As the 4th of July fell on a Thursday this year, the usual First Thursday Art Walk was postponed a week, which means Capitol, Pioneer Square, and Downtown will all be having their art walks at the same time. Don’t stress out trying to be in all the places at once however, take the light rail, take the trolley, or just pick one neighborhood.
Many of the shows in Pioneer Square either premiered last month or will be up through the Art Fair at the beginning of August. You have time to see the new ones (or even revisit the others). In fact, if I personally had to pick just one this month, I would actually go with Capitol Hill. Here are the highlights we recommend from both art walks.
Capitol Hill Art Walk
Rick Araluce’s The Night Theatre at Roq La Rue Gallery
Rick Araluce works in scale…from the tiny to the massive. His years as a professional set designer have given him a total mastery of trompe l’ooeil, which he uses in his personal artworks. Whether it’s a recreation of a subway station at the Renwick Gallery (in 2017) or the tiny dioramas on display at Roq La Rue Gallery, his attention to detail is almost unsettling. It isn’t just that the forced perspective he uses creates unnatural depths. His attention to detail makes these miniature worlds feel all too lived-in.
The Night Theatre features over two dozen works, handmade down to every tiny brick, every scuff on the lilliputian walls. Peering in, there is almost the sense that something is hiding, watching YOU from the inside. Sometimes, narratives are evoked by objects within the space, such as a worn crutch, or—more gruesomely—the blood-drenched bathtub in “The Death of Marat.” See them before the Theatre closes on August 4. View the works online.
Steven Miller’s Offerte at The Factory
As a teen, artist Steven Miller secretly collected gay porn magazines, and at age 17—vainly desiring to rid himself of his homosexuality—he burned his stash. The memory of seeing beautiful objects of desire go up in flames was haunting to him for years. Certainly, such consuming, mortal images have a particular resonance for those who saw the ravages of the AIDS epidemic in its first decades.
Miller has revisited that act of destruction in a more pensive, intentional manner for Offerte. This series documents pages of porn and physique mags from the 70s through the 90s being burned in a personal ritual of release…this time from the shame that inspired him to burn his collection in his youth. Miller is not the first to enact this sort of ritual and document it, but his results are absolutely striking. As much as this immolation may have been a release and reclamation for Miller this time around, I am sure that I am not the only one who feels melancholic looking at them. Printed zines of the work will be available (via NYC-based Cave Homo) and feature an essay by writer and artist C. Davida Ingram.
This is a one-night-only event from 6-11pm, but if you can’t make the opening and want a private tour with the artist, you may be able to schedule one by reaching out to the gallery.
Erin Kendig’s Giants at Ghost Gallery
The PNW is full of nature lovers, and not surprisingly there is a LOT of art being made in response to it. Some is twee, some is frank, and a lot is sentimental. It really boils down to taste and style, and that is not something I feel compelled to rank or dispute as a critic. But I will say that I consistently enjoy Erin Kendig‘s muted yet surreal approach to natural subjects. There is a sweetness to the misty evergreens and snowscapes that she delicately abstracts with repetitive strokes. And yet, there is always something odd, too.
This is not the depiction of nature sought by those who fawn over Victorian wallpaper. This is nature for fans of Twin Peaks. See it for yourself at Ghost Gallery through August 4.
Pioneer Square Art Walk
Tiao Nithakhong Somsanith The Impermanence of Life at Art Xchange
Laotian artist Prince Tiao Nithakhong Somsanith has shown his work around Europe, but this is his first solo exhibit in Seattle and the first time his work has been available for purchase in the US. Thanks to his royal lineage, he was exposed to traditional and courtly arts from the start. After years of post-grad education in other fields, he devoted himself again to these arts. Of special note are his delicate, reverent embroidered leaves. With great care, Somsanith preserves the stem and structure of fallen leaves while embroidering them with threads of gold and silver. Each humble leaf becomes a sublime, jewel-like emblem of natural beauty, imperfection, mortality, and the act of creation itself.
See these as well as other traditional artworks by the artist at Art Xchange through July 27.
Nine Years: A Graceful Exit Group Show at Prographica KDR
Dang. We’re losing a few galleries this summer, and it always stings a little more when the gallery’s program has brought in artists from other regions that don’t get as much exposure in Seattle. So it was with Prographica KDR, which migrated from California a few years back and brought with it a stable of artists, many of whom are based in SoCal and the southwest.
For its final show, the gallery presents works from over a dozen artists it represented over nearly a decade in the biz: A photo by Marsha Burns. Painterly slice-of-life portraiture by Kathy Liao. Bronze sculpture by Phillip Levine. Moody walnut ink paintings by Kathy Gore Fuss. A vivid extraterrestrial landscape by Philip Govedare. See it all through July 27. Don’t miss this last chance to see these works and perhaps take some home to keep.
Featured image: Detail from “The Dangerous Gift” by Rick Araluce. Image courtesy fo Roq La Rue Gallery.