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Artsy Spot: Foster/White Gallery

19 Apr

A gallery that takes advantage of a beautiful space, displays a wide range of interesting work in a well-designed and thoughtful way AND feels comfortable and unpretentious?  These kind of galleries are my happy places.  Foster/White Gallery in Seattle definitely qualifies for a spot on that list.  Thanks to our time in Seattle being super limited and the tiny brain melt in which I somehow forgot that almost all galleries are closed on Monday, our only full day there and the day I’d planned to do lots of gallery hopping, I had to narrow down my galleries to visit to A) shows I really wanted to see and B) galleries that were close together.  So we took a few hours before leaving on Tuesday to visit Greg Kucera Gallery, Grover Thurston Gallery ( more on that show next week ) and Foster/White Gallery, which was by far our favorite overall gallery experience.

Casey McGlynn: Manchild and Rachel Denny: Works of Nature at Foster/White

Foster/White has been on my list of galleries to visit for quite a while and when I saw that they were showing Rachel Denny’s work, it quickly went to the top of the list for our time in Seattle.  But I’m one of those people that saves the best for last, so while I saw Rachel’s work out of the corner of my eye upon entering the space, there were so many other wonderful works around each corner that I made my way around the whole gallery before I spent some time with Rachel’s amazing sculptures.

Sculptures by Paul Vexler at Foster/White

Speaking of amazing sculptures, these bent wood pieces by Paul Vexler were exquisite.  The way the grain of the wood caught the light from the window drew attention to those beautiful curves.  As impressive as his work was ( and there is a large hanging piece in the F/W lobby that is to die for ), Cookie the elephant by Shay Church both delighted me and drew me in.

Cookie ( Asian Elephant ) by Shay Church

Cookie is part of Church’s Wet Clay series, site specific installations consisting of a wooden armatur covered with clay and sand.  In this series, Church focuses on elephants and whales, gentle yet imposing creatures who must survive long migrations.  With each passing year, those migrations grow more and more dangerous and daunting for these animals.  Cookie leans into the wall for support,  seeming to struggle to stand.  As the clay has dried, it has begun to crack and fall, adding to the emotional impact of the piece.  We are watching Cookie deteriorate before our eyes.

Bone Yard by Evan Blackwell at Foster/White Gallery

Bone Yard ( detail ) by Evan Blackwell

Another installation that caught our eye was Bone Yard by Evan Blackwell.  The white clay pieces, pinned to the way may appear to be fragments of bone, but upon closer inspection, we see that they are actually broken pieces of model jets.  Perhaps a commentary on our military policies?  Or our desensitization to such destruction?

Staccato Surface by David Alexander

The abstract, colorful reflection of Staccato Surface by David Alexander had unbelievably lovely gestural movement and a gorgeous palette.  Photos do not do it justice!  Finally we made our way over to Rachel Denny’s work.  I’ve been a huge fan of her work since the very first time I saw one of her Domestic Trophies online and have been looking forward to finally seeing her sculptures in person.  I was blown away by just how intricately constructed they are, their palettes & construction perfectly designed to catch and direct the viewer’s eye.  I was just as delighted by her work as I’d hoped to be.

Rachel Denny: Works of Nature

Sweet Tooth ( detail ) by Rachel Denny

To see more of each artist’s work and more of the amazing work on display, please visit the Foster/White Gallery website.  If you’re in Seattle, Rachel Denny & Casey McGlynn’s current shows will be up until April 28, 2012.  I highly recommend a visit!

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Friday Faves: Seattle On My Mind

13 Apr

If you’ve been reading Artsy Forager for a while, you may have noticed me mention the love my hubby & I have for Seattle.  He was living there when we began dating and although we’d known each other a long time before, it was in the Emerald City that we truly fell in love.  Exactly 2 years from this Sunday, I flew to Seattle to celebrate my birthday ( the 15th ) and George’s birthday ( the 11th ) and to truly test the waters after 12 years of friendship, 1year of online flirting and 1 month of long distance dating.  Not only did I fall madly in love with George, I fell hard for the city of Seattle.  So we’re heading there on Sunday to spend a few days soaking in the delights of our favorite city.  Needless to say, I’m pretty Seattle obsessed today.  Hope you enjoy these artists’ renditions of our city of love!

