First Thursday Art Walk and Seattle Gallery Guide, October 2016

Posted on October 05, 2016, 10:20 am
14 mins


Though there are quite a few shows from last month that extend through this weekend, there is plenty of new work to see during First Thursday Art Walk. This month, I’m highlighting nine galleries to see in Downtown and Pioneer Square. Some personal picks include a group show of macabre prints, some twisted-up portraiture and an installation of vivid, surreal photography.


Terry Turrell at Patricia Rovzar Gallery

Self-taught artist Terry Turrell has a knack for taking unconventional and overlooked materials and working them into his art. Despite the mixture of media, there is a consistent look to his figures, whether sculpted or painted. They are textured, patinated, stretched and gnarled. They sometimes border on grotesque, but that isn’t how I would describe his latest series at Patricia Rovzar Gallery. Dogs, cats and other beasts bound in motley colors and patterns. Some are friendly, some are vicious, but they all look wild. It seems a fitting show for the month of Halloween, when everyone is a little more eager to unleash their wild side.

On display through October 31 at Patricia Rovzar Gallery (1111 1st Ave). Lead image above is a detail of Turrell’s painting “From Here to There.”

Growth Rings at Traver Gallery

Traver Gallery presents the work of six artists working in wood in Growth Rings. I’m personally fond of the carved and painted bottle shapes of Malcolm Martin and Gaynor Dowling. The sculptures of Michael Peterson look like they could be unaltered natural forms at a glance, but closer examinations shows just how carefully he has manipulated the material. There’s no such illusion in the highly ordered works of Ben Butler. All the same, you never lose an appreciation for the beauty of the wood itself.

Traver Gallery will also be displaying a solo show of art glass by Nancy Callan. Her exquisite, rounded blown glass forms will be a glossy complement to the wood. The complex patterns she etches and works into the glass are indeed deserving of the title of the show: From Here To Infinity.

On display October 29 at Traver Gallery (110 Union St #200)

"The First Emperor" by Ben Butler. Image courtesy of Traver Gallery.

“The First Emperor” by Ben Butler. Image courtesy of Traver Gallery.

"Dark Matter Orb" by Nancy Callan. Image courtesy of Traver Gallery.

“Dark Matter Orb” by Nancy Callan. Image courtesy of Traver Gallery.

The Tashiro Kaplan Block

Brit Ruggirello at Gallery 4Culture – Personal Pick

One of the highlights from last year’s MFA show for the UW Photomedia Program was the work of Brit Ruggirello. She calls her multimedia installations Mood Boards. They take up entire walls, but are also displayed with a large photograph of the installation that has been slightly altered. The mood boards use similar found objects and highly saturated palettes, but each is markedly different. Each is a sort of sculptural collage that (for Ruggirello) evokes a specific person or thing, for which the piece is named.

Those who follow net aesthetics will see hints of Seapunk and Vaporwave mixed with more concrete non-virtual references. See her latest work, Blue Hotel Series 2, Episode 1 at Gallery 4Culture. There will be live music during the opening reception from 6-8pm during First Thursday Art Walk.

On display through October 27 at Gallery 4Culture (101 Prefontaine Pl S)

Aaliyah Gupta and Krista Lutz at CORE Gallery

"Target 1" by Aaliyah Gupta. Image via CORE Gallery.

“Target 1” by Aaliyah Gupta. Image via CORE Gallery.

Aaliyah Gupta‘s sinuous ink and acrylic paintings on Duralar have always been pleasing. The way her transparent scrolls curl on themselves and can be presented numerous ways makes them versatile art objects, too. All the same, Gupta has been due to make some changes and try something new. She certainly does that with her new series of works, inspired by refugee crises and the targeted bombings of ancient cities. These works are much more worked over, layered and aggressive. It’s a fresh take, and the finished products have a distressed feeling to them, even though they are still totally abstract.

Sharing space with the ceramic sculptures of Krista Lutz, the sense of being near a physical ruin is only enhanced. I am not sure this is exactly intentional; there is nothing in Lutz’s artist statement to tie her to this conceptually, and on their own the sculptures could refer as much to accretion and building as they do to collapse. I will assume that it was intentional and say, “Good curation.” The added reading based on this context does nothing to detract from their undeniably appealing forms. It just gives audiences an extra nudge to think broadly about what these forms evoke.

On display through October 29 at CORE Gallery. (117 Prefontaine Pl S)

Around Main St.

Katlyn Hubner at Bryan Ohno Gallery – Personal Pick

The programming at Bryan Ohno Gallery has consistently favored large paintings in recent months, and I like it. The subject matter has varied, but a lot has been specific to the region, especially the landscapes. The gallery’s solo show of work by Katlyn Hubner is dives in close, with highly expressive and colorful portraits. The models’ faces are often obscured as they writhe and pull on their flesh. The physical agitation is paired with an intense palette that tends toward cool hues. Even the bright pinks feel a little blue. The bodies are attractive and there’s more than a tinge of eroticism to it all, but the works don’t indulge a pornographic gaze. Even though the bodies are often incomplete, they never let you forget that they are part of a full and complex being.

