By Elizabeth Shepherd
In recent weeks, island organizations, artists and others have harnessed the power of the internet to keep people connected and immersed in the arts, even in a time of mandated social distancing.
So if you’re missing Seattle’s and Vashon’s lively arts scene, its time to look for it online. The same goes for suddenly home-schooling parents, looking for locally-sourced arts enrichment activities.
Check out some of the following resources that have sprung up on the web, or been there all along.
Vashon Center for the Arts T.V.
Missing the comfort of the Katherine L White Hall at VCA?
Vashon Center for the Arts has now posted, on the homepage of its website, links to almost 40 past performances, lectures and footage of events taking place at VCA in recent years.
Need suggestions? Make it Christmas in March by replaying Vashon Center for Dance’s 2019 production of “The Nutcracker,” or “David Armstrong’s Broadway Nation Live: The Story Behind ‘“White Christmas.’”
Another dance production, “Original Works 2018” can be seen its entirety via a link on the site — a special treat for those who were looking forward to this year’s edition of the concert, which was canceled this month.
Theater buffs can catch up on productions they might have missed: “Kissing the Joy as it Flies: The Wit and Wisdom of Brian Doyle,” an original new play by islanders Geri and Mike Feinstein about the celebrated Northwest writer. The show premiered at VCA about a year ago, starring an all-star cast of local actors.
Other treats are in store for lovers of classical music, such as a virtuoso performance by celebrated Russian pianist, Vyacheslav “Slava” Grayaznov, that took place in February last year, is also now on the site.
Music history lectures by Michael Tracey, which include performances by well-known Seattle players, and art history lectures by Rebecca Albiani are also on tap. Check out the whole series — which VCA plans to augment over the coming weeks — at vashoncenterforthearts.org
See live music on Facebook
Vashon Events, a local nonprofit, is still busy promoting music and other arts events on its website, vashonevents.org, though most of the offerings now are online. Check out the website to find more about online classes in meditation, Spanish and more, as well as an upcoming concert by island guitar god and singer-songwriter Ian Moore. The website also now offers information about a daily cocktail hour, via the Zoom online platform, with co-founders Pete Welch and Allison Shirk.
Vashon Events is also helping publicize events presented by Vashon Live — a Facebook page that has in recent days live-streamed solo concerts and readings by islanders including Michael Whitmore, Sarah Howard, Erin Rubin, and Adam Cone.
Film lovers, rejoice
Jonesing for an art-house flick? Northwest Film Forum, in Seattle, has switched to an all-digital format, becoming the only still-operating cinema in Seattle.
Check out their offerings, which are mostly ticketed as “pay what you can” and streamed to the public at specific times, at nwfilmforum.org.
The 25-year-old Seattle nonprofit cinema launched their new series, cleverly dubbed “Covideo,” with an online version of their venerable “By Design” festival last week — debuting Seattle premieres of films about art and architecture, as well as talks by guest speakers. Look for an uptick in offerings in the coming weeks, as the intrepid cinephiles at the Film Forum figure it out.
The Film Forum has also recently posted a quirky and eclectic list of staff-recommended classic and indie films for children and families. Find it online.
Voice of Vashon can keep you company
There’s something extra comforting these days about listening to Voice of Vashon, filled with recognizable island voices, opinions and news. Of course, islanders can reach VoV on their radio dial, at KVSH 101.9 FM, but should also head to the station’s website, voiceofvashon.org, to see the full, rolling listings of locally-sourced programs going on each day.
Music programs, hosted by islanders obsessed with almost every genre of music, include shows featuring hardcore country, Broadway, jazz, Celtic music, rock and indie-pop.
Another perk of the website is a schedule for VoV-TV. VoV’s public access cable station, on Comcast Channel 21, also boasts local programming focused on Island life. Offerings include community meetings, lectures, and perhaps most poignantly, a chance to attend a different Vashon Strawberry Festival every Saturday, at 10 a.m. The next Strawberry Festival show will be broadcast at 12 p.m. Saturday, March 29, featuring a taping of the 2009 Festival.
The Voice of Vashon website also contains regular COVID-19 news alerts in both Spanish and English.
Women’s studies film class for teens
Nancy Leonhardt, an islander who is an educator, counselor and social-emotional learning specialist, has created a seven-week film and video slate of films and other online content to look at important moments in women’s rights — from Joan of Arc to Juno.
The course, aimed at teens, includes a discussion series about the films, that streams live on Sundays on YouTube.
Interested islanders can watch the video content anytime through Youtube or one of their other preferred streaming systems.
“I created this program for my 15-year-old, and am inviting other people to join in,” Leonhardt said. “The reason we stream live is to create an opportunity for others to connect about the topic and themes and to help us think more deeply by discussing questions from our audience.”
The course will include exploration of such topics as the role of family in “Little Women,” laws and women in “Persepolis” and “The Color Purple,” and gender expectations in “A League of Their Own.”
To find out more about the series, already underway, search on YouTube under the name “Nancy Leonhardt” or email email@example.com.
Leonhardt recently retired from teaching media full-time and now works as a private practice mental health therapist, specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and looking at mental health through a sociocultural lens. Her private practice is on Vashon, where she works with teens, families and adult clients. She is currently accepting new clients via Telehealth during the COVID outbreak. To learn more about Leonhardt’s mental health practice, visit pineconecounseling.com.
Artist creates a page for kids
Island artist Suzanna Leigh has also added a section to her website suzannaleigh.com/activities, just for kids and families.
The website suggests activities for children and for families to do together. Leigh’s first post includes a recipe, tips on cooking with children and suggestions for books and other things to do.
Bears are the theme of her first post, Leigh said, “because in these odd times, it feels as though the world has gone into hibernation. “
Art and music classes
Caroline Rockey, an island art teacher and designer, now offers art classes for children online that are detailed on her website paperwingsart.com.
Classes, which take place from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday through Fridays, are by donation with a suggested price of $10 or whatever a family is able to pay. The classes, which take place on the Zoom online platform, started March 16, and 43 kids have already participated.
According to Rockey, some families have signed up for her classes to give themselves an excuse to get out of bed earlier. Others, she said, are eager to learn to draw and see their friends.
“There is so much heartfelt connection that technology is allowing for right now,” Rockey said.
Beyond being fun, Rockey said she hopes her classes provide stabilizing moments in an uncertain time.
“It’s really useful for the mind to have something structured to focus on in times when there is fear,” she said. “It’s a very useful skill to be able to put your energy into something concrete which is consistent that your hand and heart are actively engaged in creating.”
For more information, visit paperwingsart.com, where there is also the option of signing up for a free class.
For music classes, parents can turn to Mode Music, a new music studio on Vashon. The studio offers an array of online lessons in piano, voice, ukulele, guitar, bass and drums. Visit Mode Music Vashon on Facebook, or modemusicstudios.com/
Disclosure: Elizabeth Shepherd, the arts editor of The Beachcomber, also works for Northwest Film Forum, mentioned in this article.