The big news this month among the Pioneer Square and Downtown art galleries is a collaborative exhibition between three of the most established. Woodside / Braseth Gallery, Greg Kucera Gallery and Davidson Galleries will all be showing works by Seattle artist Michael Spafford. Works from Spafford’s decades-long career will nearly fill the walls. Spafford has always worked big, drawing from Greco-Roman myths for subject matter. Hence the title of the collaborative show: Epic Works.
There’s more info about that below, but first, let’s check out a range of other shows opening this week during Art Walk.
Personal Pick: Kenny Harris at Prographica / KDR
The contemporary portraiture of Kenny Harris toes a luminous, uncanny line between the photorealistic and painterly. The compositions are never too perfectly laid out to be unbelievable, yet they are numinous. The brushstrokes are never made too invisible, yet the figures look ready to breathe and step out of the frame. Lost in thought, they stay put. The point is not for them to attempt to enter our world (and fail), but for us to attempt to their Interior Worlds (and fail, beautifully). See more on the website.
Amanda Kirkhuff at Gallery 4Culture
Cool and saturated: That’s how one might describe the mood and the flesh depicted in Amanda Kirkhuff‘s large paintings. There is something strangely resilient about her figures. Perhaps it is because their postures sometimes evoke more classical sculpture, while the paintings as a whole have a cinematic quality. They are, in all events, beautiful, and Kirkhuff has a broader purpose in mind when choosing her subjects and modes. From 4Culture:
Everything is Hard portrays the beauty and endurance of the gay community, as well as its shortcomings: in particular, complicity and participation in the very structures of discrimination that serve to marginalize its members. Kirkhuff wants to be a part of a gay community that doesn’t hate women, contribute to rampant racism, or police bodies and genders. Her paintings confront these internalized oppressions.
Personal Pick: Kit King at Treason Gallery
Individual strokes become sculptural objects in the dazzling works of Kit King. Her monochromatic trompe-loeil appear as spatters and slashes of ink suspended in space. Some seem to penetrate the canvas while others simply float. If the effect stopped there, it might feel a little one-note. However, King’s precision is matched with a mastery of diffused light effects that give each work a unique emotional weight and effect. See more on the website.
Dave Calver’s Limbo Lounge at BONFIRE Gallery
Renowned illustrator Dave Calver released his fantastical graphic novel Limbo Lounge in February 2018. It received critical acclaim and became a bestseller on Amazon. Selected artworks from Calver’s 420-page opus are on display at BONFIRE Gallery. The style owes a lot to early animated cartoons (think Max Fleischer), but with the more dynamic perspective you get from contemporary comics. The narrative is a surreal journey through underworlds, with flower-headed protagonists, Bud and Lou, intersecting with a menagerie of eccentric, devilish denizens. See more on the website.
Sara Everett at CORE Gallery
It isn’t just a change of seasons that preoccupies Sara Everett. She on anthropogenic change and remarks on the futility of trying to restore habitats that took millennia to form. Her solo show, Mending Place at CORE Gallery, comprises mixed media works that she has painted, cut up, then sewn back together, never again as whole as they once were. See more on the website.
Between and Within at Art Xchange
The curatorial theme is not really coherent between these three artists at Art Xchange this month. However, as the seasons change (and environmental protections are under increasing attack nationwide) it is, nonetheless, as timely as ever to reflect on the fragile beauty of the natural world.
The etchings of birds by Gilchun Koh imply the disappearance of individuals (perhaps as synecdoche of species or ecology) by depicting the birds blinded by cloth and presenting each with a single feather. Jiyoung Chung uses Joomchi paper to evoke seasonal changes (fall and spring simultaneously, in some cases). Alan Lau’s mixed media paintings continue his obsessive use of circles and loops in response to natural phenomena. Together, they offer an attractive, eclectic mix. See more on the website.
Chase Langford at Foster/White Gallery
New works by Chase Langford continue the California-based painter’s exploration of landscape through abstractions that begin to resemble mineral formations. Langford completely flattens the perspective, so that everything seems to be piled like broken strata. And yet, in many cases, one sees a place almost instantly. “The map is not the territory,” indeed. See more on the website.
Michael Spafford at Three Galleries (and more)
At Greg Kucera Gallery and Woodside / Braseth Gallery, you will see works from Michael Spafford from the 1960s to the last decade. Some are absolutely monumental in scale, such as “Death of Chimera” (1984), which is just shy of 22 feet long. (See it at Greg Kucera Gallery.) Most of Spafford’s more recent works will be seen at Woodside / Braseth, including several inspired by Odysseus’ descent into the underworld, in which the wayward king is reduced to a silhouetted pair of legs, torso and lowered sword. Preview them on the website.
That takes care of the paintings, but Spafford is also an avid printmaker. (His graphic, angular paintings certainly lend themselves to translation into the print medium.) The blocks for many of his woodcut prints at Davidson Galleries were carved in the 1980s, but the prints were freshly made this year. Others are mire recent designs, but recall themes addressed in earlier works, especially The Twelve Labors of Hercules. Preview them on the website.
One last thing: An art book has been made documenting this massive retrospective, and there will be a launch party for it on Friday, April 6, from 6pm to 8pm at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery. Spafford taught at the University of Washington for years, so it is apt to have the launch at one of the University’s galleries. While at the party, you can see The Jake’s brief exhibition highlighting Spafford’s process, ending Saturday, April 7.
Featured image: Michael Spafford, “The Twelve Labors of Hercules.” Image courtesy of Davidson Galleries.