The opening act everyone kept going on about, Retro Verso:
Lynn Shelton on making films in Seattle and this year's film finalists, Shaun Scott, Drew Christie, and Megan Griffiths:
And this year's film Genius is... Megan Griffiths!
What a gorgeous party! I have to say, this year seemed like "Ladies Night." See the five winners after the jump! Biggest congrats to everyone. A full slide show of party pictures coming Monday morning...
And the 2012 Genius Award goes to...
The suspense is almost literally killing me.
As you have probably heard, we're throwing a swanky party tomorrow night at the Moore honoring the 15 best artists in the city right now, and five of them will leave with $5,000 grants. The award ceremony is open to the public this year, and the Seattle Rock Orchestra will provide a live soundtrack. Plus, there's an original cello piece by Lori Goldston, an original dance created by Kate Wallich, and lots of other surprises. Including the surprise of seeing a bunch of Seattle people dressed real nice. Like, knock-your-eyes-out, oh-my-God-she-looks-amazing, only-an-artist-would-wear-that nice. You have something wild you've always wanted to wear? Wear that. You don't have a ticket yet? Um, hurry up. Until noon tomorrow, they're only $12. After noon, they jump to $18.
Anyway, everyone keeps asking who the winners are going to be, as if I know. I don't have a clue. Neither does Jen Graves nor Charles Mudede nor Emily Nokes nor Paul Constant nor Brendan Kiley nor Bethany Clement nor David Schmader nor Megan Seling nor Tim Keck. God himself doesn't even know. (I asked Him.) The only person who knows is the person who runs The Stranger's accounting department, our general manager Laurie Saito, pictured above. If you want to know who the winners are before tomorrow night, you are going to have to delve into Laurie's brain somehow. Maybe with a laser? Or an MRI with thought-extraction capability? Or a periscope-type thing? Good luck. No one in the history of time has ever been able to extract a secret from Laurie Saito's mind. She tabulated the votes and prepared the envelopes that will be opened live, on stage, in front of you, tomorrow night.
After the awards, Seattle Rock Orchestra will be performing songs by an internationally recognized pop icon. Someone whose songs literally everyone in the world knows by heart. Someone who will make you want to dance. And not dance around with mere common folk. Dance around with geniuses. Actual brilliant, beautiful people. This isn't a year you want to miss.
GET ON IT.
This Saturday night, for the first time in history, the Stranger Genius Awards—which annually honor five artists and have typically been announced months in advance in the paper—will be revealed live onstage.
On Saturday night, we will have the answers. But however the title distribution works itself out, the moral is this: All of these people are entirely worthy of Genius Awards.
Beyond the award-bestowing, Saturday's night Genius Bash will feature the Seattle Rock Orchestra playing the music of all our Music Genius nominees (with nominee Lori Goldston joining them onstage) and a performance by Velocity Dance Center's Kate Wallich. Get your tickets here.
I'm guessing the nature of this year's Genius party—more energy and more anticipation because nobody, including the arts staff, knows who's going to win—is heightening the sense of spectacle. Plus, there will be a 50-piece orchestra playing covers of songs by our music nominees, a dance performance by Kate Wallich, a world-premiere cello composition by music nominee Lori Goldston, and much more. All this display has people thinking seriously about their costumes.
Most people around the office seem to know what they'll be wearing, except for music editor Emily Nokes. "I haven't found anything to wear yet," she said a few seconds ago. "But I did buy some pink lipstick."
Want to see Emily Nokes's new pink lipstick? Get your tickets here.
It's the year's best party, this time with soaring original orchestrations of this year's music finalists—TheeSatisfaction, Master Musicians, of Bukkake, and Lori Goldston—by Seattle Rock Orchestra! (Who else is nominated to get $5,000 with no strings attached and the crown of GENIUS? Lookee here!) AAANNNNDDD, awesome dance by Velocity's Kate Wallich!
Plus! Awards presented by local genius superstars Lynn Shelton, Jeffry Micthell, Susanna Welbourne, Sarah Rudinoff, and Jim Woodring! Only one sworn-to-secrecy ballot-counter here at The Stranger will know the winners until they are announced live on stage! THE TENTERHOOKS!!!
And-and, drinks and carrying-on and, possibly, sequins, all at the nearly impossibly elegant Moore Theatre!
GET A TICKET plus one for someone you love/lust after!
