mentor Artists—apply now!

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Mentor Artists Daemond Arrindell leads Session 3 of the pilot year of Creative Justice. Photo by Tim Aguero.
Mentor Artists Daemond Arrindell leads Session 3 of the pilot year of Creative Justice. Photo by Tim Aguero.

With the pilot year of Creative Justice—4Culture’s arts-based alternative to youth incarceration in King County—almost complete, we are reflecting on lessons learned and looking towards the future. We asked Session 3 Mentor Artist, Daemond Arrindell to provide some insight into his experience working with participants and helping to shape this ground-breaking new program. The call is open for 2016 Mentor Artists—apply now!

Last month saw the culmination of eight weeks of work for the participants of Creative Justice Session 3. The members of the group who took the stage at a celebratory closing presentation expressed pride, gratitude, and seemed to have enjoyed themselves afterwards. But, when I say “work,” I mean just that—they worked hard to get to a place where they could celebrate, and it was far from easy.

This group was at a disadvantage compared to the other Creative Justice session participants—their session took place during the summer. They had less time to get to know one another, build trust, take risks, and try on new versions of themselves. Summer is code for “break”—and it takes a great deal to compel anyone, much less a teenager, to give up part of their summer break to enter a classroom. Some of the participants knew each other, which in some ways is an asset as they supported each other, but also created cliques. If you were to sit down with any of the participants to engage in conversation, you’d find an individual with intelligence, who is inquisitive and has a mind of their own. But in a group, it’s not so easy to be an individual, especially amongst peers. So there was posturing, bravado, one-upping, and a lot of energy that was difficult to direct.

A big focus for this session was definitions and labels. All of the participants have been labelled—by family and friends, their social groups, society. Adolescence is a time when we really begin to define who are, and those labels can limit our scope, our self-worth and sense of what is possible. Each time that we got together, we began with a meal and a discussion. The topics: strength, beauty, power, respect, second chances, prison reform, self-sabotage. The discussions were rarely easy because these young people don’t typically get asked for their opinions on such matters—but that’s exactly why they should be asked. The objective: to recognize that words and definitions can be reclaimed and re-defined for ourselves, that we have agency.

Participants worked with graphic artist Greg Thornton to create their own t-shirts to visually demonstrate the principles that are important to each of them. Singer/songwriter Naomi Wachira visited them and gave a live, impromptu performance—as she began to strum her guitar and her voice filled the entire building, the participants were enthralled. It was the quietest the group had been the entire summer. They also watched a documentary called “Rubble Kings,” about the gang warfare that took place in the Bronx during the late 1960s, and how those kids transformed that violent energy into something positive—Hip-Hop.

Their final presentation followed the same format as their weekly gatherings. We began with a meal, but this time, the participants got to ask the questions. They went around to the tables of our guests and led conversations on the topic of their choosing. Some focused on second chances, others on the prison system. To close it all out they performed their script, which though edited by me was written completely by the participants. It provided an opportunity for them to share how the topics we had just discussed affect their lives personally.

It’s honestly hard to believe that it’s over—spending a little more than four hours with this group of young people each week doesn’t seem like that much, and very little of it came easy, but then they say nothing worth having ever does. All in all, that’s the deeper message, I think—to keep going, in spite of the work and challenge, so that we can become better people on the other side. That we, and the work, are worth it. Each young person walked into the sessions with a past filled with choices they made for themselves, and some choices that were made for them. The results? They still remain to be seen, but the process of trying to “Turn the Page,” which takes heart, patience, forgiveness, and courage, has begun.

– Daemond Arrindell

Guest Post: Integrating Pioneer Square’s Communities with Michelle de la Vega

Image courtesy of the artist.

This month we open an exciting new season at Gallery4Culture, and today we look ahead to January, when artist Michelle de la Vega will put on a show that responds to the building, architecture and community surrounding the gallery. She shared insights into her process as she works now to prepare:

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Image courtesy of the artist.
Image courtesy of the artist.

