New speaker series has an eclectic lineup

“We looked for people who have experience with an audience and are great storytellers.”

  • Wednesday, September 18, 2019 5:18pm
  • Arts
Mike and Gerry Feinstein are spearheading “Talks on the Rock,” an upcoming series of 21 lectures at Vashon Center for the Arts. The series begins on Sept. 26 with an art history talk by Rebecca Albiani about Dust Bowl documentarians Dorothea Lange and Marion Post Wolcott (Harry Connolly Photo).

Mike and Gerry Feinstein are spearheading “Talks on the Rock,” an upcoming series of 21 lectures at Vashon Center for the Arts. The series begins on Sept. 26 with an art history talk by Rebecca Albiani about Dust Bowl documentarians Dorothea Lange and Marion Post Wolcott (Harry Connolly Photo).

A new lecture series, “Talks on the Rock,” featuring 21 talks by experts in a wide range of fields, will open Thursday, Sept. 26, and run through Sunday, June 14, of next year at Vashon Center for the Arts.

The series will launch at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, with the first of five talks by art historian Rebecca Albiani that will focus on female artists.

For the series opener, Albiani will discuss Dust Bowl documentarians Dorothea Lange and Marion Post Wolcott, who were dispatched by the Farm Security Administration to record conditions in rural America during the Great Depression. Lange’s “Migrant Mother” is the most famous of the images produced for this project.

Albiani’s talk will also be a preview, of sorts, for “The Cyclone Line” — a play set in Oklahoma, during the Dust Bowl, with music by local singer-songwriter Kat Eggelston — that will bow on Sept. 27, 28 and 29 in VCA’s Katherine L White Hall.

The second “Talks on the Rock” lecture, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, will be a discussion about the news media between Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Peter Rinearson, who lives on Vashon, and former KUOW host and interviewer Steve Scher.

“Talks on the Rock” is a new take on a previous VCA program called “Arts & Humanities.” Both series were created and curated by islanders Gerry and Mike Feinstein. The couple launched the first series about a decade ago but said that “Talks on the Rock” will be a bit different.

“We had done this before,” Mike Feinstein said, “but we wanted this series to be more affordable, and VCA stepped up to make it affordable. [This] series also has many more speakers. We used to have five, now we have 21 — and the subjects run the gamut, with something for all tastes.”

The reasons her husband mentioned are why the series is called “Talks on the Rock,” Gerry Feinstein added.

“It’s not all about academic subjects. We have so many things that were not part of our original series — climate science, a documentary filmmaker, birds and poetry, wine and its global significance, feminism, journalism, photography, food science, North Korea, earthquakes, and the pleasures of reading,” she said. “Each speaker has something to teach us and an interesting story to tell.”

With a short lead time to design the series, the Feinsteins focused first on inviting past speakers popular with Vashon audiences, like Albiani and island musicologist Michael Tracy. Then, they met with a number of knowledgeable friends, including Tom DeVries, Molly Purrington, Kathryn Stout, Steve Scher and Ron and Mary Thomas, and crowd-sourced names of other speakers.

“We looked for people who have experience with an audience and are great storytellers,” Gerry said.

Other speakers in the series include documentary filmmaker Laura Bialis; Seattle native and author David Guterson; NPR Morning Edition book reviewer and well-known proponent of reading, Nancy Pearl; Dean of Humanities at the University of Washington Brian Reed; wine expert and author Michael Veseth; Tacoma artists Chandler O’Leary and Jessica Spring; climatologist Heidi Roop; wildlife photographer and author Paul Bannick; founder and director of Bread Lab in the Skagit Valley, Stephen Jones; veteran Washington Post journalist Blaine Harden; seismologist Mouse Reusch, musicologist Michael Tracy; and founder of Sawbones and Pacific Research Laboratories Foss Miller.

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