Speaking of sequins, and sorry for LiveJournaling, I happened to mention that I possess a gold-sequinned dress, and now both Jen Graves and Cienna Madrid are EXTREMELY INSISTENT that it be worn on this Very Special Night. But maybe it's a little much? (Sorry, no photo, dress is at home—it's a sleeveless number, above the knee, and it is entirely paved in gold sequins.) Hey, YOU decide! This Slog poll, like all Slog polls, is legally binding. Thanks for your help! See you Saturday night (and if I have to wear gold sequins, you must wear something comparable too).
If you answered "no" to any of the above questions, I have a solution for you, my friend: Nothing makes a brain smarter than proximity to other smart brains. Which is to say, if a sub-genius brain were to hump a genius brain, some of that genius is sure to rub off.
But! Geniuses are unpredictable creatures. They are not on every city bus or eating in every teriyaki joint. You might see five or six geniuses for a moment at dusk, dancing around a maypole in a park before they bolt into the safety of the wilderness, and then go for many months without spotting a genius anywhere. How do you get your brain in contact with a genius brain?
At the 10th Annual Stranger Genius Awards, that's where! So many Geniuses are guaranteed to attend this party that your brain should be getting wet just thinking about it. For starters, there are three shortlisters in every Genius category, which triples your chances of encountering genius. (If you're really in need of some genius, let me explain: That's nearly THREE TIMES as many chances!) In addition, there will be performances from Seattle Rock Orchestra and Velocity Dance, and presentations by many past Geniuses. Plus: Booze, which is guaranteed to make you do smart things, too.
(And! If you need contact with genius immediately due to decaying motor function and a sharp political turn to the right, remember that tonight, all three literature Genius shortlisters will be reading at the Hugo House, with a group Q&A to follow. It will be fun, too, and a nice preview of the braininess to come next week.)
Next Saturday night at the Moore Theatre, we're all going to be doing this:
Well, some of us will, anyway. Join. Watch. It's time again for the best party of the year.
And this year, none of us editors will know who the Geniuses will be until we hear them announced from the stage at the 10th annual Genius Awards—just like you.
A 50-piece rock orchestra will be playing. Velocity resident dancer Kate Wallich will perform for you. And past Genius artists Lynn Shelton, Jeffry Mitchell, Susanna Welbourne, Sarah Rudinoff, and Jim Woodring will tear open the envelopes and hand out the awards.
What should you wear? Wear that thing you're dying to put up on your body, whatever it is. I will personally compliment every hot one of you.
Tickets are $12 (regular) or $50 (VIP: free booze, more hours/booty dance, and the money goes back toward funding the awards!). Buy here.
Look—what are you doing on Friday? Three of the best writers in the city are getting together for a literary salon that you don't want to miss. They are the finalists for the literature Genius Award this year. They will talk about writing, storytelling, confession, madness, artistic inspiration, and whatever you want to ask. If you are a writer, or care at all about the art of writing, this is the sort of conversation that will light up your brain.
Paul Constant, The Stranger's book critic, will moderate.
Kary Wayson's poetry marries the impulse to be confessional with her nearly supernatural sense of sound. She's a genius at finding the contradictions and consolations in language. She can undo you with a phrase, as she does again and again in her 2009 book American Husband. Ed Skoog is more of an old-fashioned storyteller, even though his stories are usually formatted like poems. Part of his genius is the warmth he radiates: He is a performer and teacher and conspirator and compatriot and the author of a 2009 collection called Mister Skylight. The cartoonist Ellen Forney is also a genius at confession and storytelling—she just does it more visually. She has published one collection of memoir-cartoons called I Love Led Zeppelin and is about to publish a graphic memoir called Marbles. It's about her own journey with bipolar disorder and how mood disorders have inspired and undermined artists for centuries. (See samples of work by all three here.)
This is the only time you will get to be in the same room with all of them at once and ask them anything you want. GET YOUR TICKETS HERE. Special deal for Slog readers: Use the code "earnest" at checkout and tickets are half off.
VIP tickets are only $50 and get you free drinks and snacks at the infamous Genius cocktail reception from 5:30 to 7:30. (That $50 counts as a donation to the Genius Awards and goes straight into supporting artists.) If you would rather skip the VIP reception and just attend the 8 pm awards show, a general admission ticket is only $12 advance, and the awards show is where it's at this year. Seattle Rock Orchestra is performing soaring orchestrations of works by this year's music finalists, as well as a pop musician of their choice (it's a surprise). Plus, you'll get to see an original dance piece created just for the Genius Awards by Kate Wallich, a teaching artist and creative resident at Velocity.
