21 Best Things To Do in Seattle in August 2019

Our handpicked list of the best bets for entertainment this month
  • Our handpicked list of the best bets for entertainment this month
Seattle dancer Mikhail Calliste will perform a solo work at Festival: Festival

This article appears in print in the August 2019 issue. Click here to subscribe.

Artists’ mission statements can now and then get a little, well…jargony, but David Rue—one of the curators for this second annual gathering of artists from historically underrepresented communities—came up with an admirably straightforward rationale. This mixed-discipline arts festival, held at Northwest Film Forum and at Amplifier, is, he says, “interested in how each artist’s work exists as a portrait of the world they want to live in and how/why these portraits of desire differ from the world we’re in now.” This directness bodes well for the work we’ll see from choreographer/performance artist Alice Gosti, transgender animator Clyde Petersen, QTPOC soul/hip-hop artist CarLarans, and many others; expect that work to be equally direct, compelling and hard-hitting. Times and locations vary. Free. festivalfestival.art

Seattle Design Festival
“Balance” is the theme of this year’s feast of design-related tours, exhibits, outdoor installations, activities, interactive workshops and more, taking place all over Seattle. At festival HQ, the Center for Architecture & Design, don’t miss the current exhibit of artist duo Duffy De Armas and Stefan Hofmann, who collaborate as Electric Coffin, with their own particular definition of balance in Discover + Disrupt, on view now through 8/31. Times, prices and venues vary. designinpublic.org

Co-presenting socially committed theater both here and in NYC since 2017, Really Really Theatre Group stages Duncan Macmillan’s play in which a couple asks the eternal question: Do we really want to bring a baby into this f***ed-up world? (It was written in 2011. Imagine how Macmillan would answer today.) Times and prices vary. 12th Avenue Arts, Capitol Hill, 1620 12th Ave.; 206.325.5015; really-really.org

SAM Remix
When the sun stays up late and the temp stays warm, you want to get outside on a summer evening and take advantage of it. The Seattle Art Museum knows this, and provides live entertainment and dancing in its sculpture park as further incentive. While there, check out the PACCAR Pavilion’s current exhibit: Brazilian artist Regina Silveira’s “Octopus Wrap” installation; she’s laid enormous tire tracks around the pavilion’s walls. Vroom vroom! 8 p.m. Prices vary. Olympic Sculpture Park, downtown, 2901 Western Ave.; 206.654.3100; seattleartmuseum.org

Rita Hayworth in Gilda, screening August 10 at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Dressed to the Nines: Cinema Style
Through 8/24
Rear Window may be Hitchcock’s most eminently rewatchable masterpiece, but why would SIFF include it in this series about fashion in movies? Well, Grace Kelly’s character (who is Jimmy Stewart’s intrepid assistant as he tries to solve a murder—or is it murder?) is a fashion editor. Close enough for me. Also screening in this delish lineup: 42nd Street (8/3), Gilda (8/10) and The Women (8/17). Times TBA. $15. SIFF Cinema Uptown, Lower Queen Anne, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N; 206.464.5830

There are a lot of directions in which you can take Verdi’s tangled tragedy: Power corrupts, but so does an obsession with revenge; the powerless are mistreated, particularly women. Seattle Opera, which lately has steered its summer productions toward hot-button issues rather than escapism (Madame Butterfly, 2017; Porgy and Bess, 2018), will explore them all. Times and prices vary. McCaw Hall, Seattle Center, 321 Mercer St.; 206.389.7676; seattleopera.org

Seattle Asian American Film Festival Summer Series
It’s not only a great family movie, Pixar’s Up is probably the ideal first-date movie, in that if your new squeeze doesn’t cry at the opening flashback montage, dump that sociopath. Jordan Nagai voices the eager-beaver scout who accompanies Ed Asner’s curmudgeon on a South American adventure (8/24). Also screening: Crazy Rich Asians (8/3), Iron Monkey (8/10) and another animated adventure, Mirai (8/17). 7:30 p.m. (films start at sundown). Free. Hing Hay Park, Chinatown–International District, 423 Maynard Ave. S; seattleaaff.org

Michelle Liu
The 2015 release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman shocked millions with its revelation of an ugly side to possibly the most beloved hero in American literature—and shocked again when it became clear that Watchman was less a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird than a first draft. Scout’s disillusionment with her idealized father reflected readers’ own, and University of Washington English professor Liu follows up on this in her talk “The End of Atticus Finch?” 6:30 p.m. Free. Shoreline Public Library, 345 NE 175th St.; 206.362.7550; kcls.org

Growing up in the ’50s in Boonville, California—a town so isolated, it has its own dialect—the title character in Eisa Davis’ play is far removed from the agony of the civil rights movement. Until, that is, a girl from Alabama arrives to shake up Bulrusher’s world. The third show of Intiman’s season, warmly humorous and drenched in local color, including a lot of Boonville vocabulary, is directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton. Times and prices vary. Floyd and Delores Jones Playhouse, University District, 4045 University Way; 206.441.7178; intiman.org

Blondie performs with Elvis Costello on August 10 at Chateau Ste. Michelle. Photo by Alexander Thompson

