• Kelly O
At 9:30 this morning, it was chilly, a woman on the sidewalk urgently needed to use my phone to make a call about a broken condom and a bank account, and when we finally got inside Bedlam Coffee, I was pretty sure I saw a big painting of Britney Spears on the wall—at that moment, the Stranger Genius Cake Committee arrived, totally throwing off the otherwise imperturbably gentle DK Pan by informing him that he's this year's Genius in Visual Art.

"What?" he said softly. "Really? What?" He stared at the QFC sheet cake—our delivery vehicle each year that lets the Genius winners know they've won.

  • 'Really?'
Our other four Geniuses—in film, music, theater, and books—will be announced in the coming hours here on Slog, and MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THE PARTY ON SEPTEMBER 16 AT THE MOORE THEATRE, because it's a giant great party with Wild Orchid Children and Wheedle's Groove playing. (Remember last year with Shabazz Palaces and THEE Satisfaction and those headdresses by Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes?)

About Pan. He's not a standard visual artist. He doesn't show in galleries and museums, but just about every time you look behind the scenes of a great, community-based, interdisciplinary project, there he is.

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The cake decorators misheard and wrote Youre a second Genius rather than Youre a frickin Genius (our standard language every year), so all the cakes had to be redone this morning.
  • Kelly O
  • The cake decorators misheard and wrote "You're a second Genius" rather than "You're a frickin' Genius" (our standard language every year), so all the cakes had to be redone this morning.
He organized the wildly beautiful, wildly sad memorial to the Bridge Motel in 2007. He co-founded Free Sheep Foundation, which placed artists and installations in abandoned buildings from Belltown to the University District, as well as staging the multimedia spectacle at the Moore Theatre in 2009. He curates the red wall surrounding the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station construction site. Through all this, he performs and creates his own work, with a background in Butoh and installation. And all this despite this insane FBI nonsense.

He's an artist the city is damn lucky to have, but one who'd never think of himself as a genius—he's humble as hell. At the low-income senior housing facility in Belltown where he lives and works, he passed out the cake this afternoon. They all ate it together, most of them wondering whose birthday it was.

Here's more info on the awards and how to donate to the Genius cause. Remember: Friday, September 16. Celebrate these artists with us! More Genius surprises to come...

2021 Earshot Jazz Festival – In-Person and Livestream options through Nov 6
Presenting artists that convey the social and creative complexities of our times