It’s time again for First Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square! Our top picks for the month include a few shows that started in January and end just before Valentine’s Day. That leaves limited time to see it all, so art lovers who can’t usually get to the galleries during the day should make an effort to check out some of these great shows. I’m starting this list with what I consider to be the must-see show of the month:
Fabrice Monteiro’s Marrons at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery – Personal Pick
I have written here and elsewhere about Fabrice Monteiro‘s series Gorean Summer, which shows revelers on the shores of Gorée Island, which was historically one of Senegal’s most notorious slave trade sites. In his earlier series Marrons, we get a window into that dark history. Monteiro had replicas of slave harnesses and masks made by local artisans and then placed these objects on models. He did not direct the models to show any specific emotion when he photographed them. Audiences see the real face of a human who has just been weighted down with an instrument of oppression, and in those expressions of sadness, shock and anger, one gets a piercing aperçu of the faces of humans claimed as property centuries ago. The gallery has chosen to present it in honor of Black History Month, but the message is universal and, sadly, perennial.
Anne Wilson and Bing Wright at James Harris Gallery
Two shows play with deconstructed materials to unique effect at James Harris Gallery this month. Photographer Bing Wright dismantled his darkroom years ago and the silver halides of silver gelatin prints may be gone from his work, but now he applies silver foil over monochrome digital prints to create unique composites that look almost like optical illusions. Some prints are like a shadow of the foil while others are of sakura blossoms with a grid of silver partially obscuring them. For all their soothing austerity, they feel more coy than faded, as a playfulness brims beneath the shimmering surface. The same can be said of Anne Wilson‘s works with cloth, thread and glass. Her triptych “Tensile Drawing” fills three quadrangles with irregular, sinuous webs of thread. The smallest is placed right of center to the composition and made of neon orange to contrast with the black on either side. Such keen and mature compositions translate into her dispersion series as well, which embroiders a diffuse dusting of color around ellipsoid holes on white cloth. It’s the sort of distraction-free work that finds a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower.
The Tashiro Kaplan Block
Joseph Pentheroudakis and David Traylor at Shift Gallery
Artist Joseph Pentheroudakis drafts minimal latticed structures in pen and pencil works. Artist and landscape architect David Traylor forms ceramic sculptures that straddle chaos and harmony. In the works of both, there are both labyrinths and a sense of function (without being functional). Pulling this off looks easier than it actually is.
At Large at G. Gibson Gallery
This group show at G. Gibson Gallery features a few big paintings to accompany a slew of smaller works, to pleasing effect. Four artists provide the big works: Susanna Bluhm, Robert C. Jones, Thuy-Van Vu and Mark Thompson. I’m especially enamored with Vu’s “American Dresser,” which deconstructs a pre-fab showroom dresser into a levitating lattice of boards, and Thompson’s landscape “To Turn My Face Away,” whose depiction of a tundra outpost pierces with foreboding and isolation. Many of the smaller works are more lighthearted, but the small works by Linda Davidson (on her typical 6″x6″ panels) can be both menacing and playful, with dark piles of gesso and plaster oozing streams of red in “Ominous Weather” and planes of grey casein aswirl in “And Toto, Too.”
Around Main St.
The Potato Eaters at Greg Kucera Gallery – Personal Pick
Greg Kucera Gallery actually built out temporary walls from heavy cardboard in the front gallery to create a cloistered gallery space for its group show The Potato Eaters, guest-curated by artists Dawn Cerny and Dan Webb. This doesn’t just add wall space, but creates quiet, reverent corners whose earthier colors contrast with the vaulted austerity we usually enjoy in the front gallery. Featured artists include Gretchen Bennett, C. Davida Ingram, Margot Quan Knight and Rob Rhee. Cerny and Webb also contribute (as will Matt Sellars, whose solo show at Platform Gallery continues through February 13).
Sounds of the Sea at Foster/White Gallery
Two artists view coasts from opposite angles in Foster/White‘s front galleries. Joshua Jensen-Nagle captures the warmth of crowded resort beaches from unconventional angles in overhead photography that highlights the contract between the sun-bleached land and the jewel-toned water. Steven Nederveen focuses on coasts closer to home with mixed media works that look skyward through silhouettes of evergreens and over dark hills, into the diffused light of the Pacific Northwest.
Cheyenne Randall: HOLLYWOODNT at Treason Gallery
Cheyenne Randall‘s cheeky photoshopped pictures of celebrities cover them with tattoos. I’m pretty sure most anyone would crack a smile at a wedding picture of Kate and William smooching above neck tats (a butterfly between her clavicles, a bald eagle soaring over his high collar). There’s no telling which prints will be displayed at Treason Gallery this month, but there will be one huge mural made in a collaboration between Randall and James Franco, whose mug will dominate the walls. For those who love to hate Franco, its perfect fodder for commentary on his ego. For the fans, it’s definitely worth a look (and probably a selfie, duck face and all).
Student International Small Print Show 2016 at Davidson Galleries
Davidson Galleries’ various international group shows are always a treasure trove for art lovers and collectors. The price points are accessible, the styles and subjects diverse. I suspect many collectors got their start at these shows. This year features over 100 small works from emerging printmakers from Brazil, Australia, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Italy, Bangladesh, Japan, Spain, Poland, the United Kingdom and more.
Don Fritz at Gallery IMA
Raku ceramics are most typically used in functional objects and prized for a patina and uneven surface that bestows a sense of age and history. Don Fritz‘ sculptures use that inherent antique sensibility as a natural contrast to his subject matter: toys, children, picturebooks. The results are amusing and also melancholy and accessible to just about any audience, young and old.
On First Avenue
Ryan Molenkamp, Kentree Speirs and Wendelin Wohlgemuth
Mountains in all directions: That’s Seattle for you, and Linda Hodges Gallery will be a colorful microcosm of our geography in a sense as Ryan Molenkamp and Kentree Speirs present simultaneous shows. Both painters take mountains as their subject matter, often working on large panels or canvases to give a sense of majesty (and foreboding), but beyond that they could hardly be more different. Molenkamp works with angular striations of color to suggest uneven landscapes that pile up into volcanic masses. Speirs uses oils to render craggy peaks partially obscured by pale clouds and splashes of bright color. And for something completely different (but also foreboding) from both, check out work by Wendelin Wohlgemuth in the upstairs gallery space. Wohlgemuth paints in oils, placing human figures–seemingly cut from partially destroyed old photos–into dark voids. The human figure is central, yet made to feel insignificant, fragmented, nearly crushed. I think they’d look great hanging over a bassinet.
Jonathan Viner Strange Math at Roq La Rue Gallery
A painting by Jonathan Viner was one of my favorites at a group show at Roq La Rue Gallery late last year, so I’m interested to see a full body of work from him for the first time. He has a beautiful sense of light and a lush realism that softens his cold, transient settings and human subjects that are models of ennui and exhaustion. Feels about right for February (and Valentine’s Day).