What’s Good in Seattle: The Pocket-Sized, October 6, 2014

Posted on October 06, 2014, 2:50 am
8 mins

Good things come in small packages this week in Seattle, and in all cases they bring a little beauty to life.

BB Cream by Atomic Cosmetics

BB Cream by Dr. Jen’s Atomic Cosmetics

Cosmetics and Skincare from Dr. Jen’s Atomic Cosmetics

We in Seattle sometimes obsess about what we put in our bodies, but we seem to care less about what we put on our bodies. Yes, some people go au naturel, avoiding cosmetics and fragrance altogether, but the majority use some sort of skincare and at least a dab of concealer. As long as it stays on the skin, it can’t do much harm, right?

Well, no. Skin is permeable, and a lot of cosmetics—even high-end brands, even so-called naturally made brands—use plenty of stuff that can be downright harmful to you. When biochemist Dr. Jen Dietrich one day bothered to read the ingredients of the skincare products and makeup in her cupboard, she promptly chucked them and started making her own with a little emulsion chemistry. Her operation has quickly grown in size and sophistication, but she and her team remain committed to seeking personal solutions for clients, as everyone’s skin—and chemistry—is different.

She still has plenty of goodies suitable for just about anyone. Part of the fun of doing makeup in years past (using MAC especially) was the range of colors and names, and Dr Jen’s Atomic Cosmetics has a growing line of safe, shimmering and surprisingly affordable options. There is no animal testing and the ingredient lists are readily available to customers. A favorite skincare product is her BB Cream, which helps to cover blemishes while actively and safely clearing them. Pop it in a pocket or a pocketbook and hit the town.

Oxenrider Wallets Featuring Seattle Artists

The recently launched Oxenrider Wallets are bound to appeal to art lovers and animal lovers. People who try to avoid animal products like leather may already have a durable paper wallet. Their slim, modern aesthetic appeals to carnivores, too, of course, and there is a range of colorful designs already on the market. Oxenrider ups the sophistication by using designs from fine artists in small runs. The opening run of Fall 2014 artists offers an attractive variety, with each artist (or artist duo) contributing four designs.

Oxenrider wallets: produced locally, featuring work by local and international artists

Oxenrider wallets featuring designs by Negar Farajiani

I’m in love with the Begin Again design by Celeste Cooning, which comes from the artist’s massive backdrop for the zoe | juniper performance of the same name. The colorful illustrations of Tessa Hulls are youthful yet knowing. “But Now We Are Not Sure We Should Have Tamed It” is probably my favorite from her. The more subdued, neutral tones of The Royal Society’s contributions create pieces that conjure lunar phases, or an organic braid drawn on parchment. If I had to pick one for myself, I would probably go with one of Negar Farajiani‘s, whose prolific and protean career offers three totally different styles. My favorite comes from her jigsaw series, even though the full impact of the original image is somewhat lost.

By buying these wallets, you put a little dough in the artists’ purses, too. They get 25 percent of the cost, and every little bit counts when you are living la vie boheme. The images go beyond design by referring to other, existing works…but not the usual sunflowers and water lilies and other well-known and ubiquitous canon works. These are a more personal, more individual statement

Arturo Artorez’ Drawing Numbers at Vermillion

The storied life of artist Arturo Artorez before he arrived in Seattle in 1976 was punctuated with violence and narrow escapes—from the Six Day War in Israel to the Night of Tlatelolco. Life has been relatively quieter here in the Northwest, but not entirely without peril. Just a few weeks ago, he was attacked by Cal Anderson Park. His assailants made off with his possessions (even his glasses), and this included an iPad with a digital archive of his life’s work. By luck he did not have paintings with him that evening, which he had often been carrying with him as he prepared for a show presenting 99 paintings at Vermillion.

A miniature painting by Arturo Artorez. Photo courtesy of the artist and Vermillion.

A miniature painting by Arturo Artorez. Photo courtesy of the artist and Vermillion.

How could you fit that many paintings into a bag? Do them on expired lottery tickets and time cards from 1988. Vermillion’s Web site provides an excerpt from a catalog written by Lauro Flores of University of Washington to accompany an exhibit of some of Artorez’ work this summer. The essay beautifully sums up this unique approach:

The images on the time cards often show mysterious beings and settings—a mental escape from boredom and oppressive drudgery the artist-turned-security-guard must endure day after day. The transformation of a utilitarian object (moreover, one that is an instrument of control) into an aesthetic entity becomes and act of liberation, even if only fleetingly. Most compelling are the characters that Artorez portrays on the lottery tickets. In his consistently figurative style, he depicts a number of beings that inhabit a surreal, almost phantasmagoric realm. On an immediate level we recognize this world as Seattle’s Capitol Hill, but it can easily translate into any other urban setting the U.S. or elsewhere.

It is worth reading the whole excerpt, which gives a brief account of Artorez’ tumultuous early years.

On Thursday, October 9, Vermillion (1508 11th Ave) opens its own exhibit, Drawing Numbers, with the works framed on the gallery walls. The reception is from 6 to 9 PM. The show will run through November 2.


Collectors take note: October 9 is the night of Capitol Hill Art Walk, and also the inaugural Collect Seattle art tour, which provides a tour and social gathering for both seasoned collectors and those who may want to collect but don’t know where to start. The gatherings will always be limited in size and will visit different studios and galleries. The tour will include Vermillion this month. Read more and buy tickets on Eventbrite.

Revelers take note: This is also the night of the Art Walk Awards, sponsored by City Arts. I am one of the judges this month, and I have to say the nominees are pretty great. (Especially mine, of course.) Learn more about the nominees on the City Arts Web site and don’t forget to RSVP so you can join the party and vote.

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