This month we open an exciting new season at Gallery4Culture, and today we look ahead to January, when artist Michelle de la Vega will put on a show that responds to the building, architecture and community surrounding the gallery. She shared insights into her process as she works now to prepare:

On September 3, during the Pioneer Square First Thursday Art Walk, there will be a showing of work created during a workshop I’m teaching at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission entitled “Sculptural Storytelling”. The workshop is the community engagement portion of an installation project I’m creating for Gallery4Culture entitled “SUCCESSION: The Exchange Project,” and opening January 7. A central theme of the project is to explore “exchange” between the un-sheltered community and the community of artists that share the Pioneer Square neighborhood, and which are largely segregated. A friend of mine recently said that one characteristic of a healthy community is self-awareness—this initiative explores that through experience and exchange. The exchange process starts with myself, by personally delving into the world of the homeless community, inviting them into mine, and inviting others to come along on the ride.

I work through a model that I’ve developed—and continue to develop—that creatively integrates community groups that are centrally related to the theme of a project directly into the generative process. I use a non-linear curriculum that includes dialogue, writing, drawing, patterning, collage, sculpture, and sometimes spoken word or simple movement. The curriculum is designed to enable people to create artwork out of information from their own lives; their personal values, thoughts, feelings and stories. I have found this to be both creatively and personally productive to a wide demographic range including high school students, non artists, professional adults, young artists and special needs communities. It is a relatively simple process with the capacity to furnish as much complexity and depth as each participant desires. The adaptability of the curriculum continues to surprise me, and I’m excited to see how it will develop though future applications.

For each community engagement workshop, a pre-show of the artwork is held at each local organization. At a previous workshop at the Recovery Café we shared work at the monthly Recovery Café Open Mic event—if you’ve never attended one of these, it’s a blast! For the UGM workshop, we’ll be showing at UGM’s Art from the Streets event, located at the corner of S Washington and 3rd Ave Streets in Pioneer Square, during the First Thursday Art Walk on September 3. Please stop by!

This project is generously supported by a 4Culture Arts Projects Grant.

Cubix-Fremont Artists Want to Hear from the Neighborhood

© Jean Whitesavage & Nick Lyle, View Marker under the Aurora Bridge, 1998, Adobe Art Collection. Photo by Laura Haddad.

Wednesday and Thursday, September 9 and 10, 4:00—7:00 pm
Saturday, September 12, 10:00 am—1:00 pm
Fremont PCC Natural Market, 600 N 34th St

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© Jean Whitesavage & Nick Lyle, View Marker under the Aurora Bridge, 1998, Adobe Art Collection. Photo by Laura Haddad.

Wednesday and Thursday, September 9 and 10, 4:00—7:00 pm
Saturday, September 12, 10:00 am—1:00 pm
Fremont PCC Natural Market, 600 N 34th St

Of all Seattle’s distinctive neighborhoods, none seems to have more iconic symbols than Fremont—bridges, trolls, statues, a year-round market, its own coat of arms and catchphrase. Artists Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan want to dig a little deeper, though, and find out what the residents—both long- and short-term—of the “Center of the Universe” think truly symbolizes their neighborhood.

Haddad and Drugan will be at the PCC Natural Market at North 34th Street Wednesday and Thursday, September 9—10, and Saturday, September 12, and you are invited to share your memories, mementos, and thoughts about what Fremont means to you. Did you find your favorite sweater at the flea market? Are your photo albums full of great shots from around the neighborhood? What takeout menus from the place around the corner do you keep on your fridge? Bring them all, and more! The artists want to hear what they mean to you, and document them—not keep them. Neighborhood residents and PCC shoppers who’d like to simply chat with the artists about Fremont are welcome as well!

As we announced in July, Haddad and Drugan have been selected to create public artwork for the façade of Cubix-Fremont, a new mixed-use building planned to open in the heart of the neighborhood in 2017. The artists were selected from a pool of 46 West Coast artists, and bring many years of public art experience to the project. The pair lived and worked in Fremont for many years, and always seek to use their work to connect community to place.

4Culture staff will also be on hand at PCC to answer all your questions about our programs and opportunities! Drop by and learn more about what we’re up to this Fall.

 

Poetry on Buses Reading at 5th Annual Celebrate Little Saigon

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CLS2015_Poster_Design_ENGFinal-01

August 22, 2015, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
1200 S Jackson St
Poetry reading at 12:30 pm

The 2014 Poetry on Buses program began as an open invitation to explore the poetry of home — on the bus, online, and in the community. “What does ‘Writing Home’ mean to you?,” we asked. We wanted to hear from diverse communities here in King County, and held an open call for poetry in English, Russian, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese. The community responded, and as a result, the Writing Home collection of 365 poems is incredibly rich and varied.

