What’s Good in Seattle: Hot Colors, July 3, 2014

Posted on July 03, 2014, 9:59 pm
8 mins


Summer has definitely arrived in Seattle with a few hot days and plenty of sun. The weather even behaved this last weekend for the big Pride Festival, and when some fundamentalist protestors came to the front to rain on the downtown parade, attendees formed a wall of love to stop them in their tracks while Seattle-drag star Mama Tits stepped up and delivered a withering speech that has since gone viral. It was a colorful moment without too many fireworks—those come tomorrow, of course—and so it seems appropriate that this week there is plenty of color to entertain and delight all Seattleites.

Ryan Molenkamp’s Fear of Volcanoes at Linda Hodges Gallery

Just yesterday I was admiring Ryan Molenkamp’s massive triptych outside LxWxH Gallery in Georgetown. His monochrome crosshatch style was an early favorite of mine and always recognizable, even when it was applied to a Mad Home installation in 2011, where the stark black lines blended into and burst from the decrepit walls and ceilings of a condemned house in Capitol Hill. The triptych at LxWxH is titled Puget sound and uses that stark crosshatch to created an aerial view of the region in a way that is densely abstract yet also instantly recognizable.

Molenkamp has not abandoned all aspects of that style, as one can easily picture it underlying these new works as a lattice overlaid with curves and color. The new body of work premiering tonight at Linda Hodges Gallery in Pioneer Square for First Thursday Art Walk takes volcanoes as its principal subject, and though they are spewing smoke, looming over a patchwork landscape, the muted but chipper palette makes it all strangely lovely. We live in the shadow of a ticking time-bomb; we know it and we joke about it, and I have never heard anyone else say it, but I’m pretty sure even the fountain at Cal Anderson Park is an apocalyptic vision of Mt Rainier spewing lava and lahar down onto the houses in the valley below. Despite this, we can agree that the volcano is generally more beautiful than sinister, and even when one blows (as Mt St Helens did when Molenkamp was young) the devastation is temporary. Things are changed forever, but new growth comes. Molenkamp’s new work diminishes the volcano from an unpredictable, almost godly force to something rather domestic, quite true to Seattle’s mellow but not entirely naïve love of the wilderness. In that regard, it is very true to the culture and the artist’s voice—and also fun to look at.

The Color Festival in Seattle

The festival of Holi in India has become an international photo opp in recent years, as tourists and pilgrims have made a point to visit during the spring when it occurs and take part in a massive colorful party celebrating love. Participants pelt each other with handfuls of colored powder—magenta, yellow, cerulean. Naturally, many foreign participants do not observe the larger cultural and religious significance of the festival, but by its very nature it easily becomes a celebration of diversity, the beauty of a full spectrum.

But Holi is always in March, and that isn’t exactly the best time of year in Seattle (and many other places in the states) for large, outdoor activities. The Color Festival is a touring facsimile of Holi. Is it authentic to its cultural source? Nope, not really. Is it a colorful change of pace in Seattle? You betcha. This Saturday, July 5, from noon to 5PM, the color festival will take place at Seattle Center. It’s a family friendly environment and there will be live entertainment and plenty of vendors, including official ones selling eco-friendly, non-toxic colors for the main event of the afternoon, when the whistle is blown and attendees can go respectfully nuts and turn the field rainbow colors (for the second week in a row, in a way).

You can read more guidelines and info on the official Web site. Tickets are $20 and do not include colors, which again are sold separately…because while odds are slim that people are going to bring pink anthrax or green malachite-based powders (which has been know to cause trouble at the real Holi celebration) the operators are erring on the side of caution.

Bright, red, angular bracelet and clutch from The Green Girl.

Accessories by Carolina Wallin (The Green Girl). Image from The Green Girl Web site.

Accessories by The Green Girl

I fell in love with the work of designer Carolina Wallin in late winter. A transplant from Sweden, Wallin is now based in Seattle, where she produces her line of accessories under the line The Green Girl with a modern, accessible aesthetic, sharp lines and vivid colors. In the winter, her hats and necklaces really popped, and in summer they give a bright edge to a lighter outfit. As heavy as some pieces look, many of her materials are actually quite light, allowing you to wear a larger statement piece without feeling weighted down on hotter days.

Wallin also makes sure that no material is wasted by incorporating the geometric remnants of her jewelry, hats and bags into unique garments. (This eco-friendly approach is not actually the reason for her line’s name; she was referred to as The Green Girl after submitting a portfolio in design school that featured many shades of green.) Check out more of her designs on her Web site.

In other news…

Previously mentioned artists Tariqa Waters and Dylan Neuwirth had some setbacks when there installations in Pioneer Square were seriously vandalized. Waters is in the process of turning shattered pieces of her installation into a new form and Neuwirth’s Just Be Your Selfie is back in one piece hovering over Occidental Square. Check it out during art walk. And also during art walk, artist Shaun Kardinal will again be doing a virtual exhibition, this time on Facebook. I have no idea what is in store, but it involves some very talented names in the local arts community. Check the cryptic Facebook event page for more info.

And in case you wanted to see video of Mama Tits’ now famous takedown of the fundamentalist party crashers, you can watch it below. Her weekly brunch and cabaret performance Mimosas with Mama returns in Julyat the Unicorn, one of Capitol Hill’s most colorful establishments. How perfect!

T.s. Flock is a writer and arts critic based in Seattle and co-founder of Vanguard Seattle.

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