A Conversation with Ahamefule J. Oluo

Monday, December 15th at 7:30pm at The Project Room

Musician/performer/comedian Ahamefule J. Oluo’s Now I’m Fine is a genre-spanning pop opera of “darkly funny personal stories about illness, despair, and regeneration.” Stemming from a period in his life in which everything seemed to be falling apart, Oluo’s Now I’m Fine is a creative exploration of how we navigate moments of hopelessness. Join us for a conversation with Oluo about this work, and how it dovetails with The Project Room’s current topic of Transformation.    

About the Presenter:

Ahamefule J. Oluo is a composer, comedian, and trumpet player. Oluo was the first Artist-in-Residence at Town Hall in Seattle. A longtime writing partner of comedian Hari Kondabolu, he has performed nationally with bands including Das Racist and Hey Marseilles, and is a fixture in the local and national comedy scenes. His garage-jazz quartet Industrial Revelation won the 2014 Stranger Genius Award. Oluo lives and works in Seattle.


Photograph by Bruce Tom

Photograph by Bruce Tom

Speed Dating 2.0: Art & Technology

Photography by Nicholas Strobelt

Photography by Nicholas Strobelt

On September 30th 2014, The Project Room gathered twelve artists and twelve technologists for the purpose of engaging in high-powered yet very brief conversations, under the watchful eyes of twelve "chaperones." The event was called Art & Technology: Speed Dating 2.0.

by Nicholas Strobelt

by Nicholas Strobelt

Thanks to our hard-working chaperones, we have notes from every conversation that took place, and we did our best to tweet as fast as we could during the one-minute break between "dates." We didn't have time to tweet everything--and some handwriting was just too indecipherable!--but we did our best.

Thank you to Siren, our co-host, and our wonderful participants, whose investment and curiosity made this event a success! Read more about structure of the event in our original invitation. Stay tuned for future Art & Technology events!

Below are some particularly good responses to a few of the questions we asked:


When do you do your best problem-solving?

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 9.20.17 PM.png

Which matters more to you, that your work be critically acclaimed, or that it be wildly popular?

by Nicholas Strobelt

by Nicholas Strobelt

Should your work last forever? If so, how and why?

What does it look like when your work fails?

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 11.29.21 AM.png
by Nicholas Strobelt

by Nicholas Strobelt

What would you do if you weren’t an artist/technologist?

by Nicholas Strobelt

by Nicholas Strobelt

What might a monument built for you look like?

Dear Friends of The Project Room:

I want to write you all with some big and exciting news:

As of November 3rd, I will no longer be Founder/Director of The Project Room, but will begin my new job as Assistant Director of Exhibition Programs and Gallery Initiatives at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This is an incredible opportunity to bring what I have created and learned at The Project Room to a world-class art institution that has been producing arts programming since 1929!

Although I will be joining a larger institution with a richer history, I will bring with me my love of Seattle and the curiosity of its people that allowed The Project Room to thrive. There were many moments over the past three years when I would conclude an event and think to myself, "People really care about the arts here and are open to weird experiments in creativity- this city is awesome!" In other words, Seattle pride follows me to New York.

Thanks to people like you who have attended events, shared your work, donated money, and followed along from afar, we have produced unique arts programs for free since 2011. We have featured the work of over two-hundred creative leaders, makers and thinkers, and have been able to position the organization to continue beyond my leadership, which is a dream come true.

Moving forward, I will join the TPR Board of Directors and will help transition programs and operations to the brilliant Tia Kramer, who has been working with us as a volunteer since 2012 and has more than earned the title of Director of The Project Room. 

Among her many skills, Tia Kramer is an artist, designer and curator who studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Macalester College. She has a special interest in collaborative, socially engaged and site-specific arts programming, and has taught at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Macalester College, and the School of Visual Arts in Minneapolis.

I look forward to keeping in touch with all of you in my new role as a TPR Board member as we continue to work towards realizing the goals of the organization. This is a very special organization to me and, although I would have created arts programming even if no one showed up, having all of you with me has been the best part.



The Failure Variety Show: What Happened!?

From left: Eric Olson, Emmett Montgomery, and Timothy Firth suited up for failure

From left: Eric Olson, Emmett Montgomery, and Timothy Firth suited up for failure

For those of you wondering what took place at our Failure Variety Show at Bumbershoot, and for those who were there and want to see it once more, take a look at these excerpts of failure, featuring the following brave souls:

Comedian Emmett Montgomery (our unflappable host)

Playwright Kelleen Conway-Blanchard

Singer/Songwriter Carrie Akre

Comedian Brett Hamil

AND: Our Rube Goldberg Machine Creators, Eric Olson & Timothy Firth!

In keeping with the show's theme, the quality of the video is poor, but we think it gives you a sense of the event and how much fun everyone had- enjoy!

Meet the Artists of donum!

