First Thursday Art Walk, November 2017: Five Great Shows

Posted on November 02, 2017, 11:39 am
9 mins


A new month means new shows in Pioneer Square and downtown Seattle. For First Thursday Art Walk, we’re recommending an art party marathon, three new solo shows, and two shows continuing from last month. We start at the southern end of Pioneer Square and work north.

CoCA Annual Art Marathon at Elysian Fields

Each year, the Center on Contemporary Art hosts a big art-making marathon open to the public. Audiences cans observe two dozen artists at work and chat them up. The pieces made during the marathon are then immediately auctioned at the center’s annual gala on Friday. Want a piece and to party for art? Get tickets online. The party starts at 5:30 on Friday, November 3 at Elysian Fields (542 1st Avenue South).

This is the 25th year that CoCA has thrown its gala, and so it is taking the opportunity to honor some key artists who have given it such a legacy in the region. Last month, it opened a special exhibit of works by over twenty artists, including James Turrell, Paul Rucker, Gary Hill, Laurie Anderson and Mary Ann Peters (whose solo show at James Harris Gallery is also worth catching). If you didn’t get to see this show last month at CoCA Gallery (114 3rd Ave S), stop by when you check out the galleries in the Tashiro Kaplan Building during Art Walk. It’s up through November 18.

David Hytone at Linda Hodges Gallery

“Prestidigitation for Beginners” by David Hytone. Image courtesy of the artist and Linda Hodges Gallery.

Artist David Hytone works big and small, in two and three dimensions, but regardless of scale and medium you can recognize his work. His layered compositions harmonize unrecognizable (but evocative) forms and a diverse palette. Linda Hodges Gallery presents a number of new, large paintings on canvas by Hytone in a solo show.

Hytone was working as a house painter by trade when he started debuting works in the local galleries, which relied much more on colorful, gooey impasto. He has been shown at a number of galleries around town since then, so you may have caught some of his works elsewhere. He just keeps getting better, though, so Resume will be a fine introduction to new audiences.

Bonus: Hytone also happens to be one of the most affable, friendly artists in the local scene. A few years back, he channeled that into a side project, the makers podcast, which interviewed members of the Seattle arts community. (I’m on there, too.) If you want to get to know Hytone and the Seattle arts scene, it’s a great place to look.

On view through December 2. See more online.

Robert Ernst Marx at Davidson Galleries

Robert Ernst Marx has been showing with gallerist Sam Davidson since the latter began his art dealing career. At that time, Marx was already an artist of some regard, but his most prolific years were still ahead. His latest show at Davidson Galleries is evidence that the artist is still searching, still discovering new stories to tells. His printmaking background has influenced his painting method, which builds up layer by layer with a single color at a time. The final results are haunting, humane portraits of ghostly figures, whose placid postures belie Marx’s wrestling with heavy philosophical matters, especially of power. The evidence of this is, however, undeniable in the faces of his subjects.

A year ago, a series of broadsides, Considering the Voluntary Absence of God, by Marx on display at CoCA Gallery was an artistic highlight of the year. It was also a timely and (unfortunately) prophetic response to the 2016 election. (You can read my response to the show at the time in Seattle Weekly.) These broadsides give a more direct view into Marx’s inner life as an artist, what drives him. However, one needs only to look in the blank, creased eyes of his figures to see trauma, shock, sometimes dogma, sometimes defiance.

On view through December 2. See more online.

Ray Mack at Abmeyer+Wood

“Freedom From Fear” by Ray Mack. Image courtesy of the artist and Abmeyer+Wood.

If subtle reminders of an oppressive order are so commonplace, so interwoven with beloved symbols of one culture, how does one progress? In Ray Mack‘s mind, you point out these images, re-envision them. Sometimes you even make them monstrous.

For those accustomed to the often urbane, beautiful artwork usually on display at Abmeyer+Wood, the raucous, painterly, aggressive works by Mack will be a hairpin turn. It will be even more jarring to fans of nostalgic Americana, especially the works of Norman Rockwell, whom Mack revisits often in her work. Rockwell had his moments of conscience, especially during the Civil Rights Era. However, he is also emblematic of many artists at the time who lent their talents unreservedly to propaganda for American imperialism and exceptionalism.

His “Freedom From…” paintings are instantly recognizable, in no small part because they were used in posters hawking war bonds. Mack revisits his Freedom From Fear painting, in which a mother and father tuck their children into bed. Pops is holding a newspaper whose headline refers to a nameless terror attack. In Mack’s version, the paper is illegible, and so is his face…an ameboid, Baconesque mass. The children seem to be recoiling from him as much as anything else in the world. In a time when Orwell’s Big Brother seems more present than ever, can you blame them?

On view through December 2. See more online.

Tip Toland at Traver Gallery

Ordinarily, Traver Gallery would have a new show up, but because the lead staff are running the gallery’s booth at SOFA, we get one more chance to see Tip Toland‘s incredible sculptures. Toland is a figurative ceramicist whose work tends toward the hyper-realistic and grotesque. At a recent talk during Seward Park Clay Studio’s fundraiser, she mentioned that she intends to decrease the scale of her work in coming years, as her large pieces simply consume too much time and she has too many ideas she wants to execute.

If so, the works on display at Traver Gallery represent some of the last of her life-size and larger sculptures. One is rendered not in ceramic, but in cement, and is very accurate but not painted in the uncanny way that many of her figures are. At the far-end, a nude self-portrait looks insane in a pile of feathers on a torn mattress. She is, at least, insanely talented. See the show one last time (or for the first time) before it closes this weekend.

The exhibition ends this weekend, November 4. See more online.

Featured image: “The Curators” by Ray Mack. Image courtesy of the artist and Abmeyer+Wood.

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