First Thursday Art Walk Preview: February 2015

Posted on February 03, 2015, 1:28 am
13 mins

It’s a short month, and because most of the gallery shows started a week later than usual last month, not every venue will change its show this month. However, there is still a lot of new work to see. I am excited to end the night at Roq La Rue Gallery, featuring two artists I really admire, so as usual I start from the northeast and work southwest.

The Tashiro Kaplan Block

"Rembrandt" by Doug Keyes.  Image courtesy of G. Gibson Gallery.

“Rembrandt” by Doug Keyes. Image courtesy of G. Gibson Gallery.

Doug Keyes at G. Gibson Gallery

Memory is the major preoccupation of artist Doug Keyes—of a lot of artists, actually. I see some variation of the phrase “the creation of memory” so many times in artist statements that I tend to glaze over immediately when it pops up. And yet I rarely see work that seems to actually follow through in a believable way. Keyes’ multiply exposed composite photographs do a pretty good job, though I do want to punch the wall when I read in the statement for his latest show at G. Gibson Gallery: “The resulting portraits are illustrations of how our brains compile data over time, thus creating memories.” These portraits are of images from classic and contemporary artists (Rembrandt, Nick Cave) and street photography blogs (Sartorialist, Humans of New York) and serve better as examples of memory’s fallibility—not its compilation, but its degradation, in spite of the compilation being quite literal in the work. The forms become indistinct, though the most human qualities remain visible. From this, one may assume Keyes’ definition of memory doesn’t even attempt to be positive. This concept of memory is a soup, and the approach here feels a little unambitious. Memory deserves better treatment, but the images remain appealing…and I have a soft spot for fashion and new media, so I still say check it out.

New work from Doug Keyes is on display through February 28 at G. Gibson Gallery (106 3rd Ave S).

5th Annual Juried Show at Gallery 110 — Personal Pick

The Jacob Lawrence Gallery‘s director Scott Lawrimore is the juror for the 5th Annual Gallery 110 Juried Show. He has curated a few dozen pieces from around 1,500 submissions in all media. Chosen submissions include tapestry, painting, sculpture and photography. The glimpse I have gotten indicates it is a pretty strong sample of distinctly contemporary work, from the quirky and minimal to the stark and painterly. Definitely worth a look.

The 5th Annual Juried Show is on display through February 28 at Gallery 110 (110 3rd Ave S).

"Floating Jewels"by David Alexander. Image courtesy of Foster/White Gallery.

“Floating Jewels”by David Alexander. Image courtesy of Foster/White Gallery.

Around Main St.

David Alexander at Foster/White Gallery

Speaking of painterly, David Alexander‘s vivid landscapes are a visual feast of brush strokes. Trees reflected in lakes and snowy crags are flattened and turned into a gooey, skewed view of the natural world. It’s as playful as it is serious and aside from its decorative appeal, it’s just great to see the slalom and swirls of strokes on the canvas up close before stepping back and enjoying it for its complete effect.

New work by David Alexander is on display through February 28 at Foster/White Gallery (220 3rd Ave S.)

"Hazuki No 1" by Ryoko Tajiri.  Image courtesy of Hall | Spassov Gallery.

“Hazuki No 1” by Ryoko Tajiri. Image courtesy of Hall | Spassov Gallery.

Ryoko Tajiri at Hall | Spassov — Personal Pick

For something more crystalline than fluid, stop by Hall | Spassov to see new works by Ryoko Tajiri, whose sheer planes align to form recognizable forms. Her play with depth and translucency is at its most pristine when the subjects are readily adapted to this geometric style (paper cranes), but its refractory effects also give a still, silent strength to her portraiture, especially her female nudes. It feels distinctly contemporary, though its Cubist roots cannot be denied.

Works by Ryoko Tajiri are on display through February 28 at Hall Spassov Gallery – Seattle (319 3rd Ave S).

"Basis V" by Amanda Knowles.  Image courtesy of Davidson Galleries.

“Basis V” by Amanda Knowles. Image courtesy of Davidson Galleries.

Around Occidental

Amanda Knowles at Davidson Galleries

Printmaker Amanda Knowles presents original works in a variety of styles, united by bold graphic forms and a sense of convolution. She combines printmaking techniques with acrylic to create her eye-catching abstractions. Her prints of knotted forms show a pleasant tension in their subject and its presentation, divided into stark sections that offer up their own unexpected twists for the eye to trace. Her layered, gridded prints on paper and duralar have an undeniably urban feel, but all the same, the palette she uses almost reminds me of spreadsheets and graph paper. For all the engineers, it may be a sort of sublimation of the tools of their trade. Fun.