In anticipation of donum, our upcoming art and fashion sale, we visited the studios of each of the featured artists to learn more about why they make what they make and where their ideas come from. Enjoy these excerpts and join us for the event!

donum: A Contemporary Art and Fashion Sale
November 21st & 22nd  1:00 pm to 7:00 pm each day
location : The Project Room @ 1315 E. Pine, Seattle

About donum:

donum is an annual contemporary art and fashion charitable event.  Featuring high quality, artful products made by selected notable local designers, donum brings together a group of established artists and designers in an effort to present their unique work to consumers and to raise money for a Seattle-based nonprofit.  This year's show will support The Project Room. Participating artists will donate a portion of their proceeds to the organization.  Admission to this event is free.  Items for sale will range from $50 to $1000.

Special thanks to talented videographer Daniel Laninga

Opposing Forces with Amy O'Neal & Marc Bamuthi Joseph

Sunday, October 26 at 12pm

at The Beacon/Massive Monkees Studio*

664 S King St, Seattle, WA 98104

FREE - no registration required

Join us for a special presentation and conversation with choreographer Amy O'Neal and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Director of Performing Arts Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Using O'Neal's forthcoming debut of the same name, "Opposing Forces" addresses assumptions and rethinking of B-Boy culture, contemporary dance, gender roles, and other questions of opposition found in this new work. Part of The Project Room's investigation of the topic of "Transformation", this program draws on Joseph's dual expertise as hip hop generation curator and playwright and celebrates the world premiere of O'Neal's new work.

*Note the location- this program is not at The Project Room!

Opposing Forces debuts at On the Boards October 23, 24, 25, 26. Tickets and more info here!


About the Presenters:


Marc Bamuthi Joseph is one of America's most vital voices in performance, arts education, and artistic curation. After appearing on Broadway as a young actor, Joseph developed several poetry-based works for the stage including Word Becomes Flesh, Scourge, and the break/s that have toured across the US, Europe, and Africa. Joseph's Word Becomes Flesh was re-mounted in December 2010 as part of the National Endowment for the Arts' American Masterpieces series, and will tour throughout the US and Canada. An acclaimed educator and essayist, Joseph has lectured at more than 200 colleges and universities, appeared as a commentator on NPR, and carried adjunct professorships at Stanford University, Lehigh University, Mills College, and the University of Wisconsin. He is the co-founder of Life is Living, a national series of one-day festivals designed to activate under-resourced parks and affirm peaceful urban life through hip-hop arts and focused environmental action. Joseph is also the artistic director of the seven-part HBO documentary "Russell Simmons presents Brave New Voices" and an inaugural recipient of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship. He is the 2011 Alpert Award winner in Theater and in April 2012, he was one of 21 artists to be named to the inaugural class of Doris Duke Artists. He currently serves as Director of Performing Arts at Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco.


Amy O’Neal is a diverse dancer, performer, choreographer, and dance educator based in Seattle WA. For the last 15 years, she has taught and performed throughout the US, Japan and Mexico and choreographed for stage, commercials, rock shows, galleries, dance films and music videos.  Her work is an amalgam of her diverse movement and life experiences presenting social commentary with dark humor and heavy beats. She is the recipient of numerous grants including awards from Creative Capital, the National Performance Network, the National Dance Project, Mid Atlantic Arts and the James W. Ray Project Venture Award. Amy has been an artist-in-residence at Bates Dance Festival, Headlands Center for the Arts, the US/Japan Choreographer’s Exchange, and Velocity Dance Center. She is a two-time Artist Trust Fellow, a DanceWEB Scholar, two-time Stranger Genius Awards nominee. She has worked extensively with musician/comedian Reggie Watts since 2002 both on stage and screen. She choreographed his Comedy Central produced “Fuck, Shit, Stack” video and toured nationally in his show Disinformation. She has created commissioned pieces for Degenerate Art Ensemble and Spectrum Dance Theater and collaborated with Savion Glover and Daniel Bernard Roumain through Seattle Theater Group. She has performed in the work of Pat Graney, Scott/Powell Performance, and Mark Haim.  From 2000 to 2010, she was co-director of locust (music/dance/video) with musician/composer Zeke Keeble, creating six evening-length works and several shorter works. She teaches Contemporary Dance and Hip-Hop/Urban Styles at Velocity Dance Center and House at The Beacon: Massive Monkees studio in Seattle. She also teaches dance composition and improvisation for Seattle Theater Group’s Dance This program and the Seattle Youth Dance Collective. She holds a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts, and her dance writing has been published in Dance Magazine, City Arts Magazine, and ArtDish Forum.



Lit Crawl Seattle Presents Fairy Tales, Superheroes & Other Transformations


Thursday, October 23

7-7:45PM & 8-8:45pm

We are delighted to welcome back the annual Lit Crawl Seattle event to The Project Room! This year, two of the evening's program will take place at TPR in conjunction with our current "Transformation" topic. For the complete listing of all Lit Crawl activities, go here. 

