Pioneer Square and Downtown Gallery Guide, February 2018

Posted on February 01, 2018, 11:29 am
9 mins


It’s hard to believe that First Thursday is here already, but Seattle art lovers are ready for it. They should be excited: There is great stuff in the art galleries in Pioneer Square and Downtown.

Top Three Picks

Art XChange | Humaira Abid: My Shame

The title of Humaira Abid‘s solo show at Art XChange may come as a surprise. One would expect her to be riding high given the critical acclaim she has received for her knockout solo show at Bellevue Arts Museum, Searching For Home. Then again, Abid’s work is full of surprises, and often very heavy. In Searching for Home, her sculptures speak to war and exile, especially as they affect mothers and girls. The works in My Shame also focus on the feminine, responding to the stigmatization of the female body…and the threat of violence. See more on the website.

On Friday, February 2, Abid will be in conversation with arts reporter Marcie Sillman of KUOW. from 7pm to 8pm at Bellevue Arts Museum. Learn more.

On Saturday, March 3, Saturday, Abid will also give a talk at Art XChange from 1-3pm.

Mariane Ibrahim Gallery | Zohra Opoku: Harmattan Tales

Women and girls are centered in the work of Zohra Opoku at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, but in a much more joyous light. Opoku’s mix of screen prints, video and photography play with ideas of concealing/revealing. She controls her “tales” and her media beautifully, giving viewers a colorful and layered view of women in her home of Ghana. Read our full review here. See more on the website.

Stonington Gallery | Drew Michael: Shadows

After a smashing debut solo show at Stonington Gallery last year, Yup’ik/Inupiaq sculptor Drew Michael returns with a new body of work. The works in Shadows continues to explore identity and divinity through his syncretic merging of Native Alaskan art, Christian iconography, and material culture. See more on the website.

Drew Michael sculpture A Case of the Z's

“A Case of the Z’s” by Drew Michael. Image courtesy of Stonington Gallery.


The State of the Uniom

Davidson Galleries | Michael Kempson: Child’s Play

Artist Michael Kempson has installed a massive display of fifty prints in Davidson Galleries. Each depicts a toy, plush animal, and each animal is symbolic of a country. And they are pretty adorable. (Kempson was unusually inspired by the stuffed animals displays in the gift shop of the Taronga Zoo during a 2011 residency there.) The prints’ positions in the installation speak to a relationship (sometimes friendly, sometimes hostile) between their respective countries. At one end of the long, tall display: an eagle. At the other end: a panda. Who could they be… See more on the website.


Installation view of Michael Kempson’s Child’s Play. Image courtesy of Davidson Galleries.

Prographica/KDR | Sandow Birk: MONUMENTAL

Sandow Birk works in many styles, adapted to various political subjects, from historical monuments to Trump’s kakistocracy. (The latter is aptly treated apres Gustav Dore’s illustrations of Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel. Birk calls the series Trumapgruel. I think the term should stick.) It isn’t all so mordant. His American Qu’Ran series is beautiful and poignant. You can see key pieces from these series and more at his solo show at Prographica/KDR. See more on the website.

“American Qu’Ran, Suras 11-112” by Sandow Birk. Image courtesy of Prographica.

Living Color

Abmeyer + Wood | Oben Albright

The sculptures of Oben Albright take the figure of someone you may pass on the street unnoticed and give them radiance. His skill as a sculptor and glass blower is matched by his subtle use of color and transparency to make the everyday more spiritual, reverent. With his works in the gallery, Abmeyer + Wood feels like a shrine of urban icons. It’s beautiful. See more on the website.

“West Oakland (Red)” by Oben Albright. Image courtesy of Abmeyer + Wood.

Bryan Ohno Gallery | Denise Stolte-Reinisch: Vaporous Landscapes

Bryan Ohno Gallery has been showing a lot of work by skillful painters and sculptors responding to the natural world and built environment. The gallerist himself remarks that this show of abstract works by Denise Stolte-Reinisch is a slight departure from the usual programming. However, the skill is still evident in the painter’s confident brush work and highly complex layering of color. They are calling the show Vaporous Landscapes, perhaps to keep it grounded in the real world, but to be honest we’re totally afloat in the ether with this one. (And it’s a delight.) Get gallery hours on the website.

“Two Twenty” by Denise Stolte-Reinisch. Image courtesy of Bryan Ohno Gallery.

Playing With Form(lessness)

Traver Gallery | Justin Ginsberg: Liquid Rope Coiling

Perhaps you saw Justin Ginsberg‘s debut installation at Traver Gallery during Seattle Art Fair 2016. If so, you know that the artist operates in a more theoretical, experimental space than most of the artists represented by the gallery. Ginsberg debuts a full body of work this time, which plays with process to create spontaneous forms. The volatile addition of molten blown glass to water leads to a lot of fracture, but also some totally novel forms (those that survive). If you like abstract sculpture and/or work defined by process, Liquid Rope Coiling should be on your list to see this month. See more on the website.

Left: “Chaos Drawing #8,” engraved glass. RIght: “#7,” blown glass. Both by Justin Ginsberg. Image courtesy of Traver Gallery.

James Harris Gallery | Brad Winchester: RINSE/REPEAT

A painter by training, Brad Winchester has an intimate appreciation for the form of frames and surfaces. His serene sculptural works deconstruct the painting as object, turning the “canvas” into delicately colored strands and negative space. These feel like early works—the seed of something bigger to come—but they are absolutely lovely on their own terms. See them in the back gallery at James Harris Gallery. See more on the website.

Installtion of Brad Winchester's RINSE/REPEAT

Installation view of Brad Winchester’s RINSE/REPEAT. Image courtesy of James Harris Gallery.


The Hybrid Space

DA DA DA Gallery Presents MOOD GOOD ROOM

DA DA DA Gallery is a hybrid shop/gallery presenting objets d’art and other goods. And they have superb taste. Their release for February:

Da Da Da Gallery is excited to present a multimedia exhibition: MOOD GOOD ROOM. An explorative and playful reading room with publications curated from Strath Shepard’s Pacific Standard Books collection and environmental objects by artist Nicholas Nyland.

The gallery space takes shape with Nyland’s hand painted seating and eye-catching lighting fixtures (among other forms of curio), which set a playful and idiosyncratic tone, priming you to discover other unique worldviews through books, zines and ephemera carefully selected from Shepard’s archives.

The space is usually open Monday through Friday from noon to 6pm, but will be open until 8pm for First Thursday Art Walk. Pop in: 513 S. Main St. Seattle, WA 98104


Featured image: “Tempting Eyes I” by Humaira Abid. Image courtesy of Art XChange.

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