The Engine Room Residencies: Ishmael Butler

Ishmael Butler……….vocals, drum machine, bass synthesizer
Thaddeus Turner……guitar

Sound……….Thomas Moore
Bubba Jones

Director of Photography……….Mujale Chisebuka

Camera……….Mujale Chisebuka
Chris Reay
Ian Siporin

Editing……….Ian Siporin

Jazmyn Scott
Bubba Jones
Ian Siporin
Mita Mahato

Additional Thanks: Gary Simmons, Shamim M. Momin, JeeSook Kutz, Jeffrey Heiman, Tanja Baumann, Sophia Marciniak, Jonathan Vanderweit
“Gary Simmons: The Engine Room”, on view through August 22nd, guides the framing of this residency and its intention to center and support Black artists of Seattle’s creative scenes. At the center of the exhibition is “Garage Band”, a 24×24-foot installation inspired by suburban garage spaces and their associated mythos of inspiration, invention, and tinkering. Garages have long been spaces for DIY artists to explore their creative practices with relative freedom. The interest of this residency is to see how this exploratory, jamming space can be translated into a large, open museum gallery. Beyond “Garage Band” the exhibition also hosts a suite of new paintings and sculptures, as well as “B Sides”, a massive erasure drawing Simmons created for this exhibition that channels the songwriting of Jimi Hendrix—all fuel for the artists to be in dialogue with as they approach creating or re-creating in the space.

Invited artists will spend several days during the month of their residency (May, June, or July) within the garage installation and the gallery to tinker with, improvise, and share their musical craft in both private and public engagements. Each residency will culminate in a recorded performance.

Seattle-based emcee and producer Ishmael Butler, of Shabazz Palaces and Digable Planets, is one of the preeminent visionaries of hip-hop of the last quarter century. Drawing on the astral freedoms practiced by Sun Ra and George Clinton, Butler’s eclectic and extra-terrestrial stylings reference hip-hop, dub, jazz, R&B, soul, funk, African, experimental, and pop, while also splintering, rebuilding, and expanding the possibility of sound. His collaborators have included other innovators like Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Erik Blood, and Battles, and his most recent album with Shabazz Palaces, The Don of DIamond Dreams, released by Sub Pop in 2020, continues to showcase the fluid bounds of Butler’s approach to songwriting and world building.

Gary Simmons: The Engine Room programs are co-organized by the Henry and LANGSTON, an arts & culture organization that guides generative programs and community partnerships that center Black art, artists, and audiences and honors the ongoing legacy of Seattle’s Black Central Area. Co-organization and production support for “The Engine Room Residencies” provided by Bubba Jones. The program is presented in conjunction with Murmurations, a Seattle-wide arts collaboration featuring a series of exhibitions, performances, screenings, community conversations, artist talks, and other programs co-developed between cultural organizations. Learn more about Murmurations and upcoming events at

Share This Post
Have your say!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>