1. Peep Shows at W3
    January 12, 2013 by Walden3


    W3 is lining the pockets of regional artists, one dollar at a time…

    Walden Three occupies a building with a lot of Seattle history. Built in the 1880’s, The Seven Seas Building has housed a mercantile, a gun range, a hotel, a cinema, a cigar shop and a tavern. But none of its occupants are more infamous and celebrated as the near 30 years it stood as the address of The Lusty Lady. Known for their clever marquee word plays (We’re Open Not Clothed!) it was the seedy peep show everyone loved, even if they weren’t feeding dollar bills into the mechanically operated windows that revealed young women dancing inside a mirror and velvet-lined room.

    The Lusty Lady closed in June of 2010, citing lack of patronage (and yes you can blame the internet for that) and the city mourned it’s loss. When we started developing a working model of how Walden Three would operate, we knew that we wanted to preserve some of The Lusty Lady’s spirit and legacy. Part of that was accomplished by restoring the marquee and continuing to play and tease pedestrians and our neighbor to the east – The Seattle Art Museum. Part of that was our weekly ‘Live Nude Models’ drawing class. But personally, I wanted to bring back those dollar bill acceptors and the little portals that opened up a minute at a time to reveal some private magic on the opposing side. It took us a few days to track down the hardware (thanks videotex-inc.com) but we finally found some used equipment from an old peep show in San Francisco and a few weeks later a box full of crusty, dusty and tangled windows, wires and bill acceptors arrived at our doorstep.

    What you know now is the thoroughly disinfected, untangled and sleek Peep Show at W3. The five booths we have against the west wall of the first floor rarely showcase nude dancers, but the 18″ x 12″ windows do reveal some of the coolest miniature installations, short films and performances you could imagine. And for a dollar a minute viewing (before the steel door conceals your view), we’ve been amazed by how much money these little things make! Artists have been transforming these 3′ x 8′ x 8′ “private galleries” into modern dance performance spaces, kinetic installations, miniature worlds and visions of grand beauty. Take Casey Curran’s recent collaboration with Macklemore, entitled “The Garden.” Curran’s mechanical world of wire and brass fauna winds and unfolds before your eyes, spinning and engulfing the space to the soundtrack of Macklemore’s new hit single of the same name. It’s a beautiful collaboration of kinetic sculpture and hip hop and a project that birthed the Haley Young directed video employing the talents of both artists. In it’s first month at W3, The Garden grossed over $9,000.00 – all in crumpled one dollar bills! Sure things have calmed down a bit from it’s debut month, but The Garden is still pulling in over $5,000.00 a month, and expected to clear over $20,000.00 in it’s three month run (and to be entirely transparent, W3 does take a 25% commission on Peep Show sales).

    While the Macklemore/Curran installation might be an exceptional case (and this is all still relatively new) regarding sales, there are some really fascinating Peep Show booths you should check out. Eve Cohen designed and Curtis Taylor directed Little Monsters is an incredible short film mixed with installation that, at a running time of 3 minutes and 46 seconds is very worthy of your 4 bucks. Crispin Spaeth’s new dance piece White Box/Red Cube is an explosion of movement – so much so that the dancers must wipe the steam off their windows so the viewer can properly see it. Flatchestedmama’s Kissing Booth is an oddly intimate, prison visiting center-like, charged piece where the performer attempts to kiss the visitors through the plate glass (sterilizing wipes are left on the viewing side for those drawn to slobber back on the transparent surface). Phil Roach has a great new miniature, with more than one surprise, and you are a fool if you don’t pay to see the conclusion. Portland installation artist Herman Kund has transformed the 3′ x 8′ room into an exploration into deep space and Troy Gua makes you feel like a rather shameful voyeur (but not so shameful that you stop feeding the bill dispenser money).

    The Peep Shows at Walden Three are fueled by curiosity and a certain novelty of what they once were. They seduce W3 visitors one dollar at a time and no one would ever guess this slow hustle would deliver such healthy profits. It is just one more way to showcase the talents of our regions artists, put some serious money in their pockets and help pay for the programming at W3. Don’t be embarrassed, this isn’t your father’s peep show.


  2. 3 on the left – 3 on the right
    January 8, 2013 by Walden3


    Some things come into the world in strange ways. For about two weeks I’d pass strangers on the street and they would in discreet, or more obvious ways, flash three fingers on their right hand, three fingers on their left. There was no real uniformed style, some would cross their arms, others would push their arms straight out or down at their sides, but it was unmistakable – people were flashing me. Was it a gang sign? Was it friendly? Should I smile or return their signal with some made up sign of my own? And then a friend did it to me. And I stared at it. And I smiled the smile of an idiot who is the last to get the joke, the last to connect the dots. W on one hand, 3 on the other. God knows I didn’t invent it. But I like it. I think it’s kinda cool.

    Now I look out for it, and I see it all the time. I was in Vancouver BC last weekend and at least a dozen people flashed the W3 sign my way. And I nodded and gave it right back. Sometimes it lead to a conversation, sometimes it was just a smile and an acknowledgement – I’ve been there – I’m an artist – I like what you guys are doing.

    Some things come into the world in strange ways. I don’t know who started this, or how it caught on so fast, but it has become part of our regions identity, a way for people to communicate on the street – I saw your show – I talked to you at an opening – you were at that lecture – I dressed you up in the stylist station – you are the girl that played the ukelele on a Barking Spot that one day – we are going to change things. I have no idea where all of this is going, but I sure like the direction.