Visual Artist Eli Lara creates on location for Wash of Gray © Chloe Collyer
When PNB Company dancer Miles Pertl was asked to create a piece for Locally Sourced, he decided to dive head-first into the theme. His sister, multi-media artist Sydney M. Pertl, was the first artistic collaborator to join the team. Together, they set out to answer the question “What makes Seattle so special?”
Over the course of the next several months, the brother/sister team recruited an impressive roster of local artists including composer Jherek Bischoff, visual artists Maxfield Woodring and Eli Lara, costume designer Patrick Stovall, and lighting designer Reed Nakayama. In addition to the artists contributing directly to the production design, Sydney and Miles curated the work of an additional 75 artists from the Seattle community to be showcased as an exhibit in the lobby.
Miles notes that hometown pride is something he treasures about Seattle: “Whether it’s our coffee or Rainier beer, we tend to find pride in what we make. It is beautiful to see Seattle artists all highlighted in one spot. I think if you come, you will absolutely love seeing what all of these creatives have worked tirelessly to present to you.”
Keep scrolling to learn a little more about a few of the artists bringing this piece to life. These three visual artists (Sydney, Maxfield, and Eli) have created art pieces to be live rendered behind the dancers during Wash of Gray.
Sydney M. Pertl
When do you feel most local? I feel most local when I’m walking downtown, swimming against the current of an umbrella-wielding populace…. without an umbrella!
Favorite little-known local spot? I love to be anywhere in the beautiful outdoors of the Pacific Northwest, but my favorite places to hang out and grab a drink are: The Streamline Tavern (Queen Anne), The Mercury @Machinewerks (Capitol Hill), and McCoy’s Firehouse (Pioneer Square). All three are incredible local businesses which I support as often as possible! I’m also a huge supporter of the older bowling alleys as they are disappearing rapidly. I highly recommend going to Adventure Bowling Center in Snoqualmie; it has six lanes, top of the lane ball return, and is in one of the most picturesque locations in the Pacific Northwest.
What about the Northwest inspires you? I am constantly uplifted by the beauty of our surroundings in the Pacific Northwest, especially by our breathtaking beaches, however, my main source of inspiration is in the people who live here. The incredible breadth and depth of conversation with strangers here – from retellings of personal life histories to tutorials on native and invasive species of lichen (and everything in between) – never ceases to amaze and impress me. In my experience, the Seattle freeze is a myth; it’s not that we don’t communicate, we just do it a little… differently, and I absolutely love it about our city.
Tell us about your creative role in Locally Sourced. My brother first asked me to lead the artist team for Wash of Gray, but as the generation of ideas began to increase exponentially in our brainstorming process, we began to see this project as much bigger than ourselves. We began to tag in many other artists, makers, and creative minds to contribute to this work of art, and with that, I was lucky enough to take on the role of co-producer, working with Miles to oversee all aspects of the production of the ballet! I have done everything from choosing costume colors, to assisting Miles as a dramaturg, to hacking my way through nettles and backwoods at 4:15 AM with two backpacks of sound recording equipment in order to capture the dawn chorus … and, of course, making the drawings for the backdrop!
How has this collaboration informed the work we’ll see on stage? Collaboration has informed every part of the work you will see on stage! There is no aspect of this piece that hasn’t been thought up, improved upon, and created by many, many incredible individuals who have lent their time, energy, and talents to making this a reality. I feel incredibly honored and lucky to have worked with so many wonderful people in bringing Wash of Gray to life.
If you could tell the audience one thing about your work on this piece, what would it be? I think that at first glance, Wash of Gray could be taken as a very literal interpretation of Seattle — there are scenes of mountains, water, the city skyline — but the true essence of Locally Sourced within our piece is in the collaboration and creative processes of the many extremely talented individuals who put their heart and soul in to the making of this ballet.
When do you feel most local? Walking in a light rain in shorts and a t-shirt.
Favorite little-known local spot? Tat’s Deli.
What about the Northwest inspires you? The cold, wet grey that incubates new life and ideas.
Tell us about your creative role in Locally Sourced. I’m on the visual artist team for Wash of Gray. I’ll be painting the cityscape backdrop including the Smith Tower for the opening of the piece and collaborating on other scenes.
How has this collaboration informed the work we’ll see on stage? Our collaboration has been hugely experimental. You’ll just have to experience the final product on stage.
If you could tell the audience one thing about your work on this piece, what would it be? I painted this scene over a dozen times in person standing on that street corner outside of Starbucks to get a better feel for how it changes throughout the day.
When do you feel most local? I feel most local when I’m at the shore looking at the mountains, when it’s cold and bright in the spring.
Favorite little-known local spot? The Wild Mermaid on Vashon Island must be visited! A cozy charming cafe and bar with the most soothing view of the Sound.
What about the Northwest inspires you? The Northwest is a rich, beautiful land of plentiful wonders and I am constantly overcome by the enormity and history of its natural splendor.
Tell us about your creative role in Locally Sourced. I helped develop the visual and conceptual aspects of the set design and the piece as a whole.
How has this collaboration informed the work we’ll see on stage? Having the opportunity to engage with such talented artists in a equal exchange of ideas was thrilling. Taking part in the shared pursuit of an ideal representation of our beloved city was a wonderful experience.
If you could tell the audience one thing about your work on this piece, what would it be The motion of water is the secret to living a happy life in Seattle.
PNB is able to support new work like Wash of Gray through generous donations from individuals and foundations. Click here to learn more about our New Works Initiative, or to donate today.