Three group shows are on display on Capitol Hill, all id. One closes today, but the other two are up for a few more weeks. they are all worth seeing if you haven’t checked them already.
Green Gothic at Hedreen Gallery
Closing today, this is the most reserved and cerebral of the three shows. The individual artists were curated by Amanda Manitach as an exploration of the region—descending from its peculiar light, to its lush topography, down to its emotional undercurrents. A mixture of videography, drawing, collage, and exhaustive scholarship serves as a primer and a launch pad for dialog about the culture of this place–what do we value, desire, fear?
Highlights include the short films of Rodrigo Valenzuela, who gives a deep, rich window in the wilderness, at once beautiful and brooding. Paired with the faint, urban drawings of Gretchen Bennett, a sense of subtle dread is shown to continue beyond the forest’s edges. The works confront moments of hesitation and fear, but the experience is attenuated for the audience. There is a fuzzy fear of fear itself that prevents vulnerability and connection and deepening introversion. Introversion itself is explored in its malignant form by a short film by Charles Mudede and Adam Sekuler. Introversion enabling reverie within one’s familiar spaces is explored by the assembled notes, photos, and drawings of Serrah Russell. Finally, providing a more didactic indulgence, Lisa Radon’s open tome “An Attempt at Exhausting a Place” compiles dozens upon dozens of essays and diagrams on the subject of spaces. (I want a copy.)
Green Gothic at Hedreen Gallery closes tonight at 6PM. You can read my full review of Green Gothic on Seattle Arts News.
Night Terrors at Vermillion
Two of Amanda Manitach’s own drawings are at home in the haunting Night Terrors at Vermillion. Located at the back, her dreamy and macabre drawings mix boudoir and abattoir, as she is wont to do—pairing delicate androgynes and corpses, Eros and Thanatos, dream and nightmare in one lush bed. Manitach evades trite tropes of pop surrealism and keeps her compositions straightforward and spare, which only enhances one’s experience of surreal subject matter.
There is strong work from artists from around the globe. The monochrome monotypes of Grady Gordon (Oakland) are dark, ethereal monstrosities, as are the graphite drawings of Connie Prantera (London). Bellingham-based Jeffrey Meyer injects saturated colors into the room with his collages, near TVs shrouded in colored tarps. Those screens show the glitchy, vivid patterns of Nick Bartoletti. Artist (and, for this show, curator) Izzie Klingels’ finely detailed works of light ink on black paper are dreamy and seductive. On the opposite wall, Ryan Riss’ abstract black-ink drawings on white paper are riddled with lines and loops, dripping ichor and sprouting flagella and cilia in some strange mesh of contagion and graphic design. They hang beside a few other collages by Spencer Bewley, whose clever, surreal blends will cause a double-take. (“Sushi Tsunami” in particular.)
Laura Cassidy’s small, inconspicuous video describes a gradual process of being willingly taken by the sea in a strangely soothing manner—like Manitach’s work, a blend of Eros and Thanatos—before a pulsing, dusky visual of a rocky shore. Last to be mentioned, first to greet you at the door is a video by Christian J Petersen and Dro Carey. “Dancer” is a masterfully edited piece of found footage from a Masonic meeting wherein the eponymous dancer seductively whips her long limbs and hair on a chair, surrounded by a leering male audience. In the foreground, bald spots dot the benches and in the background the wizened patriarchs lean toward each other and mutter lewdly as their entertainer does her routine, at once the most powerful figure in the room and also a sort of sacrifice. The original soundtrack is perfectly orchestrated for the editing. The whole show is well orchestrated—an intense meditation on the things we fear and how they become our muses.
Night Terrors is on display at Vermillion through May 11.
Polari at True Love Art Gallery
If Green Gothic hits you in the head and Night Terrors hits you in the gut, then Polari aims squarely for the groin. This explosion of id includes work from almost 30 artists packed into the True Love Art gallery-cum-tattoo parlor. Cuurator Steven Miller pulled from established and emerging artists of all stripes. He himself noted that he wanted more women involved in the show, and it is interesting that one of the few women contributors (photographer Kelly O) offered barroom shots of men bearing their testicles.
The male is very much on display in all forms. Just for a start: the woodland nymphs by James Bidgood and woodland everymen by Lorenzo Triburgo, the paint-splattered bears of Paul Diamond in the back hall and the all-age, fluid-spattered fetish fest of Steven Miller by the front door.
The show’s title is the name for a cant used in Britain by performers and the gay subculture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and this show offers a sort of lexicon of queer imagery. That it has more male figures and artists perhaps makes sense, as the imagery around gay culture has typically been more focused on and dictated by a male presence. Some of the weaker works look like they came from the yard sale of someone who spent too much time and money at Spencer’s Gifts. Some of the stronger works are extremely explicit and anatomical. (The works of Juan Franco, for example, that are just abstracted enough that one may not know what one is seeing at first, are some of the more haunting and fascinating.) It’s definitely a show worth seeing, though.
Polari is on display at True Love Art through May 4th.