The term “detail-oriented” can be most readily applied to define the works that most captured my attention during the April Pioneer Square Art Walk. The shows of Punch Gallery, Core Gallery and Cullom Gallery featured artists that explore precision in both execution and theory. Once again, the Pioneer Square Art Walk brought out a huge show of support for the Seattle arts community and fostered an environment that was truly exciting and…well, beautiful.
Punch Gallery: Justin Gibbens and Renee Adams
The owners of this consistent Prefontaine space transform themselves from curators to contributors and artists as well. Their show, Are we not drawn onward to new erA, features work inspired by the Galapagos island, translated in two unique ways by Gibbens and Adams. Gibbens employs watercolor, gouache and ink to create detailed renderings of lifeforms, mostly aquatic and focusing on “Cetacean morphology, visual palindromes, Captain Ahab and the by-gone era of whaling.” As in the piece Qayaq, creatures meld and convene. Some form shapes, such as a pentagram from the horns of five narwhals.
While Gibbens has dealt with his Galapagos experience on a much larger scale, Renee Adams’ miniatures in egg tempera are awe-inspiring. Adams is typically a kinetic sculptor, but her mastery with these tiny pieces captures the details and complexities of nature, allowing for a sense of intimacy to permeate the viewer’s experience.
Cullom Gallery-Shannon Durbin
Shannon Durbin’s fantastic Forest Fires show the limits to which watercolor can be pushed as a medium. Viewed from on high, the burning, blue-green hills—whose individual branches are still visible on close examination—seep and fade into each other with soft, controlled blending. Durbin creates convincing smoke and cloud through the absence of pigment, occasionally outlined by subtle penciling. Anyone who has used watercolor or gouache before knows that it has the tendency to spread and that details like the trees in these Forest Fires are not easily attainable…and there is no room for mistake. Durbin’s technique is masterful, and the centrality of the compositions—somewhat ovular to completely amorphous—engulfs the viewer in a disaster scene that somehow becomes strangely peaceful.
Core Gallery-Keunae Song
In the work featured at Core Gallery, the beauty and the intrigue is in the details. Working in the medium of glass, Keunae Song provides an revealing insight into the history of glassmaking as well as the many forms it takes around the world. The main installation of her solo show—A Memory to Form—is truly illuminating, and illusive. Song created simple but accurate copies of 150 items found at the American Museum of Glass—and then she broke them. The pieces were then reassembled using a UV responsive glue that gloes green under a black light. The experience is truly remarkable as the viewer ceases to see the structures for what they are. The glowing lines—points of fracture—become the only visible element. Keunae Song plays upon the vocabulary of glassblowers before her, such as Dale Chihuly (a small Macchia is among the pieces in A Memory to Form), but steps into a unique realm of her own.
The shows at Punch Gallery, Cullom Gallery, and Core Gallery will be on display until April 27, 2013.