This month’s First Thursday took place concurrently with Seattle’s Affordable Art Fair in Seattle Center. Galleries worked tirelessly to present thoughtful shows in both locales. The Affordable Art Fair seemed to spur Seattle’s art community into overdrive—as both the fair and Pioneer Square Art Walk drew considerable crowds. The artwork exhibited in the Pioneer Square galleries was beautiful, and two artists were particularly compelling in their approach and aesthetic. Monika Dalkin at Gallery 110 and Chris Beards at PUNCH Gallery stood out with pieces that work in three-dimensions—beyond traditional sculptural approaches.
Gallery 110 is presenting a dual show titled Pushing Wax, which, as the gallery states, “is about pushing the use of wax to create an unexpected collection of art objects utilizing a medium both artists find challenging, fun, and satisfying.” One of the artists, Monika Dalkin, uses wax to create unique three-dimensional works with an almost encaustic feel, both heavy and light, packed with meaning. The use of wax in Dalkin’s work is only subtly apparent by the objects’ glossy appearance, usually seen in beeswax painting or encaustic.
In “Daily Diary,” Dalkin employs newspaper and string covered and fused with wax to create compact stacks of various sizes arranged on a shelf, together resembling packages, a hoarder’s collection, a memorial to the print industry, etc. Each stack is a pleasing and poignant object in which the individual elements feel impenetrable and united as one, but escape any one interpretation.
Dalkin’s other piece at Gallery 110 takes wax in an almost completely opposite direction. “Flying Too Close to the Sun” evokes a feeling of lightness through its subtle color palette and aerial suspension. Dalkin uses ceramic and wax to create feathers that cascade from a dowel on monofilament. These feathers vary in color and throw a beautiful array of shadows on the gallery wall. The title and material (wax and feathers) allude to the flight and fall of Icarus, but to me—and this may seem like a juvenile association, but I mean it—they are reminiscent of imagery used in Disney’s Pocahantas to represent the “Colors of the Wind.” Although stationary, the feathers in “Flying Too Close to the Sun” take up a similar rhythm and movement. Whether you see a colorful transformation of the cautionary myth of young Icarus or a beautiful play of color and shadow akin to imagery from modern visual storytelling, the piece is a delight.
Pushing Wax is on display at Gallery 110 through November 30.
Chris Beards is one of sixteen artists included in PUNCH Gallery’s Invitational. The artists currently represented by the gallery were asked to select one piece from another artist. There were no limitations on size, location, theme or otherwise. This invitational provided lesser known artists with a gallery venue to exhibit their talents. Beards’ sculpture “Siege”—constructed interestingly from steel, paper, glue, spray paint, graphite and shellac—resembles something crushed or unintentionally misshapen. Nevertheless, “Siege” has an organic and natural appearance, as if Beards has created a new breed.
“Siege,” chosen by PUNCH artist Renee Adams, typifies Beards’ tendency to blend mixed media into a visual and metaphorical statement. Beards’ usage speaks to the variety of—and sometimes overwhelming—options in consumer society. Beards explains in his artist statement, “Structure, context, and meaning are created and explored through experiments with organized patterns and repetition in a variety of media. I organize a finite amount of similar items to create a unified concept. I gather a group and try to create one voice for it.” Beards’ ability to unite elements in one voice while maintaining visual intrigue, is especially apparent in this piece’s sinuous and sharp, metallic and organic appearance.
Another strong piece in the show is Original Gangster by Bellingham artist Karie Jane. It’s all worth a look. PUNCH Gallery’s Invitational presents works that are unique in medium and don’t attempt to cohere to a theme like many group shows or bear the pressure of a juried show. It allows for a sense of freedom and opportunity for the artists and audience alike, an ordered chaos that PUNCH often does well. The show is only up through November 16, so hurry over. (And speaking of juried shows, PUNCH premiers one on November 21.)