The 55 Best Things To Do in Seattle This Week: November 18-24, 2019

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In Plain Sight, opening Saturday at Henry Art Gallery, features hidden narratives by both national and international artists. Andrea Bowers (in collaboration with Ada Tinnell). Trans Liberation: Building a Movement (Cece McDonald). 2016. Archival pigment print. Edition of 3, 2 AP. Image: Courtesy of the artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York, and Vielmetter Los Angeles.

Our music critics have already chosen the 43 best music shows this week, but now it’s our arts and culture critics’ turn to recommend the best events in their areas of expertise. Here are their picks in every genre—from a rare appearance from an evening with Gloria Steinem to the Seattle Turkish Film Festival, and from the Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Festival to the opening weekend of Enchant Christmas. See them all below, and find even more events on our complete Things To Do calendar.

Jump to: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday



Hari Kondabolu’s New Material Nights
It’s not always a guaranteed pleasure to watch comedians working out new material, but Hari Kondabolu is not just any comedian. You could make the case that his asides, self-edits, and ad-libs are as funny as the individual finished bits. Though the finished work is, all in all, a whole other level of funny. These shows give small audiences an intimate look at the process of a comic whose trajectory is thrilling to behold. Plus, when you see the final, polished gems months from now, in video clips from TV appearances shared on your Facebook feed, you’ll be in a great position to make the comments all about how YOU saw it first. Everybody wins! SEAN NELSON


Alpa Shah: Nightmarch
If you haven’t been following the news in India for the last decade or so, you might not know that the government has been at war with a Maoist insurgency called the Naxalites, who live and operate among the Adivasi in the mid-eastern area of the country. The government considers the Naxalites terrorists, while the Naxalites consider the extremely right-wing government an oppressive regime. The government is also thirsty for coal and other natural resources sitting just below the land of the Adivasi, India’s indigenous people, who are caught in the middle of this whole thing. In Nightmarch, renowned anthropologist and author Alpa Shah writes about the “hopes, aspirations, and contradictions” of the Naxalites after spending nearly two years embedded with the platoon of the Indian Maoists, tracking the motivations behind the government’s increasingly aggressive approach to the situation. RICH SMITH


In the tradition of Homo For The Holidays: JINGLE ALL THE GAY! Dec 6-29



Myra Lara: Everyday Cry-sis
Urban living is a lot—especially in a city like Seattle where the disparities between the rich and poor are at untenable levels. We pride ourselves on being liberal, green, and socially conscious, and yet we don’t tax big business, we don’t have enough public transit, and we let rents go through the roof. It’s exhausting! Artist Myra Lara will be exploring “the realities of life, political priorities, and social justice” in our fair, emerald, technocratic city in her latest cartoon series, Everyday Cry-sis. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Closing Tuesday



Alison Stigora: certain/uncertain
Seattle artist Alison Stigora creates gigantic sculptures that are constructed of coastal driftwood or galvanized steel, often filling up the gallery space and overpowering the viewer with their presence. Her work is aware of itself in a way that doesn’t seek to shrink it or make it easy to comprehend, but rather forces viewers to interact with it. Inspired by the Pacific Northwest’s natural landscape, the size and material of Stigora’s work call on our basic need for shelter while also leading us to think about our body in relation to space. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Closing Friday



Joy of Cooking: John Becker and Megan Scott In Conversation with Marcie Sillman
The classic cooking tome Joy of Cooking has been in print since 1931 for good reason. Now, author Irma Rombauer’s great-grandson John Becker and his wife Megan Scott have updated it with new international, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free recipes, make-ahead suggestions, and other tips, plus additions like instructions for curing bacon and fermenting vegetables. Becker and Scott will join KUOW Arts and Culture reporter Marcie Sillman to discuss the new version.



MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora
In partnership with the Frye, the Photographic Center Northwest, and independent curators Berette Macaulay, Delphine Fawundu, and Laylah Barrayn—under the auspices of the MFON Collective, Barrayn and Fawundu’s journal and movement named after the Nigerian American photographer Mmekutmfon “Mfon” Essien—the venue highlights photography by black women around the world.
Closing Friday



Eva Isaksen: Urd/New Collages
Former Stranger critics Jen Graves and Nathaniel Deines called Isaksen “one of those rare, non-schlocky collage artists.” Here, she uses materials reminiscent of her Norwegian childhood, like cut-ups of the “vintage Norwegian women’s magazine URD.”
Closing Saturday



The dancers of Can Can and powerhouse singer Renee Holiday (formerly Shaprece, who “ranks among the Northwest’s most radiant, soulful vocalists and producers of torch-song-centric electronic music,” per Dave Segal) collaborate on this sensuous coming-of-age story, featuring a leading performance by Holiday and new choreography.



Bianca Del Rio: It’s Jester Joke
Bianca Del Rio, whom Stranger contributor Matt Baume called “the most vicious RuPaul’s Drag Race winner of all time,” will wield her mean and hilarious sense of humor across the world on her latest tour. Catch her deluge of foul-mouthed devilry in Seattle.


Clifford Thompson: What It Is
Like many, Clifford Thompson had his beliefs about America (land of the free, home of the brave, etc.) put into question after Donald Trump took office in 2016. Through interviews with writers, his new book draws conclusions about the state of the nation. The Whiting Award-winning author and essayist will be joined in conversation by local writer Charles Johnson (Night Hawks).

The Every Other
At this new reading and music night run by local novelist Doug Nufer, hear poetry by Thomas Walton and Jeff Encke and solo saxophone by Scott Granlund.



Author Talk: The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook by Naomi Tomky
Despite having lived in two coastal cities where seafood was fresh and bountiful, I never really learned how to cook it. The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook is made for folks like me, though experienced seafood makers will likely find much to bookmark for later feasting. It’s written by Naomi Tomky, a well-regarded industry-experienced Seattle-based food writer whose thoughtful analysis on the local culinary scene and beyond has appeared everywhere from the New York Times to Food & Wine magazine to this very publication, and she brings an easygoing conversational tone to her cookbook debut. Tomky’s own seafood knowledge is bolstered by generously donated recipes from an impressive range of seafood-savvy pro chefs, restaurateurs, local cookbook authors, amateur cooks, and others who reflect the region’s diversity—from big names like Tom Douglas, Mutsuko Soma, Eric Rivera, and Shiro Kashiba, to Archipelago’s Aaron Verzosa, Hillel Echo-Hawk of Birch Basket catering (who prepares meals using precolonial ingredients), pastry chef Taghreed Ibrahim, and Bonnie Morales of Kachka in Portland. LEILANI POLK


The burlesque talents of women of color will be front and center at this Simone Pin Company show, featuring the Dollhouse Coven (TAQUEET$!, Lindy Lou, Scarlett Folds, Shay Simone, Annya Pin), Mama (Adra Boo), and their creepy-sexy secrets.



Dan Savage’s HUMP! Film Festival
In the beginning… there was porn. And some of it was pretty awesome! But a lot of it, you know, wasn’t. Mainstream porn can be problematic in all sorts of ways—most notably that 90 percent of dirty movies are made for white dudes by white dudes. And why is there primarily only one body type (skinny and hairless)? And are any of the actors having fun? I mean, for real? These are the kinds of porn problems that inspired beloved sex columnist Dan Savage to create the HUMP! Film Festival—an annual celebration of amateur dirty movies that are for the people, by the people! HUMP! invites folks to submit five-minute mini porn flicks written, directed, shot, and—in a lot of cases—performed by these sex-positive amateur auteurs. The filmmakers are encouraged to express themselves sexually in whatever way they see fit—so instead of seeing the same, staid heteronormative clips you’ll find on the internet, HUMP! is a virtual rainbow of diverse (AND HOT) sexuality! WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY


Head Over Heels
Tunes by the Go-Go’s [sic] pepper this musical loosely based on a 16th-century narrative poem by Sir Philip Sidney. A royal family learns of a fateful prophecy that may disrupt “the Beat” that supplies the rhythm to their kingdom. Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q, Bring It On: The Musical, the screenplay for Can You Ever Forgive Me?) wrote the book and lyrics.



