View previous exhibition here.

MAGIC BOX: Defining Words in a Digital Age

A collaborative installation of paintings, ekphrastic poetry and Butoh dance by Shoko Zama, David Thornbrugh, Joan Laage, and Katrina Wolfe. 

WHEN: July 31, 2019 – September 29, 2018 Open Noon-5PM Thursday through Sunday

OPENING RECEPTION: Wednesday July 31, 2019 6-8PM

FIRST THURSDAY OPENINGS: August 1, 2019 and September 5, 2019   6-8PM

COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS: Hai! Japantown community celebration Saturday August 17th 3-7PM

BUTOH DANCE PERFORMANCES: All openings and the community conversation listed above


Magic Box: Defining Words in a Digital Age is a collaborative installation of paintings, poetry and Japanese Butoh dance by painter Shoko Zama with ekphrastic free verse poetry by poet David Thornbrugh. The Magic Box gallery show will feature live storefront Butoh performances as well as ekphrastic poetry readings.

The inspiration for Magic Box are paintings by Japanese artist Shoko Zama, originating in the pictorial quality and evocative power of words and illustrations from historic English-language dictionaries. Using a combination of collage and her unique Japanese painting techniques, Shoko created over two years an intuitive series of 130 paintings of which she and noted poet David Thornbrugh chose 15 paintings as sources for the series of linked free verse ekphrastic poems.

Painter Shoko Zama, as a Japanese Butoh dancer herself, has constructed two storefront window environments of woven paper sculptures with imbedded lines from the shows ekphrastic poetry, creating an environment for two Butoh dancers to perform in opposing storefront cubes at the show’s opening, First Thursday gallery walks and the Hai! Japantown community celebration.


“B & B: Connecting the Dots is One Definition” 7”X 10” Watercolor, gel pen

“B & B: Connecting the Dots is One Definition” 7”X 10” Watercolor, gel pen

B & B: Connecting the Dots is One Definition

You can spend your life connecting the dots
And still not see the big picture.
One person’s spiritual splotch is another’s ketchup stain,
And the face of Jesus staring back from the Turin Shroud
Might as well be a piece of burnt toast to the atheist.
From one inkspot to the next is a slog of imagination
Best left to children or drinkers of Ayahuasca.

Signing on the dotted line may lead to disaster or salvation,
But up close, the picture is hard to discern,
Just another signature out of a lifetime scribbling your name
And trying to make it stick. In the encyclopedia,
It was enough to be a letter.
Between Bs, for example, gave bacon a place beyond slices of bread,
turned baskets from containers into place keepers.

Turning the page jumped from beaches to bikinis,
A pairing as natural as lemons and fish,
And as much proof of divine plan as the puzzle of an eye
Unable to look at itself. Follow the lines
Formed by connecting dots to see where you end up.


“I would like to be alive until I die. And the most exciting thing to be alive for is creating art with others, the collaboration process.”

- Shoko Zama

Born and raised in Yokohama Japan, Shoko graduated from Musashino Art Junior College in 1976 where she studied oil painting, continuing to paint and draw as a self-healing process. Shoko moved to Seattle in 1988, and in 1990 helped found Taoist Studies Institute, becoming a Taoist Taiji practitioner where she continues to practice. In 2010 Shoko showed at the Creative Music Adventure Studio, performed live painting at the opening. In 2013 she debuted as a Butoh dancer, studying and performing with international Butoh dancer and teacher Joan Laage. Shoko has performed in Seattle International Butoh Festival since 2014 to present. Shoko’s paintings are in private collections and her illustrations have been published both in Japan, and the United States.

David Thornbrugh has been writing and publishing poetry since the 1970’s and has published extensively in small press magazines and on the Internet. David curated open mic readings in Cracow, Poland from 2004 to 2006, and has performed his poetry in open mics and festivals in Australia, South Korea and Italy, and in collaboration with renowned Butoh dancer Joan Laage, his wife, on numerous occasions. David is a regular performer in the open mic venue of Easy Speak, monthly on the second and fourth Monday at Seattle’s Wedgewood Ale House.

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