Later this month, the Poetry on Buses Roadshow continues, and we get the opportunity to highlight one community in particular: our Vietnamese poets.

A group of artists will be reading their work for Poetry on Buses in Vietnamese at the 5th annual Celebrate Little Saigon festival in the International District, an outdoor summer festival celebrating Vietnamese-American food, arts, culture, and community held in Seattle’s Little Saigon. The poets will take the main stage at 12:30 pm—come listen to them read their poems in the language in which they were written! Make sure to also stop by the 4Culture festival booth to learn more about Poetry on Buses and all 4Culture community programming.

4Culture would like to thank our Vietnamese Community Liaisons, Anh Phan and Khang Do, for making this project possible, and for helping share the poetic work of this vibrant community. More information about the 5th annual Celebrate Little Saigon festival is available online. We’ll see you there!

Poetry on Buses is launching a new poem every day for a year through November 9, 2015, at poetryonbuses.org. Special thanks to our media sponsor of this Poetry on Buses Roadshow stop KUOW 94.9.

 

Dispatches from the Washington Museum Association Conference

Maryhill Museum of Art, Goldendale WA. Photo by Flickr user McD22

Museum conferences can be great places to connect with and be inspired by colleagues, and they’re often the starting point for exciting projects. What begins as a hallway conversation can evolve into an exhibit or program. Of course, conferences are often expensive.

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Maryhill Museum of Art, Goldendale WA. Photo by Flickr user McD22
Maryhill Museum of Art, Goldendale WA. Photo by Flickr user McD22

Museum conferences can be great places to connect with and be inspired by colleagues, and they’re often the starting point for exciting projects. What begins as a hallway conversation can evolve into an exhibit or program. Of course, conferences are often expensive.

In recognizing the value of professional development to our region’s cultural organizations, this spring, Heritage 4Culture provided ten King County-area museum professionals and students with stipends to attend the 2015 Washington Museum Association Conference, held at the Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale.

In response to receiving stipends, the attendees submitted reviews of the conference, with many emphasizing the value of getting to interact with their fellow museum professionals. Cindy Parks, from the Fall City Historical Society—which is run entirely by a volunteer board—said, “I was wondering what our little organization could gain from this conference. Connecting with other people was really valuable. I’m reenergized with ideas.” Laurie Tucker from Vashon-Maury Island Heritage, echoed that statement, saying, “Most important was the experience of spending time with people doing the same kind of work as I do. Although our museum is operated solely by volunteers without formal museum training, we share many of the same challenges and issues as larger institutions.”

Conference attendees also got the chance to have some unique, hands-on experiences at this year’s WaMA Conference. Allison Loveland from the Museum of Flight enjoyed a special session of stargazing at the Observatory, saying, “It was so nice to be able to see all the stars and planets in the sky that I normally miss while living in Seattle.” Sarah Samson from the Renton History Museum participated in the “Registrars to the Rescue” session, where attendees created boxes and other custom storage solutions for Native American items from Maryhill’s collection.

4Culture is proud to support conference participation like this in the King County heritage community! To apply for conference support in the future, keep an eye on our Opportunities page.

State Support for Creative Justice

Creative Justice is 4Culture’s new arts-based alternative to incarceration for King County youth.

The program has just received a generous technical assistance grant from the State of Washington’s Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice (WA-PCJJ) and the Department of Social and Health Services.

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Creative Justice is 4Culture’s new arts-based alternative to incarceration for King County youth.

The program has just received a generous technical assistance grant from the State of Washington’s Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice (WA-PCJJ) and the Department of Social and Health Services.

These funds will support a series of trainings for Creative Justice front line staff, key partners and advisers to:

  • increase their knowledge of how to work effectively with youth who have experienced personal, familial and systemic trauma;
  • use skill-based communications with youth to support pro-social behaviors; and
  • support court-involved young people in understanding and taking positive action to address the societal roots of youth incarceration, including poverty, racism, sexism, heterosexism.

Learn more at creativejustice.4culture.org.