Author Talk: All About Dinner by Molly Stevens
Following All About Roasting, cookbook author Molly Stevens will return to Seattle with a new book of the same ilk, All About Dinner, which features recipes for simple pasta dishes, hearty stews, and savory and sweet snacks with easy-to-find ingredients. Stevens will be joined tonight by KNKX radio commentator Nancy Leson. 

Chef Adeena Sussman: ‘Sababa’
The co-author of Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings and Hungry for More will share her debut solo cookbook, Sababa (which roughly translates to “everything is awesome” in Hebrew), which features insights and recipes from her Tel Aviv kitchen. 

Crazy Cocktails & Charcuterie
Have you ever thought, “This cocktail is good, but it would be way better served in a tiny bathtub with a rubber ducky floating in it?” You probably haven’t, but Cure Cocktail’s Joe Wargo certainly has, and that’s why he was voted one of Seattle’s favorite bartenders in The Stranger’s 2019 Happy Hour Guide. If the “Bathtub Party” (top-shelf vodka or gin, house-made cucumber jalapeño syrup, elderflower liqueur, fresh lemon juice, and lemon foam for bubbles) brings up too many traumatizing memories of watching A Nightmare on Elm Street, there is also Joe’s “What’s Up, Doc?” made with brown sugar bourbon, fresh lemon juice, fresh carrot juice, pineapple juice, and ginger beer; a garnish of mint wrapped in orange peel gives it the full carrot effect. No matter what cocktail you get, however, at this ongoing Thursday night event, it will be served with a world-class board of meats and cheeses, and Wargo will have some fresh mixology concoctions on the menu, too. DAVID LEWIS

The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook by Naomi Tomky
Despite having lived in two coastal cities where seafood was fresh and bountiful, I never really learned how to cook it. The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook is made for folks like me, though experienced seafood makers will likely find much to bookmark for later feasting. It’s written by Naomi Tomky, a well-regarded industry-experienced Seattle-based food writer whose thoughtful analysis on the local culinary scene and beyond has appeared everywhere from the New York Times to Food & Wine magazine to this very publication, and she brings an easygoing conversational tone to her cookbook debut. Tomky’s own seafood knowledge is bolstered by generously donated recipes from an impressive range of seafood-savvy pro chefs, restaurateurs, local cookbook authors, amateur cooks, and others who reflect the region’s diversity—from big names like Tom Douglas, Mutsuko Soma, Eric Rivera, and Shiro Kashiba, to Archipelago’s Aaron Verzosa, Hillel Echo-Hawk of Birch Basket catering (who prepares meals using precolonial ingredients), pastry chef Taghreed Ibrahim, and Bonnie Morales of Kachka in Portland. LEILANI POLK


The Big Thaw: A Photographic Night with Arctic and Climate Scientists
Dr. Robert Holmes from Woods Hole Research Center and photographer Chris Linder, contributors to The Big Thaw: Ancient Carbon, Modern Science and A Race to Save the World, will link up to talk conservation and permafrost. After their presentation, they’ll be joined in a panel discussion by Tulalip conservation scientist Phil North and chair KC Golden.

Claire Rudy Foster and Richard Chiem
Queer, non-binary trans writer Claire Rudy Foster, the author of I’ve Never Done This Before, will read alongside celebrated Seattle writer Richard Chiem, whom Rich Smith has called “one of my favorite writers AND readers in Seattle.”

Gloria Steinem: The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off!
Where do you start with Gloria Steinem? She’s the founder of Ms. magazine, the author of half a dozen books, an award-winning activist, and, of course, the most famous feminist of her time. Not all of Steinem’s positions have proved to be enduring: She perpetuated the widely debunked “recovered memories” phenomenon in the 1990s, which, for some reason, she has never disavowed, and she has an almost puritanical view of pornography. But still, Steinem has done remarkable things, and she’s one of the most influential women of her generation. She’ll be talking about her life in feminism when she comes to Seattle. KATIE HERZOG

This interdisciplinary reading with poets Natalie Martinez and Paul Hlava Ceballos and prose writers Calvin Gimpelevich and Jessica Mooney will explore how we imagine our environments and futures, set alongside Claire Brandt’s paintings. 

