We get to see some new faces in familiar spaces this month in the Pioneer Square and downtown Seattle art galleries. That includes debut solo shows and a new gallery (in what was until recently Treason Gallery). Thematically, we’re seeing several shows confronting the human interface between the natural world and the spirit world. With the changing seasons, upcoming days for the dead, and ecological debates running hot, it all feels rather timely.
Here are the seven picks not to miss during First Thursday Art Walk. (As always, if you can’t make it to art walk, check them out later in the month.)
Introductions and the Opening of J Rinehart Gallery
We’ll start with the big debut: J Rinehart Gallery. Initial plans put the gallery a little further north on Second Avenue, across from James Harris Gallery, but the gallery landed in an ideal spot. It’s a beautiful space, one that has been used by several galleries over the years. The first gallerist there was Catherine Person, who ran it for five years before leaving the brick-and-mortar to work as an adviser and designer freelance. Grover Thurston took the lease briefly, and then came Treason Gallery.
Now veteran gallery manager Judith Rinehart is hanging her shingle there. Rinehart has worked as an art dealer in Seattle for years, recently as the gallery operator at Winston Wächter. She went independent early this year, and even had a booth at the 2019 Seattle Art Fair while securing the lease for a permanent space. The opening show, Introductions, features artists from Rinehart’s freshly minted and growing stable: Lakshmi Muirhead, Kim Van Someren, Jazz Brown, Clyde Petersen, Shaun Kardinal, Meggan Joy and more. Read more.
SPACEFILLER’s Fantasy Parameter Systems at GLASS BOX
Local light art duo SPACEFILLER have been showing works at galleries and festivals around the PNW for years. I got my first look at Hoedemaker Pfeiffer in 2017, and was an instant fan. There was no way I was going to miss their first totally solo exhibition at GLASS BOX, though i was sick for the opening in September. If you haven’t seen it yet, GOOD NEWS: The exhibit has been extended until the first week of November.
Fantasy Parameter Systems is a digital playroom for adults (and kids, too). The interactive installations don’t come with instructions, encouraging experimentation as part of the play. Whether you are cranking knobs, pushing buttons or dancing with a glowing cube, there are no objectives. Just sound, light and delight. Read more.
Sam Chung Ghost Stories at Gallery IMA
Sam Chung‘s beautiful ceramic works have been shown at Gallery IMA for years now. This month, the artist gets his first solo show, Ghost Stories. Apt for Halloween, right? But this isn’t just about the incorporeal dead. To Chung, a second generation Korean American, ghosts are found in the fragments of history, tradition, and identities larger than individual lives.
The show consists of sculptures from multiple distinct bodies of work that Chung has been developing over his career. The Cloud Series adorns vessels with vaguely cartoonish renderings of clouds. Thick black outlines and pops of color make them unmistakably contemporary (maybe even a touch mid-century) but yet recall traditional arts and build on that tension. In his Bubble Clouds and Rock Pots series, Chung uses only a luminous white glaze over the expertly manipulated surfaces of his vessels. These rarefied, glossy works find a delicious contrast in the weathered surfaces and earth tones of his stoneware works.
And yes, I really mean delicious. You can feel good ceramic art in your belly. Despite the ghostly title, this show is an earthly feast. Peruse the online catalog.
Terry Turrell Spirit World at Patricia Rovzar Gallery
Another spirit-filled show, but categorically different than Chung above: Established artist Terry Turrell is known for transforming castoff objects into sculpture. They might be described as misshapen or folksy, but they are all very humane, that much is sure. His figurative paintings further illuminate this sensibility.
The humanity of Turrell’s works is not, however, anthropocentric. He has often blurred between humans and other animals, and in this latest solo show, Spirit World, humanity is explored as something contingent on the existence of animals. In these works, beings are discrete yet intertwined. It’s not a new sentiment, and nothing in the show feels inventive, per se. And yet, as the anthropcene marches on, the wisdom here is never stale, ever more urgent. Read more.
Altered States at Koplin Del Rio Gallery
Speaking of the anthropocene…
This month, Koplin Del Rio Gallery features paintings, sculpture, and mixed media works responding to the transformation of the natural world as we know it. Featured artists include Phillip Govedare and Jodi Rockwell (both Seattle), Laurie Hogin (Chicago) and Josh Dorman (New York). In connection to the exhibition, the gallery is partnering with UW’s Earthlab, to present a panel discussion on the relationship between art, the environment and messaging around anthropogenic climate change.
Dorman’s mixed media works are colorful chaos. Hogin’s paintings are lurid scenes of cavorting animals and poisoned foods that have an apocalyptic pop-surrealist punch. Phillip Govedare’s aerial and vivid landscapes look uninhabitable despite their eerie beauty. And Jodi Rockwell serves painted porcelain works that teeters between flesh and stone. Read more.
April Surgent In the Space Separating at Traver Gallery
In the Austral Summer of 2013, artist April Surgent did an eight-week artist residency at Palmer Station, Antarctica. The Western Antarctic Peninsula is thought to be the fastest winter-warming place on earth. Surgent sought to learn about the research there and translate her own findings into cogent images. The results are on display in her solo show In The Space Separating at Traver Gallery.
One won’t glean much in the way of hard data looking at her haunting cameo engraved glass landscapes. Nor will one even intuitively perceive that one sees in these works (like textured photographs at a glance) is a record of an ancient place that may be nearly unrecognizable in a decade. As fragile as glass may be, there may be more permanence in these frozen images than in the features of the thawing land they record. These look and feel (and perhaps truly are) ghosts of the earth itself. Read more.
Cicelia Ross-Gotta Feel Just Like Home at Gallery 4Culture
At a glance, it may look this list is ending on a soft note with the embroidered linens of Cicelia Ross-Gotta at Gallery 4Culture. But nope. Look closely and you will see that the multicolored embroidery on these towels are online reviews of a motel where a family member has stayed since 2016.
For a seemingly simple concept, there is a lot to sift through here at this installation, Feel Just like Home. There’s the domesticity of the linens (which visitors can handle and read), displayed on cold steel racks. Then there’s the dashed-off stories of drug abuse, violence, squalor and illness stitched painstakingly into the fabric. And finally there is a whole story of a place that we never see or enter, that is itself a way-station for its occupants. If you take them time here, you will find yourself straddling multiple worlds and experiences. Tis the season for liminality, after all.
Those who have not personally experienced the vertigo of placelessness (let alone homelessness) may get the tiniest taste of it. But those who have experienced it will, indeed, feel all too at home.
Featured Image: “By the Ocean,” by Josh Dorman. Image courtesy of Koplin Del Rio Gallery and the artist.