STANDING ROOM ONLY: Views from my travels
July 3, 2008 · Updated 8:35 PM
In my travels throughout Mexico, I encountered few things as beautiful as the murals of Diego Rivera in the Federal Building in Mexico City. Riveras paintings, which fantastically depict the history of Spanish conquest in Mexico, line the walls of the state building, running the length of two entire floors and flowing as though with time itself. The work is both surreal and graphic, portraying in rich colors and grand themes a story of deceit, struggle and overcoming. Riveras murals are a stunning and moving testament to the depth of historic memory in Mexican culture.
Its hard to fathom a politically-sanctioned work that is so honest in its passion for revolution and truth, especially in Mexico, where Riveras interpretations could hardly have pleased the traditionally corrupt ruling party. Then again, Rivera was a master artist, and the way Mexicans (even politicos) relate to cultural artefacts involves more pride and appreciation than partisan cant. Such a relation to art is almost inconceivable in this society, where conservative politicians would just as soon we lived in a world devoid of culture. Art, and artists, just get in the way here unless, of course, theyre completely innocuous and inane, which Rivera certainly was not.
A new exhibit opening Oct. 17 and running through Jan. 5 at Seattle Art Museum celebrates Mexican Modernist art, including the works of such renowned muralists and painters as Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Jose Clemente Orozco (who, in my opinion, was even better than Rivera). This installation is running concurrent to an exhibit that opened in July called Folk Arts of Mexico, which features displays of textiles and dance masks from such diverse regions as Oaxaca, Sonora and the Yucatan Peninsula. Que bueno! Its a veritable feast of Mexican art! These two exhibits are not to be missed, so get yourself down to the big city and take it all in. El numero de telefono es 206-654-3121, i el web sito es www.Seattleartmuseum.org.
There appears to be no waning in upper middle-class Americans recent love for all things Italian including perhaps a subconscious craving for a touch of Mussolini-style fascism from our current administration but what were actually concerned with here is the annual fundraiser being held for Centrum, the Port Townsend-based arts & education organization. This years hooplah, which includes a Gala Dinner & Auction, is called Bella Tuscany! and promises to transform Fort Worden State Park into (hold your breath!) an authentic Tuscan hill town. The fun kicks off Saturday evening, Oct. 19, at 5:30 p.m. with a silent auction, featuring appetizers and wine (drunk people spend more) and strolling pseudo-Italian minstrels providing some tuneful tunes. An Italian feast follows at 7 p.m., then another live auction, and then a dance, with music provided by local band The Delta Rays. Snide political comments aside, Centrum is an excellent organization with a superb track record for providing our region with top-notch, high-class entertainment, and you could do worse than donate your time and money to such a charitable cause. Tickets are $50 each (this includes food, wine, hors douevres, dessert) with only 300 spaces available, so move fast. Call 1-800-733-3608 or visit the web site at www.centrum.org for more information.
The Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon presents a performance by the internationally-renowned Westwood Wind Quartet this Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Formed 43 years ago, this wind quartet has performed over 3,000 concerts and recorded more than 15 albums. High Fidelity magazine has recognized the Westwood players for their extraordinary tone quality, adding that the performers manifest a technical finesse and a richness of tone that one would normally expect only from a solo concert artist. The founder of the group, oboist Peter Christ, is a former resident of Skagit County and a frequent performer at the Lincoln. For ticket info, call (360) 336-2858.
Books are beautiful, reading is fun and bibliophiles are well-warned to attend the 8th annual Northwest Bookfest Festival this weekend (Oct. 19-20) at Sand Point Magnuson Park in Seattle. This fantastic gala event will feature appearances and readings by over 250 local and national authors, including presentations by such luminaries as NPR commentators Scott Simon and Neil Conan, as well as show-ups by writers Michael Malone, Molly Gloss, Rebecca Bloom and Chuck Palahnuik (author of popular novels Fight Club and, more recently, Lullaby). The theme of this years fest is nostalgia, a potentially dangerous sentiment that will be investigated, probed and poked for its utopic value in a world gone utterly and murderously mad. Also, the event features a new installation called Word (of Mouth), which provides a unique venue for performance artists, spoken word poets and teen and young adult writers. In this societys trend toward illiteracy (and hence reactionary idiocy and cathode retardation), its absolutely crucial to turn kids onto the universal benefits of reading for life. Bookfest, like the stuff it celebrates, offers something for everyone. For a complete list of scheduled events and more information, call (206) 378-1883 or, better yet, visit the Web site at www.nwbookfest.org.
Northwest BookFest Bus Trip is Oct. 19, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Bus departs Coupeville park and ride at 8 a.m. and leaves Sand Point at 5 p.m., returning to Coupeville at 7 p.m. Cost is $25 for transportation and $5 donation at the door. Pre-register by contacting Coupeville Community Education at 678-6222 or the library at 678-4911. Funded by Friends of the Coupeville Library.