See three giant spheres made out of different materials by local artist Taiji Miyasaka at Circum•ambience, opening Sunday.
Our music critics have already chosen the 31 best music shows this week, but now it's our arts critics' turn to recommend the best events in their areas of expertise. Here are their picks in every genre—from the Seattle Wine and Food Experience to Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's reading of Sketchtasy, and from the Seattle Asian American Film Festival to Seattle Cake Con. See them all below, and find even more events on our complete Things To Do calendar.

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Jump to: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday

MONDAY

COMEDY

Fred Armisen: Comedy for Musicians but Everyone Is Welcome
Few people are better positioned than Fred Armisen to mine the problematic vector where humor intersects with music. As cocreator of Portlandia with Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein and a 16-year member of Saturday Night Live, the current bandleader of Late Night with Seth Meyers has honed a chameleonic acting style and a vast repertoire of impressions that are nuanced and hilarious. The former Trenchmouth drummer and dabbler with parody groups such as the Blue Jean Committee and Ian Rubbish & the Bizzaros draws on decades of experience on the touring circuit and countless hours of rehearsals and stage time to crack your ass up with his acute observations about musicians’ peccadillos. DAVE SEGAL

PERFORMANCE

Everybody
This show looks like a fun mess. At the beginning of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins's Pulitzer-shortlisted revival of a 15th-century morality play, none of the actors know which role they're going to play. Actors playing the characters God and Death randomly select the roles for the other actors, and the show gets underway. Ben Brantley at the New York Times called the first run "self-consciously whimsical and repetitive," but he didn't seem to say it in a mean way. Strawberry Theatre Workshop's production features some actors who are good on their feet—Justin Huertas, Lamar Legend, MJ Sieber—and so I have every confidence that they'll be able to turn this "work in progress," to use Brantley's terms, into an exuberant romp about the inevitability of death. RICH SMITH

Haters Roast: The Shady Tour
Eight delightfully venomous queens from the VH1 reality show will wield their tongues against choice targets like politics, media, and each other.

READINGS & TALKS

Mia Ayumi Malhotra: Isako Isako
In her debut collection of poetry, Isako Isako (Alice James Books), recent UW grad Mia Ayumi Malhotra combines primary documentation and stories from her own family history to map out the connections between four generations of Japanese American women. In describing and working through the horrors of internment and the pains of inherited trauma, Malhotra employs paradoxical turn after paradoxical turn to reveal that sense of alienation and yet deep affinity we feel with our own past. She balances all the emotional and mental gymnastics with bold, clear, genuinely surprising imagery, which creates the sensation of feeling grounded, but in a cloud. She'll read with local poetry all-stars Gabrielle Bates and Jane Wong. RICH SMITH

MONDAY-THURSDAY

FILM

Noir City
The 2019 edition of this excellent annual festival features classic films, many of them newly restored. It closes with the underappreciated race noir Odds Against Tomorrow, which has one of the creepiest racist scenes in all of cinema. It happens like this: White ex-con Earle (Robert Ryan) is walking down a city street. Birds are in the air and children are playing on the sidewalk. One of them, a black girl, accidentally bumps into Earle. He picks her up and says to her small and confused face: “Hey, you little pickaninny, you are going to kill yourself flying like that.” The girl smiles weakly; he smiles wickedly, puts her back down, and walks into the seedy Hotel Juno. What makes the scene so creepy is not so much that he calls the girl a pickaninny, but that he talks to her in the way one usually does to a dog or a cat. Earle can’t see the human in the black girl, but only a lower, dim animal. This unsettling scene sets us up for the bad news Earle is about to receive from the planner of a bank heist: He has to work with a black man, Johnny (Harry Belafonte). Earle hates black people. He wants nothing to do with them. But he needs the money, and the heist will not work without the decoy of a black man. The ending of this film is a full-blown race apocalypse. CHARLES MUDEDE

MONDAY-SUNDAY

FOOD & DRINK

Li'l Woody's Burger Month
As part of their yearly Burger Month collaboration, Li'l Woody's has assembled a crack lineup of four local chefs to each create their weekly burger specials for February. This week features the "Kamonegi Burger" with a seared duck/chicken patty, duck egg, arugula, Yuzu kewpie mayo, and charcoal bun from chef Mutsuko Soma of Kamonegi (through Mon) and the "Deli Burger" with Painted Hills grass fed beef, pastrami, sliced red onions, iceberg lettuce, spicy kosher pickle, Russian dressing, cream cheese Mornay, and an everything spiced bun from chef Mitch Mayers of Lark (Tues-Sun).

