Allyce Wood’s new works on paper feign modesty. The watercolors and pencil drawings that comprise Latent Utility, Present but Not Active Worth at SOIL in Seattle, WA pose as straightforward flora studies from a forlorn time and place, but the depth is in the details. Against a backdrop of the overtly “small batch” and “hand foraged” aesthetics characteristic of the urban crafting currently in vogue across the Northwest and beyond, the artist steeps this body of work in restrained, carefully considered elements of the natural world that feel rich in their compositions while representing hollow, decaying remnants of traditional craft processes—cavernous driftwood, crumpled leaves, dried garland, woven shoots. Working without direct physical references, Wood’s new series promises an authentic, if imperfect, strive for genuineness that resonates against the trends it quietly defies. I caught up with the artist to find more about these ideas and processes behind Latent Utility. - Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor
“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: 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: Miami, Review | Tags: 100, 101/exhibit, Chase Westfall, Erin Langner, Miami
The gray season of the Pacific Northwest has arrived in full force, impelling many of us who inhabit this dark corner of the country to seek a dose of color and a break from the monotony in more inviting environs. Last weekend, I found myself in the relaxed milieu of a Miami between fairs, where Chase Westfall’s (NAP #100) first solo show at 101/exhibit induced a change of pace more lasting than the bright skies I have since left behind. Flooded with patterns of diamonds that overlay realist subjects ranging from animal carcasses to rose bushes, the complicated webs woven by the artist refuse monotony more and more, with every second look. – Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor reporting from Miami
Chase Westfall | Rainbow, 2012, Oil on canvas, 24 x 24 in, Image courtesy of 101/exhibit and the artist
Filed under: Features | Tags: Brian Fee, Ellen C. Caldwell, Erin Langner, Matthew Smith, Nadiah Fellah
In case you haven’t noticed, we have the best art writers in the world. Seriously, it’s true. Our blog contributors are stationed all over the country, scoping out shows, visiting studios, and interviewing the best contemporary painters in the art world. Recently we asked our most prolific bloggers to answer a few questions about themselves and their thoughts on 2012. It’s your chance to get to know a handful of the talented individuals that bring you the New American Paintings/Blog! There are many more writers, and we hope to feature them soon.
Thanks to everyone that contributes to our blog, helping us bring our readers rich and exciting content on a daily basis!
When we asked Brian Fee which piece “moved him” in 2012, he responded: James Rosenquist | F-111 Reinstallation, 1964-65, Oil on canvas with aluminum, twenty-three sections, 10×86′
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: Interview, Q&A | Tags: Body Double, Ellen Ziegler, Erin Langner, SOIL
The darkness of Seattle’s upper latitude slips quietly into place as soon as summer ends, the long afternoon light exchanged for gray afternoons and early sunsets. A number of the city’s October exhibitions reflected these seasonal transitions with darker tones and a more sinister subtext, including SOIL’s Teeth, Gallery 110’s Urban Martyrs and Roq la Rue’s Pureheart. While less outwardly macabre than others, Seattle artist Ellen Ziegler brings both physical and psychological darkness into play through her latest series Body Double, also on view at SOIL. - Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor