What’s Good in Seattle: Where There’s Smoke, October 20, 2014

Posted on October 20, 2014, 11:47 pm
10 mins


I’ve been catching the first whiffs of wood smoke in the air, and less frequent whiffs of marijuana smoke. That scent declares to me that it is officially autumn. Here are some smoky wonders this week and beyond.

Art: Etsuko Ichikawa’s Act of Drawing at Winston Wächter

I fell in love with Etsuko Ichikawa‘s work a few years ago when she presented a solo show at Davidson Galleries, which included a video installation that documents her pyrographic process in beautiful cinematography.

Trace 6814 by Etusko Ichikawa

“Trace 6814”, glass pyrograph on paper, 2014, by Etsuko Ichikawa. 52′ x 38. Image courtesy of WInston Wachter.

Most people are immediately taken with the aesthetic and then with the novelty of her technique, but over time this would not be enough to sustain the artist or her career. Fortunately, Ichikawa is not one to stand still in any sense, and she has continued to refine her work and introduce new methods and movement into it. A later show at Davidson introduced aquagraphs, produced by tracing images in water, then exposing the wet surfaces to candle flames, allowing the soot to deposit in soft, subtle Sanskrit characters. Last year, she produced a more meditative, sound-based short film, titled Echo at Satsop, shot in the abandoned Satsop nuclear facility. Her talented local crew included cinematographer Ian Lucero, sound engineer Tom Stiles, woodworker Len Cullum and artist Reilly Sinanan.

Ichikawa’s latest work in the show Act of Drawing at Winston Wächter (203 Dexter Ave N) shows a continued evolution of style. Like sumi-e painting, the act is irreversible, the result of much preparation but generated in a moment of virtuosic spontaneity. The pyrographs are also done on heavy watercolor paper. The affinity is even more profound when one considers that sumi-e is the combination of fire and water (charcoal ink), whereas Ichikawa’s similarly calligraphic work is a direct flame that smolders without catching fire and creates images of frozen smoke—the most fleeting image preserved in stillness. One might even at first presume them to be negative prints of photographs of white smoke against a black backdrop.

Some of these latest prints are more heavily layered with filaments than past work, which is elongated on scrolls and multiple panels. It goes to show that despite the limitations of the medium, the artist knows how to keep pulling new forms from it and keeps her fans eager to see what she will do next. But see the latest now: Act of Drawing is on display through October 30.

Chanels Les 4 Ombres compact

Chanel’s Les 4 Ombres Compact

Fashion: Smoky Eyes with the Chanel Les 4 Ombres Compacts

Longer nights, holiday parties and galas means we are all incorporating a little more drama into our looks again. At the Stranger Genius Awards and Kremwerk on Saturday, the gorgeous DJ Explorateur was spotted in bold, intense black liner that complemented her patterned outfit and flowing black hair. I loved it, but I also know that not everyone could pull this look off. (I and my dark circles end up looking like a dime-store version of The Crow. I know from experience.)

The classic smoky eye is universally appealing when done right. I have seen quite a few examples on a wide range of skin tones in recent nights. It takes the right tools, though, and though there are plenty of options, I am particularly impressed by the options in Chanel’s Les 4 Ombres line of quad-compacts. The mixture of colors in the line make it easy for just about anyone to find a set right for one’s personal palette and taste. For those who already feel overrun with makeup, I still recommend studying the color options on the Nordstrom online shop to inspire you to use some of those accumulated pressed powders in a seasonally sophisticated way.

Politics: Uncle Ike’s and Protests

Uncle Ike’s, Seattle’s first official weed dispensary opened last month in the Central District, and it has been raking in the business (averaging over 13,000 in sales daily in its opening week). Even those who don’t care for weed see its legalization as putting an end to one aspect of a terrible, damaging and inhumane drug war. The damage has already been done to many lives, especially young black men who have been statistically more affected by draconian laws against minor drug offenses…and who have also been systematically more targeted by police operating in majority black neighborhoods.

Hence, long-time residents of the Central District who have seen this nasty phenomenon firsthand are not so pleased about Uncle Ike’s opening in the neighborhood. Large, boisterous protests occurred over the weekend, spearheaded by community and religious leaders. While some are impelled by the issue of vice alone—and Uncle Ike’s in social media posts has speciously put it in terms of religion versus freedom (dick move, Ike’s)—the heart of the protest is about the worst sort of gentrification. Long-time residents are being priced out of a neighborhood for which they have fought, and now—at one of the most notorious corners in the city, adjacent to a building that has been the site of several tragic shootings and a recent arson—Uncle Ike’s serves as a most notorious symbol of “progress.” It’s the sort of progress that does not fully examine or repair the damaging policies that preceded it. Yes, some people just don’t want weed to be purveyed near them, but this too regards a lasting stigma and sense of oppression, or else they’d be protesting the liquor store across the street.

So why am I listing this as a good thing? Because it is WAY TOO EARLY to go patting ourselves on the back for legalizing marijuana when people are still rotting in jail for minor offenses—a disproportionate number being young men of color. It is WAAAY too early to dance in celebration that people can have pot on demand when the damage done by prohibition of it is still evident all around the dispensary. It’s good that pot is legal, and it’s good that the protests are happening. We all need to be more aware of the implications of this change in the law and the history behind it, and therefore hold ourselves more accountable.

Also…something is burning: Oh, it is the fires being lit for the roast of Dominic Holden on Saturday, November 1 at beloved dive Re-Bar (which, god bless it, looks like it, too, has suffered fire damage multiple times). Holden has been a persistent muckraker as an associate editor at The Stranger. He has been a particular pest for the Seattle Police Department, and I and many others have been grateful for it. Local performer and raconteur Devin Bannon hosts the event, which is also a farewell as Holden prepares to move for NYC. His muckraking shall be missed.


But who will really have the last laugh? The roasters include drag star Jinkx Monsoon and former co-workers, but also City Attorney Pete Holmes and Sheriff John Urquhart. Earlier this year, Urquhart fired a deputy who had made outrageous threats against Holden when the latter was recording a police action in the International District. Urquhart will have been on the job for two years as of next month, and has been playing a balancing act, appealing to a strong Police Union that has resisted change, even after the SPD became the subject of a federal probe. But can he be funny? We’ll see…but I’m not the only one who suspects that the pols on stage are the ones really in danger of going down in flames.

One night only at Re-Bar (1114 Howell St.). Tickets on sale at strangertickets.com. $7 Floor Seats, $5 Standing. All proceeds benefit Real Change.


T.s. Flock is a writer and arts critic based in Seattle and co-founder of Vanguard Seattle.