DEAR FOLKS: I would like to nominate the wonderful LB Morse for the theater artist Genius Award. He is the most amazing lighting/set designer that Seattle has. He deserves this prestigious award.
HEY THERE: My vote is for Itzatomic Darling, AKA Ana Saskia, whom as you know was one of your Pizzazz! talent show winners a few years back. If I ever saw a genius in human flesh then she is it. She is unpredictable, gorgeous, and has the voice of an angel.
TO THE STRANGER: I am writing to nominate David Russo for this year's Stranger Genius Award in film. Beyond being named one of last year's "25 new faces of independent film" by Filmmaker magazine, one needs only to check out Mr. Russo's four-minute masterpiece, Pan with Us, to know that Seattle has a true visionary quietly slaving away in his Wedgwood basement.
Pan with Us has won awards from Sundance to first place at Seattle's One Reel film festival. His previous opus Populi has found equal success and is currently playing at Qwest Field (formerly Seahawks Stadium) on a continuous loop. This year has found Mr. Russo in the most productive phase of his career thus far. He has completed his first live-action narrative feature, Number 2, which has been read at Seattle's Screenwriters Salon and is being workshopped through 911 Media Arts Center.
Unlike most artists who have experienced his level of success, David has chosen to stay in the Seattle area, and, as we all know, film-project funding is scarce. I personally feel Seattle has yet to embrace David, one of its filmmaking gems, as fully as the rest of the country and world has. A Stranger Genius Award would be a well-appreciated opportunity for David to further express his strange and beautiful vision. You would get your money's worth, and then some.
EDITOR: I'd like to nominate the Service Board for the organizational award. Director Thomas Goldstein has been molding local high schoolers into leaders for seven years now through a combination of community service and snowboarding. A truly brilliant group. Please check them out: (www.theserviceboard.org).
HEY! Nick Garrison! I have just seen Hedwig for the second time and I have NEVER seen anyone give as much of their soul, be as inventive, or all-around stunning as Nick is in this show! I nominate him for the Genius Theater Artist Award!
DEAR STRANGER: I wanted to bring a graphic artist to your attention for the upcoming genius awards. His name is Tom Eykemans. He graduated from the UW with a degree in graphic design a few years ago. His steady job is working at the UW Medical Center designing charts and graphs, but this last year he decided to start his own company, which he does on the side for now, Eyecomma Design (www.eyecomma.com). He has done a lot of free work for theater groups and projects as well as designing concert posters and CDs for bands just starting up. He often submits his work to contests and as a result had a project on display with other artists in the Museum of Arts & Design in NYC. I feel that Tom deserves some recognition for what he has done and that this award will keep him motivated and in Seattle.
STRANGER: No list of Seattle geniuses would be complete without the estimable Mathew Smucker, scenic-design artist extraordinaire. Larger-than-life Kitchen Counter, rotating box with doors, L.A.-freeway inspired living room, the boy can flat-out bring it.
Scott Koh SEMIH TAREEN
TO THE EDITORS: Please consider Mr. Semih Tareen for your Genius Award. I collaborated with Semih on two short films projects we filmed here in the Seattle area.
Tareen created musical scores for both of them. Originally from Turkey, Semih is a talented musician and a biochemist. His passion for film and music is authentic, and inspiring. It is remarkable how he continues to create film scores with ease despite very little production resources, without any financial interest, and with a fulltime job in the biotech industry.
Tareen's contributions to the local film scene are considerable. He is worthy of your attention.
TO THE EDS: One organization doing amazing work is Bent, a queer writing institute. Bent has been, according to their website, "promoting and encouraging written and spoken word among LGBTQ people and in our community since 2000." Bent has had showcases featuring Bent writers and guest artists, including well-known spoken word artists like Michelle Tea, Justin Chin, and Ivan E. Coyote. Bent is run by Tara Hardy, a well-known queer writer. The work being done by Bent as a whole and Tara as an individual are vital to the queer arts community in Seattle.