Mary Ruefle
Mary Ruefle has a new book of poetry out from Wave Books. It’s called Dunce. I am happy to report that Ruefle continues to be obsessed with using her signature conversational style to write abstract-associative poetry about death, loneliness, and poetry itself. Though I’m not as in love with Dunce as I was with My Private Property, it is still early on in my relationship with the book. Regardless, it’s my understanding that Ruefle rarely leaves her home in Vermont, and so it’s a rare joy to get to see her in person. RICH SMITH



Ceci N’est Pas une Pipe d’un Homme
The Center on Contemporary Art presents glass art by femme-identified artists. It’s a celebration both of queers and women in the arts and of the legalization of weed, both things of which Seattle should be proud.

SPACEFILLER: Fantasy Parameter Spaces
Walking into SPACEFILLER’s new show is like stepping into another universe. The artists behind the project—Alexander Nagy and Alexander Miller—went to great pains to block all outside light from coming inside the gallery, papering over the floor-to-ceiling windows, plunging the white cube into blackness. The duo’s moniker SPACEFILLER is a reference to both their role as artists (one who fills space) and the mathematical model Conway’s Game of Life (a “spacefiller” is a pattern that wants to spread out indefinitely). “We’re very into wonder and awe,” Nagy told me. He said their vision for this exhibition, Fantasy Parameter Spaces, was “when you step through that door, you are stepping into this computational universe we’re exploring and letting people explore.” Visitors have the opportunity to do things like grow and quash life with the press of a button, use a glowing LED cube controller to explore different graphic and sonic environments, and play with a 3-D simulation of slime mold. And before you ask—yes, this is deliriously fun to go to if you’re stoned. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Closing Saturday



Seattle Turkish Film Festival
The Turkish American Cultural Association of Washington will present the sixth annual edition of their community-driven, volunteer-led festival featuring a rich panorama of new Turkish films.


Forty-five million people watched the first episode of a five-part interview David Frost conducted with former president Richard Nixon in 1977, three years after Nixon left office in disgrace. It is still the most widely viewed political interview in world history. Peter Morgan’s play Frost/Nixon reminds us of the era when politics first became something that happens on TV. Sadly, you watch it knowing that Trump will never offer us the consolations Nixon did. Nixon admitted wrongdoing and apologized. We’ll get none of that from Trump, no matter what. Frost/Nixon under Trump thus serves as a way to measure how far down the dark pit our democracy has descended. RICH SMITH



Author Talk: Fried Rice by Danielle Centoni
I have never found fried rice quite as good as the joint in the food court where I worked as a teenager, handing out samples of General Tso’s chicken and selling platefuls of greasy Americanized Chinese food while the family who worked there made their own separate meals in the back. But they always ate the fried rice. It’s a cross-cultural comfort food, and Portland-based James Beard Award–winning food writer and editor Danielle Centoni has compiled a whole cookbook of recipes of different types of it (Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up the World’s Favorite Grain). She draws inspiration from around the globe and ventures beyond the obvious Chinese and Indonesian flavors into some that are expected (Thai fried coconut rice with pork satay and spinach) and not so expected (vagharelo bhaat—Gujarati fried rice—with chicken and cilantro yogurt from India), though recipes for mainstays are included, too. On this date, Centoni will appear for a talk, signing, and tasting of a fried rice recipe from the book. LEILANI POLK

Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Festival
Go unapologetically New Seattle at the Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Festival. No LaCroix, no thrift store shopping, no posting about protests you aren’t actually going to attend. Just a party held on the 76th floor of the Columbia Center to celebrate the release of exquisite (limited) Beaujolais Nouveau wines from France. While enjoying a stunning view of both Puget Sound and Lake Washington from Seattle’s tallest building, you’ll get a chance to mingle with representatives from Fortune 500 companies, trendsetters, and members of the Seattle Francophile community. Guests who go for the full VIP package will be served special hors d’oeuvres not meant for commoners. DAVID LEWIS
If you’re not new to Seattle, check out happy hours at Bastille Cafe & Bar (Thurs) and Maximilien (Fri)


Hugo Literary Series: Taking Liberties
Local writers and musicians Juan Felipe Herrera, Richard Chiem, Amber Flame, and others will explore the concept of “taking liberties.”



Church of the Auntie Christ
Local drag weirdo Miss Texas 1988 stars as a mixed-up Christian woman who winds up in a “church” of “queers, choir leaders, and peculiar sunday-school students.” Please do not take any staid relatives here by mistake (only on purpose).

Kitten N’ Lou Present: Cream
A confession: I’ve watched Kitten N’ Lou’s wedding video at least 20 times. They’re just so gosh darn intoxicating and lovely. (It’s on their website. I didn’t, like, steal it or anything.) The burlesque duo exudes a chemistry unrivaled by any other stage pair I’ve seen, and, luckily for Seattle, this “world’s showbusiest couple” are mainstays of the Emerald City. Their show Cream brings Love Connie and the Atomic Bombshells along for a Spanksgiving feast of drag and burlesque. Go and prepare to fall in love. CHASE BURNS

Showing Out: Contemporary Black Choreographers (Part 1)
Powerhouse local queer performer Dani Tirrell has curated an evening of performances by black choreographers.


Novel Nights
Raise money for Seattle’s most beloved writing center, Hugo House, at this book club series featuring special guests. The books you’ll discuss this week are Emma (Fri), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, (Sat) and Beloved (Sat).



Dice: Pride & Prejudice
Eight actors have memorized the entire script of an original adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. At this performance, presented by immersive/experimental theater company Dacha, an audience member will roll the dice and decide who will play which character. When Dacha gave Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night the same treatment in 2017, former Arts Calendar Editor Julia Raban wrote: “Based on the premise, you might expect a harried and unfinished production, but this show does not follow the rules of logic. There’s beautiful blocking and choreography, constant and clever improvisation.”


Enchant Christmas
Following a successful first year, Enchant Christmas will transform T-Mobile Park into a winter wonderland complete with an impressive light maze, light sculptures, a market curated by Urban Craft Uprising, and more. This year’s theme is “Mischievous,” so expect to see sly little elves roaming about.



Tragic School Bus
Taking off on the educational children’s series, this cleverly conceived show follows a group of poor adults trapped in public school limbo and their increasingly insane teacher as they go on “magical” field trips to learn about topics of your choice. Directed by Jessica Dunstan and Jet City Artistic Director Mandy Price, this one should earn an A.


Gobble Up Seattle 2019
Just in time for Thanksgiving (and the subsequent holidays), Urban Craft Uprising will host this specialty food show for the third year in a row, promising over 100 local vendors slinging everything from cooking equipment to homemade jam.

Oyster Feed & Oyster Stout Brew Day
Future Primitive Brewing is calling on you, the people, to help them slurp down bivalves from Taylor Shellfish Farms to yield enough shells for their Oyster Stout. There will be plenty of non-oyster beers to drink.


Ben Lerner: The Topeka School
Rich Smith has written: “Lerner started off his literary career writing nerdy books of poetry that were so good you could feel your brain and heart growing as your read them. Then he turned his attention to reinventing the American novel. Both Leaving Atocha Station and 10:04 were phenomenal. His sentences abound with intelligence and humor. Before he won a Guggenheim and a MacArthur ‘Genius’ grant for his literary work, he was a master debater from Topeka, Kansas.” Lerner’s newest novel is set in Topeka and follows a high school senior struggling to fit between a liberal household and a deeply right-wing environment.

