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Working with the grain

{ { Steve Sergev carves a wood piece with his lathe at his home shop. Photo by Megan Campbell

A man discovers — and rediscovers — the joys of woodworking By Megan Campbell Staff Writer


teve Sergev stood at his lathe, woodchips spraying around him as he edged the onetime block of walnut closer toward the recognizable curvature of a bowl. As he took more and more chunks off his material, a musty exposed wood scent added itself to the odor of crisp, dried lumber that already permeated his shop. Soon the not-quite-raw-material, notquite-functional-object he was shaping in his hands would join hundreds of other wood chunks and half-finished, drying bowls littered and stacked in the shop next to his house just outside Sammamish. Letting the lathe slow, the 68-year-old examined his work. Getting close. “It’s just satisfying to take a lump of wood and make something useful out of it,” Sergev said later that day while sitting with his wife of 40 years, Cory, at their dining room table. “It’s fun to discover the grain inside.” A retired Boeing engineer, Sergev said he does not consider himself an artist. But Cory, an artist herself, vigorously disagrees. If you ask her, she’ll launch into an examination of Sergev’s use of form, shape and color. “[Those are] all the things that artists use,” she said. ‘WOODWORK’ CONTINUED ON PG 6




‘Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture’ examines the life, work of the master builder PG 3

The Canadian power group is confirmed for Marymoor’s summer concerts PG 4

Silver screen-themed concert series follows Hollywood’s lead, adds sequel PG 6



The Don’t Miss List By Daniel Nash

Louis Kahn and Jonas Salk examine Kahn’s design for the unbuilt City Tower intended for Philadelphia.

Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako will play Efua Kuti in ‘My Heart is the Drum.’ Photo by Mark Kitaoka

This month Village Theatre presents the world premiere of “My Heart is the Drum,” a highly anticipated musical from Jennie Redling, Phillip Palmer and Stacey Luftig that has already received multiple awards for its book and score. Set in Ghana at the turn of the millennium, “Heart” stars Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako as a young woman determined to attend a university despite her parents’ opposition. “[The show] is about passion, about love, about want, about consequence,” Director Schele Williams said. “Our protagonist faces some very powerful and very tough lessons that inform the woman she becomes.” The show addresses challenging themes such as education quality, the AIDS epidemic and human trafficking. WHEN: March 17-April 24 WHERE: Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front St. N., Issaquah


The International Ballet Theatre will present a children’s production of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” at the Meydenbauer Center, with musical compositions from Tchaikovsky, Glazunov and Shostakovich, with costuming inspired by the Tim Burton film. The choreography for the show was arranged by Vera Altunina. Visit for tickets. WHEN: March 19-20 WHERE: Meydenbauer Center, 11100 NE Sixth St., Bellevue


Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre is gathering 80 Washington state students to put together a production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” the comic 1960s musical adapted from the novel by Shepherd Mead. Supported by a grant from The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, the Rising Star project is a program which pairs students with mentors in the theater world, culminating in an entirely student-run production of a show. “They leave this program with professionalism and confidence that carries in their chosen carer path, whatever that may be,” Program Director Orlando Morales said. “It’s a great privilege to work with such dedicated and passionate young adults.” More than a dozen Eastside students from Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond and Sammamish will participate. WHEN: March 3-5 WHERE: 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave., Seattle

THE MATH OF KAHN If you’ve had the opportunity to examine a modern day architectural rendering, the experience can be… How should this be put? Disturbing. That’s the word. There’s just no way to say it politely. It’s in the combination of disjointed details, to be sure. The bland, geometric shapes that make up the building itself. The hastily sketched landscape details. Maybe worst of all are the copied and pasted photographs of people “enjoying” the theoretical building — disproportionately sized, defiant of depth and damned to forever occupy a hell that resembles Roger Rabbit’s Toontown in reverse. And maybe these renderings are a disquieting reminder of the way in which modern educational models and the cult of STEM have trained us to organize our mental faculties by arbitrary (read: false) divisions of “left” and “right.” Math is math, art is art, and never the twain shall meet. So to see the work of an old school master like Louis Kahn is to breathe deeply of an integrated mind, one that could understand the fundamentals of materials science, geometry and nature, then extrapolate them into sprawling works of functionalist art.

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a futuristic direction for Philadelphia’s cityscape. Every selection from Kahn’s portfolio shows the level of art and detail he put into his work, whether he was designing a sprawling complex, a family home or a community center’s bath facilities. Though a genius to be sure, Whitaker acknowledged that Kahn benefited from a pre-computerized era — a time when architects didn’t face intensely “compressed” deadlines that forced them to move from building to building to building. Judging from the many quotes which decorate the exhibit, Kahn seemed to have occupied a time when the architect was a sort of philosopher warrior, sussing out the meaning of the past and using it to carve out the appearance of society’s future. “Schools began with a man under a tree who did not know he was a teacher discussing his realization with a few who did not know they were students,” Kahn once wrote. “[Kahn’s] idea of the eternal present is that continuity with the past,” Whitaker said. “Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture” will remain on display through May 1.