7PM: Hedgebrook Presents: Past Lives featuring Emily White, Lisa Halpern, Kate Willette, and Janet Yoder, with Sonora Jha

8PM: Superheroes vs. Fairy Tales featuring Angela Jane Fountas, Jeannine Hall Gailey, Michael Schmeltzer, and Maya Sonenberg, with Evan J. Peterson

More info:

7PM: Hedgebrook Presents: Past Lives: Hedgebrook alumnae Emily White, Lisa Halpern, Kate Willette, and Janet Yoder read work on ghosts, gods, grief, and native tongues. Hosted by Sonora Jha (Foreign).

About Hedgebrook:

Hedgebrook is a global community of women writers and people who seek extraordinary books, poetry, plays, films and music by women. A literary nonprofit, our mission is to support visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. We offer writing residencies, master classes and salons at our 25-year-old retreat on Whidbey Island, and public programs that connect writers with readers and audiences around the world. Learn more at https://www.hedgebrook.org/

About the Readers:


Emily White is a writer of both fiction and nonfiction. She has published two books of nonfiction with Scribner: Fast Girls, Teenage Tribes and the Myth of the Slut and You Will Make Money In Your Sleep, a biography of a con man who was also a close friend.  Her short stories have appeared in The Iowa ReviewThe Greensboro Review, The Sonora Review and Black Clock. Her articles - about topics like teenagers, con artists, military recruiters and gaming addicts - have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Stranger and Seattle Metropolitan among others.  She has been a Stegner Fellow at Stanford, as well as Editor in Chief of The Stranger. Recently she was invited to speak at the Harvard - Berlin dialogues about the persistence of the Slut archetype in American high schools. She teaches in the low residency MFA program at Queens College in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Award-winning writer/director/producer Lisa Halpern recently worked with Marta Kauffman (co-creator FRIENDS) to develop Lisa’s screenplay adaptation of the best-selling novel ‘Broken For You’. Lisa is a two time Hedgebrook alumni, and is a member of the Seattle Repertory Theatre’s Writers Group. Her first play ‘Flying Through Blue’ was a 2011 PlayPenn Finalist and was selected for staged readings at the Great Plains Theater Conference (Playlab) 2013, Uprooted Theater’s Playwrights Festival in Milwaukee 2013 and the Northwest Playwright’s Alliance 2014. Intiman Theatre commissioned Lisa to write ‘Metanoia: A Change of Mind’ which recently had a staged reading at the Seattle Repertory Theater. For more info go towww.thirdeyeproductions.org


Kate Willette is a 2003 Hedgebrook alumna. She has published short literary fiction (“Evidence,” Best of Writers at Work 1994), memoir (Some Things Are Unbreakable) and narrative non-fiction (Working 2 Walk 2012). She holds a variety of degrees and certificates from the University of Washington and the Seattle School of Psychology and Theology.

From her home in Bellevue, Kate is currently working on two projects: one is a novel about an unusual church run by a young atheist pastor, and the other is a manual for lay people interested in the science of spinal cord injury and its cure. She’s married to artist/musician/geek/pun-lover Bruce Hanson, with whom she’s raised a pair of insanely wonderful daughters.


Janet Yoder lives with her husband on their Seattle houseboat, the floating nation of Tui Tui. Her writing has appeared in Raven Chronicles, Bayou, Porcupine, PassagerThe MacGuffinNorth Dakota Quarterly, The Evansville ReviewThe Massachusetts ReviewPilgrimage, River Teeth, Chautauqua, and Signs of Life. She is currently at work on a collection of personal essays inspired by her friendship with Skagit tribal elder, the late Vi Hilbert. 


Sonora Jha is a novelist and a professor of journalism. She was born in India and had a successful career as a journalist in Mumbai, Bangalore, and Singapore before moving to the United States to earn a PhD in Political Communication. She is now Associate Professor of Journalism at Seattle University. Her debut novel, Foreign, exploring both Seattle and the suicide of farmers in the villages of contemporary India, has met with much critical acclaim and brings together her work as a journalist, an academic, and a creative writer. She is now writing a memoir.





8PM: Superheroes vs. Fairy Tales: Drawn to Marvel contributors Jeannine Hall Gailey (Becoming the Villainess) and Michael Schmeltzer (Floating Bridge Review) battle fairy tale writers Maya Sonenberg (Learning to Paint) and Angela Jane Fountas (Fairy Tale Review). Hosted by Minor Arcana Press editor-in-chief Evan J. Peterson. 