TUESDAY

READINGS & TALKS

Jean Godden: Citizen Jean
In her book Citizen Jean, Seattle writer and city councilmember Jean Godden shares her perspectives on the World's Fair, the citizen-led battle against freeways, the fight to keep Pike Place Market Seattle-owned, and other significant Seattle events. 

TUESDAY-SATURDAY

VISUAL ART

Dealer's Choice: Our 58th Annual Group Exhibition
Check out a diverse collection of new and recently acquired works by prominent Northwestern artists Victoria Adams, Guy Anderson, Richard Gilkey, Jacob Lawrence, David Kroll, George & Gerard Tsutakawa, and many others. 
Closing Saturday

James Martin: Riding the Moon Train
Circus denizens, anthropomorphic animals, and mythical beings populate James Martin's art. Martin was born in 1928 in Everett and has been creating these whimsical scenes for decades. This exhibition will include selections from his lengthy career.
Closing Saturday

Sanctuary: Design for Belonging
The winners of the "Displaced: Design for Inclusive Cities" reveal their ideas for solving the problems facing immigrant and refugee communities and the urban areas that welcome them. The exhibition is organized along the themes of  "Social innovation, Shelter, Resource Hubs, Gathering Spaces, and Story Telling" and seeks to draw attention to the 60 million people who have been driven from their homes.
Closing Saturday

TUESDAY-SUNDAY

VISUAL ART

Vishavjit Singh: Wham! Bam! Pow!: Cartoons, Turbans, and Confronting Hate
New York–based artist Vishavjit Singh’s most recent series, Wham! Bam! Pow!—which came about after the horrific and deadly 2012 attack on a Sikh gurdwara in Wisconsin—features a turban-wearing superhero who fights bigotry and hatred. Singh, who himself is Sikh, uses cartoons and humor to confront and challenge the extreme prejudices leveled against communities that have become targets of discrimination and fear in post-9/11 America. Singh is the superhero we all need in these trying times. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Closing Sunday

WEDNESDAY

PERFORMANCE

Las Culturistas
Frequently cited on "Best-of" podcast rosters, Las Culturistas is the brainchild of Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang, who invite special guests to rail and riff on pop culture for one minute. For enthusiasts of the local stand-up and improv scenes, the lineup is spectacular: Monisa Brown, Graham Downing, Taya Beattie, Andy Iwancio, Mandy Price, and many many more. 

READINGS & TALKS

WordsWest 41: Tara Hardy & Michele Bombardier
Poets Tara Hardy—whose work tends to explore the impact of trauma and illness on our bodies and creative selves—and Michele Bombardier—author of What We Do—will share the stage for a night of live readings. They promise to read a poem by high-schooler Mihna Born and provide you with a writing prompt so you can do some scribbling yourself. 

WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY

VISUAL ART

Fay Jones and Robert C. Jones: In Tandem
Fay Jones is known for her monumental Westlake Station mural, for her Joan Mitchell Grant in 2013, and for her evasion of overt symbolism in favor of playful figurative allusions. Her husband Robert C. Jones, who passed away on December 23, was another titan of the Seattle art scene: His colorful gestural abstractions are embedded with Matissean black lines, and are a pleasure to look at. This exhibition features the artists' collaborative work. 
Closing Saturday

Gurvich Contemporary Artist: Carolina Caycedo
London-born Carolina Caycedo, whose parents are Colombian, lives in Los Angeles and produces environmentally and politically engaged public art projects in many countries. Her work has also been seen in numerous biennials such as Venice, Whitney, Berlin, and Sao Paulo. Here, she'll be involving the public in projects related to Be Dammed, her ongoing reflection on the interconnectedness of waters and the freeing of waterways from dams. In addition to giving a lecture, she'll lead museum visitors in an improvised dance with handmade fishing nets on Saturday.
Closing Saturday

WEDNESDAY-SUNDAY

COMEDY

Seattle Festival of Improv Theatre
Rejoice in the local, national, and even international improv scenes with potentially more than a hundred performers in a couple dozen groups, all of whom share a love for making up stories onstage.