There are only two weeks left until the show, so get your tickets squared away now. And once you've done that, start freaking out about what you're going to wear. The more festive, the better.
This Wednesday, Drew Christie, a filmmaker who is nominated for Genius Award in Film and is receiving national attention, will be at the Flickering Genius with two other nominees (Shaun Scott and Megan Griffiths) and David Schmader. Because Drew Christie's films involve a lot of historical, social, and scientific facts, he is constantly researching neglected or forgotton parts of American culture. And because he is as much a researcher as a filmmaker, he makes a wonderful conversationalist. On the two occasions I've had drinks with him, he filled my head with the strangest ideas, information, and stories about America's past and present. He not only knows a lot, he also loves discussing/sharing the what he knows or what he is working on with great humour and depth. Recall my post Drew Christie on Guns:
During a conversation I had with Drew Christie: "This blew the shit out of my mind. You know how anti-gun control people love westerns. But I recently read that lots of cities back then actually banned guns. They had signs that said: Leave your guns at the sheriff's office. They knew guns are fucking dangerous. You can't have a city with commerce, with governance, and people walking around drunk with guns.The event on Wednesday (get your ticket here) will include drinks (wine!) with the nominees. I recommend you go and get Christie started.
Also, the NRA, the gun-crazy organization, wasn't always so nuts. It actually supported the 1934 legislation that controlled Tommy guns, sawed-off guns, and stuff like that. The NRA was more a sportsman kind of thing. They wanted the right to have guns for hunting. But in 1976, that all changed. There was a coup that replaced the sane leaders with ultra-right gun nuts. They changed the whole organization, made it more political, brought in the lobbyists and funding from the gun industry."
Christie's point? Gun advocates are not restoring an older and more American order of things but mostly inventing shit as they go along.
This week's film is “Moving,” a short by Megan Griffiths, a nominee for the 2012 Genius Award in Filmmaking and the director of Eden and The Off Hours. Shot in 2008, and staring Lynn Shelton, the 2008 recipient of The Stranger Genius Award and director of the indie hit My Sister's Sister, the film is about a close and yet problematic relationship between an arty aunt and her dreamy/impressionable nephew.
Next Wednesday at the SIFF Film Center, Flickering Genius will present the short works of the three local filmmakers ( Shaun Scott, Drew Christie, and Megan Griffiths) nominated for this year's Genius Award in Film. And on the night of September 22, Lynn Shelton will present the award to the winner.
Next Wednesday at SIFF Film Center, I'll be hosting Flickering Genius, a showcase of short work by the three Seattle filmmakers nominated for this year's Genius Award in Film. Bonus: a post-screening hosted wine reception with filmmakers/Genius nominees Shaun Scott, Drew Christie, and Megan Griffiths in the lobby. Full info and tickets here.
Mark your calendars: Next Friday night, the Hugo House presents The Importance of Being Genius, a showcase featuring the work and actual human presence of this year's nominees for the Stranger Genius Award in Literature. As host Paul Constant writes:
The three nominees for this year’s Genius Award in literature—Ed Skoog, Kary Wayson, and Ellen Forney—come together for a group reading and Q&A to show off their genius-level work. What kind of weird stuff will two poets and a cartoonist discuss? They have a lot in common; they’ve all made their bones in short work, they’re all beloved members of Seattle’s artistic community, and they’re all obsessed with nonprose communication methods. Plus: booze!
Get your tickets here!
You may remember playwright Kelleen Conway Blanchard (who wrote Hearts Are Monsters, which more people should have seen) as the author of "Vi and Me" in this year's queer issue—a short-and-sweet essay about what happened when her husband of seven years became her wife. If you haven't read it, please do. You will enjoy it.
She's got a play opening later this month at Annex called Kittens in a Cage—a riff, I take it, on exploitation films about ladies in prison. I just got ahold of the poster by Ellen Forney:
Forney is also one of this year's candidates for the Stranger Genius Award in the books category.