About the readers:


Jeannine Hall Gailey recently served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She is the author of four books of poetry: Becoming the VillainessShe Returns to the Floating WorldUnexplained Fevers, and The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, out in 2015 from Mayapple Press. Her work has been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry ReviewThe Iowa Review and Prairie Schooner. Her web site is www.webbish6.com.



Michael Schmeltzer earned an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop. His honors include six Pushcart Prize nominations, the Gulf Stream Award for Poetry, and the Blue Earth Review’s Flash Fiction Prize. He has been a finalist for the Four Way Books Intro and Levis Prizes as well as the OSU Press/The Journal Award in Poetry. He helps edit A River & Sound Review and has been published in PANK, Rattle, Natural Bridge, and Mid-American Review, among others. 




Maya Sonenberg has been playing with fairy tales since she was 10 and wrote a story about a doll who was also a princess and also a fairy. Her more recent fiction—much of it fairy tale based—has appeared in two collections—Cartographies (winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize) and Voices from the Blue Hotel, and in numerous literary journals, including Fairy Tale Review, Web Conjunctions, and DIAGRAM. The Cupboard will publish a pamphlet of her fiction, with pictures, in 2015. She teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Washington—Seattle.


Angela Jane Fountas is a former Hugo House Writer-in-Residence and Jack Straw Writer. Her work has appeared in Fairy Tale Review, Quick Fiction, Diagram, and elsewhere. She has been awarded an Artist Trust Fellowship and grants from the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and 4Culture. She also serves on the board at Lit Crawl Seattle.



Evan J. Peterson is the author of Skin Job (2012 Minor Arcana Press) and The Midnight Channel (2013 Babel/Salvage Press), as well as volume editor of the 2014 Lambda Award finalist Gay City 5: Ghosts in Gaslight, Monsters in Steam (Gay City Anthologies & Minor Arcana Press). His poetry, fiction, journalism, and criticism have appeared in Weird Tales, The Stranger, The Rumpus, Assaracus, Nailed, Court Green, and Aim for the Head: An Anthology of Zombie Poetry, from which his poetry was excerpted in The New York Times. He is the new Editor-in-Chief of Minor Arcana Press, recipient of a smART Ventures grant from the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, and publisher of the anthology Drawn to Marvel: Poems from the Comic Books.

Podcast Episode 6

Tradition & Innovation: Noh Master Munenori Takeda and Composer Garrett Fisher

Japanese Noh Master Munenori Takeda was in Seattle recently, preparing for an opera collaboration with Composer Garrett Fisher and the Fisher Ensemble. At The Project Room we discuss our current topic, “Transformation,” and how it relates to the rich tradition of opera and Japanese Noh Theatre.

Read More

Creative Partnership Workshop with Joshua Wolf Shenk

September 23, 7-8:30pm at The Project Room

with Special Guests: Writers Kelley Eskridge & Nicola Griffith; Haruko Nishimura & Joshua Kohl (Degenerate Art Ensemble); Gretta Harley & Sarah Rudinoff (We Are Golden)


What does it take for a two-person partnership to succeed?

In response to this question, TPR presents a collaboration workshop by author Joshua Wolf Shenk. Joshua will present the ideas in his new book POWERS OF TWO and engage participants in thinking about and identifying the beneficial partnerships in their lives using the research he conducted for the book. This is aimed at the general public, with an emphasis on those who work in pairs and would like to learn more about Joshua's research and its impact on creativity and success.

Read Joshua's recent article about creative pairs in The Atlantic 

Pre-order the book from Elliott Bay Book Company and pick it up on your way to the event!

Join Joshua with TPR's Jess Van Nostrand for a conversation at Town Hall Seattle the night prior to the workshop for additional insight into this revealing look at creative collaboration.


About the Presenter:

Joshua Wolf Shenk is the author of Lincoln’s Melancholy, a New York Times Notable Book. A contributor to the Atlantic, Harper’s, The New Yorker, and other publications, he directs the Arts in Mind series on creativity and serves on the general council of The Moth

Joshua Wolf Shenk with Jess Van Nostrand: How Collaboration Fuels Creativity

September 22, 7:30 - 8:45pm at TOWN HALL: tickets $5

And join in a creative pairs workshop with Joshua on September 23rd at The Project Room!

For every John Lennon and Mark Zuckerberg, there’s a Paul McCartney and a Sheryl Sandberg. According to Joshua Wolf Shenk, creativity and innovation work best in pairs. Powers of Two analyzes historical dynamic duos — from politicians and musicians, to artists and business partners. His “eye-opening, illuminating” account highlights the ways these partnerships are created and how these dyads mutually propel one another to greatness. He’ll outline the stages of a successful partnership — meeting, confluence, archetypes, distance, the infinite game, and interruption — explaining why creativity hinges on collaboration. He’ll appear in conversation with Jess Van Nostrand, the Founder of The Project Room.