PERFORMANCE

Alien/Angel
As it turns out, Klaus Nomi wasn't just the singer in a viral video you may have seen in college! He was a new-wave vaudevillian with a soprano that could melt the heart of even the heaviest of heavy metal rockers in the 1980s. (If you were out of the loop, look up the song "Lightning Strikes" on YouTube.) He was a fixture in New York's underground music scene, and his German expressionist wardrobes, incredible facility with makeup, and operatic synths had a big influence on David Bowie and the Talking Heads. In Alien/Angel, Devin Bannon will bring this larger-than-life character back to the stage, with help from Annastasia Workman on piano and Kathy Moore on guitar. Boylesque dancer Waxie Moon is running the choreography for Bannon's two backup dancers, and Keira MacDonald will direct. Enjoy this tale of a queer icon alongside a menu of pastry and pies, a nod to Nomi's talent for baking. RICH SMITH

American Junkie
In his book American Junkie, Seattle memoirist Tom Hansen presented his no-bullshit, matter-of-fact account of heroin addiction, self-destruction, and eventual recovery in the 1990s. According to press materials, Jane Jones and Kevin McKeon's adaptation of his story for the stage will be "a ride through Seattle’s music scene during the grunge era." No doubt Hansen's story will also resonate with people living through the current ravages of the opioid crisis. RICH SMITH

Bonbon
The slinky dancers of Pike Place's kitschy cabaret return with another tasty show. Ever wanted to ogle athletic dancers twirling from chandeliers inches from your face? Go. There's also a family-friendly brunch version that you can guiltlessly take your out-of-town relatives to.

Hollywood & Vine
Enjoy a vintage and magic-filled tribute to Tinseltown with the 20-year-old circus troupe Teatro ZinZanni as they perform in their new Woodinville space.

I Do! I Do!
Get ready to weep nostalgic tears at the Village Theatre's production of a multiple Tony Award-winning musical by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, which portrays 50 years of a loving marriage.

THURSDAY

FILM

The Magic Lantern of Ingmar Bergman
Swedish visionary film director Ingmar Bergman would have been 100 this year. His deeply introspective, unabashedly emotional, despairing yet strangely life-affirming oeuvre will once again be onscreen at Seattle Art Museum (in association with the Nordic Museum). On tap this week: the director's interpretation of the Mozart opera The Magic Flute. JOULE ZELMAN

Nocturnal Emissions
Local horror queen Isabella Price will host this series of classic slashers and supernatural chillers with a burlesque performance before every screening. This week brings the landmark black indie horror film Ganja & Hess. Each night also will feature special treats like body part gummies or a pillow fight.

FOOD & DRINK

Zymurgy Beer Series: Weird Fermentation
At this first event in The Stranger’s new Zymurgy Beer Series, discover what happens when Washington’s most subversive brewers embrace the unpredictability of weird fermentation. Find out why Machine House Brewing’s Bill Arnott employs the historic open fermentation of English ales, how Fremont’s Adam Paysse of Floodland Brewing makes some of the country’s most expressive beer, and how Amber Watts and Ron Extract of Bellingham’s Garden Path Fermentation use the wild yeast of Skagit Valley. Tickets for this first Zymurgy event sold out in eight minutes, but maybe your friend bought an extra ticket and will hook it up. Or you could just wait to buy tickets to the second and third Zymurgy events in March and April, at Cloudburst Brewing and Reuben's Brews, respectively. LESTER BLACK

READINGS & TALKS

Feminism and the Body: A Reading and Conversation with Sophia Shalmiyev and Claire Dederer
Portland-based writer Sophia Shalmiyev (out with her debut memoir Mother Winter) and local writer Claire Dederer (author of Love and Trouble) will talk feminism, the body, motherhood, and other overlapping themes in their work.

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore: Sketchtasy
Sketchtasy is the latest offering from Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, author of approximately one million essays and stories and books, including the Lambda Award-winning memoir, The End of San Francisco. Like that book, this novel features a radical queer character dealing with profound loss and isolation from community. Unlike that book, Sketchtasy is a work of fiction set on the opposite side of the country during the tail end of the AIDS crisis. And instead of reflecting on a failed dream of a queer utopia, the main character is living in a crumbling one, though not one divorced from the ecstasy of K-holes and coke binges. Alexander Chee praises the book as "bold, glittering, wise," while Sarah Schulman praises Sycamore's "complete command of craft." Expect formal innovation, expect drugs, expect lots of colors. RICH SMITH

THURSDAY-SATURDAY

PERFORMANCE

Mark Morris Dance Group
Superb choreographer and Seattle native Mark Morris and company will perform works including Dancing Honeymoon, set to happy '30s and '40s music; Numerator, danced to Lou Harrison's "Varied Trio"; and The Trout, choreographed to Schubert's Trout Quintet.