From the sound of it, the clouds have also cleared on The Intelligence. In the band's earliest stuff, there was an "Are you just trying to annoy me?" level of distortion wrapped around everything, a sonic weather storm worthy of Venus. But as time goes on, the fog of white noise is burning off. It's gotten to the point where frontman Lars Finberg's mom likes some of these songs. He told her, "I think there's like two songs on this you could actually listen to!" And then he played her "Techno Tuesday," the fourth track on Everybody's Got It Easy but Me and the first Intelligence song (ever) with a horn on it. Well, the first proper use of a horn—a horn that gives off that clear-skies, happy-to-be-here horn feeling. Technically, there was a horn on the song "Saint Bartolomeu," two albums ago, but it had so many effects on it, you couldn't tell it was a horn; it was just one sound among many in a hilarious and stressful cyclone.
Anyway, when Finberg's mom heard "Techno Tuesday," she said: "This is you? This is really pretty!"
Just one of the reasons Dina Martina/Grady West is fully deserving of a Stranger Genius Award. Read more (along with excellent cases for fellow nominees Keri Healey, Zoe Scofield, and Juniper Shuey) here.
Congrats to all these talented folks in the running for the 2012 Genius Award! More photos after the jump...
Shortlist for Art
Here's how it will go down. Stranger critics will choose three finalists in each category: art, theater, literature, film, and music. In the June 13 issue of A&P, our art and performance quarterly, we will reveal the 2012 Genius shortlist—the 15 most fascinating artists at work in Seattle right now, each of them deserving of a Genius Award. We will profile them, show you their work, and explain what makes each of them so damn fascinating.
After the city has spent the summer thinking about, talking about, looking at, and listening to the work of the 15 finalists, the League of Geniuses—every Genius Award winner so far—will cast their votes by secret ballot in early September.* Stranger critics will vote as well. The winners will be revealed live at the Genius Awards party on September 22 at the Moore Theatre. Runners-up will leave with ridiculously lavish gift packages, and this year's five Geniuses will each get a check for $5,000. The no-strings-attached grants are made possible by support from the Snoqualmie Tobacco Company and Liquor Store, Chihuly Garden & Glass, and Amazon.com (and—why not?—you, too!).
Geniuses choosing geniuses—it's more Genius than ever!™
*Arts organizations with Genius Awards will get only one vote in each category.
Well, it's right here, on neato ProBooth Social Event Photography. Man, that really was one fu-uh-un party.
We may have ourselves a new ritual—Saturday night’s sparkling arts fundraiser at the panoramic-tacular Space Needle was such a success that folks are talking about making it an annual thing. A thousand marvelously attired humans showed up, ten thousand dollars were netted for the Genius Awards alone—that’s two entire awards—plus funds were raised for the arts-supporting Shunpike, and, well, hundreds of actual Seattle residents enjoyed the Needle for a change. The most commonly heard exclamation? “I haven’t been here in forever, and it’s amazing!”
It felt like reclaiming something very cool that you barely realized was yours. Good on you, Space Needle, for weaving a big old web of non-tourists. The Needle is, it must be acknowledged, a great, great, great, great, great fucking place for a party. Unfathomably infinite water for contemplative purposes, check. Moon and sky for the same, check. Peeks into the windows of other buildings and down streets you’ve never seen from this angle at night, check. And the Space Needle donated the space, the staff, and all of the food for this event, folks: Thank you to the Space Needle from the arts community. (Another thank you goes to party sponsor Alaska Airlines Visa, and one to Amazon, which has recommitted to funding the Literature Genius this year.) However: I did have a chance to look down on the construction site for Chihuly Garden & Glass, set to open in May, where the art, alas, looks to me to be just as exciting as I thought it would be.
The VIP level was crawling with Geniuses and geniuses. Folks HIT IT fashion-wise (why Seattle, we grow and learn!). A short annotated slide show by Lead Pencil Studio was full of beautifully illustrated lies and fantasies about the Space Needle. One half of the Cody Rivers Show went into antebellum character and wore a shit-brown knitted beard that kept messing with his upper lip. Poet Heather McHugh spontaneously auctioned off a vacation at her island home. Lynn Shelton spoke sweetly of collaboration; Lesley Hazleton spoke, and all were mesmerized, because THAT VOICE. The Satori Group did performances for a single audience member at a time. And glasses of green absinthe—distilled in Seattle at Gnostalgic Spirits (dangerously yum)—kept emptying and emptying, causing widespread addling and upping the gayness.
Several stories higher, the general admission level was decked out in dancing fools and crinkly silver spheres reminiscent of Warhol balloons with the helium sucked out—you imagined a back room somewhere bouncing with leprechaun voices.
