EverOut's Top Picks for Spring 2023 Arts Events in Seattle
Our Top Performance, Visual Art, Literary, Film, and Music Picks for the Season
Pacific Northwest Ballet Pushes Itself to the Limits with Boundless
Person of Interest: Rohini Jayanthi
Laughing Through Life’s Hardships
Obsessed by Northwest
Why David Schmader Watched Every Single Movie Ever Filmed in Washington and Oregon
The Flood Is Coming
Jónsi’s Multisensory Exhibition Will Hit You Like a Wave
The Stranger's A+P Is Back
The Most Comprehensive Guide to the Spring Arts Season Returns Online and in Print
Solaris Is About a Black Woman
Will Book-It Repertory Theatre’s Adaptation Catch What Others Have Missed?
Person of Interest: Kevin Sur
Heading into the Wild
Floating on a Sea of Vapors
Emily Counts’s Surreal Sculptures Capture Women’s Magical Powers
Person of Interest: Josh Okrent & CM Ruiz
Bringing Life to Seattle’s Vacant Spaces
Good as Hell
Legendary Drone Band Earth Finally Receives Their Hero’s Welcome
Bananas Are Creepy Yellow Fingers Full of Blood
A New Poetry Collection Tells the Whole Story
Josh Okrent and CM Ruiz have been making something out of Seattle’s nothing for more than five years. The founder of the Punk Rock Flea Market and director of the traveling art gallery Nii Modo, respectively, joined forces in 2017 and have since transformed at least half a dozen buildings caught in development limbo into temporary but vital art centers with the primary focus of serving local, underrepresented, and inexperienced artists.
They’ve hosted pop-up art shows and concerts in the old Big Wheel Auto Parts shop on Stone Way and anything-goes flea markets at the Promenade Red Apple Market on 23rd Avenue. They even tried to make good use of the Seven Seas building, aka the Lusty Lady, on Second Avenue.
“It’s an incredible building—six stories tall, right on the waterfront, with a million little nooks and crannies,” said Okrent. “But no matter how much we put into it, we just couldn’t make it safe for large public events. The fire department shut that one down before we got too far along.”
Their current home is the old Bartell Drugs space on Third Avenue. From those headquarters, they plan to run the spring installment of Punk Rock Flea Market from April 1–2 and the three-day music festival, RX Fest, from April 14–16.
“We’re not able to have bands and a market simultaneously at the current space, so we’re staging a separate concert in support of PRFM with a truly amazing lineup,” says Okrent. “Lots of incredible local bands—Elvis Batchild, Appaloosa, Land of Wolves, Beautiful Freaks. Two stages, all ages, and just $30 for a three-day pass.”
Does this mean downtown Seattle is alive and well? I had to find out.
How much work goes into prepping a new space, especially one as big as the old Bartell’s? That’s a lot of square footage!
Josh: It can vary widely. The current Bartell’s space is huge, but it was a relatively easy build-out. Bartell’s was apparently a really responsible tenant and left us a nice clean shell to work with. The old Red Apple space at 23rd and Jackson nearly killed us. We had to strip out all of the old grocery shelving, decommission the refrigerators, bring in power and water, and strip decades worth of food grime from the floors... We worked around the clock for five weeks. It was basically endless. We survived it thanks to an incredible outpouring of volunteer support, but I don’t think we would ever take on a project like that again.
CM, you’ve made killer show posters for hundreds of bands, from Murder City Devils to Pussy Riot. Your work has even been on the cover of The Stranger! Is there a band you’ve been dying to design for but haven’t yet?
CM: I’ve had my work on two Stranger covers! I want to design albums for more grown-up music. I love garage rock, but I listen to a lot more than that. R&B. Jazz. You know those iconic Blue Note Records covers using collage and typography? It would be amazing to be part of a series like that. If Keith Sweat, Earth, Wind & Fire, or Sudan Archives need a new album cover, I hope they call me.
People have been debating downtown’s status for years. It’s dead. It’s coming back. It’s dying again. It’s alive again. Which is it?
Josh: We’re loving the new and improved Seattle. This strange post-COVID moment where people feel safe to come outside but sick of working from a downtown cubicle is a rare opportunity to bring some DIY action back into the center of Seattle where it belongs. We both remember a time when central Seattle had cheap living and unpredictable art and great concert venues. We would do anything to have the OK Hotel back. I don’t mind one bit saying adios to Nike Town if it means we get the 2023 equivalent of 619 Western.
CM: We can see the future from the epicenter of the Urban Doom Loop. It looks hopeful.
Visit punkrockfleamarketseattle.com and follow Nii Modo on Instagram at @niimodo for the latest event listings.