A&E Pick of the Week
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As live performance returns, it’s time to welcome back Seattle’s comedy scene, but it’s also time to say goodbye to a beloved local arts space. And it’s never a bad time to take a look at our region through analog art. Here’s where to do all three.
Welcome back comedy
As some arts events resume, it’s a good time to check out one of the city’s most charming stand-up showcases. Originally started in Portland by stand-ups who wanted to create a space for comedians of color, Minority Retort expanded to Seattle in 2018.
The show has served as a tour stop for nationally known comedians like Baron Vaughn, but the local stand-ups are equally worth watching. That’s because comedy scenes in cities like Seattle and Portland are often incubators where stand-ups hone their craft before decamping to larger markets like New York and Los Angeles, and Minority Retort has been no exception. It’s hosted performers like Curtis Cook, who’s now moved on to L.A. and Comedy Central, and Mohanad Elshieky, who lives in New York and works on “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”
Seeing a local stand-up on the verge of their big transition to the comedy world’s idea of mainstream success is one of the joys of shows like Minority Retort. It was sad to see it go during the pandemic, when stages for comedy went dark and stand-ups were left with grim options like Zoom stand-up, which took out comedy’s essential interactive element. (It’s hard to know if you’re killing if you can’t hear anyone laugh.)
But comedy is back (for now), and if you haven’t been to a stand-up show in a while, Minority Retort is an excellent place to start. Along with Julia Ramos, J. Jones and Chris Mejia, the show features co-headliners Dhaya Lakshminarayanan, who won the Liz Carpenter Political Humor Award in 2016, and Karinda Dobbins, who’s opened for everyone from Dave Chapelle to W. Kamau Bell.
8 p.m. Sept. 24; The Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave., Seattle; $17.77; therendezvous.strangertickets.com
Celebrate a DIY gallery
Tucked into a tiny one-room gallery on Beacon Hill, Soft Spot is a dreamy, intentionally crafted gallery space where you can page through lovely locally made zines, browse a curated rack of vintage clothes, and pick up a pair of sparkly rainbow April Zhang earrings or one of Coco Spadoni’s signature heavy-bottomed mugs covered in big splashes of bright color. From the sign out front printed in a curly font to a little pile of free zines inside, Soft Spot is a special place. It’s the kind of place where you can buy a zine and Venmo the artist who made it on the spot; if you care about supporting artists, it doesn’t get more direct than that.
So it was a sad day on Sept. 1 when Soft Spot announced on Instagram that the shop would be closing, two years after it first opened, with “a celebration of community, art & softness” in place of a glum fade-out. On Saturday, Sept. 25, from noon to 5 p.m., the space will be open for an everything-must-go sale and celebration. Attendees are required to wear masks and encouraged to wear pink.
“When we first got the keys to this special place … we were told we’d only have 6 months before ours and the surrounding buildings would be demolished,” wrote Soft Spot’s co-facilitators on Instagram. “When 6 months became 8, then one year, we couldn’t believe it.”
Even during the pandemic, Soft Spot managed to stay open, with clear masking and hand hygiene guidance. For those disinclined to go out, you can see the wide variety of work from artists the space has showcased on its website. Clicking through is a worthy treasure hunt in itself, from Elena Jacqueline’s moody landscapes and Natalie Dupille’s “Trendy Lacroix Flavors” (avocado, Advil candy) to Kelly Froh’s short comics zine Weeknight Casserole Collection and Marie Bouassi’s pandemic-themed line drawings.
“We are so proud of what we have been able to create with limited funds, space and resources … a profound testament to the power of community and how it shows up when you need it most,” wrote Soft Spot’s co-facilitators on Instagram. “In those earliest days as a brand new arts space we sought to collaborate with artists that possessed visions beyond what was imaginable in such a small space.”
They’ve more than fulfilled that mission.
Noon-5 p.m. Sept. 25; Soft Spot, 2544 Beacon Ave. S., Seattle; free; soft-spot.weebly.com
Catch the Northwest on Super 8mm
In a world of Instagram filters and perfectly edited YouTube videos, there’s something soft and lush about images pulled from Super 8mm film, especially when it captures the landscape of the Pacific Northwest — tiny roadside chapels, the curved stone of the bizarro Maryhill Stonehenge, gutted-looking midcentury sedans along the Green River, the heady green of Rattlesnake Lake, a massive stump amid the detritus of the logging industry.
You can see all these and more in Clyde Petersen’s new show, “Even Hell Has Its Heroes,” which opened Sept. 18 at J. Rinehart Gallery and stays up through Oct. 16. Petersen’s show isn’t just about the Northwest’s beautiful, strange and sometimes gloomy environs. For five years, Petersen worked with the band Earth, and turned it into a major subject. Using Super 8 film, the artist, filmmaker and musician created an experimental music documentary about the group, grounding it in Northwest surroundings. The images in “Even Hell Has Its Heroes” are drawn from that footage.
Petersen is one of those Northwest artists whose works feel both rarefied and DIY: They’ve shown at Portland’s Time-Based Art Festival and received numerous high-profile artist grants, but always contain an analog, punk-adjacent spirit, a chronicling of art and artists, and it’s always worth seeing in person.
Through Oct. 16; J. Rinehart Gallery, 319 Third Ave. S., Seattle; free; 206-467-4508, jrinehartgallery.com