Partly Cloudy

Debra Baxter’s weather formations are everywhere this month. As you head into the current show Seeing Green at Soil, a Baxter cloud hovers above your head as you enter. A few blocks over she has her own solo show at Gallery4 Culture aptly titled,” The Cloud That Fell To Earth” (the title based on the Tevis’ novel The Man Who Fell to Earth, but I think of it strictly as “The Bowie Movie“.)

The most ridiculous thing I can say about Baxter’s work is it reminds me of Polly Apfelbaum’s work – with the color removed. There is a sense of piecing together each cloud formation in the same manner that Apfelbaum composes her dyed cloth arrangements. Baxter also had work in last month’s Paperwork show at Platform. Baxter’s work is simple in concept but the forms take on a unique presence in installation. In the 4Culture show Baxter has photographed the variety of places she has placed the work, in kind of a pun on her own craft. The cloud is seen hanging from a tree or as kind of a parasol for herself- lifted above her own head. Spare yet billowy, Baxter fills a space with more than constructions; she actually gets at the essence of a cloud.


I applaud Eva’s idea for an upcoming radio broadcast titled: Be an Anonymous Art Critic (see her 1.25 entry). Unleash the unedited and possibly drunken artistic tongue.

Seattle Galleries- January

For everyone that keeps stating that January is the quiet or the dead season in the art world, I call bull. In my personal opinion that term belongs to the god-forsaken month of August. As proof, I found some interesting exhibits in the local galleries last Friday worth mentioning.

As most of the rest of the United States was getting ready to be hit by harsh winter weather, it was strangely warm in Seattle for January. With people eating sack lunches in the little downtown pocket parks and looking bewildered as they peeled off their too hot winter coats –always the cynic, I squinted through my sunglasses thinking only of one thing- thanks global warming!

Two star exhibits of the day, Debra Baxter at Gallery4Culture and Francis Celentano at Bryan Ohno Gallery.

First things first, the Celantano show is a strong exhibit by a painting veteran. His two dimensional work, full of vivid color has been paired with sculptural columns that vibrate across the gallery. I was impressed. The most appropriate comment heard that day was a fellow gallery goer asking if this show was catching any of the impact witnessed over at the Wright Exhibition Space, where the Wrights have mounted an amazing show of their Color Field painters. The answer can probably be found somewhere in this article about Celantano the Seattle Times ran a few weeks ago:

In Celentano’s case, op art never would have survived if he hadn’t left his stark loft in Manhattan and taken a job teaching in the School of Art at the University of Washington. After a brief flurry of shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (which included Celentano) and a big splash in Life magazine (which did not), the quite promising international movement fizzled and flopped to be quickly supplanted by pop art and minimal art.

Luckily galleries around the city are opting for longer runs with their shows; in this case the Celentano exhibit is up through 2/26.

(some photos I snapped from my meanderings).

A minor segue here– I visited the Wright Exhibition Space a couple of weeks ago to catch their exhibit Color Field Paintings and Related Abstractions currently up on at their Dexter exhibition gallery. As always, it’s a pleasure to step into their large quiet space to view a slice of their collection. A nice little pamphlet has been produced to go with this exhibition, with a two page essay written by Virginia Wright herself:

“Matthew Kangas and Bagley Wright have been after me for some time to organize this show because our collection includes many Color field paintings. They felt that after some thirty years, it is time to take another look at these “merely decorative” works. As a new century begins, we will perhaps begin to look back at the 20th century with a new eyes, and Color field painting may get a reprieve.”

It is an amazing survey. I was surprised by the fact my own personal favorite was also the image they chose for the cover of their brochure, Helen Frankenthaler’s Venus Revealed (helpful I know, I don’t have any images to give you). I was also pleased to see a Motherwell, a Larry Poons who is instantly recognizable with those little ovals of color, as well as some of the Morris Louis paintings. Also included are paintings by Tom Holland, Kenneth Noland and Jules Olitski, as well as a sculpture by John Chamberlain. Suprised by Frankenthaler because she is not someone I am normally drawn too, maybe I just haven’t seen enough of her work. Some artists become known over time for very specific types of work,and often there is much more.

