Mo' Money

Hooray for government! The King County Arts Commission recently announced this year's funding recommendations in the Cultural Facilities program, the commission's single largest granting program. The awards, totaling $1,896,250, are spread out among 47 organizations, big and small, throughout King County. Among the largest awards were $400,000 to the Seattle Art Museum for its proposed sculpture park (Yay!); $125,000 to Artist Trust for a permanent space (Yay!); and $250,000 to the Seattle Center for its bloated, half-necessary Opera House renovation (Boo!). Notable smaller awards include $40,000 to Velocity Studios for a convertible 99-seat theater in its dance space in Oddfellows Hall; $21,000 to Freehold for its lobby and bathrooms (Ahhh!); $25,500 to Vashon Allied Arts to upgrade and improve the dance floor at its Blue Heron Arts Center; $18,000 to Northwest Film Forum for more filmmaking equipment; and $12,500 to Seattle Public Theatre for a lighting upgrade at the Bathhouse Theatre.

Sadly, the big winner in all this money-giving is undeniably the computer industry: awards dedicated to upgrades and acquisitions of various digital media equipment totaled $471,750, or 25% of the total take. The Pacific Northwest Ballet's new digital phone system alone carries a $90,000 price tag; while House of Dames redundant Video Editing Suite (911 Media Arts, WigglyWorld, and the Washington Commission for the Humanities each already have publicly available suites) cost $35,000. Is it really so hard to share? Or couldn't we persuade, oh, say, Microsoft to just give up their computer surplus? Anybody listening? JAMIE HOOK


Nick Licata's proposed spotlight on local films, to be presented as a festival highlight at this year's upcoming SIFF, has hit a small snag. It seems the mayor's office is objecting to the proposed title for the series: "They seemed to think 'Shooting in Seattle' conjured up too many images of guns and violence," a source close to Licata informs. "They are requesting that we change it." In Arts News suggests the new title "Murdering People on the Streets of our Fine City: The Film Festival." JAMIE HOOK

Pleased as Peep!

Congratulations to the winners of The Stranger's first annual PEEP short film festival. The festival was a smash success, selling out almost every one of its six shows. The judges awarded Rob Cunningham's elegant, hilarious The Devices of Gustav Braustache first place, followed by Neill Barham's twisted documentary 52 Tigers on a Ten Acre Ranch in second. Brady Hall's brilliant period piece Jean Jacket came in third. Audience awards went to Aaron Bourget's Extra Credit in first place, followed by Jean Jacket and Gustav Braustache. Thanks to everyone who helped make this a great event, and bottoms up to next year!!! JAMIE HOOK

R.I.P. Balthus

On February 18, the artist Balthasar Klossowski died at his home in Switzerland at the ripe old age of 92. He was better known as Balthus, and although he painted in many genres over the course of his long career, he is most remembered for his works depicting young girls in various suggestive tableaux. One painting, The Guitar Lesson, shows a half-naked girl bent over the lap of a woman, in a pose that recalls the classical Pietà; in a February 20 article, Michael Kimmelman noted that this image is still considered too risqué for The New York Times to reproduce--this, in an era of Serrano's Piss Christ and the Chapman brothers' generously distributed penises. Balthus the artist leaves us this legacy, and we'll also miss Balthus the man--cantankerous, snobbish, hypocritical, utterly European. EMILY HALL