Best of 2012 in Seattle Arts

It was the year of King Felix and King Tut, David Byrne and St. Vincent.

By Laura Dannen, Seth Sommerfeld, and Sheila Farr December 21, 2012

Felix Hernandez sums up our feelings on 2012.

Can you believe it? The most Googled term in Seattle this past year was King Tut. When the heavily publicized exhibition opened at Pacific Science Center in June, it had been more than 30 years since a blockbuster show of artifacts from the boy king’s tomb toured to Seattle Art Museum. This time around fewer of the most famous Tut treasures left Egypt, but the exhibition was beefed up with other intriguing objects and, whatever its deficiencies, clearly got people interested…. The show continues through January 6.

Best local concert David Bazan is done being Pedro the Lion, but for one night at the Neptune on December 15, fans got to relive Pedro the Lion's best album, Control, in its entirety. Bazan even provided a few unexpected (and awesome) rock moments.

Best festival concert Take one part new-wave icon. Add one indie rock darling. Throw in a bunch of brass. Mix it up with some playful choreography. The result was David Byrne and St. Vincent's practically perfect live show at 5th Avenue Theatre that kicked off City Arts Fest in October.

Best sports moment While the Mariners as a whole are mildly-to-severely depressing, the thrilling drama (and ensuing jubilation) of Felix Hernandez's perfect game on August 15 versus the Rays made up for the rest of the 2012 season.

Worst sports moment Ichiro gets traded to the Yankees—at the start of a three-game homestand at Safeco against the Bronx Bombers. Ouch.

Best Seattle filmmaker Megan Griffiths established herself as a force with brilliantly thoughtful and suspenseful Eden, which won her the first ever Reel NW Award for the top film with Northwest connections at the Seattle International Film Festival.

Best Seattle album We'll be listening to the melodic guitar rock and peaceful piano pop of Deep Sea Diver’s History Speaks for years to come.

Best local Twitter feed to follow At this point we don't even think of Ken Jennings as "the Jeopardy! guy." Instead, we think of him one of the funniest people on Twitter (click these for some proof). Follow him now.

Best performance by a Seattle actress Marya Sea Kaminski in Riddled at Richard Hugo House. It wasn't a traditional theater, and it was far from a traditional show (whiskey shots and PBR were served, and every audience member handled an unloaded M1 carbine before entering). But as the writer and star of the rock musical—which wove memoir with stories of Bonnie and Clyde—Kaminski was electrifying: a Debbie Harry with a gun fetish and a dark past. This play opened long before the year's awful shootings, but in hindsight, it didn't glorify guns so much as make us think about the power of the deadly machine.

Best performance by a Seattle actor (tie) Maybe it's all the pent-up energy that comes with making your biggest local debut to date, or the fact that he was surrounded by giant red Rothko imitations, but Connor Toms was on fire as Rothko's protégé in Seattle Rep's production of Red, stealing the show from veteran actor Denis Arndt as Rothko. And in Book-It Rep's world premiere of The Art of Racing in the Rain, David S. Hogan was so committed to playing the philosopher pup Enzo—without resorting to cliched tail/butt-wagging—we hear some audience members tried to adopt him at the end of the show.

Big openings, notable closings Scott Lawrimore shuttered his Pioneer Square gallery to take a curatorial job at the Frye Art Museum and after eight years of luring art aficionados to the SoDo district, the private art space Western Bridge closed in October. Founded by Bill and Ruth True to showcase pieces from their collection, Western Bridge featured mostly new media, conceptual and installation works—and was also home to some terrific parties….

Dale Chihuly opened his Pantheon of glass art, Chihuly Garden and Glass, in the coveted Seattle Center space just beneath the Space Needle in May. Despite regular school-group tours through the collection, we haven't heard anything break yet.

Without a permanent director yet in place, Seattle Art Museum tried hard to hold public interest, touting the big-name shows Gauguin and Polynesia earlier in the year and the current Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Meanwhile, at the Wright Exhibition Space SAM’s new contemporary art curator, Catharina Manchanda, selected an inspired little exhibition called a rose is a rose is a rose.

Final thoughts...

It was the year of comebacks (Intiman Theatre, Balagan TheatreColumbia City Cinema) and mega-debuts (Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's The Heist, Reignwolf), of big steps (Seattle Opera's first simulcast, Tacoma Art Museum showcases gay art) and stampedes (Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis visit Pike Place Market).

We said goodbye to Jack Benaroya, Maurice Sendak, Tristan Devin, Andrea Allen, and Nora Ephron, but we also looked to the Next Fifty years of Seattle arts and culture.

Even if the world ended today, it's been a good ride. Here's to 2013.

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