Seattle artist Celeste Cooning creates airy works that last

Celeste Cooning settles in at her worn work table in the Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts for what will be a long night — at 1:30 p.m.

Her company: her handmade templates, her trusty X-Acto knife #11, a couple dozen yards of white Tyvek and the radio, currently tuned in to KEXP.

In fewer than 24 hours, the Seattle artist needs to finish transforming the Tyvek — woven from high-density fibers, the material is hard to tear but easy to cut — into the backdrop for a wedding at Benaroya Hall. The two 10-foot-wide panels have been in the works since spring, but like many of Cooning’s projects, this backdrop will culminate in a down-to-the-wire production night.

Cooning’s backdrops are tapestry-meets-paper snowflake — and they range from small projects to 2010’s ”Celebrations” installation at Occidental Park, which was suspended 30 feet in the air and spanned 70 feet wide. Her work combines airy, elegant shapes with the toughness of Tyvek. She usually works in white because it picks up nuances of light and shadow, which is what her work is about, she says.

Responsible for the huge backdrops at City Hall weddings the day same-sex marriage became legal in Washington state, Cooning also creates pieces for storefronts, celebrations and city parks. One of her new projects is a piece for the John Ritter Foundation, which focuses on aortic disease education and research.

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‘Thresholds’ marks the unmarked at Kent cemetery

John Henry Shaw was killed at age 52 by shards of timber following a blast of dynamite in 1912. Laura Stagg had outlived two of her three children when, at 83, she died in her Seattle home in 1910. Nellie Parmenter burned to death at 31 after a cookstove set her dress alight in 1890.

The stories are as varied as the condition of the tombstones marking about half of the nearly 200 graves at Saar Pioneer Cemetery.

For these three, and 86 others, no tombstones mark their final resting place, and even the exact location of their graves is unknown. Historical documents show these people were buried at Saar, and ground-penetrating radar has shown a comparable number of “rectangular anomalies” on site. But who is buried where remains a mystery.

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Tiny superheroes combat big challenges with capes made by Seattle mom

People are drawn to 7-year-old Gabby Krueger in a way her mom, Kim Sistek, can’t even explain.

Strangers have approached Sistek in the store and said there was just something about Gabby; they just had to come say hi.

“On some level I think she makes people a little more comfortable to approach and ask questions about people with special needs,” Sistek said. “I think that’s the power of her strength: It allows people to take a moment and appreciate the life they have. She has helped me grow into a whole other person I had no idea I could be.”

Gabby has epilepsy and is completely dependent: She cannot talk, walk or eat on her own. But she is a tiny superhero — her superpowers include perseverance, courage and strength — and she has the cape to prove it. A purple number, with a blue letter “G” hand-sewn on by Robyn Rosenberger.

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Rock-camp girls to rock Neptune in Thursday showcase

Organizing 40 teenage girls is not usually made easier by loud rock music.

But on a recent afternoon at Billings Middle School in Green Lake, Dani Chang, director of Rain City Rock Camp for Girls (RCRC), makes it work in her favor. Standing onstage in a yellow T-shirt graffitied with Sharpie, she is prepping rock campers to rehearse for their showcase the next day.

“You are the audience as well, so act how you want others to act when you are onstage,” she says.

A few times, a girl misses a beat or hits the wrong chord or forgets a lyric. At rock camp, apologizing for mistakes is not allowed. Girls can only say, “I rock,” and keep playing. Each time a girl forgets the rule and starts to apologize, the girls in the audience sincerely yell that she rocks.

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Zombies to infest Magnuson Park in 5K

Zombie theory often implicates radiation as the cause of the zombie virus.

It is merely a coincidence, however, that Seattle’s Zombie Run is at Magnuson Park, which received media attention this spring for traces of radiation.

As the run’s website puts it, the premise of the 5K — which starts at 11 a.m. Saturday — is “Zombies run after humans. Humans run from zombies. Everybody goes to the after-party.”

More specifically, humans run with three balloons around their waists, which zombies try to pop.

Created in Philadelphia last summer by college juniors and childhood friends Andrew Hudis and Dave Feinman, the run has since spread to 16 cities. Saturday is the first Seattle run.

When Hudis ran the race in Philadelphia, zombies popped all three of his balloons within the first 2 kilometers.

“Of course I was so smug about it, I was like, ‘I know where all the zombies are going to be hiding,’ and I totally underestimated my own challenge,” Hudis said.

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Block Party countdown Q&A: Hey Marseilles’ Matt Bishop has never been to France

What started in 2006 as two University of Washington students casually collaborating has grown to a six-man, eight-or-so-instrument indie ensemble with just shy of 15,000 likes on Facebook. One thing that hasn’t changed? They’re still struggling to pay the rent. Hey Marseilles frontman Matt Bishop, who went to his first Block Party 10 years ago, talked to us about the Seattle band’s orchestral sound and inspirations.

Hey Marseilles plays the Capitol Hill Block Party main stage Sunday at 3:45 p.m.

Q: Ten years ago, did you ever imagine you would be one of the main-stage bands playing the block party?

A: Um, no. So it’s gone pretty well. Back then it was just literally like a small little block party and it didn’t have the size or the popularity that it does now, so it means that much more. We played the block party once before, three or four years ago, and we are really excited to be a part of it again.

Q: How do you think your sound is best described?

A: I like to say it is just orchestral folk-pop, but I don’t really know what that means necessarily.

Q: How did you guys arrive at that sound?

A: We tried to create a genre of music that sounded compelling, when really all it was in a lot of ways was things that have been done so many times before. But I think we just use that terminology because the thing that is cool about our songs is they are really straightforward pop tunes but we have some unique talents with cello and viola and trumpet and clarinet and instrumental arrangements that we use to stand apart from the crowd.

Q: Did you seek out all of those different instruments, or did you all just happen to come together?

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More Block Party band Q&As

Block Party countdown Q&A: The Flaming Lips’ Steven Drozd on Seattle’s attitude and the band’s darker new sound

Block Party countdown Q&A: Pickwick frontman calls nine months of rain ‘inspiring’

Safeco Field crew works 8 days a week to prepare for Sir Paul

Tony Pereira doesn’t travel much as Safeco Field’s senior director of ballpark operations. Neither does Bob Christoferson as the field’s head groundskeeper.

But both men flew across the country last week — Pereira to Boston, Christoferson to Washington, D.C. — on the same mission.

Pereira arrived in Boston to observe Paul McCartney’s July 9 show at Fenway Park. Christoferson went to D.C. for the week of McCartney’s July 12 show at Washington Nationals ballpark.

Neither was there for the music. They were trying to figure out how to pull off the first big concert at Safeco Field.

Friday, ex-Beatle and solo legend Paul McCartney will play a virtually sold-out show from center field.

This will be the first major pop concert and one of the largest events ever held at Safeco. (The Beach Boys played Safeco in 2008 in conjunction with Microsoft’s annual company meeting, but that was a semiprivate event.) Five days after the park’s 14th birthday, about 45,000 people will fill it for McCartney’s “Out There” tour. A crowd of 47,000 attended the field’s at-capacity opening game in July 1999.

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