Skip to main content

Meet Mike Davis, KUOW’s new arts and culture reporter

caption: KUOW's Mike Davis outside UW's Henry Art Gallery
Enlarge Icon
KUOW's Mike Davis outside UW's Henry Art Gallery
KUOW Photo/John O'Brien

Regular KUOW listeners know our arts reporter Marcie Sillman retired last year. We miss Marcie's unique voice and reporting, but after a lengthy search, we’re happy to introduce her successor. His name is Mike Davis. He comes to us from the South Seattle Emerald, where he was a contributing editor. He told KUOW’s Kim Malcolm about his background and his reporting style.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Kim Malcolm: I’ve heard some things about you around the virtual water cooler. I’ve heard that you love getting at the story behind the artist, that you are a firm believer in building trust in a community, and that you focus on drilling down into what is important about any particular story. Have I missed anything?

Mike Davis: I appreciate the kind words from my colleagues. I do try to live up to those standards. I'll add that I'm a Seattle native, and I really love to tell stories. I want to introduce listeners to area artists, dig into who they are, and what inspires them to create.

I also want to have fun. As people listen to and read my stories, I want them to share my joy of the arts and be encouraged to go out and experience arts and cultural events that are happening in our region.

What inspired you to become an arts reporter?

I wanted to cover something that I was passionate about. I've always loved the arts. I started my career covering the arts beat at Seattle Weekly. I moved to news coverage in 2020, during a time that kind of felt like the world was crashing down upon us. I did a lot of important work, but it wasn't fun. I'm excited to return to covering arts. It feels good to return to the beat that inspired me to become a journalist in the first place.

What is on your radar now for the kind of reporting you want to do?

On one hand, I want to be a reminder of the joy that comes with cultural expression, and theater, and music, and visual arts, and I want to make people smile. But as you know, we're living in a serious time right now. That's obviously also going to be reflected culturally in the arts community.

I had a chance recently to speak with artist Hanako O'Leary. She has a show now at the King Street Station, Izanami and Yomi. Her unique ceramic pieces really reflect the power of femininity, and one of the major topics in our country right now, of course, is the Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade. O'Leary was open about the fact that she was still processing the decision. She spoke to me about how her art addresses abortion rights:

“For the people whose rights are being taken, or whose liberties are being threatened in a very real way, we don't have time to stop and feel sad, or heartbroken, because life goes on and we're expected to keep everything going in so many different ways. And so I think for me, by making this work, it was also, in my own way, like training and meditation to be ready for when this happens, so I don't just break down and stop.”

You can hear the heaviness in what she was feeling, and we have to hear that, right? Art reflects a spectrum from sorrow to joy and everything in between. I really encourage people to go see her show. It’s amazing.

And is there anything that you're looking ahead to?

I am looking forward to covering the show opening next week at the Wing Luke Museum. It's called Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee. I'll be interviewing Lee's daughter Shannon about her dad and the exhibit. It’s going to feature digital interactives that allow visitors to follow in Lee’s footsteps as he developed his mind, body, and spirit philosophy.

So, long story short, I'm ready to hit the ground running and start sharing these stories.

Listen to the interview by clicking the play button above.

You can reach Mike at:

Why you can trust KUOW