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The David Park effect

In 1949, David Park took his paintings to the dump. They were abstract in an Abstract Expressionist vein. With a clean slate, he used what he knew about the push and pull of moving paint around to return to the figure. Made of big, blunt brush-and-knife strokes, his quiet moments marked the beginning of Bay Area Figurative. In 1960, at age 49, he died of cancer. Almost everyone I know who cares about art and lived in the Bay Area in the second half of the 20th Century considers his work a touchstone. David Park (Image via) In the 21st Century, … [Read more...]

The body tangle

William S. Burroughs' idea of high romance:If I had my way we'd sleep every night all wrapped around each other like hibernating rattlesnakes. Connection creates wreckage:Steven MillerA happy humLuke Gilford from This Is A RaceAnd choreographed symbology, life in death.Peter Santino, self-portrait (Image after the jump, being not quite safe for work, depending on the work)(For more on rattlesnakes, connected and otherwise, you want to read Gordon Grice's Deadly Kingdom: The Book of Dangerous Animals. William Burroughs did. It's probably where … [Read more...]

Norman Lundin – painting the past

Norman Lundin is slow to embrace the new. He stakes his studio practice in the pre-modernist 19th century, as an off-shoot of the Barbizon School with a hat tip to 17th Century Dutch still life. His palette is sliver-gray and mossy green. When he hits a hot note, it's usually an emergency, like a fire. The Fire at Petersons Crossing oil / canvas, 2008 unframed: 38 x 86"About the artist's own life I know little, but his paintings live in the world as depressed solitaries. The he who is their unseen narrator drives alone on country roads. … [Read more...]

The beat-up photo

In the go-go part of the 1980s, when the well-heeled were drinking champagne from glass slippers at the Mary Boone Gallery and Robert Hughes was wringing his hands at the corrupt excess of it all, saying, for instance, that young Soho collectors had the "discrimination of vacuum cleaners," back then, Doug and Mike Starn introduced the pathos of the beat-up photograph.Starn Twins Macabre Still Life, 1983 (Image via)Nearly 30 years later, Sean McFarland's version of the seen-better-days photograph is far more modest, as befits his subject. … [Read more...]

How to weave with French Fries

And how to weave with glass, bottle caps, license plates, light, film rolls, corks, spit and packing peanuts, peanut butter and jelly, fire.Jack Daws - TWO TOWERS, 2003 Chromogenic print of artist-made construction from McDonald's French fries and Heinz ketchup photographed by Richard Nichol 50 x 40 inches, Edition of 10Toots Zynsky (image via)El AnatsuiRoss Palmer Beecher - AUTO LOG CABIN QUILT, 2009 Aluminum license plates, tin, Hot Wheel cars and mixed media, 76 x 87 inches Gail TremblayClaude Zervas - d6, custom electronics and … [Read more...]

Gene Gentry McMahon & Jessica Doyle – wet

McMahonDoyle … [Read more...]

Lisbeth Salander as dancer Zoe Scofield

If Zoe Scofield were a fictional character, she would be Lisbeth Salander, who made her debut in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It's not the physical resemblance, although it's striking:(images, Juniper Shuey)It's the meaning of their movements,Salander in a boxing ring, Scofield on stage. Scofield never would have made it as a ballet dancer, she says in the video below, because she "couldn't stay in line." Any line other than her own. She is light on her feet but owns the floor. Gravity loves her without being able to contain her. When she … [Read more...]

Gerri Sayler – drawing glue

In the early '60s, kids who sniffed the ink on mimeograph paper switched to glue. While it still meant stuck-on-you, it acquired a penumbra of the outcast otherworldly. Titled Nascent, Gerri Sayler's transparent, kinky, hot-glue strands hang in the air in Suyama Space like cloud tendrils. They are neither metaphors for sexual attraction nor reminders of the functional, but there is a hint of lives wasted.  If they were ribbons, they'd be the kind purchased straight that bounce back curly when run along a knife's edge. That, or unraveling … [Read more...]

Ryan Horvath – foot fetish, continued

Ryan HorvathPrevious. Horvath is currently in a show at Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert, Inc. … [Read more...]