Presented by: Town Hall, The Project Room, and Elliott Bay Book Company, as part of the Arts & Culture series. Sponsored by City Arts.
Tickets: $5.
Town Hall member benefits: Priority seating, discounted onsite book sales.
Doors open: 6:30 p.m.
Learn more: Quotes from famous creative pairs

About the Presenter:


Joshua Wolf Shenk is an essayist, author, and curator based in Los Angeles. His most recent book, Powers of Two: Seeking the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs (Eamon Dolan Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). His magazine pieces include cover stories inHarper’s, Time, and The Atlantic, where his essay "What Makes Us Happy?" was the most read article in the history of that magazine’s website. His work has also appeared in Slate,The New Yorker, The New York Times, and the national bestseller Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression, edited by Nell Casey. His first book, Lincoln’s Melancholy, was named one of the best books of 2005 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, and won awards from The Abraham Lincoln Institute, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and the National Mental Health Association.

When he’s not reporting and writing, Josh spends his time leading and supporting creative communities. He is a curator, storyteller and advisor to The Moth; vice-chair emeritus of the board of directors, he currently serves on the general council. He is also a past director of the Rose O'Neill Literary House at Washington College, where he curated programs and festivals and directed a small literary press. Shenk consults to the Erikson Institute for Education and Research at the Austen Riggs Center, where he develops creative programs, including Arts in Mind, a conversation series on the intersections of the creative arts and psychology co-hosted by the New School in New York City.

Josh has taught creative writing at The New School, New York University, Washington College, the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, and in private groups. His other publications include In Lincoln's Hand, co-edited by Harold Holzer, an anthology of original original manuscripts with original essays by luminaries including John Updike, Toni Morrison, and Tony Kushner.

Other honors include residencies at Yaddo, MacDowell, the Blue Mountain Center, and the Norman Mailer Center; a Rosalynn Carter fellowship in mental health journalism at the Carter Center; a Japan Society Media Fellowship; and the Frank Whiting scholarship at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Josh was a 2005-06 fellow in non-fiction literature at the New York Foundation for the Arts.

He lives in Silverlake and is the father to a four-year-old boy who, like Josh, has webbed toes.


Art & Technology: Speed Dating 2.0

Tuesday, September 30, 6:30-8:30PM

at 10 degrees: 1312 E. Union St. (Capitol Hill)*

Live Twitter Feed: @projectroomSEA / #ArtTechSpeedDating

In a revival of The Project Room's 2012 Art & Technology Experiment, we are expanding the size and format of the event for Speed Dating, version 2.0! This time, the public is invited to join the experiment (registration required!) Featuring top-notch makers in art and technology, this event introduces creative people who may not meet each other otherwise for an entertaining evening of "first dates" that allows for 250 conversations to take place in one hour! 

A speed date from the 2012 event, with Computer Scientist Elisabeth Robson and Composer Byron Au Yong, under the dutifully-tweeting chaperone and  Seattle Magazine  Arts Editor Brangien Davis

A speed date from the 2012 event, with Computer Scientist Elisabeth Robson and Composer Byron Au Yong, under the dutifully-tweeting chaperone and Seattle Magazine Arts Editor Brangien Davis

Both art and technology are unavoidable aspects of life, so how can they be resources for each other? The goal of Speed Dating 2.0 is to explore the creative territory that is shared by art and technology and to begin conversation that could foster creative problem-solving between these fields. 

Format: Each "date" is six minutes long and includes one artist, one technologist, and one facilitator ("chaperone") who is a highly-respected leader in their field. There is also time for general mingling and socializing before and after. 

Players: Artists from a variety of disciplines including the performing, literary and visual arts; Technologists including programmers, developers, tech "evangelists" and more; Facilitators who produce ideas, such as artistic directors, CEO's, curators, editors, and attorneys.

Results: The chaperones will propose a topic for each date and will share their notes for live Twitter at #ArtTechSpeedDating. A final written response of our collective findings will be published on TPR's literary journal, Off Paper.

How to Prepare: Is there an issue or question about your work you'd like to ask your Art/Tech counterpart? Email it to jess@projectroomseattle.org in advance of the event so it can be worked into the topic questions during the dates! We would love to know what you are wrestling with that could be helpfully addressed by someone outside of your field. Other than that, just bring your curiosity and your conversation skills!

How to Register: If you are not one of our invited participants and want to join the fun, please write jess@projectroomseattle.org with your stated identity as "Artist", "Technologist" or "Producer" (who act as the facilitators) with a note about what kind of work you do. It's first-come, first-served, so write us soon! Update: We are currently at max capacity and unable to add any more participants; however if you would like to be added to the wait-list, let us know: jess@projectroomseattle.org


This program is inspired by Siren, the dating app created by artist Susie Lee and her technology team of Katrina Hess, Karen Caplan, Zuri Biringer, and Joren Winge. Responding to problems users often articulated in other online dating apps, Siren is a platform inspired by what works in real life and what women would choose their dating experience to be like. Siren represents Lee's creative skills as a visual and conceptual artist whose work examines contemporary issues, from aging to environmental fracking- more about her work can be found here



*We are making use of a larger space around the corner to accommodate this more ambitious format! It's three blocks from TPR next to Oola Distillery. Special thanks to our program partner, 10 degrees!

