“Getting out,” into the wilderness in western Washington is rarely a clean, easy experience; the nearly endless rainy season can act as a killjoy until the oversized ferns, mushroom patches and lush understories of its forests override the fact that you are standing in these pristine landscapes completely soaked. Bellingham artist Peter Scherrer’s dense, complicated paintings of the Pacific Northwest incorporate similar dynamics through their surfaces muddied with content, almost to point of deterrence (particularly when seen as reproductions). Yet, when experienced in the flesh, the works use the depths of their layers to reveal a tangible, unconventional sense of the sublime. - Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor
Peter Scherrer | Pocket Knife, 2013, oil on canvas, 60 x 75 in. Image courtesy of SEASON.
Filed under: Interview, Seattle | Tags: Amanda Manitach, Roq la Rue Gallery, Stacey Rozich
Stacey Rozich’s Within Without Me opened May 2 at Roq la Rue Gallery in Seattle. The 22 watercolor and gouache paintings on display cast the artist’s trademark colorful, convivial monsters in a new light—or new darkness, rather. The series is about “the light and the shadows of faith, devotion and the power of lies” and illustrates the misadventures of drunkards wielding shotguns, decapitated monsters with demonic masks and spiritual elders hoarding piles of blood money. Blackbirds lurk in many of the images, waiting to devour the dead. For the week leading up to the show, Rozich painted a huge mural on the virgin walls of the gallery’s new space in Pioneer Square (Roq la Rue recently moved from its decade-old location in Belltown). Curious about the origin of this series, I asked Rozich a few questions about the work. - Amanda Manitach, Seattle Contributor
Stacey Rozich | Collection Day At The Shrine, 2013, watercolor and gouache on paper, 11 x 7.5 inches. Image courtesy of Roq la Rue Gallery.
Filed under: Seattle | Tags: Breeze Block Gallery, Erin Langner, Mary Iverson, Seattle, Shooting Gallery Project Pace
Shipping containers have a strange relationship to the city of Seattle. Their accompanying series of orange and white cranes frame our skyline as highly visible but distantly silent landmarks. With imported products from Asia on the rise and easier movement across the Arctic Ocean due to climate change, the ever-larger stacks of building block-like crates and their colossal vessels that once seemed to be background noise for the city have become poignant emblems of the present. Washington artist Mary Iverson (NAP MFA Annual 2001) was ahead of the game on the relevance of the shipping container, interjecting it into familiar natural landscapes in her paintings and public art for years. Like many of the scenes she depicts, her work is running up and down the west coast this month, with concurrent shows in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco—a testament to its resonance right now. - Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor
Mary Iverson, John Day River, 2012, acrylic, ink and magazine photo on panel, 9.5 x 7.5 in. Image courtesy of Shooting Gallery.
Seattle artist Julie Alpert has a penchant for pushing ideas between the second and third dimension. Her installations often merge large scale, graphic murals with physical objects to create immersive, painted mashups that exist somewhere between contemporary surrealism and a utopic built environment. In her newest set of watercolors at SOIL, Alpert distills her hyper-saturated scenes into seventeen modest paintings that stretch and contract within their postcard-sized confines. The painted mounds seep across their surfaces, building an intricate collision of techniques and mediums within the smallest of spaces. – Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor
Julie Alpert | Black Pattern Watercolor #4. 2013. Watercolor and permanent marker on paper. 7.5” x 8.5”. Image courtesy of the artist.
Filed under: Review, Seattle | Tags: 4Culture Gallery, Erin Langner, Mark Takamichi Miller
A child’s road trip is an unlikely painting subject, on a number of levels. Since children do not drive, rarely are they associated with the road trip concept otherwise so prevalent in American culture; yet artist Mark Takamichi Miller centers his latest body of paintings on view at Seattle’s 4Culture Gallery on this unusual idea. Over the past thirteen years, Miller has painted scenes from anonymous individuals’ photographs that he acquired through varying means—a roll left in a friend’s car by a thief, another forgotten by a waterfall in Zion National Park, sets of other people’s developed photos the artist purchased at Costco. Given the diversity of subject matter at the core of this process, it is not surprising that Miller’s work forays in unexpected directions, such as a child’s road trip. Yet this most recent series, simply titled Lost, offers one of his strongest reflections on the practice of art making through his highly distinct approach. - Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor
Mark Takamichi Miller | Side Mirror, 2012, Voile, canvas, acrylic, ink, graphite, Mylar. Image courtesy of the artist.