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“He saw things in their smallest fundamental building blocks and geometric forms,” said William Whitaker, the curator and collections manager for the University of Pennsylvania’s Architectural Archives. The latest exhibit of the Bellevue Arts Museum, “Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture,” features the life’s work of the master builder responsible for the Kimbell Art Museum, the Salk Institute and Bangladesh’s parliamentary building the Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban. Organized by the Vitra Design Museum in collaboration with the Netherlands Architecture Institute and the Architectural Archive, the exhibit begins with Kahn’s childhood as an Estonian immigrant in Philadelphia, moves on to his early artistic portfolio and moves on to his work as an architect — culminating in the construction of the Jatiyo Sanghad Bhaban, widely considered his magnum opus. As arranged on BAM’s third floor exhibition hall, “The Power of Architecture” is breathtaking. The first sight upon entrance is a one-story scale model of Kahn’s never-built City Tower design. A zig-zagging, complex structure, the City Tower was intended to herald

by Daniel Nash Editor

909 112TH AVE







Photo by Sue Ann Kahn



Barenaked Ladies to take over Marymoor

AFFORDABLE RED WINES by Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue

Barenaked Ladies, seen here performing on the Ships and Dips III cruise in 2008, will perform at Marymoor Park July 29 / Photo by PeterJ1977 via

by Daniel Nash Editor The Marymoor Park Concerts series is slowly filling up its calendar for another summer of top-billed musical acts. So far this year’s lineup includes some folk rock mega-players, two pop rock throwbacks from the ‘00s and another familiar throwback from the ‘90s. Here’s a hint on the latter: They’re best friends with Chickety China the Chinese chicken. Of course we’re talking about Barenaked Ladies (OK, technically we could have been talking about Busta Rhymes, but come on). And, of course, we’re being entirely unfair when we call BnL a throwback. “One Week” wasn’t so much the band’s one-hit wonder as it was a single that burned so brightly that it dimmed every other accomplishment in their radius. Keep in mind that the band was on its fourth album release when “One Week” became an earworm — BnL now

has 14 albums under its belt and has sold more than 15 million records. Not to mention they have one of the most popular television theme songs in prime time (The fact that the show in question is “The Big Bang Theory” is unfortunate, but can hardly be held against them). BnL will play Marymoor Park July 16 as part of their Last Summer on Earth Tour. For those who are more fond of the pop rock of the early 21st century, Weezer and Panic! At The Disco will perform July 29 with Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness as part of their Summer Tour 2016. Folk rockers The Lumineers will perform with Sleepwalkers June 3 as part of The Cleopatra World Tour 2016. Additional performers can be found at The Marymoor Park Concerts are being presented by Swedish Redmond.

TALMAN WELLE PERFORMS Seattle pianist Talman Welle will be at Stage 7 Pianos located in Kirkland on March 13. Talman received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in piano performance where he studied with nationally known pianist Dr. John Salmon of UNC (Greensboro), as well as Timothy Strong of Tacoma, and Dr. Bonalyn Bricker-Smith, Professor emeritus, CWU, Ellensburg. Talman began his studies with his mother, the late Martha Thatcher of Bremerton. Talman has been a professor of piano at Olympic College since 1988, has performed with the Bremerton Symphony, the Bainbridge Orchestra, and given many solo performances around the state. Talman maintains a very busy studio of piano teaching in Seattle, as well as Bremerton and Poulsbo, and is a State and Nationally Certified Teacher,


In the not-too-distant past, wine was seen as a luxury product. In many cases, it still is. But when you get to a price point that’s below $20 per bottle, the red wine can be enjoyed on an everyday basis without worry or guilt. We recently tasted through several red wines that retail for $15 or less per bottle, and there still are several choices out there in this price range. For the most part, these wines should be readily available in groceries or larger wine stores. Or contact the wineries directly. Waterbrook Winery 2014 Malbec, Columbia Valley, $15: Malbec is best known in Argentina, and this example from Washington competes on quality and price. It opens with plummy aromas with cherry, milk chocolate, vanilla and chai spices. The drink is clean, luscious and round with complexity among its flavors of Marionberry, ripe plum and blackberry cobbler. Lone Birch Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, $13: This second label for Airfield Estates opens with enticing aromas of cassis and blueberry backed by complex tones of vanilla, coffee and sweet herbs. Inside, there’s a great structure with Rainier cherry and sweet plums flavors. Black olive and blueberry carry into a finish of more cherry. Bonair Winery 2012 Chateau Puryear Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Rattlesnake Hills, $15: Charming barrel notes of chocolate allow for aromas of cassis, ripe blueberry and dark plum as well as a rub of sage in the background. The palate shows elegance with black currant, black cherry and black licorice. Sandy tannins lead to a complex finish of cherry, chocolate, dried sage and pipe tobacco.

