Richard Waugh: In Memorium

Richard Waugh died of a heart attack the weekend of January 13. I was quite close to Richard, not necessarily as a social friend, but as a working friend, which is much more intimate. He was the designer for a number of theater pieces I worked on last year: Zelda & Scott, Silence!, Local Union 608, Beyond Belief. But I am already doing Richard a disservice by implying that he merely designed sets. He was also an actor and dancer, with a 15-year history of work in Seattle.

Richard was the most generously excitable collaborator I have ever had the pleasure of working with. His energy--infectious, sincere, and at times utterly incomprehensible--managed to permeate every moment. It was the purity of play with him. He demanded attention, sometimes quite childishly, but by giving it, one was inevitably drawn into a holy, delirious place of fantasy that always yielded tremendous work. Once he designed a bellhop costume with feathers glued all over it. Of course, it didn't make it on stage, but it was one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

"Tell me if this is crazy," he used to say, "I'm seeing umbrellas all across the back of the stage." He never seemed out of ideas. Some were brilliant, some were abysmal, but he always had the courage to throw them at you. He would pencil out smears and show them to you as if you could see with perfect, colorized clarity what was in his head. Richard loved drapery and tapestry and gold and silver. "Don't leave me alone with a can of gold spray paint," he once told me. I did, and he made my play better.

Most of all, Richard was compassionate. Actors are vain; writers are needy; and directors are usually in a foul mood. Richard was always watching other people's faces to see how they were feeling, always noticing. I will miss working with Richard so much that I know my heart will break many, many more times, every time I see a cutout paper star hanging on a dark stage. Richard loved stars. He is certainly one to me. JAMIE HOOK


Stolen Painting Redux

Gloria Cropper was excited when she was given the opportunity to hang her paintings at the Art Bar, a popular nightspot on Second Ave--but now she says she'll never show at a public bar or cafe again. That's because one of Cropper's paintings was stolen, some time in the wee hours of January 6, and Cropper has no recourse. Someone lifted her 24- by 30-inch painting, along with its frame, and simply walked out. Although the Art Bar has six surveillance cameras, all six were turned off at the time the painting was stolen! Furthermore, the nightclub's insurance sports a $1,000 deductible, and Cropper's painting was priced at $1,250.

With the recent rash of art stolen from public venues around town, Cropper advises artists to double-check the insurance policy of the establishment they're showing at. Have the venue sign a contract iterating its liability. Ask if surveillance is on 24 hours. Arts News recommends locking work to the wall with heavy hooks and cables. "A lot of people in Seattle love to put their stuff up in cafes and coffee shops," Cropper says, "but for now I'm just going to stick to galleries." That could mean a lot of boring, blank cafe walls for the rest of us. TRACI VOGEL


Stupid, Stupid President

And, finally, Arts News is terrified to report that the winner of Dennis Loy Johnson's 2000 Moby Award for idiotic happenings in the world of literature (published on www.the-idler.com) went to George W. Bush, for "picking as his favorite childhood book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which was published the year after he graduated from Yale." Oh, well: He was still young and stupid. TRACI VOGEL

artsnews@thestranger.com

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