Podcast Episode 5

Empathy, Equity, Change: Musician and Visual Artist Paul Rucker

in 2009, Paul Rucker began making work that responded to the history of slavery and its relationship to current American issues about race and equality. This effort developed into the on-going work, "Recapitulation," which The Project Room is followed throughout 2014. Hear about Paul's progress and to see what he has learned so far in this ambitious and large-scale body of work. 

Read More

The Failure Variety Show


At Bumbershoot!

Sunday, August 31, 1:45-2:45pm

Charlotte Martin Theatre, Seattle Center (at the Seattle Children's Theatre)

FEATURING: Carrie Akre, Kelleen Conway Blanchard, Bryan Cook, Brett Hamil, and Eric Olson w/ Timothy Firth; hosted by Emmett Montgomery!

Entry to the show requires a Bumbershoot festival ticket, which can be purchased here

The Project Room presents an hour-long variety show featuring a critical part of the creative process: failure. Mixing humor with artistic disaster, The Failure Variety Show will feature rapid-fire presentations by a talented lineup of special guests, followed by the live on-stage reveal of the Failure Variety Show Rube Goldberg Machine, created during the show by artist Eric Olson and destined not to succeed.


Why are you making a Rube Goldberg Machine during a live show about failure? you may ask yourself. Well, we thought it was the ultimate test of something that's really difficult and is certainly not meant to be made in one hour in front of an audience in a theater. Thus, it has a high potential for disaster, and we think you will enjoy watching us face failure live on stage.

Why are you collecting stories of failure, and what am I supposed to do about it? you may also ask yourself. In order avoid failing alone, we would like to hear your personal anecdotes of failure for sharing during the Failure Variety Show (yes, you can be anonymous). Send your failure story to info@projectroomseattle.org

About the Presenters:

In the early ’90s, Carrie Akre was the lead singer of Hammerbox, a potent alternative rock outfit with guitar hooks as sharp as Nirvana’s but without the record label push the group deserved. In August 1993, Hammerbox performed at Endfest in Washington State to an audience of more than 14,000 fans, sharing the stage with well-known college-radio favorites like X, Social Distortion, and They Might Be Giants. The group was dropped, marking the beginning of Akre’s difficulties with major labels, one that would motivate her to start her own label, Good-Ink Records. Akre formed the band Goodness in 1994 whose self-titled first album was first released on Y Records and then later re-released onLava, an imprint of Atlantic Records. Their second LP, Anthem, for Atlantic in 1998 was shelved after failing to produce a “single”. The label dropped the band soon there after. Goodness disbanded in 2000. In 1999, Akre joined the Rockfords with guitarist Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Rick Friel (vocals), and ex-Goodness members Danny Newcomb (bass) and Chris Friel (drums). Akre released her solo debut, Home, in 2000 (on GoodInk Records), Invitation in 2002 (on self owned My Way Records) and Last the Evening in 2007 (on Loveless Records).


Kelleen Conway Blanchard is a Seattle playwright. Her work has been seen/produced at Annex Theatre, Macha Monkey, Balagan Theatre, Weird and Awesome, Live Girls!, 12 Minutes Max, 14/48, Spin the Bottle and as part of FringeACT. Her plays have been nominated for the Gregory awards and the Gypsy Rose Lee awards. Outside of Seattle, her plays have been part of Eight Tens at Eight in Santa Cruz, the 2nd Annual Festival of New Short Plays in Belfast, Maine and Perishable Theatre’s Women’s Playwriting Festival. She is inspired by ordinary creepiness and terrible secrets. She also enjoys those internet videos of raccoons. Her new play, The Blood Countess will be produced at Annex theater in the Fall. Come see it! There will be blood. http://thisisprettycreepy.blogspot.com/


Comic/writer Bryan Cook, recently named one of LA Weekly’s 10 Comics to Watch for 2014, is the host and creator of the live show (and podcast on the Nerdist network) Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction (one of Rolling Stone’s Top 10 Comedy Podcasts) presented every month at The Virgil in LA, as well as all over the US. He writes for Funny or Die, was featured in the comedy special Dancing Around the Shit Fire with Kyle Kinane, and has performed at JFL Chicago, Outside Lands (SF), High Plains Comedy Fest (Denver), SF Sketchfest, Bridgetown Comedy Fest (Portland), Riot LA, and Bumbershoot (Seattle). Cook has also contributed to McSweeney’s, written for Ridiculousness on MTV, Fashion Police, and various Joan Rivers projects. 


