December 2015 Gallery Guide: Art for the Holidays

Posted on November 30, 2015, 12:00 pm
13 mins


Those who regularly attend galleries know that December is often a slow month. Doors close over the holidays and shows may extend from the previous month or into the next year. It is most common for galleries to do big group shows at year’s end to give viewers a first glimpse of artists’ newest collections of works or even one-off pieces in an unaccustomed medium or smaller scale.

This year is no exception, but there are some particularly fabulous examples happening at galleries around the city.

The extended shows

November was an amazing month of new artwork in Pioneer Square, and some of my favorite shows are scheduled to stay up late December. That includes the ambitious show at Traver Gallery (110 Union St #200) by Tori Karpenko, who created a replica of a 1930s-style fire lookout cabin in the central exhibition room among beautiful landscape paintings of some of the region’s most remote terrains (through December 23).

I cannot recommend enough the current show at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery (608 Second Avenue), featuring work from five artists (including one duo, Mwangi Hutter, who act as one artistic entity). So many words are being uttered about refugee crises and diaspora, but none adequately speak to the experience of those who know exile, the desire to return and its impossibility. The experience unmoors oneself, and yet these artists speak with such lucidity, even when the work shows a justifiable anger. The mediums are so different and used so effectively, and the content is (sadly) very timely. (Showing through December 23)

That’s not the only show that addresses fraught political issues: Roger Shimomura and William Kentridge both have an incisive charge to their works on display at Greg Kucera Gallery (212 3rd Ave S). The front galleries are full of Shimomora’s satirical, pop-art style paintings. The back galleries are lined with Kentridge’s stark linocuts printed on collaged pages of text (from dictionaries and other sources). The former lived in an internment camp during World War II. The latter grew up in apartheid-era South Africa. Under the current circumstances (with certain pundits implying that minority groups ought to be identified and separated), Shimomura’s perspective is vital and (again, sadly) very timely. (Showing through December 24)

Curator Julia Fryett has put together one of the best juried shows I’ve seen in a long time at Punch Gallery (119 Prefontaine Pl S). Titled Electric Fields, its array of media and content is wildly diverse in a way that might have felt very weird together. In one of those great curatorial strokes, the show seems to evolve intuitively from various forms of tension—the physical tension between boundaries that make us distinct or bind us, the psychic tension of technological demands and conveniences. The pieces complement each other more than they conflict by not repeating the same ideas, but existing in that same tense framework. Paradoxically, I felt quite at ease with it all. (Showing through December 19)

Troy Gua has transformed the BONFIRE gallery space into a miniature museum at the base of Panama Hotel (603 South Main Street). The subject of this museum: Relics of a pre-apocalyptic America, long after its dissolution, like the great ancient empire of Egypt. Gua takes inspiration from ancient Egyptian relics and mashes it up with Americana and pop-culture. The results are always slick and frequently hysterical. Receptions will also happen in December and January on First Thursday, and the show will be up until January 28, 2016.

The solo shows

Susan Jameson and Charles Spitzack at Davidson Galleries

These short, simultaneous solo shows are a brilliant pair. Susan Jameson is world-renowned for her luminous mezzotints. The medium was made to soften the light-dark binary in early print-making, and Jameson masterfully uses this advantage to create brooding seascapes, forest scenes with lights streaming from the depth and moons diffusing in mist. Meanwhile, Charles Spitzack‘s woodcuts are full of sharp lines and dynamic figures in diffuse fields of color. It’s a very yin-yang pairing, and it works only because both artists are so good at what they do.

Works by Jameson and Spitzack will be on display through December 24 at Davidson Galleries (313 Occidental Ave S).

Charismatic Megafauna at Roq La Rue Gallery

It will be a full house at Roq La Rue in December and January with the group show Charismatic Megafauna. As the title implies, the theme of the show is animals, often large and also quite ambiguous. From the exquisite cut paper work of Joey Bates, to the layered, dreamy paintings of Chris Berens, to the sinuously sinister work of Camille Rose Garcia, you can bet no two interpretations will be alike. Other artists include Adam S Doyle, Brad Woodfin, Femke Hiemstra, Jacub Gagnon, Jean Pierre Arboleda, Jessica Joslin, Josh Keyes, Josie Morway, Justin Beckman, Laurie Hogin, Lindsey Carr, Michael Alm, Peter Ferguson, Peter Gronquist and Scott Musgrove.