Works by Amanda Knowles will be on display through February 28 at Davidson Galleries (313 Occidental Ave S).

"Sockeye of Nimpkish" serigraph by Roger Purdue. Image courtesy of Stonington Gallery.

“Sockeye of Nimpkish” serigraph by Roger Purdue. Image courtesy of Stonington Gallery.

Roger Purdue at Stonington Gallery

Established artist Roger Purdue‘s beautiful serigraphs have been stunning art lovers for decades. Traditional northwestern Native American motifs are presented in exceptional clarity and positioning that shows influences from modern graphic design and sequential art. The prints are so exquisitely executed, one can hardly belief they weren’t printed using modern printers, but they are all hand drawn and pulled. Stonington Gallery is presenting a range of new and older works from the artist, so enthusiasts of the medium, of traditional art and of modern design all ought to be delighted by this show.

Works from Roger Purdue will be on display through February 28 at Stonington Gallery (125 Jackson St S).

"Baja" by Hickory.  Image courtesy of Artifact Gallery.

“Baja” by Hickory Mertsching. Image courtesy of Artifact Gallery.

On First Avenue

Artifact Gallery Grand Opening

There’s a new kid on the block. Josh Majchrzak opens his gallery and retail space on First Avenue this Thursday with a show of work from four artists. I’m happy to have another venue, especially one with a retail component that may be more accessible to people intimidated by most commercial galleries. The space will feature artisan goods in addition to displaying work from a stable of emerging artists.

"Estuary" by Joe Shlichta.  Image courtesy of Artifact Gallery.

“Estuary” by Joe Shlichta. Image courtesy of Artifact Gallery.

It will be my first time seeing work from many of these artists in person, but the opening roster shows a lot of promise. I am particularly curious to see work of Hickory Mertsching, who is clearly influenced by nature illustrations…and is really good at it. In the northwest, one frequently sees art that juxtaposes elements of the natural and created world, but it looks like Mertsching is particularly skilled at it. There is something almost frightening and elemental in the previews I am seeing, due in no small part to a consistent style that places a desolate foreground that floats detached from the vaporous, grey, desolate background. The quality of the light is arid, not the damp sort of silver we see here. These are dry bones, dry stones, a dry brain in a dry season. I like it.

Painter Joe Shlichta also spent part of his career in illustration, but has veered far from that to create large oil on linen paintings that are as lush and fluid as Mertsching’s images are desiccated. I like that they will exist in the same space for this show. Shlichta employs centuries-old techniques to create fuming chiaroscuro, but his palettes are more varied and his ultimate effect more abstract than that of the old masters whose tools he employs. I look forward to seeing how all these pieces are situated in the new space.

 February 28 at Artifact Gallery (313 First Ave S, Suite B).

Chris Berens and Patrick Kelly at Roq La Rue — Personal Pick

For me, this is THE show to see. I am a big fan of both of these artists and their mind-bogglingly meticulous practices.

Chris Berens is an internationally acclaimed painter who uses layers of super thin plastic from inkjet paper and drawing inks to build up a composite image that has real depth and a soft glow. The many layers create seams and bumps in the surface of the work, but the image itself is a singular dreamscape. This latest show, Nethermoor, introduces more portraiture, which I have not much seen from Berens. His works absolutely must be seen in person to be fully appreciated. Check out a time lapse video of a relatively simple composition by Berens below.

"Carbon Trace 18" by Patrick Kelly. Image courtesy of Roq La Rue Gallery.

“Carbon Trace 18” by Patrick Kelly. Image courtesy of Roq La Rue Gallery.

Patrick Kelly‘s swirling, darkly shining forms are built line by line with pencil. I first saw them at Vermillion a few years back and fell hard in love with the weightiness they exuded, something that I don’t often experience when looking at abstract work. I look forward to seeing where Kelly takes his practice in time, even if it just means new variations on shapes at first. He needs to change it up and expand at some point. For now, I’m happy to see more of his sinuous, globular carbon creations assembled in one place.

Works by Chris Berens and Patrick Kelly will be on display through February 28 at Roq La Rue Gallery (532 1st Ave S).

Don’t forget, next week is Capitol Hill Art Walk, so now is probably a good time to grab a ticket for Collect Seattle‘s February Tour. This month, the party bus (complete with bubbly and nosh) will transport art enthusiasts and first-time collectors to Photographic Center Northwest for its gorgeous group show Terminal, Seattle Art Museum’s Rental Gallery and Ghost Gallery, featuring work by Jason Lajeunesse. Learn more and buy tickets online.

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

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