VISUAL ART

Anna Mlasowsky: Noon
At the beginning of January, glass artist Anna Mlasowsky began her residency-style solo exhibition that involves making crystals and inviting the public to help her in creating her beautiful glass objects. And in February, the German artist will be installing the fruits of her labor in the gallery. Taking the title of the show, Noon (the middle ground between night and day), as a jumping-off point, and also using natural materials like glass, water, and salt, Mlasowsky “probes into the opposites in hope to discover balance.” She is the first artist in the Center on Contemporary Art's women-focused 2019 season. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Closing Saturday

Made with Love & Anxiety
The Push/Pull Gallery in Ballard is hard to define—it serves as an art gallery, event space, and underground comics shop that supports the work of emerging artists, illustrators, and cartoonists. But what’s in a name? Or a categorization? Push/Pull will be showing Love & Anxiety, a collective of Costa Rican artists from various disciplines who come together under The Joy manifesto, which was formed, in part, to “create work that expresses, from our point of view, the current state of our human condition.” The group will be showing work from Joy, a black-and-white zine full of cartoons, portraits, and much more. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Opening Thursday

THURSDAY-SUNDAY

FILM

Seattle Asian American Film Festival
Films by and about Asian Americans are showcased at this annual festival, which always includes diverse features and short films about the diverse and rich experiences of these populations, particularly in Seattle and the Northwest.

FOOD & DRINK

Seattle Wine and Food Experience
This annual extravaganza of all things edible and drinkable is a four-part ode to gluttony. First up is Comfort, a festival of “feel-good foods and crafty brews." Next, Pop! Bubbles and Seafood capitalizes on the felicitous pairing of bubbles and bivalves with a celebrity shucking contest and more than 30 sparkling wines from around the world. The next day, the Grand Tasting will showcase local and regional wines, beer, cider, spirits, and tastes from big-name Seattle chefs, with plenty of opportunities to watch demonstrations and meet artisan food producers. Wrap it all up with the Sunday Supper, an event new to this year with a multicourse dinner created by top Seattle chefs, followed by an after-party. JULIANNE BELL

PERFORMANCE

Nicola Gunn: In Spite of Myself
Gunn returns with another piece grappling with a moral conundrum: This time, she dissects "the phenomenon of artists who make work with children for an adult audience" in a combination of theory, fake interview, and fiction.

Split Bill: Szalt + Lavinia Vago
The all-female company Szalt will mimic the eight phases of the moon through dance in their encore performance of moon& (which debuted in 2018 at the Ford Amphitheater in LA under the full moon). The performance will be set to an "electro-acoustic" score by Louis Lopez and Jonathan Snipes. 

FRIDAY

PERFORMANCE

Company Wayne McGregor
The 25-year-old British dance company, headed by the world-renowned choreographer of the Royal Ballet, has new pieces, including Autobiography, that unveil "the body as archive." They reflect on selfhood, life, writing, the past, and the future.

READINGS & TALKS

Charlie Jane Anders: The City in the Middle of the Night
Charlie Jane Anders' new novel The City in the Middle of the Night takes place on a planet with an eternal "day side" and an eternal "night side." When a girl named Sophie gets banished to the dark side, she survives by learning to communicate with the creatures who live there, discovering some hidden truths about her world in the process. Hear her read.

VISUAL ART

Celeste Cooning: Offerings
This Seattle-based artist is known for her impressively large-scale paper cut-out art installations in parks and public spaces as well as on the stage. They look like gorgeous plants from an alien version of the Pacific Northwest.
Opening Friday

Winter in the Park: Free Art Encounters
Peek into Pacific Northwest Native artists' creative processes at free "Art Encounters" led by artists-in-residence Christine Babic and Alex Britt, who will explore the gap between contemporary and traditional Indigenous works through a combination of performance and installation.

FRIDAY-SATURDAY

PERFORMANCE

La Chambre de Valtesse XXX
For those with a yen for high-end kink, the performers of Valtesse will revel in opulent "couture burlesque, aerial, whips, chains, dance, and doms." Look out for special guests like Entwined, Moth and the Masque, 2018 Miss Exotic World Inga, and others who'll make the evening extra titillating. Wear black, red, and/or fetish gear to fit in, and stay on after the show for a party by the fireplace.

VISUAL ART

Henry Jackson-Spieker: Sight Lines
There is something a bit anxiety-inducing about being in a gallery or museum. As if there’s some specific way you are meant to behave and even look at art in those kinds of spaces. The latest installation from Seattle-based Henry Jackson-Spieker is trying to disrupt and interrogate that very notion. Jackson-Spieker uses the windows of the gallery as the primary viewing perspective, creating a clear “sight line” made of lattice-string sculpture that can only be seen from outside the gallery, obstructing free movement inside the space itself. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Closing Saturday

FRIDAY-SUNDAY

PERFORMANCE

Twisted Cabaret Presents: My Twisted Valentine
Welcome Frank Oliver and his "retinue" of European circus stars—what? It's just him? That's right: Oliver plays every single juggler, acrobat, magician, musician, mime, and everyone else onstage.