More gallery hopping rehashing soon, including a thought or two on Debra Baxter.

In the mean time, read Artdish’s very nice, as always well written piece on Billy Howard in their latest installment of their journal.

Mary Ann Peters at Winston Wächter

For my money, the best show up in Seattle that nobody is speaking of is the small installation of Mary Ann Peters drawings at Winston Wächter “Lucky 7” exhibit. Peters was seen last month in Platform’s Paperwork show that featured two of her drawings. I managed to do a pit stop drive through of their gallery right before Christmas and found myself especially taken by her pieces. These are beautiful drawings underlining the eloquent skill of a mature artist.

Now Peters is featured in Lucky 7, at Winston Wächter’s large new gallery space (a few blocks down from their old space on Dexter- right next door to the Holiday Inn). A large scroll drawing (see on WW’s website) is one of the first pieces you see upon entering the gallery, and then more drawings which appear to be from the same series presented at Platform. Minimally secured to the wall with pushpins these delicate works on paper show Peters fluid and intelligent line work. As a long time working artist in Seattle, Peters was a recipient of a Neddy Fellowship in 2000 and has collaborated with choreographer Pat Graney. I hope to see more of her work soon.

Also included in Lucky 7 are some tile pieces by Ann Gardner that caught my eye. Gardner is another seasoned Seattle artist I’m glad to see receiving exposure. She was previously represented by Linda Farris and William Traver and is now on WW’s slate. Lucky 7 is an exhibit featuring only a handful of artists from their regular line up, I am not sure if it might be an introductory show for the others, or in the case of Susan Dory (repped by Howard House), just visitation rights.

At any rate, the trip to Dexter was worth it as I had hoped; Lucky 7 is currently up through February 1st.

Seattle, art, hammer away

The above image of Hammering Man falling over Seattle reminds me of a local bar that has parked outside its front door a construction of a likeable enough resemblance to Hammering Man. This version though, instead of wielding a hammer is pumping a beer all day long (Hammered Man). Same bar, you know the kind which is carpeted with peanuts on the floor, can be noted for the occasional hand written sign out front that says “Free Wife Inside, Take Her”, hardee har har.

The Seattle Weekly is running a series of articles this week about the current temperature of the Seattle art world. Roger Downey writes about arts funding, Andrew Engelson gives suggestions on how more people should be collecting art. My suggestion would be more actual coverage of the arts from the local critics so people know what is going on.

On the flip side, I’ve been enjoying the new local blog Art Collector who has been sharing thoughtful responses to what she likes in art. I appreciate how she optimistically states: “Fortunately Seattle has art everywhere – neighborhood coffee shops, restaurants, galleries. So I’m always entertained. ” See perhaps if you build it they will come.

Roger Feldman at Suyama Space

At the end of the month, Suyama Space, the beautiful exhibition space in Belltown will present a new installation by local artist Roger Feldman. The title of the exhibit is ROCK, here is their mini blurb:

The contemporary alternative gallery of Suyama Space, located at 2324 2nd Avenue in Seattle presents sculptor Roger Feldman in a site-specific installation entitled ROCK. The exhibition is open to the public January 31 – April 22, 2005. The Seattle artist will present an installation lecture at the gallery on Saturday, January 29 at 12 noon. Gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and admission is free to the public.

Feldman is described as being an architectural- constructivist sculptor, and with the creation of three separate structures going into Suyama, should be an interesting use of their cavernous exhibition room.

More on Feldman’s sculptures here.


The Grass is Always Greener syndrome:

I am very appreciative to be noted in Portland Art News latest installment, however I must note I am on the other side of the fence and currently feel it is Portland who has superior art offerings, or at least superior art enthusiam being generated from the local bunch. Just this morning in my inbox an email from Red76 Arts Group down in Portland regarding a Laundry Lecture they are holding tomorrow evening:

Laundry Lectures w/N.I.N.E
@ F & I U Wash
Wednesday, January19 6pm
28th st. (btw. E. Burnside and S.E. Ankeny)

Here is their back ground:

In the Fall of 2003 Sam and Laura were sitting in the Polish Laundromat (Laundry/Prania) around the corner from the then Red76 headquarters in Chicago, IL. They got to thinking about places you wait in. Places wherein their function is mainly sitting around for something to happen. From this the Laundry Lecture Series was initiated.