Brett Hamil is a standup comic based in Seattle, where The Stranger called him “a truly treasured ham.” He writes a monthly humor column for City Arts Magazine along with cartoons, essays, videos, and interviews. He performs at clubs, colleges, and festivals all over the U.S. and Canada, including the Bridgetown Comedy Festival (Portland), Northwest Comedy Fest (Vancouver) and Bumbershoot (right here now). He is the creator of the award-eligible one-man sketch comedy podcast Ham Radio with Brett Hamil, featured on the Earwolf Podcast Network’s Earwolf Challenge. His videos have been featured on websites like Upworthy and the Daily Dot, receiving hundreds of thousands of views. He lives atop Beacon Hill with his wife and two dogs, all of whom he found on the internet. 

Emmett Montgomery (FVS Host) is a storyteller, comedian and artist who first found the stand-up stage in 2004 and has been failing beautifully ever since. Emmett has been involved in a lot of things including critically acclaimed comedy collectives, post apocalyptic variety shows, underground wrestling leagues and family friendly comedy nights in pizza restaurants. Mr. Montgomery has been featured the film “Seattle Komedy Documentary”, the coffee table book “Seattle 100: a portrait of a city” and multiple festivals including Bumbershoot and the Bridgetown Comedy and Sasquatch festivals. In addition to wandering the country telling jokes, he currently curates and hosts a love letter to Seattle in the form of variety show/sharing party entitled “Weird and Awesome with Emmett Montgomery” at the beloved Annex Theatre; and is a member of the Seattle chapter of the Bushwick Book Club, a collection of musicians and artists that create and perform original works based on literary sources. 


Eric John Olson (Rube Goldberg Machine Designer w/ Timothy Firth) is an artist and engineer. He studied computer science at Seattle University and human-computer interaction at Columbia University. Olson works with video, digital media, installation and participation to explore how we relate to ourselves and one another. Recently he helped create SEAWORTHY, a curatorial project dedicated to creative practices that value collaboration, experimentation, and social engagement.

Read more about other TPR programs related to the topic of Failure 

Women, Relationships & the Internet: A Roundtable Discussion

September 11, 6-7pm: A roundtable discussion with Angela B. Ginorio from the University of Washington Women’s Studies Department, and Alina Hua, Mozilla’s Manager of data governance and privacy policy. Join the conversation as we explore the tricky business of privacy and female relationships with two experts in very different fields. This event is in conjunction with our ongoing "Privacy" topic and the launch of the Siren dating app created by visual artist Susie J. Lee.

About the Presenters:

Angela B. Ginorio is associate professor in the Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, and adjunct associate professor in the Departments of Psychology and American Ethnic Studies--all at the University of Washington in Seattle. She received her B.A. and M.A. in Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico and her Ph.D. in Psychology from Fordham University in New York City. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association's Divisions 35 and 45. She teaches courses on "Women and Violence," "Women and/in Science," "Issues for Ethnic Minorities and Women in Science and Engineering," and "Gendered Technologies." Her scholarship focuses on factors affecting access to and experiences in science and engineering of under-represented groups (students and faculty of color, women, students from rural backgrounds, first-generation students), with particular attention to impact of socially defined identities / intersectionality. Ginorio developed and from 1992-2004 directed the Rural Girls in Science Program [depts.washington.edu] of the University of Washington.

Alina Hua is a Senior Data Privacy Manager at Mozilla. In her role, she advises and guides the organization through the development, evolution and implementation of its privacy principles and data policies. She also leads privacy-innovation initiatives and collaborations that explore the creation, education and awareness of new privacy features or enhancements for mobile and desktop. Prior to Mozilla, Alina was with Yahoo!’s Privacy & Data Governance group, and spent several years as a senior consultant at Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers providing advisory services to technology, financial and healthcare clients. She holds a Master of Science in Public Policy & Management (MSPPM) from Carnegie Mellon University and is a Certified Privacy Professional (CIPP/US).

Recognized for the intelligence, emotion, and sensuality of her new media work, Susie J. Lee explores transformation and connections through technology. Lee's work has been exhibited in the United States and abroad, in such venues as the Denver Art Museum, Blanton Museum, Galleria Tiziana Di Caro in Salerno, Italy, and Gallery Hyundai in Seoul. A winner of the Stranger Genius Award, Lee has received support from 4Culture and the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, and her work is in notable public and private collections. Lee's Still Lives was an unfolding of time at the end of life in a series of video portraits and traveled to the Portland Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum and featured in Huffington Post. Of Breath and Rain at the Frye Art Museum was named "Best Multimedia Exhibition" in 2012. Her solo exhibition at the North Dakota Museum of Art, Split Open, revealed the quiet and fierce lives impacted by the oil boom in North Dakota, and her recent piece with collaborator Byron Au Yong, 11 Pianists was commissioned by the Mitchell Center for the Arts for its Countercurrent festival. She is currently the CEO and founder of Siren, an app that empowers women in their interactions with men.