Andrew Miksys – from Seattle to Lithuania

Wherever he lives - from Seattle but of Lithuanian heritage and largely in residence there in recent years - Andrew Miksys finds worlds inside the world.   Here or there, he connects. Andrei Codrescu:His greatness lies, I believe, in the extraordinary swiftness with which he establishes a relationship with his subjects, a relationship that is unfailingly empathetic.While still based in Seattle but traveling around the country, Miksys concentrated on bingo, where he has roots. He won his first game at 11, collecting the impressive sum … [Read more...]

Zoe Strauss & Melville

Two American classics:Herman Melville's Moby Dick, opening sentence: Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea as … [Read more...]

Charles LeDray in Boston (not coming to Seattle)

Charles LeDray debuted in Boston with a solo show at the ICA through Oct. 17. Sebastian Smee in the Boston Globe loved it: LeDray is one of contemporary art's brightest stars, and this show, organized by the ICA's Randi Hopkins, is the most beautiful, poignant, and witty show the ICA has mounted since moving to its new waterfront home in 2006. LeDray treats clothes as surrogates for human identity, particularly male identity, and for the many types of work that go into constructing it. As such -- and unlike the fashion industry, which is … [Read more...]

Ellen Lesperance wins Betty Bowen

From Portland. I've never heard of her, and her website is mysterious - all flash, little info.  Administered by the Seattle Art Museum, the  Betty Bowen Award goes annually to a Northwest artist. The top prize is $15,000.  Two runner-up awards for $2,500 go to Elias Hansen and Barbara Sternberger. Oct. 21, 6-7 p.m., there's a reception for the three artists at SAM, followed by artists' talks, 7-8. Free admission.This image, filed under "writing," is on her website. May or may not be her work. I like it either way, as the … [Read more...]

John Bankston – folk incrustations

In my family, making something out of anything but words was a waste of time. Lumpy clay bowls and crayon drawings brought home from school were considered childish aberrations, akin to picking your nose and eating it.  John Bankston comes from another tradition. He drew his way into the world and hasn't, as an adult, shaken off the magic of turning a blank into an image or a  lump of clay into a man.Following Glenn Ligon .... (Image via)...Bankston investigates the push-pull of African-American traditions through the prism of a … [Read more...]

Hint for old journalism in new world

Considering that the online-only Seattle PI is such a streamlined and staff-starved operation, celebration ensues when it manages to deliver any journalism at all. On the site, Vanessa Ho's elegant boiler-plate story about Seattle Opera's financial challenges nailed every aspect of what/when/why but failed to create any sense of who. Who is Seattle Opera, and why should anyone care about its fate? This failure accounts for the low quality of the comments, most of them either begrudging or outright hostile to the idea that the city extend any … [Read more...]

Death & Art – the Seattle edge

The admirable Douglas Britt at the Houston Chronicle reports on a one-night show in a funeral home. What will these "visionary" Houston artists think of next?Seattle's Charles Krafft had a show in a funeral home in 2003, and not, as in Houston, by hanging portraits on the wall. Krafft's art in a dead house was made from the dead: He's making urns from human ashes, following a formula Josiah Spode invented in 1797, producing fine English china glaze by adding calcinated cow bone to the company's clay mixture. (more)As Larry Reid likes to say, … [Read more...]

They who dig newspapers…

Can represent the U.S. at the 2011 Venice Biennale.Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla (image via) … [Read more...]

Molly Norris needs us

From the Seattle Weekly: On the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, "going ghost": moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity. She will no longer be publishing cartoons in our paper or in City Arts magazine, where she has been a regular contributor. She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program--except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab. It's all because of the appalling fatwa issued against her this summer, following her infamous "Everybody … [Read more...]

An unsettled era: more in suitcases

Pack up all my cares and woes....(previous)Chiharu Shiota - Circle the suitcases!Demetrius Oliver's Asterism - black stars on the move.Huma Mulji - Arabian DelightRobert Capa's long-lost Mexican suitcaseThe Art Guys - Suitcase WheelPreston Singletary - Bentwood Box … [Read more...]

John Grade loves your elephant skin

Take your skin that's smooth as a baby's bottom and shove it. John Grade loves puckers, knots, sags, discolorations, ruts and rough spots. Grade, pronounced Grotty, Circuit 2010 - Glazed ceramic bonded with gypsum polymer to corn-based resin embedded with marine netting. 9 x 24 x 24 feetAfter its exhibition at Davidson Galleries, Circuit will spend a year on a mountain, accumulating changes as a fast-forward into old age.Jerry Pethick mined the vein of weathering change before Grade. Time Top was Pethick's last major work before his death in … [Read more...]