Why not set up a series of talks in your local Laundromat? Why even ask the owners? We didn’t. As long as you are a paying customer what’s to stop you from gathering you and your friends to talk about whatever you’d like, as the socks get lost, and your favorite pink t-shirt gets frayed one more time in the dryer? Nothing, we say. Go ahead, get your friends together, feel free to be open and honest wherever you are. Speak your mind. Share your thoughts: in Laundromats, on checkout lines, and so many other wonderful shared-use venues all over the world.

Please bring your laundry along to wash at all lectures in this series. Not only will you leave with a fresh perspective on the world, but a fresh perspective on your wardrobe as well.

at any rate, interesting stuff is definitely going on in both back yards. Please note the mention of the lovely Eva Lake on PAN’s list and rounded out by Jeff Jahn. I personally think the mere existence of PAN presents a strong case for its self as superior, by the fact alone there is enough material down in Portland’s art world to find satire in.

Recommended: Drawings at Francine Seders

I went to the very tail end of the opening of Drawings yesterday at Francine Seders Gallery. I highly encourage a visit to this show in the next month if you are a fan of the sport of drawing. I was particularly taken by Caryn Friedlander’s work, which is heavy in the mark-making division, and absolutely beautiful. I found her process reminiscent slightly of Susan Rothenberg’s large scale charcoal drawings. I was also glad to see James Deitz’s work, which could be situated in that same camp, using less abstraction though.
Francine Seders , who has had her own gallery for almost 40 years takes her artists seriously as well as the art they make. You will find she consistently mounting exhibits worth your time as a viewer.
The opening of Drawings was well attended. I did not run into Mr. Deitz, but as I snaked my way around the crowd I was appreciative of four young men engaged in a heavy discussion while looking at one of Friedlander’s pieces. After making my way upstairs and back around the main gallery for another look, they were still at it. I’ve probably said this before, but it is certainly not a coincidence that Seder’s church like gallery is open to the public on Sunday.


So I didn’t make it to my Modern Matriarch’s show at MoNA. Time seems to be increasingly fleeting on the weekend especially when I am being greedy with my own studio hours. Factor in a four hour round trip drive on icy roads and…well maybe next weekend. I was looking forward to seeing that group of artists at their reception though.

For fun, here is one for Todd: Is figure sculpting dead?. These kind of conversations remind me of that game from childhood Gnip Gnop.

and one last thing, as Tyler mentions in his post today, there is some strange sorting out going on over here in Seattle in attempting to answer the question: how to bring a donor’s wish to fruition by using his $1M grant for a public fountain (parameter: must contain naked man).
The good news, Louise Bourgeois is short listed as the chosen artist for the project. As noted Saturday in the PI:

“The Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park is in final negotiations with Smailes’ lawyer and New York artist Louise Bourgeois, allowing her to create a fountain featuring two male nudes.The contracts have not been signed, but sources involved say the artist has agreed to create the sculpture for the waterfront park opening in 2006. ”

Yes, please.

raise your hand


I went to a grant workshop last week for artists. The person giving the workshop asked for a show of hands how many of us were painters. 98% of the room put a hand in the air. Musicians got two, performing artists, just a few. Then he asked how many sculptors. One lone person up front raised up her pinky finger.

Footnote: It was not I that lone voice. I raised my hand with the rest of the painters. It’s a weird psychological thing, how you end up slotting yourself, or even feel about how you spend your time in the studio. Just because I’ve painted for a long time (drawing conveniently falls into that category too luckily) that is what I think I should be doing. I have spent more time in the past few months pouring things into molds, and am hoping to cast some more soon to make even more (production is down!). Yet in my minds eye they are containers for color. Pretty silly, but something to think about, of course it doesn’t matter.