Outdoor Concerts 
Through 8/28
Have you not heard any music outside yet this summer? You have one month left, and you know how August flies by. Though there are plenty of options all month at each venue, consider these best bets: Sub Pop indie darlings Wolf Parade (8/2. 5:30 p.m. Free. Mural Amphitheater, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.; 206.684.7200; seattlecenter.com), classic crooner Lionel Richie (8/20. 6:30 p.m. Prices vary. Marymoor Park, Redmond, 6046 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy.; 888.929.7849; marymoorconcerts.com), a new wave double bill of Elvis Costello and Blondie (8/10. 6:30 p.m. Prices vary. Chateau Ste. Michelle, Woodinville, 14111 NE 145th St.; 425.488.1133; ste-michelle.com) or still-got-it ’80s acts A Flock of Seagulls, Wang Chung and others (8/28. 6 p.m. Prices vary. Woodland Park Zoo, Phinney Ridge, 5500 Phinney Ave. N; 206.548.2500; zoo.org) 

“The Piranhas” by Gregory Blackstock, one of the artists whose work will be featured at the Seattle Art Fair

Fair Fare
Highlights of the fifth annual Seattle Art Fair
Beloved by amateur collectors in centuries past were cabinets of curiosities called Wunderkammern, cases “that displayed artifacts garnered and pilfered from across the seven seas,” explains Nato Thompson, artistic director of the Seattle Art Fair. Collections such as these, the intersections of wonder and exploration, are the primary inspiration for this year’s international art gathering, the first since the death of founder Paul G. Allen last October. One realization of this curatorial style will be the charmingly detailed visual compendia, displayed on four large banners, by local favorite Gregory Blackstock, who is represented by Greg Kucera Gallery. Interactive touchstones include an installation from performance artist Bread Face, at the forefront of the YouTube-driven interest in autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)—performance art that literally sends shivers down your spine—and an artificial intelligence storytelling exhibit by Brooklyn-based Stephanie Dinkins that draws from her own family history. 8/1–8/4. Times and prices vary. CenturyLink Field Event Center, Pioneer Square, 1000 Occidental Ave. S; 212.518.6912; seattleartfair.com

Morgan Thorson
You’ve heard the phrase “dance of death”; well, Minneapolis-based choreographer Thorson has devised Still Life, a work in the which the dance itself “dies” as she asks the dancers to, as she puts it, “both survive and undermine the dance…by erasing material with each repetition.” Times and prices vary. Base: Experimental Arts + Space, 6520 Fifth Ave. S; thisisbase.org

Michelle Peñaloza
8/10, 8/12
Visiting from her home in northern California, Filipina author Peñaloza gathers a group of artists, both literary and musical, for two readings/celebrations of the August release of her debut poetry collection, Former Possessions of the Spanish Empire: 8/10, 7 p.m., free; Massive Monkees Studio, Chinatown–International District, 664 S King St., 206.633.0811, openpoetrybooks.com. 8/12, 7 p.m., free; Elliott Bay Book Company, Capitol Hill, 1521 10th Ave., 206.624.6600, elliottbaybook.com

See New York-based dancer and choreographer Michelle Boulé at the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation. Photo by Ian Douglas

Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation
Velocity Dance Center’s week of master classes and workshops, which draws instructors and students from all over the country, peaks with the “Day of Dance Innovators,” presenting performances and conversations open to the public, with a 6 p.m. dance showcase. 9 a.m.–10:30 p.m. Prices vary. Broadway Performance Hall, Capitol Hill, 1625 Broadway Ave.; 206.325.8773; velocitydancecenter.org

Performers at Port Townsend’s inaugural Thing Festival will include De La Soul. Courtesy of STG

Festivals Farther Afield
Venture just beyond Seattle for outdoor gatherings that make the most of summer
8/7–8/12: Doe Bay Festival
Camp out, commune with nature and enjoy music on multiple stages (there’s an open mic on Thursday also) at this annual indie music festival on jewel-like Orcas Island. With Tune Yards, Tree People, Navvi and more. Times and prices vary. Doe Bay Resort & Retreat, Olga, 107 Doe Bay Road; doebay.com

8/30–9/1: Oak Harbor Music Festival
Celebrate with this Whidbey Island community, enjoying arts and crafts, food and drink, a teen talent contest and two music stages, all for free. With Jamestown Revival, LeRoy Bell & His Only Friends and more. Times vary. Free. Oak Harbor Music Festival, SE Pioneer Way, Oak Harbor; oakharborfestival.com

8/10–9/8: Olympic Music Fest
Informal chamber music is performed each Saturday and Sunday; if you can only get out to Port Townsend once, hear Schubert’s epic and heart-wrenching Cello Quintet in C Major on August 10 or an intimate arrangement of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” on August 24 or August 25. 2 p.m. Prices vary. Fort Worden State Park, 25 Eisenhower Ave., Port Townsend; olympicmusicfestival.org

8/24–8/25: Thing
Adam Zacks, founder and programmer of the Sasquatch! music festival, which ended its 17-year run last summer, has put together a lavish lineup for the debut of this more grown-up replacement. On the bill are the Violent Femmes, Jeff Tweedy, John C. Reilly, Lindy West, Natasha Lyonne, Kate Wallich, “Napoleon Dynamite Live!” with Jon Heder and scads more. 1 p.m. Prices vary. Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, 200 Battery Way; stgpresents.org

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