Lisa Bulmash (left) discusses her work during an exhibit at the Mountlake Terrace Library. Photo by Darrell  Scattergood
Lisa Bulmash (left) discusses her work during an exhibit at the Mountlake Terrace Library. Photo by Darrell Scattergood
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Make plans this Labor Day weekend to watch a group of zombie impersonators, nationally recognized comedians, a country rock band and a Shakespeare improvisational troupe.

What is this creative assortment that has landed upon Jet City, you ask? It’s Bumbershoot, the Pacific Northwest’s annual arts event that takes over Seattle Center on Labor Day weekend.

With artists emanating from a diverse range of performing, visual and literary genres, the festival demonstrates the varied nature of the arts and culture scene in the Pacific Northwest and internationally.

Collage of creativity

Visual artist Lisa Myers Bulmash, a former on-air journalist at Q13 FOX News, chose to live in Queen Anne when she moved to the area from Los Angeles. She liked the neighborhood due its proximity to work and its early 20th-century architecture.

“You just don’t see much of that aged brick and charming curlicues in the architecture of Los Angeles, where I grew up, and L.A. is nowhere near as walkable as Queen Anne,” she said.

Bulmash uses paper, upcycled materials and acrylics as her media in collage and assemblage. Her work is a nod to her family history, as well the experiences of African Americans and persons of mixed race. 

“My collages create imaginative sanctuaries for the viewer, with stories about family, real or imagined,” Bulmash said.

The jovial artist enjoys visiting Bumbershoot’s vendor booths for inspiration for her work and is considering selling her own there. She has already successfully shown her work at several area art fairs and walks in Snohomish County and enjoys the feeling of camaraderie with local artists.

Total Bumbershoot

Dan Niven performs in Magnolia as a Dickens caroler and as a musician at the Queen Anne children’s parade. Niven’s busiest performing role at the moment, however, is singing with longtime festival standout, the Total Experience Gospel Choir, led by Pastor Pat Wright.

Last year, the chorus performed three different repertoires for a total of four performances over the long weekend, in Portland and at Bumbershoot. The group provided accompaniment to the popular music group Heart, featuring Seattle sister-act Ann and Nancy Wilson.

Niven believes his work with the choir is an effort that addresses his artistic and altruistic interests.

“Several of our 30-year-plus members have literally grown up in the choir,” Niven said. “Others have seen us in concert and find themselves moving past ‘I want to listen to that’ to ‘I want to be part of that.’ We come from all walks and are a multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and multi-faith entity.

“We’re a choir family, raising money for worthy domestic and international causes and doing hands-on hurricane and tsunami relief work. In short, we endeavor to shrink the world, and that’s a pretty good gig,” he said.

Peaceful passion

Country rock group Massy Ferguson formed in 2006 as a duo, playing at a farmers market in Mukilteo. Its payment was a fruit basket.

Singer-bassist Ethan Anderson lived in the neighborhood at the time.

“I lived in lower Queen Anne for nine years and recently moved to another part of town, and I only now realize how much I appreciate my old neighborhood — the true heart of the city,” Anderson said. “I was able to get anywhere and everywhere in Seattle with one bus or a short car ride.”

The band is releasing a new EP right before Bumbershoot and plans to promote it there. The group credits several popular musical influences, such as 1970s Southern rock and classic acts Bruce Springsteen and Thin Lizzy.

“This is our third time playing Bumbershoot, and I think, more than anything, we’re going to try to slow down and let the songs speak at bit more,” Anderson said. “We were such eager beavers the first two times, and I feel like we rushed everything, if that makes sense. We’ve also been fortunate to have played with some great people the last few years, folks that have also sat in on records, and so there will be some pals sitting in at Bumbershoot.” 

‘Hallowed’ ground

Anderson believes that Queen Anne’s strong support for the art scene has been vital for the festival’s success.

“Queen Anne has the Seattle Center, which is a major historical link to the city’s glory days, the Sonics’ 1979 championship and the 1962 World’s Fair,” Anderson said. “Many of the city’s most hallowed cultural and artistic events — Bumbershoot included — are still held there, and because of that, the Center still retains the vibe of celebration and tradition. It’s something you know is always there, and that’s comforting in a time of great city-wide growth and change.”

The singer fondly remembers his former neighborhood as a tranquil oasis amidst the faster pace of neighborhoods to the south.

“Walking in Queen Anne, you can feel the palpitations of the city,” he said. “I miss that constant heartbeat.”

For ticket and show information, visit bumbershoot.org.

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