SATURDAY

FILM

Scarecrow Academy 1959: The Greatest Year in Film History
The video rental library Scarecrow's new series contends that 1959 was the best year in film history ever. It saw "a high point of Hollywood studio filmmaking, the rise of new independent cinema, the great flowering of international movies, and the beginning of the French New Wave." Film critic Robert Horton will delve into the highlights of this landmark year, including this week's Nazarín.

FOOD & DRINK

29th Annual PNA Wine Taste
Sample 10 wines with admission and enjoy music and snacks. If you fall in love with a particular vintage, buy a bottle at the pop-up store—proceeds go to the Phinney Neighborhood Association.

Alki Winter Beer & Food Truck Festival
As Special Olympics Washington attempts to set the Guinness World Record for the “largest polar plunge” ever into the punishingly icy waters of Puget Sound, the Mobile Food Rodeo will provide warming sustenance for plungers and onlookers alike. There will be flaky pastries from Piroshky Piroshky, slow-roasted wood-smoked barbecue from Pecos Pit Bar-b-que, Japanese taiyaki (fish-shaped cakes) from BeanFish, fried chicken from Ezell’s, fry bread and tacos from Native American food truck Off the Rez, and more. Plus, 10 local breweries will be serving their offerings from inside the winter beer-tasting garden. JULIANNE BELL

Hops & Props
Hops & Props celebrates craft brews from across the Northwest (and a few from other places). Enjoy three-ounce pours from over 100 breweries and cider houses, a spread of bites from McCormick & Schmick’s, and live music.

SATURDAY-SUNDAY

FOOD & DRINK

17th Annual HardLiver Barleywine Festival
Put your wintery beverages aside and summon an early spring by choosing a barleywine ("the hop and malt disguising itself as beer") from a sizeable draft list.

Seattle Croissant Taiyaki Pop-Up
You already know the cronut, the cruffin, and other such portmanteau pastries. Now meet the latest hybrid baked good: the croissant taiyaki, a mash-up of the flaky French pastry and taiyaki, a fish-shaped cake that’s a popular street-food in Japan. This winning combo will then be stuffed with sweet or savory fillings like red bean, matcha custard, Nutella, and ham and cheese. Don’t miss your chance to try this unique franken-creation. JULIANNE BELL

PERFORMANCE

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs
Contemporary opera probably isn't the most intuitive delivery system for the life story of the CEO of the world's largest tech company, but in some ways it kinda makes sense. Jobs was a major mythical figure for geeks, a reportedly tyrannical boss who basically wore a costume all the time, and a literary enthusiast! Regardless, the opera, which was written by Mason Bates and librettist Mark Campbell, has been getting great reviews since its premiere in Santa Fe last year, thanks largely to its state-of-the-art, "visually stunning" projection sequences. RICH SMITH

SUNDAY

FOOD & DRINK

Seattle Cake Con
Finally, a convention centered on towering frosted confections! But that’s not all: Seattle Cake Con will also showcase ice cream, chocolate, macarons, doughnuts, and other sweets. In addition to tasting a plethora of sugary delights, attendees can enter decorating competitions, take in live demonstrations, and chat with experts of various dessert disciplines. JULIANNE BELL

READINGS & TALKS

Lecture Series: Octavia Butler: Necessity's Daughter with Nisi Shawl
Learn about the life and legacy of the prolific science fiction titan Octavia Butler from James Tiptree Award-winning local writer Nisi Shawl.

Vaginomicon
The Pacific Northwest is a horror-movie gold—so many bodies of water in which to dump dead bodies; so many deep pockets of forest in which to hide lifeless corpses; so much eerie fog; so much moody drizzle; you get it. This evening of live readings and performances put on by the Women in Horror Month creators will bring you all that and more, and best of all, the stories won't all be about handsome special agents searching for missing dead girls. Readers/performers will include horror hostess Isabella Price, who also conducts the Nocturnal Emissions series; burlesque artist Violet Deville; and Stranger arts calendar editor Joule Zelman.

VISUAL ART

Taiji Miyasaka: Circum•ambience
A professor at the School of Design and Construction at Washington State University, Taiji Miyasaka is building three giant spheres made out of different materials at MadArt. Miyasaka is primarily interested in working with the light in the space to highlight different elements of his work. The largest sphere’s design was inspired by the Japanese technique of plaster construction. Miyasaka brought in master plasterers from his native Japan to help him complete this element of the project. Visitors will be able to climb inside this 13-foot sphere, to be greeted by a dark interior illuminated only by a soft ring of light. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Opening Sunday