NCTM. Talman also has four CD’s to his credit including Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Stage 7 Pianos is located at 11831 124th Ave. NE in Kirkland.

Columbia Crest 2013 Grand Estates Merlot, Columbia Valley, $12: An abundance of dark toast, coffee and smoke aromas meld with black cherry, anise, cedar and chalkboard dust. On the palate, the oak program takes a backseat to the flavors of cherry and black currant as vanilla and chocolate fill in behind. Its medium structure creates nice balance as the fruit

pushes through the finish. Suggested pairings range from beef, duck and veal to dark chocolate and blue cheese. Indian Creek Farm Winery 2012 Star Garnet Red, Snake River Valley, $14: Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), Merlot (38%), Petit Verdot (9%) and Malbec make up this superb red blend from the Gem State. On first whiff, there is a lovely pinch of herbs de Provence leading to dark cherry, blackberry and plum with chocolate, spice and forest floor earthiness. That complexity continues to the palate featuring black cherry and dark plum, flavors framed by a tremendous mouth feel to the interplay of tannins and acidity. Its combination of Old World elegance and huckleberry juice makes for a remarkably extensive finish. Sagelands Vineyard 2013 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $10: This Merlot from vineyard sites such as Canyon Vineyard Ranch and The Benches offers a mellow nose of milk chocolate, ripe red plum, black cherry and Assam tea. There’s a pleasant and rich approach to the palate, which brings luscious Bing cherry and black currant flavors, backed by moderate tannins and Marionberry acidity. Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Merlot Columbia Valley, $15: This opens with aromas of dark toast, toffee and cherry pipe tobacco with black currant, Rainier cherry, raspberry jam, sweet thyme and a whiff of caramel corn. There’s a deft use of Syrah (11%) to sand down the tannin structure, allowing for an expression of Bing cherry, chocolate-covered pomegranate and dark blueberries. The flash of green tea in the finish makes for pleasing length. Suggested pairings include beef, lamb, grilled salmon and hearty pastas dishes. Waterbrook Winery 2014 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $14: Its oak profile is signaled via hints of caramel corn and chocolatecovered blueberry with sarsaparilla, plums, strawberry and red cherry. Tones of those darker fruit spill out across the palate, which offers bold tannins, racy acidity and delicious length. Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning news and information company. Learn more about wine at

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At Sea – Spend the day out by the pool relaxing. We’ll host our ‘Sea Dating’ which promises to be the showcase event of the cruise!

DAY 3 Land Ahoy. Viva, Mexico! We’ll go ashore and enjoy group excursions sponsored by Carnival.



Cozumel and Group Date Night. Spend the day swimming with dolphins, bar hopping, site seeing, relaxing on the beach, then prepare for ‘Date Night at Sea’.

DAY 5 ‘Love. Exciting and New…Come aboard, we’re expecting you.’ Prepare for our special last night ceremony and ‘Love Boat’ theme party where we’ll put a unique twist and cap on the Adventure we all had together.

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The Lake Washington Singers performing in 2014 / Photo courtesy of Lake Washington Singers

‘STARLIGHT, STARBRIGHT’ ADDS SECOND SHOW By TJ Martinell Associate Contributor

Those who enjoy listening to music made famous by Hollywood will be able to listen to silver screen hits until their hearts’ content this May. That’s when the Lake Washington Singers will hold their annual Dinner Show and Dessert Auction, and this year they’re putting on two shows under their “Starlight, Starbright” program. The concerts will feature music from performing artists, composers and patrons who have earned stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, including Louis Armstrong, Rogers and Hammerstein, Walt Disney, Billy Joel, Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Tickets will be available for purchase in April. It’s the third year the 32-member women’s choir has put on the spring dinner concert, which will include a dessert auction. The Singers added a second, encore concert due to its immense popularity, 33-year choir member Diane Underwood said. “We couldn’t accommodate everyone,” she said. The Lake Washington Singers were first formed in 1952 as the Lake Washington Choral Society. Despite enormous changes to the Eastside region’s population, economy and demography, it’s survived in one form or another for more than 60 years. President Julie Ditter at-