Read more about TPR & Siren here:


Living Liner Notes: Celebrating the Seattle Musicians of Wheedles Groove Volume Two

Wednesday July 23, 7-8:30pm


Join us for a very special evening as we celebrate the history of Seattle’s inner city music scene of the 1970s and 80s. Hear personal stories from the musicians featured on the brand new release, Wheedle's Groove Volume Two: Seattle Funk, Modern Soul, & Boogie 1972-1987 (Light in the Attic Records), and join the conversation that reflects on Seattle's important yet overlooked past as one of unique musical energy.

The event will be hosted by City Arts Magazine Senior Editor Jonathan Zwickel, who conducted many interviews for the liner notes included in the multi-artist collection Wheedle's Groove Volume Two: Seattle Funk, Modern Soul, & Boogie 1972-1987. 

Listen to the live event recording here

About the Presenters:

Jonathan Zwickel is an editor and journalist who lives in Seattle and has been Senior Editor at City Arts Magazine for several years. He has also written for Rolling Stone, Filter, People, and authored a book on the Beastie Boys. 

The format for Living Liner Notes will include Jonathan chatting live with WGV2 music scene veterans Robbie Hill (the drummer who formed Family Affair with his own brothers, best represented by the song "Don't Give Up"); Tony Benton (of ahead-of-its-time electro group Teleclere and currently working in contemporary hip-hop promotion); Bernadette Bascom (who recorded “I Don’t Want To Lose Your Love,” was part of pop-R&B band Epicentre, and later worked with Stevie Wonder); and Frederick Robinson lll (pioneering the gospel-funk protest song with “Love One Another,” and spent many years as a Chemical Dependency Counselor). 

About the Album:

Seattle-based reissue label Light In The Attic Records released the original Wheedle’s Groove compilation a few years ago, which chronicled the King County Soul and R&B scene of the late 60's and early 70's. The newly released Wheedle's Groove II (CD and vinyl LP) is more than just a sequel, it features crucial stories about our region’s vibrant, diverse, and creative African-American music scene during the late 70's and early 80's.

Living Liner Notes gives historical Seattle-Tacoma music fans a chance to listen to and engage with those who crafted music for nearby clubs yet had their eyes on the stars, and went on to become engaged in the music business, social work, politics, the church, and other ways to entertain, illuminate, and serve the community. This event is part of The Project Room's How is Seattle Remembered? series.




Preparing for The Failure Variety Show: The Rube Goldberg Confessionals

July 10, 5-8pm: In preparation for The Failure Variety Show at Bumbershoot, we will be testing our plans for a Rube Goldberg machine and collecting YOUR stories of failure! Stop by for a lively open house as we ask for your input and get ourselves ready for TPR's first Bumbershoot appearance.

Featuring Eric Olson, Failure Variety Show Rube Goldberg Machine Designer; and Emmett Montgomery, Failure Variety Show Host and Presenter

Why are you making a Rube Goldberg Machine during a live show about failure? you may ask yourself. Well, we thought it was the ultimate test of something that's really difficult and is certainly not meant to be made in one hour in front of an audience in a theater. Thus, it has a high potential for disaster, and we think you will enjoy watching us face failure live on stage.

Why are you collecting stories of failure, and what am I supposed to do about it? you may also ask yourself. In order not to feel like we are failing alone, we would like to hear your personal anecdotes of failure; we are collecting them for sharing during the Failure Variety Show at Bumbershoot (yes, you can be anonymous).

Read more about the Failure Variety Show here


Eric John Olson is an artist and engineer. He studied computer science at Seattle University and human-computer interaction at Columbia University. Olson works with video, digital media, installation and participation to explore how we relate to ourselves and one another. Recently he helped create SEAWORTHY, a curatorial project dedicated to creative practices that value collaboration, experimentation, and social engagement.

Emmett Montgomery is a storyteller, comedian and artist who first found the stand-up stage in 2004 and has been failing beautifully ever since. Emmett has been involved in a lot of things including critically acclaimed comedy collectives, post apocalyptic variety shows, underground wrestling leagues and family friendly comedy nights in pizza restaurants. Mr. Montgomery has been featured the film “Seattle Komedy Documentary”, the coffee table book “Seattle 100: a portrait of a city” and multiple festivals including Bumbershoot and the Bridgetown Comedy and Sasquatch festivals. In addition to wandering the country telling jokes, he currently curates and hosts a love letter to Seattle in the form of variety show/sharing party entitled “Weird and Awesome with Emmett Montgomery” at the beloved Annex Theatre; and is a member of the Seattle chapter of the Bushwick Book Club, a collection of musicians and artists that create and perform original works based on literary sources.