A group of shadow puppeteers, a nationally acclaimed gospel choir, a local “girl band,” a renowned culinary artist and a group of filmmakers — are these artists related to each another?
Probably not, except for Seattle’s good fortune that they are all displaying their talents at Bumbershoot, the eclectic annual arts event that takes over Seattle Center on Labor Day weekend.
With artists representing a diverse range of performance, visual and literary genres, the festival showcases the varied nature of the arts and culture scene in the Pacific Northwest and internationally.
A Short Run
Eroyn Franklin is director of Short Run, a Queen Anne nonprofit that was founded to strengthen and promote Seattle’s small art-press community. The group curates events throughout the year to draw attention to artists and self-publishers and also provides them with marketing resources.
“We are a women-run organization in our third year, and we’re celebrating by creating our first anthology,” Franklin said.
In past years, Franklin has volunteered at the visual-art events at Bumbershoot and presented her work in the 2010 festival in the Counter Culture Comix program. She is also a performing artist and will appear in “Swelling Dwelling,” a shadow-puppet show, at this year’s event.
“I will be performing alongside my Short Run partner, Kelly Froh,” Franklin said. “Kelly will perform her comic story of a naive Midwestern virgin who travels to Seattle with her best friend in the early 1990s. It’s a story of friendship, freedom and grunge.”
Every November, Short Run hosts an annual festival, free to the public, which showcases producers of magazines — also known as ‘zines — and animation. The group aims to provide an alternative to large-scale commercial conventions. The organization is affiliated with The Vera Project, which Franklin purports has been a cultural influence in the fabric of Queen Anne’s art and music scene with its focus on all-ages events and classes.
“Short Run has really loved being in Queen Anne,” Franklin said. “This year, Short Run is having a day of performances, discussions and collaborative creations at Vera so that we can make sure to bring ‘zines and comics to a venue that supports so many young people’s introduction to music, art and culture. Even though Queen Anne is mourning the loss of Easy Street [Records, which closed in January], the presence of Seattle International Film Festival, On the Boards and now KEXP will help to keep Queen Anne vibrant.”
Dan Niven has performed in Magnolia as a Dickens Caroler and as a musician at the Queen Anne children’s parade. Niven’s busiest performing role at the moment, however, is singing with the Total Experience Gospel Choir (TECG), led by Pastor Pat Wright. The chorus plans to perform three different repertoires for a total of four performances over the long weekend, in Portland and at Bumbershoot. The group will provide accompaniment to the popular music group Heart, featuring Seattle sister-act Ann and Nancy Wilson.
“The TEGC met Ann and Nancy about a year ago,” Niven explained. “This summer, Pastor Pat and our accompanist, Lou Magor, have been prepping gospel choirs at every stop on the Heart tour, and the choir is on deck for Portland on the 30th and Key Arena on the 31st.… hear that we’ll be wearing black bowler hats!”
Niven believes his work with the choir is an effort that addresses his artistic and altruistic interests.
“Several of our 30-year-plus members have literally grown up in the choir,” Niven said. “Others have seen us in concert and find themselves moving past ‘I want to listen to that’ to ‘I want to be part of that.’ We come from all walks and are a multi-generational, multi-ethnic and multi-faith entity. We’re a choir family, raising money for worthy domestic and international causes and, most recently, doing hands-on hurricane and tsunami relief work. In short, we endeavor to shrink the world, and that’s a pretty good gig.”
Even culinary artists are eagerly anticipating Bumbershoot. Ivan Szilak, chef at the Chihuly Collections Café (on the Seattle Center campus), will create appetizers for hungry art connoisseurs at the event. He plans to offer an inspired brunch menu that will include a Seattle adaptation of the Southern shrimp-and-grits entrée.
“I like to take traditional favorites and craft something new,” he said. “For dessert, I’m making an Almond Joy panna cotta.”
Next door, the Chihuly Garden and Glass will also participate in the festival. April Matson assists with communications for the exhibit.
“It’s certainly exciting to be on campus, with all the great excitement and art that surrounds Bumbershoot,” Matson said. “What we have done for the past month or so is work with Bumbershoot on a program that brings music to the Glasshouse one evening a week. Live music, tours, lectures and other events are all part of ongoing programming we’re working to roll out over the course of the year.… It’s been great for us to be able to offer our guests glimpses into the musicians that make our community so special and promote Bumbershoot, as well.”
For ticket information, visit bumbershoot.org. To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.