Arts and Entertainment

A new lecture series aims to expand Islanders’ horizons

Jonathan Raban is part of the roster of speakers lined up for VAA’s new Arts and Humanities series. - Rob Casey photo
Jonathan Raban is part of the roster of speakers lined up for VAA’s new Arts and Humanities series.
— image credit: Rob Casey photo

Vashon Allied Arts is branching out with a new program that will bring acclaimed art world movers and shakers, authors, conductors and other cultural heavyweights to Vashon for a series of informative lectures.

The series, dubbed “Arts & Humanities,” is modeled on Seattle’s popular Arts and Lectures series, which takes place at Benaroya Hall in Seattle.

Vashon’s version, however, will be much more intimate, informal and affordable, VAA staffers said, and also save Islanders the hassle of an expensive evening out in Seattle.

“We’re so eager for this,” said Molly Reed, VAA’s executive director. “It’s a different kind of program for us and unlike anything else on the Island.”

In an impressive “get” for VAA, the series will kick off on Oct. 11 with eminent British author Jonathan Raban, who will give a presentation called “Writing the Northwest.”

Raban has lived in Seattle for 19 years and has won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Heinemann Award of the Royal Society of Literature and the PEN/West Creative Nonfiction Award.

He also contributes to the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books and The Guardian.

His books, many of which describe the Pacific Northwest, include “Old Glory,” “Bad Land,” Passage to Juneau,” “Waxwings,” “My Holy War” and “Surveillance.”

In a 2005 profile, Seattle Weekly critic Tim Appelo called Raban “the Northwest’s premier man of letters” and defined his books as “a string of best-selling, award-winning, uncategorizable books that mix fiction, memoir, lit crit, political polemics, history, Northwest art history, anthropology, and travel writing into a chimera-style quite his own.”

During Raban’s appearance at VAA, he’ll be interviewed by Mike Feinstein, a Vashon writer, about the particular challenges of writing about the Pacific Northwest from the perspective of an outsider.

Other speakers in the Arts and Humanities series will include Tacoma Art Museum’s director, Stephanie Stebich, detailing “Treasures in our Midst” on Nov. 15.

Stebich is a distinguished art historian who has worked with the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, the Brooklyn Museum and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

On Jan. 17, Islanders Suzanne Moore and Donald Glaister will present “The Art of the Book — Divergent Perspectives.”

Moore fuses lettering, painting and design skills to explore the interplay of words and images in her books. Nationally known for her lettering workshops, she is one of three American artists chosen to illuminate The St. John’s Bible, a decade-long project based in Wales.

Glaister works as a bookbinder and book artist who focuses on the use of materials and techniques atypical to bookmaking, while honoring the classical European book form. He teaches binding and design privately and at the American Academy of Bookbinding in Colorado.

Gallery owner William Traver, who has long been a key player at the center of Seattle’s studio glass phenomenon, will give a talk called “Glass Art Gone Global” on Feb. 7, and the series will conclude on Feb. 21 with a talk by acclaimed conductor and composer Abraham Kaplan, who will discuss his recently released memoir, “Splendid Encounters.”

The book details Kaplan’s association with many of the 20th century’s musical greats, including Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky, Frank Sinatra and others.

Excitement about the entire series is building, Reed said, adding that season ticket sales for the program have been so robust that she expects it will sell out.

“People should get tickets now,” she said.

“Arts & Humanities” lectures will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday evenings, Oct. 11 through Feb. 21, at the Blue Heron Art Center.

Speakers will include Jonathan Raban on Oct. 11, Stephanie Stebich on Nov. 15, Suzanne Moore and Donald Glaister on Jan. 17, William Traver on Feb. 7 and Abraham Kaplan on Feb. 21.

Season tickets, which are transferrable, cost $75 for members and seniors, and $85 for the general public, and are on sale now until Oct. 1, after which tickets may be available for individual events. Call 463-5131 or go to www.brownpapertickets.com.

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