Donald Byrd: A Life In Dance
Tony-nominated, Bessie-winning choreographer Donald Byrd will talk about what inspires him creatively with Sylvia Waters of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Peter Boal of the Pacific Northwest Ballet. In conjunction with the current exhibition The America That Is To Be.

Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford: Writing the Other
Local sci-fi icon Nisi Shawl (best-known for the brilliant Everfair) will talk about diverse representation in fiction alongside fellow speculative fiction writer K. Tempest Bradford. 


Leonard Suryajaya: Is It Time Yet
Queer immigrant artist Leonard Suryajaya and a group of Cornish students “enact gestures of resistance before the camera” in this response to American turmoil post-2016 and to Suryajaya’s own experience emigrating from Indonesia.
Closing Sunday



Alchemy 5: Transformation in Contemporary Enamels
This juried exhibition, traveling from the University of Oregon, pays tribute to the “alchemical” process of firing powdered glass to produce vitreous enamel, a coating that can turn glass, metal, stone, or ceramic into a shining object of deep, sheeny colors. See some of the best enamel-coated objects in the world.
Opening Saturday

In Plain Sight
This group show is stacked. Featuring some of the best and most interesting artists currently working nationally and internationally, In Plain Sight “addresses narratives, communities, and histories that are typically hidden or invisible in our public space (both conceptually and literally defined).” The work in this exhibition isn’t confined to one particular gallery but is spread throughout the entire museum. Particularly of note is Iraqi painter Hayv Kahraman and her work surrounding memory, gender, and diaspora; Kiwi visual artist Fiona Connor, who deals in the overlooked infrastructure we are surrounded by; and the vibrant mixed-media pieces from Jamaican artist Ebony G. Patterson. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Opening Saturday



3rd Annual Teen Feed Spaghetti Dinner
Many believe that dishes like spaghetti, which can be easily made at home, are a silly thing to order at a restaurant. But this classic feast of house-made spaghetti and meatballs, Caesar salad, fresh garlic bread, and seasonal sorbet is no doubt an exception. All proceeds from the evening benefit Teen Feed.

Miracle on 2nd
In 2014, Greg Boehm of New York bar Boilermaker temporarily transformed the space for his bar Mace into a kitschy Christmas wonderland replete with gewgaws and tchotchkes galore. Now the pop-up has expanded to bars in 50 cities worldwide and will be taking up residence in Belltown’s Rob Roy. The specialty cocktails are no ordinary cups of cheer: Beverages are housed in tacky-tastic vessels (a drinking mug resembling Santa’s mug, for example), bedecked with fanciful garnishes like peppers and dried pineapple, and christened with irreverent, pop-culture-referencing names like the “Bad Santa,” the “Yippie Ki Yay Mother F**r,” and the “You’ll Shoot Your Rye Out.” JULIANNE BELL


12 Minutes Max
12 Minutes Max is back! The rules are simple: Curators pick a slew of different sorts of performance artists—dancers, actors, musicians, multimedia impresarios—and give them 12 minutes and a stage to show a work-in-progress. That’s good for the artist, because feedback before a premiere is hard to come by. That’s good for the audience, because they get to see previews of shows everyone will be talking about in two years. For this iteration, multidisciplinary artists Fox Whitney (fresh off a well-received performance at On the Boards) and barry johnson (whose paintings I love) have selected eight performers. Among the offerings: “hybridized texts that vibrate with nontraditional witchy energy” from Wryly McCutchen, a piece about “Hmong motherhood in America” from Minna Lee, and a story from Amy Augustine about a couple who fell off a ferry. That performance involves “live music, two mini trampolines, a large swath of blue silk, and buckets of water.” RICH SMITH


Peter Sagal
Peter Sagal is the host of the nerdy NPR game show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and the author of the funny memoir The Incomplete Book of Running.


Julia Wald: Teatotaler / Jordan Christianson: Tea Dance
Illustrator Julia Wald uses India ink to explore the cultural significance and history of tea-drinking. Local artist Jordan Christianson shows trasferware patterns using both traditional and contemporary decals that hark back to a time when being queer was considered a crime.
Closing Sunday