The Henry Open House is teeming with fun, excitement, and art! Not only are we opening two new exhibitions, Like a Valentine: The Art of Jeffry Mitchell and Now Here is also Nowhere: Part I, but we are also throwing a museum-wide party! Come dressed in your conceptual best for the Student Henry Advisory Group’s Conceptual Costume Contest. Enjoy the sweet music of the UW Mariachi Band, Fainting Goats, and FBDC ~ ФБДЦ; Check out the FAN CLUB in the Study Center; eat some delicious babycakes courtesy of Cupcake Royale and enjoy libations from Pyramid Breweries. All of that PLUS installations of Public Health Poems by Rachel Kessler!

Rachel Kessler will premier her new poem cycle on public health posters installed in The Henry’s restrooms by sinks and in bathroom stalls.  Kessler will lead groups in hand-washing poetry usage, demonstrate hand washing technique, recite bathroom stall limericks, and sing sea shantys.  Each poem lasts approximately 30 seconds, the amount of time the department of health recommends lathering hands for.


About the project:

Remember how your preschool teacher instructed you to rub your soapy hands together for the entirety of the Happy Birthday song?  Now there is a poem for that.  While scrubbing in like surgeons, our minds and mouths deserve something more than that same old dreary song.

Rachel Kessler, a poet of the everyday, has composed a new poem cycle that will appear on bathroom stall doors, above urinals, and next to sinks in public restrooms. Posing as Employees Must Wash Hands Before Returning to Work signs and stall door advertisements, these poster poems will provide entertainment while imparting a useful earworm of knowledge.

She began writing her first anonymous protest poems on the bathroom stall walls in seventh grade, and has long been fascinated by graffiti art. Inspired by a collaboration several years ago with poet Pete Miller and their collective LOCCAL: League of Citizens Concerned About Literature, her work with homeless adults, and as a preschool teacher and parent, began trying her hand at School House Rock style poems for her kids to recite while scrubbing their hands at the sink.

Determined to put poetry in unlikely and non-traditional venues, her work explores the function and origin of poetry, not only as a mnemonic device, but as a way to reflect on the mundane, daily activities that comprise the majority of our hours. After a short residency in Rome researching ancient public health works, she collaborated with graffiti, nursery rhyme, fairy tales, health department propaganda to compose poems for hand-washing, poems for toilet use, poems for dental hygiene, poems for bathroom stall decisions.  Like the “Talking Fountains” of Rome, defaced statues where poets post anonymous political commentary, bathroom stalls are the original online comments.  Public restrooms, like phone booths, are one of the few public-private spaces where a citizen can find respite in a public place.

This project was funded by a City Artists award from the City of Seattle’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.


About the Henry event:
Several Public Health Poems will be installed in the Henry restrooms by sinks and in bathroom stalls. Rachel Kessler will lead individuals and groups in handwashing-poetry usage in the restrooms via demonstrations, in impromptu bathroom stall limerick recitations, and in other public health poetic concerns.  Sea shantys will be sung in bathroom stalls.



Rachel Kessler, co-founder of poetry-performance collaborations Typing Explosion and the Vis-à-Vis Society, is a writer and performer from Seattle.  Passionate about presenting poetry in non-traditional venues, she has performed interactive poetry in parks, on buses, in phonebooths, hair salons, and abandoned motels. She is visiting faculty and writer-in-residence at Centrum, a Whiteley Center Fellow with the University of Washington, a Jack Straw Writer, and senior writer-in-residence with Seattle Arts & Lectures.  She has performed at multiple times at the Seattle Art Museum, Bumbershoot, Night School at the Sorrento, Galapagos Art Space and Bowery Poetry Club in New York City.  Her poems have appeared in Tin House and the Monarch Review, and her text-based visual art is featured in The Open Daybook and Sea-Cat.

In summary, she’s a pretty rad lady. Make sure to spend some time in the loo at the Open House!

Did you miss “In the Spirit of Carolee”?

You can tune in and listen to the recording of Dodie Bellamy’s reading of the Buddhist from the event on KBCS Thursday afternoon at 4:30. Listen to a preview of the recording here.

Dodie Bellamy is a novelist, poet, critic and cultural journalist. Her most recent book is The Buddhist (Publication Studio), an essayistic memoir based on her blog, Belladodie. Her most recent chapbook is Whistle While You Dixie (Summer BF Press). Time Out New York named her chapbook Barf Manifesto (Ugly Duckling) “Best Book Under 30 Pages” for 2009. Other books include Academonia, Pink Steam and The Letters of Mina Harker. Her book Cunt-Ups won the 2002 Firecracker Alternative Book Award for poetry. She teaches in the grad writing programs at Antioch Los Angeles, California College of the Arts, and San Francisco State.

