First Thursday Art Walk is upon us. This month, we’re focusing on just five shows, which are pretty well scattered across Pioneer Square and Downtown. Most are just opening, and one is soon to close—and one is in the Sky View Observatory of the Columbia Tower, and free to access one night only.
John Buck at Greg Kucera Gallery
The kinetic wooden sculptures of John Buck always dazzle, and this show features them alongside woodblock prints by the artist as well. Buck riddles his work with esoteric symbols, critiques of violence and celebrations of the human form. This is immediately evident in his large scale sculptures, but you have to look more closely at the prints. At a glance, they look simplistic and colorfully kitschy, but look more closely and they, too, are crazed with detailed drawings and symbolism. See more on the Greg Kucera Gallery website.
Bisco Smith at Treason Gallery
Even Seattle residents who have never set foot in a gallery have probably seen Bisco Smith‘s work. He was one of the artists hired to decorate the exterior of Richmark Label, across 11th Avenue from the Cal Anderson Park playfields. Smith’s distinctive calligraphic style translates well from wall to canvas in this solo show at Treason Gallery. Fans of 20th century PNW art may be reminded of Mark Tobey. And if you are fond of abstract expressionists, you can think of these as a more angular, frenzied, drippy Robert Motherwell. Preview the show online.
Hiroshi Yamano at Traver Gallery
Renowned artist Hiroshi Yamano presents a stunning new collection of vessels and sculptures that distill personal stories through traditional Japanese aesthetics. The title of the series, Byōbu, refers to Japan’s famous folding, paneled screens (literally “wind walls”), which when gilded are known as kinbyōbu. Unlike those traditional paper screen, Yamano’s works are rendered with painted glass, which ensconce small blown glass sculptures of birds and fish rising from stout bowls. The creatures are rendered in lifelike colors, and the vessels and screens are gilded and decorated with natural images and scenes. The sheer elegance of it all is breathtaking. Preview the show on the Traver Gallery website.
WANDERING WHAT IS at Glass Box Gallery
This eclectic group show curated by Dori Hana Scherer features work by eight artists grappling with fundamental questions of being and non-being, personal and cultural. Thematically, it doesn’t get much broader, but a pervasive melancholy and appreciation for the malleability (and fragility) of being keeps it whole.
For me, the can’t miss piece is Lynne Siefert‘s short film ARK. Shot on a transatlantic cruise, its a quietly delirious pastiche of images. Siefert’s voyeuristic framing allows one to look impassively on the decadence on display, the escapism of the passengers who, in sparse voice overs, confess their crippling detachment, even despair. Like one of my all-time favorite films, Sans Soleil, it poses as a documentary travelogue, but ARK is more grim, more sparing. The apocalyptic associations of the title seem only a wry reference at the start, but as one watches, they take on a more direct, darker meaning. It’s worth standing still for its 32-minute runtime.
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Look How Far We’ve Come at the Sky View Observatory
The Columbia Tower is hosting a special exhibition of works by LGBTQ artists for Pride Month in its Sky View Observatory. The show, Look How Far We’ve Come, is curated by Timothy Rysdyke (of The Factory) and include many of our local favorites, such as Anthony White, Clyde Petersen, Casey Curran and Steven Miller. Admission to the Sky View Observatory is usually around $20, but during First Thursday Art Walk, it is free (6pm to 9pm).
Featured image: The March of Folly by John Buck. Image courtesy of the artist and Greg Kucera Gallery.