Last summer was a big year for the arts in Seattle, in no small part because of the inaugural Seattle Art Fair and the ways in which the community responded to and expanded on having such a large international audience descend on the city. The most outstanding locally curated and designed show was Out of Sight, spearheaded by local curators to create a dizzying array of work by artists based in the Pacific Northwest.
Some of the larger installations included a large ephemeral sculpture made of flour by McKenzie Porritt and Mary Ann Peters, an enigmatically glowing monolith by Ben Zamora, a glittering, undulating kinetic sculpture by Casey Curran, and two large anamorphic works: one by Jason Puccinelli (painted based on Caravaggio’s “David With Head of Goliath”) and a positively joyful work by Damien Gilley that revealed a giant X in hundreds of hand painted threads when viewed at just the right angle. All of this was staged among dozens of small works in every medium and walls painted by muralists.
The 2016 lineup has just been announced on the Out of Sight website and its a knock out that has me really excited for August. I have written elsewhere that even the Seattle Art Fair’s programming (inside and outside the event center) is looking really solid, building on the lessons learned from last year and better integrating with the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the fair at Century Link Event Center: Pioneer Square and The International District. Out of Sight will again be located in the upper floor of King Street Station and will be open on weekends through August, so even if you can’t make the art fair for some reason, you have no excuse to miss the local display.
The lineup this year includes many established artists and rising stars, but only a few returning from last year. That’s nice to see, simply because repeat audiences can expect to be introduced to a lot of new artists if they aren’t regular gallery and museum attendees.
Some of my favorites for Out of Sight 2016
We’re big fans of Tariqa Waters here at Vanguard Seattle as an artist, gallerist and style icon, and we loved a bold, vivid photo of hers in Out of Sight last year. It is a titular piece of her new show %100 Kanekalon at the Northwest African American Museum. How she has time to contribute to Out of Sight while also running her recently relocated gallery, Martyr Sauce, is beyond me.
From the real world to the virtual: I got into Rick Silva‘s work in 2014 and was especially delighted to see his Field Guide to Birds of a Parallel Future play at Black Box 2.0 last year. He’s bound to bring some trippy new media into the space, just as Tivon Rice (another Black Box participant) did last year.
Painter Cait Willis draws inspiration from digital glitches and old tapes as she creates her layered paintings that straddle classical ideas of grotesque, modern abstraction and good old fashioned representation. They give that glossy, inviolable finish back to images that have lost their luster with the degradation of age.
Lead Pencil Studio consistently wows me. Their sculpture non-sign II at the Canadian border near Vancouver is one of my favorite pieces of public art in the state and their contributions to Genius / 21 Century Seattle at The Frye in 2015 were utterly haunting. At Out of Sight, they could be drawing, sculpting…who knows?
Speaking of haunting work, Justin Duffus‘ recent paintings at Linda Hodges Gallery masterfully took subjects that felt voyeuristic (like family photos from a stranger’s house) and gave them a personal, elegiac sensibility through his painterly technique and dense palettes.
Rodrigo Valenzuela will be returning to share work in Seattle, after big shows in Texas and Utah in the last year. It’s probably too much to hope for a large installation from him following all of that, but his Future Ruins show at The Frye in January 2015 was so well executed and started the year so nicely, I’d love to see him bring something big. (A video work from him could also be splendid.)
Rob Rhee‘s Winter Wheat at GLASS BOX in January told me that 2016 was going to be another interesting (and fun) year at the galleries. It was a surreal mix of gourds twisted within steel armatures, sculptures of foam sealant, and textual play with (imperfect) translation.
Speaking of words… For those who know that language truly is a rich territory for exploration and study and visual art, the work of Tannaz Farsi is complicated and satisfying. This isn’t the typical “word art”…a pithy phrase thrown up on canvas or paper a la Ed Ruscha. It’s more of a query into how we get to communicate (and trust language to do its job) in the first place.
The work of Joe Rudko, meanwhile, starts and ends with images: old photographs and postcards are mutilated and collaged in inventive ways, or seemingly stretched like fiber as he separates pieces and then reconnects them with incredibly precise lines drawn with photographic correction pens. It often feels like a challenge to our obsessive need to archive and the failing memories that beget that need.
Photographer Megumi Shauna Arai makes beautiful, ambiguous images, and in her recent collaboration with Prairie Underground connected them with actual fibers of sashiko thread, which also affixed them in to rich, indigo drapes, blending soft sculpture and abstracted human bodies.
Artist Mark Mitchell shows how clothing can fuse performance, drawing, sculpture and storytelling in one object. His Burial series at The Frye a few years back brought me to tears and a recent studio visit has me thrilled by his approach to pressing current events. His method is delicate and yet takes no shit.
Mitchell won’t be the only artist with a political edge who knows how to work across mediums seamlessly: Nicholas Galanin is also contributing. I was introduced to his work at another stellar Frye show, Your Feast Has Ended, and have been a fan ever since. I cannot wait to see what he brings.
I’m juuuust scratching the surface here. In addition to the visual art, there will be performances as well, including: Alice Gosti, the mastermind of Yellow Fish festival and an upcoming performance, Bodies of Water in collaboration with Seattle Waterfront; prolific choreographer for film and stage Dayna Hansen; emerging dancer and choreographer Antonio Somera.
Check out the whole list of the 88 artist/groups on the Out of Sight website. The event calendar does not yet include the performance schedule, so we’ll have to wait a little longer to know that scoop. Stay tuned!