Need more poetry in your life?

Wave Books is hosting their 2nd annual Poetry Celebration with 3 (THREE!) days of poetry at the Henry this weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday! This year’s festival is Poetry In Translation which will feature readings in the James Turrell Skyspace, art exhibitions, lectures, and discussions. Each day, attendees can choose from fifteen hour-long talks and readings, with local and national poets, translators, and editors.

Buy tickets HERE.

The cost of a ticket gains you entry to all three days of festivities at the Henry, plus a welcome packet including, among other delights: a handmade book, pamphlets, festival ephemera, and a ticket to the Sunday night event, “Translators on Translation,” hosted by Seattle Arts & Lectures at the Neptune Theater, with Peter Cole, Bill Porter (aka Red Pine), Nikolai Popov, and moderated by Matthew Zapruder.

Summer Shuffle

Download a printable 8.5×11 flier here: SummerShuffle-FLIER to share with your friends!

Arnold Palmer = Half Iced Tea & Half Lemonade
Summer Shuffle = Half Sale & Half Swap (plus readings in the Skyspace)

Come join us as we host our first summer book sale! We’ve gone through our storage and collected the greatest books we have so that they might find a new owner- YOU!
On Saturday July 24th the Henry will host a summer book sale and swap featuring a variety of exhibition catalogues and publications from our secret stash.

In addition to the books on sale, visitors are encouraged to bring their own art books and swap them for other art books that have been donated by a variety of organizations and individuals.

Visitors may swap as many books as they like- one for one. Remaining books will be donated to the Friends of the Seattle Public Library and Books To Prisoners.
This event will also feature readings from Nico Vassilakis and Crystal Curry at 12pm, and Joel Felix and Jeanne Heuving at 2pm in the James Turrell Skyspace.

Any fine art book in good condition is eligible for swapping at this event. Books like these are welcome:

-artist books
-solo or group exhibition catalogues
-art history texts
-art theory texts
-editions periodicals
-quarterly reviews on art/literature
-artist biographies

Poems inspired by Misrach

Untitled #394-03. 2003 Chromogenic color print Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles; and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York
Untitled #394-03. 2003 Chromogenic color print Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles; and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

Henry Gallery Attendants have gotten contemplative in the Henry exhibition Richard Misrach: On the Beach, and would like to share some of their writings with Hankblog. Thanks, GA’s!

Get inspired this week, come and check out the exhibition before it closes on Sunday!

On the Beach | By Joanna

Am I part of the beach?




Rolling in the sand.




I blend in.




On the Beach, Untitled #704-03 | By Hannah

Being Absent – sorrowful, anxious, lonely.

Where am I?

Missed, fleeting, lost.

I am erased: Wiped out, removed, gone.

Whose absences do long shadows mourn for?

On the Beach, Untitled 394-03 | By Jennifer

Drifting in the warm waters,

floating, breathing, calming.

I feel at home,

happy, safe, free,

I am one with the water,

at ease, at peace, at home.

Can I stay here forever?

Summer poetry appreciation class? Please?

The Seattle-PI’s Regina Hackett is inarguably the most poetic art critic in Seattle, and perhaps anywhere. There may be other critics who are better at spelling, conveying facts in a straightforward manner, or hard-boiled, investigative reporting – but she’s got the poetry bag wrapped up. By poetic, I mean she creates musical phrases that evoke strong mental images that often convey something about the art she is referring to much more effectively than a traditional description or critique, AND she often cites poems, lyrics, and prose in her work. She must have bookshelves full of poems stored in her brain to call up those quotes so naturally.

Yesterday it was Robert Frost. Day before that, William Carlos Williams. Last week, Raymond Carver, March 7 – William Butler Yeats. And there’s Jessie Bernstein, Marianne Moore, and Shakespeare, Shakespeare, and more Shakespeare.

I’d like to publicly invite Regina to collaborate on a casual poetry appreciation meeting, for artists, art lovers, and, well, I guess anyone who this truly appeals to. Maybe we’ll meet up in Irwin’s nine spaces, nine trees, some summery day in June. Attendees could bring a few of their favorites, read them, and talk about the artwork or idea that reminded them of that particular poem. It sounds corny, and maybe a little sappy, too – But it won’t be.

Are you interested in joining us?