Charismatic Megafauna will be on display through January 30 at Roq La Rue (532 1st Ave)

Laurie Hogin, "Apocalypse Rhino." Oil on linen, 2015, 36" x 48"

Laurie Hogin, “Apocalypse Rhino.” Oil on linen, 2015, 36″ x 48″

The small works shows

Small Works Group Show at Gallery 110

Before shutting down for a month at the beginning of 2016 for a remodel and renovation, Gallery 110 (110 3rd Ave) will present work (photography, prints, paintings, sculpture) all sized under a foot in any direction and affordably priced. Unlike usual gallery shows, the item can be removed upon purchase. (No need to wait until the show comes down.) Whether searching for a thoughtful gift or a new piece of art for your own collection to mark the end of 2015, it’s a great place to look.

Annual Miniature Art Extravaganza (3 Locations)

Besides being one of the best places in town to find amazing, locally produced jewelry, Capitol Hill’s Ghost Gallery shows lots of small-art year round in addition to its rotating curated shows. In December, gallerist Laurie Kearney will be loading up three locations around town with miniature works, each 10″ x 10″ and smaller and $250 or under by local and international artists. The three locations are Ghost Gallery (504 E Denny Way) on Capitol Hill, Stylus Salon (2321 2nd Ave) in Belltown and Solo Bar (200 Roy St) in Lower Queen Anne.

The pop-up shops

Rose Gold Winter Pop-Up at GLASS BOX

From December 3 through December 13, GLASS BOX is inviting Rose Gold to organize a series of events during which time there will also be a pop-up retail space. Rose Gold acts as an undefined purveyor of custom goods, workshops, art and other services that border on the esoteric. The series at GLASS BOX includes readings and live performances, along with art on the walls from over a dozen artists, including Kelly Björk, Leena Joshi and Mario Lemafa. It will be a great place to look for affordable art and handmade gifts. The dates are as follows.

Thursday, December 3: Launch Party, 7 to 11 PM

DJ set by Sean Morrow (KEXP). Poetry via Rebecca Zweig. Live music via Nail Polish. Vendors include Actual Pain, Calque and Rachel Ravitch among others. For a full list, see the Facebook event page.

Saturday, December 5: Tincture Making 101, 12:30 PM to 2 PM

RSVP in advance for this workshop on making tinctures as homeopathic remedies (or to add an herbal kick to cocktails and cuisine). Class size is limited to 12. $27 fee covers class and all materials. See the Facebook event page for full details.

Sunday, December 6: TUF HIP HOP SET by yung luce + yung leen, 7 PM to 10 PM

Live music featuring Hoop, Lilac and Briana Marela. $7 general admission. See the Facebook event page.

Tuesday, December 8: Incense Making 101 with Ona Lee, 5 PM to 7 PM

Ona Lee will lead a class on the history of incense, the practice of smudging and the properties of various resins before assisting participants in creating their own incense for personal use. $30 class fee includes needed materials. See the Facebook event page for full details.

Wednesay, December 9: Kundalini Yoga, 6 PM to 7:15 PM

A beginner-friendly night of Kundalini yoga, which is geared toward breathwork, meditation and chant to initiate self-healing. Sliding scale $10-15. (BYO mat.) See the Facebook event page for full details.

Saturday, December 12: Women’s Beat League CDJ Workshop

Portland, OR-based Women’s Beat League is dedicated to training and fostering community among female-identified persons interested in DJing and producing. Join in for a workshop on CDJ basics: cueing tracks, beat-matching, looping, mixer FAQs and the importance of selection. Space is limited. See the Facebook event page for full details.

All events take place at GLASS BOX Gallery (831 Seattle Blvd S)


Holiday Market at studio e

For two days, studio e (609 S Brandon St) in collaboration with Sallyann Corn (fruitsuper design) will host a holiday market featuring works by studio e artists Rachel Illingworth, Carole D’inverno, Brian Beck, Robert Hardgrave, Sue Danielson and Jon B. Dove, in addition to objects and accessories by over a dozen design studios, including Blk Pine Workshop, Bremelo Press, Iacoli & McAllister, Jessalin Beutler and The Pursuits of Happiness. The artists will each have at least one smaller scale work for those seeking to collect from them (but who perhaps lack wall space at the moment), while the studios will be showing an array of elegant, locally-designed goodies perfect for gifts (or for yourself).

Saturday, December 12, the market starts at 11 AM and goes on until 7 PM, with a party continuing until 10 PM for Georgetown Art Attack. The second and final day is Sunday, December 13, from 11 Am to 7 PM.

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