Filed under: Review, Seattle | Tags: Erin Langner, Greg Kucera, Jeffrey Simmons, Watercolors
Jeffrey Simmons’s show Watercolors refuses to conform to the expected behavior of its medium. Where watercolor works traditionally speak a nebulous language of soft borders and fading hues, Simmons’ works on paper in his seventh solo show at Greg Kucera Gallery articulate strong colors and fine lines with the utmost precision. Even when the color bands within his abstracted forms blur, their gestures radiate with strict intention. Simmons’s geometric shapes distill the wondrous perfection of a prismatic glare or a stretching rainbow into works whose seemingly straightforward quality proves to be a mere mirage. – Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor
Jeffrey Simmons. Palindrome I, 2012, watercolor on paper, 15 x 6.25 inches each (15 sheets), 45.5 x 32.25 inches total. Image courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery.
Filed under: Review, Seattle | Tags: Erin Langner, James Harris Gallery, Sarah Awad
Sarah Awad’s orange and white parachute beams broadly like sunshine across the confines of its modest canvas. Sharing the stage with a blue alligator head, a shiny space shuttle and a set of turquoise artillery, bold objects dominate the artist’s new show Transference and Speculation at Seattle’s James Harris Gallery. While anonymous human forms make appearances with an indifference and anonymity similar to the figures seen in her previous series, Instruments of Culture, the particular combination of recognizable and unrecognizable things the artist constructs in her new set of paintings takes the work in a more dramatic direction, building complex layers of narrative that never remain as comfortable as they first appear. - Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor
Filed under: Review, Seattle | Tags: Anna Filder, Erin Langer, Pole Drift, Seattle
It is difficult to decide whether Anna Fidler’s (NAP #61) new show Cherry Bomb references the firecracker definition or the “smokin’ hot lady” definition of the term. The Portland artist’s meticulously constructed acrylic, pencil and cutout paper portraits on view at Seattle’s Prole Drift gallery literally portray women as their subject matter—nostalgic pop musicians including Heart, Joan Jett, and Karen Carpenter. Yet, a sinister tone resides within the figures’ construction, a highly textural technique that combines psychedelic blasts of color with dark, map-like details that abstract Fidler’s imagery beyond simple appropriation. - Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor
Filed under: Review, Seattle | Tags: Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Erin Langner, Julia Mangold
The three largest sculptures of Julia Mangold’s Drawings and Sculpture stare, despite being compilations of black, geometric fragments that do not readily read as anthropomorphic. These sculptures made of wood covered in a thick sheen of wax stare not only because they stand at eye level, but their physical masses also emit the weight and form of a standard human when standing beside them. The block forms that comprise their structures protrude and retract strategically, shifting the overall sculptural shapes without giving any sense of being precarious; these staring stacks do not back down. Rather, they hold their own in a room full of people and objects meandering through the same space. - Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor
Filed under: Artists on Artists, Seattle | Tags: Amanda Manitach, Bette Burgoyne, Conversation, Cornish College of the Arts, Jed Dunkerley, Joe Bar, Seattle, Where Things Go
I sit down at a bar at the north end of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood with two artists whose work is the definition of obsessive, both in technique and content. Neither of them identify as OCD or autistic.
The venue is called Joe Bar. Located next to Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts and owned, staffed, and curated by a handful of Cornish grads since 1997, Joe Bar is the most likely of unlikely places you’ll find excellent art tucked away in the city. Unlikely because it serves crepes and beer, has garish green walls, and is super cozy, none of which are particularly helpful settings for displaying artwork. But none of that stops some of Seattle’s most interesting artists from hanging their work there. -Amanda Manitach, Seattle Contributor