Anti-authoritarian Genius Gary Hill was spotted immediately brushing with authority: He was accosted by an irritated security guard for carrying a paper cup of tea out onto the observation deck. The Man is never far from Gary Hill (whose intense, deep, and hilarious exhibition of large-scale installations opened the night before at the Henry Art Gallery).
Pictures or it didn’t happen, you say? Click on the image above for the full slide show; a few are right here on the jump.
See you there next year!
See more right over here!
In case you missed it: Several hundred more people than we were expecting turned out to raise money for the Genius Awards and Shunpike last night. It was packed. Tomorrow morning on Slog we'll have a recap by Jen Graves and party photos by Kelly O, and on Line Out there'll be an extra-long Space Needle edition of What You're Not Wearing.
This young supporter of the arts is standing in the VIP room in front of (from left) a man wearing a sweater with football players on it, the musician Pete Capponi (he's the drummer in The Intelligence, which won a Genius Award last year), and a woman so inebriated she's using her shoe as a telephone.
Which reminds me: Drunk of the Week will be Space Needle-related, too...
Due to a technical mishap, this post dematerialized at some point in the last 24 hours. Our web geniuses have resurrected it for us and the promotions department has agreed to extend the deadline until 10:00 am tomorrow.
All you have to do is tweet a photo of what you'll wear to Satellite if you win these free tickets, and you just might get them! Your tweet should include the hashtag #SatelliteParty so we can find it. If you already have a pair of general admission tickets and you win the contest, you will win free upgrades to VIP. If you don't have a ticket at all, you will win a pair of general admission tickets.
Find out a bunch more about the party right here. The programming in the VIP room (not mentioned in the page that link takes you to) will include short talks by past Geniuses Lynn Shelton, Lead Pencil Studio, Cody Rivers Show, Lesley Hazleton, and Heather McHugh. Hot damn!
Tweet your pics now! We'll choose the best by 10:00 am tomorrow. Remember to tag #SatelliteParty and to make your Twitter account public, so we can see it. If you want to get your tickets the normal way, to support the Genius Awards, Shunpike, and the arts, we'd be very grateful.
At the Space Needle! For the Genius Awards! And Shunpike! GET A TICKET HERE!
With thanks to Chihuly Garden and Glass, Alaska Airlines VISA, and the Space Needle, which are leading philanthropic efforts to help fund Seattle arts through this event. But the party isn't just about big gifts. Every dollar raised by ticket sales is going right back into the pockets of some brilliant creator in our community. COME TO SATELLITE! See you there!
We interrupt Slog silence to bring you this very important announcement!
Have you ever spent a Saturday night at the top of the Space Needle, drinking fine booze, talking about art, and dancing to soul music with people who read books? No? Well, that is all about to change. On March 31, at 8 p.m., we are invading the Space Needle. This is going to be one of those invasions where we tell them first. The event is called Satellite, and it's a benefit for the Stranger Genius Awards and Shunpike. In other words, a benefit for the arts.
But it's not one of those insanely expensive benefits—tickets are only $35, VIP tickets $75, and half the proceeds go to the Genius Foundation, which is the nonprofit that gives out $5,000 Stranger Genius grants to five local artists every year—an artist, a filmmaker, a theater-maker, a writer, and a musician. It's a no-strings-attached wad of cash honoring the talented freaks who shape the cultural landscape of this city. To keep getting better at this mission, Genius partnered in 2010 with Shunpike, whose work includes that art-in-empty-storefronts thing that really ought to exist in every empty storefront everywhere.
“Events like this aren’t just about the money raised in the room,” says Executive Director of Shunpike, Andy Fife. “It’s about the future of philanthropy in the arts in this city. We need to democratize the philanthropic landscape here to make it more accessible and appealing to young artists, donors, and leaders.”
Tickets are on sale now. Just click on these letters. A $35 ticket gets you hors d'oeuvres, two stiff drinks (cash bar thereafter), and four hours of fun, art, and dancing at the top of the Space Needle, with Emerald City Soul Club and J-Justice spinning (as well as the Space Needle itself). A $75 VIP ticket gets you all that plus unlimited drinks in the Cosmonauts Lounge, on a separate floor, with talks and performances by past Stranger Geniuses (to be announced later this week), as well as music by Zeke Keeble and Robert Deeble. Oh, and a swag bag filled with $120 worth of stuff.
The party goes from 8 pm until midnight. See you at Satellite!