tributed the choir’s longevity to the close friendships formed among singers and the variety of music they perform. “We do modern, jazz, pop and really old music,” she said. “A real good variety. It just keeps the interest alive.” Although the choir’s size fluctuates, Ditter said it continues to bring in women from all backgrounds. They’re as welcoming as possible: The group doesn’t hold auditions and instead places women according to their vocal range. The Singers perform all over the area, at venues like the Puget Sound Yacht Club and at events like the Christmas Ship Festival. The singers have also traveled around the world to places like the British Isles, to perform live on BBC radio, and the COREARTE International Choir Festival in Barcelona, Spain. “Our group is all about fun,” Ditter said. But they also care about the next generation of musicians. Every year the choir issues a no-strings scholarship to one high school student interested in pursuing music. The increasing popularity of the Singers’ dinner theater program has also allowed them to increase the amount of that scholarship to $1,000. The Starlight, Starbright spring concert will be held at 5 p.m. on May 15 and 6 p.m. on May 21 at the Redmond Senior Center. For more information on the concert or membership in the Lake Washington Singers, visit MEDIA SPONSOR


Megan Campbell / Staff photo

‘WOODWORK’ CONTINUED FROM PG 1 She also noted her husband’s “infinite amount of patience” for seeing a piece to its end. It could take hours or days to shape a piece, Sergev said. The entirety of the process, from sourcing the wood to creating a finished product, can take months. When he gets freshly cut wood, it needs to air out. After roughly shaping the piece using the lathe, he sets it aside again to dry out. Roughly shaping the wood helps remove the “waste wood” and accelerates the drying process. “As the wood dries, it changes shape — generally what was round becomes oval and a rim that was flat can develop large ups and downs,” he said. “The game is to leave enough wood in the thick wall so when it dries and becomes oval that a circle can still be drawn within the inner and outer walls.” He takes care to work with the grain of the wood, both to capture the natural beauty of the material and avoid splits or cracks. But mistakes happen. “Sometimes you get fancy firewood,” he said, pointing out some of the abandoned creations in his shop. Sergev’s love of woodwork developed before he was 10 years old. He built wooden forts from materials he scrounged from nearby homes under construction in his north Seattle neighborhood. In middle school he convinced his father, an engineer, to build a boat using mostly hand tools. They made curved cuts on the plywood by “coercing” the movements of a typically straight-cutting handsaw, Sergev said. Around the same time, Sergev started experimenting using a wood lathe to make bowls with “relatively crude techniques,” he said. His uncle gave him a simple wood lathe suitable for spindle turning — not so much for bowl making. Later, in a metal casting course at the University of Washington gunning for his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Sergev made a device to hold a bowl, upgrading the lathe his uncle had given him. During graduate school at UW, he converted his parents’ laundry room into a woodshop. “My mother complained about the amount of dust I produced,” he said, “so dad and I commissioned a one-man sheet metal shop to build a simple dust collector.” After graduating with a master’s degree

in ocean engineering, he returned home. Committing himself to searching for at least one job a month, Sergev passed the time creating numerous bowls and cutting boards he would enter in Seattle’s University District Street Fair in 1972. “I was happy to sell out in the two days,” he said. “Then I made a mistake of taking orders for the bowls, and then suddenly the fun was out of it.” But soon — between his early career, marriage and building a family — Sergev had little time for woodturning. Working for the U.S. Navy as a civilian engineer, Sergev began in Bremerton overhauling nuclear submarines. He was later transferred to California, where he found the work far more enjoyable. And while he could “mow the grass in shorts on Christmas,” after several years, he and his wife decided to move back to the Pacific Northwest to raise their two children. Sergev took a position at Honeywell in Seattle. After that he was hired on with the Boeing Company. Early in his career there, he worked on the concept for the High Speed Civil Transport, a supersonic passenger plane. He created mathematical models used to size the plane’s framework. After that he moved to a different Boeing team, focusing on special-purpose computer programs used in the preliminary design of airplanes to estimate the weights of their various systems. About midway through his 25-year career at Boeing, a coworker introduced Sergev to the Seattle chapter of the American Association of Woodturners. “I was never much on joining stuff but I thought, ‘aw, what the heck,’” he said. Getting back into the hobby, Sergev has been working to refine his techniques. Currently he’s working with dyes that “accentuate the beautiful grain,” he said. “I use an airbrush to apply the dye in a controlled manner and just judge by eye when to stop or to add another color,” he said. Apart from his bowls, Sergev’s made things like snowmen, Christmas trees, cutting boards, a toy duck, a baby’s crib, a children’s wagon and a changing table. He mostly uses gifted wood for his creations and never cuts a tree down for the purpose of woodturning. He entered some of his work — mostly bowls — in to the Sammamish Arts Fair last year. “There are a lot of bowls out there in their trees just waiting to be discovered,” he said.



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theEastside Scene - March 2016  
theEastside Scene - March 2016