Amy Blakemore’s homemade family photography

One step up from a Cracker Jack toy, Diana cameras entered the U.S. market from China in the late 1950s and were a novelty hit through the 1960s. WikipediaThe Diana is a very simply constructed box camera with a mechanical film advance, spring-loaded shutter, and a plastic viewfinder of questionable utility. It is constructed primarily of low-quality phenolic plastics of the type commonly found in toys imported from Asia during the 1960s. Because of wide variances in production quality, combined with a poorly-designed camera body latching … [Read more...]

Meat attire, the Gaga sequel, plus ceramic wear

As Christopher Knight pointed out, Lady Gaga's meat dress is set firmly in repeat mode. Jana Sterbak sewed wet, raw red muscle into a garment in 1987. (Photos of both items on the Knight link.) Knight: Sterbak's Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorexic is now in the collection of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris' modern art museum -- an appropriate locale, given that city's intersection of art and fashion. Most recently it has been on view in the exhibition "elles@centrepompidou," a changing year-long survey dedicated to women … [Read more...]

The day Robert LaVigne woke up dead

On September 15, 2002, the painter Robert LaVigne discovered he was dead. His demise was announced in The New York Times, the paper of record, which gave the pronouncement weight. He felt himself - arms, hands, chest, knees - and took a deep breath. Still here.The occasion for the error was an occasional column known as The Way We Live Now. The Times printed a photo that included Lawrence Ferlinghetti and asked for his commentary. I am the only one in the picture still alive, because I work out all the time. They didn't work out except raising … [Read more...]

Martin Creed welcomes you

To the left of the entrance of Western Bridge (designed by Roy McMakin, owned by Bill & Ruth True) is an over-sized domestic window. These days, it sports a curtain that opens and closes. Opens, and closes. Opens, and closes.Standing in the parking lot, we're sitting on the edge of our imaginary seats. As befits everyone's busy schedule, we enjoy the beginning and end without having to suffer through the middle. The curtain offers what Paul Valéry wanted to convey in his writing, "the sensation of a story without the boredom of its … [Read more...]

In the age of torture…

Myriad methods present themselves. By intrusion:Erwin WurmBy solitude:Tim Roda By force:Regina José Galindo By restriction:Jack DawsBy projection:Roger ShimomuraBy an excess of self-regard: (USA! USA!)Grant BarnhartBy bad choices: Susan RobbBy malign intent:Scott Fife … [Read more...]

Monks in Seattle, then and now

On view at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, Monk at the Moment of Enlightenment, Yuan Dynasty, 14th CenturyOpening Oct. 2 at Kobo at Higo, Tommer Peterson's Ordinary Household Gods, including, below, Rogue Monk, 2010. … [Read more...]

Foot fetish – Robert Gober to Jennifer Campbell

Robert Gober - false evidence of an ordinary lifeKathleen Faulkner - shoes made of river stones, transforming your feet into a riverMatthew Barney - excess to bolster an excess Iris Schieferstein - the jealousy of the flightless biped, grounding othersMarilyn Minter - glamour and nausea Do-Ho Suh - power corruptsJennifer Campbell - She did it to herself. … [Read more...]

Carl Dennis & Laura Komada – Relatives

Dennis, from RelativesRemember your old cousins, Those fish who crawled from the seaWhen the seafood was plentiful And the land bare. Think of the voices they strained to hearAs they chose to hobble on tender finsPainfully in the sun's glare.Komada: … [Read more...]

Zoe Strauss – pride & prejudice

Via … [Read more...]

The afterlife of art

The art that matters to you lives in your head. It emerges into consciousness whenever the world presents its echo. On a fine day, for instance, you note Fragonard clouds. In the rain by a pond, you see John Constable muck. Smashed glass on the street, Gretchen Bennett. White-out paint passages to cover graffiti, Matt McCormick. Open any old refrigerator, and you remember a video of a wolf chasing down dinner. (Vanessa Renwick, Hunting Requires Optimism.) See a pit bull cock its head to note the approach of a stranger, and Michael Spafford's … [Read more...]

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