On display through October 29 at Bryan Ohno Gallery. (521 S Main St)

"Beautiful Pull" by Katlyn Hubner. Image courtesy of Bryan Ohno Gallery.

“Beautiful Pull” by Katlyn Hubner. Image courtesy of Bryan Ohno Gallery.

Dessie Jackson at Treason Gallery

There is some synergy between the Hubner show and that of Dessie Jackson‘s work at Treason Gallery. Both artists’ works are figurative, painterly, colorful and very contemporary. The faces in Jackson’s work are decidedly less expressive, though—and that’s the point. These faces are of the sorts you would see in ads for beauty products. These are faces that have been, in themselves, reduced to a blank canvas, to be painted and altered to specific effect.

Jackson makes her own alterations: subtly putting the iris of an eye over its lid; smearing the makeup around the lips; webbing eyes with a ghostly swath of white. The results can be a bit uneven, but overall it’s an attractive, accessible, well-wrought series that both praises and lampoons artifice (as one should).

Pro tip: The openings at Treason go until 9pm, so even if you are late to First Thursday Art Walk, you can get a look.

On display through October 30 at Treason Gallery (313 3rd Ave S)

Around Occidental

Twisted Impressions at Davidson Galleries – Personal Pick

It is hard to do a bad show when you have a diverse, talented, international roster of working printmakers in addition to an incredible archive of antique prints. And since Davidson Galleries has all of that AND a nicely renovated space AND a team that really knows how to hang everything well, it’s pretty much impossible to see a bad show there. I always want to leave with three or four things. Their October show, Twisted Impressions, will be no exception, I’m sure.

The Davidson Galleries team is doing Halloween right by showing macabre and surreal prints from over a dozen artists. The mezzotints of Douglas Bosley and Trevor Foster are mindblowing in their detail. The monstrosities of Toshihiko Ikeda and Tomiyuki Sakuta are straight-up nightmare fuel. Michael Goro‘s prints are a little Dürer, a little Giger, all Metal. And I am personally stoked to see works by Grady Gordon again. Gordon’s darkly numinous monotypes were a favorite of mine at the Night Terrors show at Vermillion back in 2013. With such a variety, there’s a little nightmare for everyone at Davidson Galleries this month. Boo and Hooray!

On display through October 29 at at Davidson Galleries (313 Occidental Ave S)

"LD 4334:4338" by David Bosley. Image courtesy of Traver Gallery.

“LD 4334:4338” by David Bosley. Image courtesy of Traver Gallery.

"A fish rots from its head down" by Michael Goro

“A fish rots from its head down” by Michael Goro

Susan Pavel at Stonington Gallery

For something completely different: Stonington Gallery presents an exhibition of new Coast Salish-style weavings by master weaver Dr. Susan Pavel.. A little about this specific style from the gallery:

Coast Salish weaving is a specific genre and technique unto itself. The art was retained by a few master weavers, including the latesubiyay Bruce Miller, a Skokomish spiritual leader, who chose Pavel as an apprentice in the mid-1990s. Pavel, who is not Native, was chosen to carry on the technique by Miller, and has herself now taught over 500 students.

Pavel says, “We started as just two. Now, there are hundreds. My students have taught other students. Now I know that this will not die with me when I go. The journey has been and continues to be remarkable. The essence of weaving is fulfilled because … I am obedient to the call.”

Works on display at Stonington were part of a retrospective of Pavel’s work at the Suquamish Museum this summer. Read more about the history and meaning of the blanket weaving tradition on the gallery’s website.

On display through October 30 at Stonington Gallery. (125 S Jackson St)

South End


Artist Barbara Polster presents her first solo gallery exhibit, including video, sculpture and installation at GLASS BOX. I have to say this endorsement is a wild card, because I don’t really know what to expect. However 1) GLASS BOX is another space that doesn’t really do a bad show. Esoteric sometimes? Sure. But always visually interesting. 2) What little bits I have seen from Polster in preview images have piqued my curiosity. 3) At least one artist whose work I adore seems to have been peripherally involved, at least as a model. He is also rather discerning, so that’s a good sign. 4) GLASS BOX has limited gallery hours, so it’s best to catch its shows during the openings.

Bottom line, it’s probably worth the trek. Take a chance.

On display through October 29 at GLASS BOX Gallery (831 Seattle Blvd S)

Teaser image for Polster's solo show at GLASS BOX, opening during First Thursday Art Walk.

Teaser image for Polster’s solo show at GLASS BOX, opening during First Thursday Art Walk.

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