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Wrong is right – the shock of the flaw

That old grade-school test question - Which of these does not belong? - offers a key to the aesthetics of the expressively hot, as opposed to the classically cool. The hint of crazy within the solid citizen, the blood in the water and the worm in the rose (mortal, guilty) move us in a way that visions of perfection rarely do. In honor of the flaw, a small survey of its recent, robust manifestations. Douglas Gordon Three Inches (Black) 1997 (image via) Susan Robb: Three from the last decade (images via) Winkler + Noah, from The … [Read more...]

Recently in Seattle

If human history were underwater, Alwyn O'Brien's ceramic vessels could serve as the bleached bones of the Ancien Regime, the decorative drained and dead on a dark sea floor. 4 Descending Notes 2010 Manganese Clay and Glaze 9" x 7" x 5 1/2" Hand-rolled coils make her lacy vessels. Born past their prime, they are in their own weird way pristine. Story of Looking, 2010 Porcelain and glaze, Two Pieces 12 1/2" x 14" x 5" Following Thelonious Monk, she knows how to use the wrong note. See the brutal foot on the right, … [Read more...]

Picasso’s flesh world

Collectors who hire experts to solve problems that don't exist till help arrives are responsible for the equivalent of bad face lifts on old masters. What the artists intended too frequently recedes under an abrasive cleaning or a deadening layer of varnish. Current practices discourage irreversible interventions. That means John Currin's work is a little safer than artists who preceded him, such as Picasso, although having the money to buy good advice doesn't guarantee it will be heeded. I know a collector who washed a DeKooning … [Read more...]

Welcome back, David Wojnarowicz

Nice to see David Wojnarowicz (wana-row-vitch) back in the news, making the monkeys dance. It's no surprise that the usual people want to use their deliberate misunderstanding of his work to rally their frightened base. It's also no surprise that the Smithsonian once again proves to be cowardly. Remember its Enola Gay exhibit from 1995? The examination of this country's use of the Atom Bomb  started as scholarly and turned into a my-country-right-or-wrong cheering section, after suitable pressures were applied. (A protest letter about the … [Read more...]

Image Transfer – Remix Culture at the Henry

Humans see, humans do: After the first horse drawn on the first cave and the first pot incised with a decorative line, everything became imitation. You don't need a weatherman to know which way that wind blows, or that in the contemporary period, it blows harder. In selecting the 12 artists featured in Image Transfer: Pictures in a Remix Culture, associate Henry curator Sara Krajewski looked for those whose engagements with image recycling make them visual mix masters of note, those who aren't just riding the currents but helping to steer … [Read more...]

Give me a head with hair

Mequitta Ahuja Wriggle, oil on canvas, 41"X26" 2008. Could have been titled, Medusa takes a nap. Geoffrey Chadsey Welterweight, 2002 Watercolor pencil on rag vellum, tape 57" x 24" Another great Chadsey figure with flowing locks. (Not safe for work.) Lauren Grossman Behold 2003 Iron, wool, steel. 13"x21"x12" Rolls on casters. Mequitta Ahuja, again. Flowback, oil on canvas, 68"X51" 2008 … [Read more...]

Bill Cumming: 1917-2010

I think people will forget me when I'm dead. I'm going to add a codicil to my will, to forbid anybody from speaking my name. Bill Cumming, from profile in the PI, 2005 When died of heart failure at 93 Nov. 23, he was the last member of the original Northwest School, a group of painters who brought national prominence to the region in the 1940s and 1950s. Cumming was a teenager in the circle of Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Guy Anderson and Kenneth Callahan. Although for reasons of health and politics Cumming didn't paint much in the … [Read more...]

Alden Mason – to live in a brighter world

From a 2008 profile I wrote in the PI, when there still was a real PI: Growing up as a shy kid with an overprotective mother in the Skagit Valley, Alden Mason studied bugs, watched birds become blurs in the sky and fish leap in the river. He was no good at sports because he couldn't see the ball, and no good at math because he couldn't see the blackboard. But on winter mornings he liked to stand close to cows whose breath made fat, white bursts in the air. To escape the strictures of home, he wandered into fields to smudge furrowed lines … [Read more...]

Noah Davis – back to the future of painting

Born in Seattle in 1983 and now living in Los Angeles, Noah Davis paints in the eye of a temporal storm. The present is calm as past and future rage around it.Noah Davis Bust 2 2010 Oil on canvas 36" x 36" The past: Cranium to nose quote Picasso. To the extent that the figure resembles a squashed thing, an insect smeared on a window, there's Francis Bacon, without Bacon's sense of rage and hurt. In the future as Davis imagines it, the detachment of the dead has invaded the bodies of the living, allowing them to crumble without complaint, like … [Read more...]

Scan this: Fourth Amendment underwear

As the site says, when searches go too far, underwear can express your views. (via Dominic Holden.) There's still the excessive radiation to consider. Comes in bras and panties too, of course. … [Read more...]

Roy McMakin – art assumes the position

If Joesph Beuys is right that anything can be art and John Cage is right that anything can music, then Roy McMakin's furniture makes perfect sense. His chairs, tables, chests and stools both deliver and undermine the idea of utilitarian subservience. Within the fine craftsmanship of  their construction is a subversive insistence on a right to be wrong. Currently at Ambach & Rice is McMakin's Five Chairs and Ten Tables, a sweet little show with a large contemplative back beat.  Remember Alice's uncertain relationship to an … [Read more...]

William S. Burroughs says thanks

...for the memories, America. (Via Michelle Nicolosi) … [Read more...]

Happy Thanksgiving from Zoe Strauss

She's serving roasted cauliflower:Looks like broccoli to me, which reminds me of E.B. White's tagline for a 1928 New Yorker cartoon drawn by Carl Rose (Image via)On Thanksgiving in Seattle, a pipe froze at my house and burst, just in time for a house guest, who's arriving from Portland in an hour or so. Fortunately, we are eating elsewhere, and there are buckets of snow in the bathroom for that homey historic touch. As Strauss wrote in her email:Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Whether you celebrate it or revile it, have a great day filled with … [Read more...]

Chris Engman – working for a living

Chris Engman's photos are evidence of his interventions. Using the deserts of Eastern Washington as stage sets, he constructs material plays about his process. Six barrels become a triangle, the red always in the middle bottom and the other colors rotating. He shoots a photo, rearranges the barrels and shoots again. Time passes in the sky, which shades from blue to mottled dark to white. VARIATIONS, 2010 Archival inkjet print 52 x 44 inches Edition of 6Titled Dust to Dust, the exhibit at Greg Kucera Gallery is overhung, which is a problem for … [Read more...]

Rachel Maxi – paintings in your pocket

Rachel Maxi paints landscapes and still lifes you can carry in your pocket, your purse or briefcase. Larger ones are never bigger than two arms extended. She gives her portraits of ordinary places an extraordinary glow, as if a street sign, garbage bin, stretch of roadway or flower in a vase were a monk at the moment of enlightenment. I missed her recent exhibit at G. Gibson Gallery, but Gail Gibson was kind enough to unwrap a few to show me. From 12th Ave S., North Beacon Hill, 2010 oil on panel, 18 x 24 inchesFrom Columbia City, 2010 oil on … [Read more...]

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