Snow White by Deborah Scott, oil and mixed media on canvas, 36x60

65th and Roosevelt by Julia Hensley, gouache collage on Bristol board, 9x12

Parallel Bars #1 by Michael Prince, mixed media, 40x30

From the Explorations of the Viaduct series by Marie Gagnon

Family Trio, Seattle by Robin Weiss, oil, 12x12

Deborah ScottJulia Hensley | Michael Prince | Marie Gagnon | Robin Weiss 

Have a fantastic weekend!  Posts will be going up as normal for the next few days, but I’ll only be online sporadically to answer questions and approve/respond to comments.  See you on Wednesday!

Featured image is The Original Starbucks at Pike Place Market, Seattle by Marsha Glaziere.  All images are via the artists’ websites.

Hello? This is Art calling.

25 Jul

Do you remember the days when we didn’t carry our phones around with us, but had to actually seek out that communication tool known as a phone booth?  That small, 37″x37″ box where you could look up a number, dial and have a conversation all for just a 25 cents?  OK, a dime if you’re really old experienced.

Seattle photographer Todd Jannausch saw in an old phone booth, not a relic of the past, but the blank walls of a would-be gallery.

Gallery ( 206 ), Occidental Park, Seattle, WA

Gallery ( 206 ) in Seattle’s Occidental Park, contains artwork by over 206 Seattle area artists, 18 artists are represented on the “walls” of the booth by original works on plexiglass.  This littlest gallery is part public art installation, part exposure vehicle for artists not represented in area galleries.  ( 206  is the area code for the Greater Seattle area ).  It provides not just an artwork display but an entire experience for anyone willing to step inside for a more private conversation.

Inside Gallery ( 206 )

Inside, lighting is provided by a solar-powered installation overhead and yes, there is still a telephone inside. If you pick up the receiver, you won’t be able to make a call, but you will be rewarded by the music of Dave Abramson.

When is the last time you actually used a phonebook?

Taking a peek inside the Gallery ( 206 ) “phonebook” and you’ll find more 206-area artists, showing examples of their work and contact information.  Not since the days of Superman has entering & exiting a phone booth been so much fun.

Addendum to the original post!  Thank you to artist Troy Gua for sending me a photo of his ceiling installation in Gallery ( 206 ).  The overcast weather that day ( in Seattle, imagine that! ) didn’t allow me to get a decent shot myself.  So here it be!  Truly cool.  Check out Troy’s website and Facebook page for more of his work.

Troy Gua installation

To find out more information, visit the Gallery ( 206 ) website.  If you’re in the Seattle area, stop by Occidental Park and see it for yourself!

Droppin’ Y-Bombs

18 Jul

This being my first summer in the Pacific Northwest, I knew the climate would be much cooler than summers in Florida.  But no one told me that even the trees would be wearing scarves!

Yarn Bombing by Suzanne Tidwell, Occidental Park, Seattle, WA

G and I were in Seattle on Saturday and our first stop was Occidental Park.. I was dying to see large scale yarn bombing in person.  Suzanne Tidwell’s bright warm colors juxtaposed against the dark trees under a cloudy sky would melt the heart of the Grinch himself.

Yarn Bombing by Suzanne Tidwell, Occidental Park, Seattle, WA

Yarn Bombed Lamp Post, Occidental Park, Seattle, WA

I mean, let’s face it, here in the PNW, we have a lot of gray days.  So why not help nature along a little by adding some color and whimsy?  I think the trees approve.  They just look so much happier, don’t they?  ( Wait, did I just inadvertently quote Bob Ross?! )  And of course, those bony lamp posts HAD to have been cold, being steel and all.  Now they’re super cozy.

Yarn bombing is a type of street art, which instead of using chalk or paint, utilizes colorful installations of knitted or crocheted yarn.  Begun as an attempt to enliven and beautify cold, urban environments, it has grown into a full-on art movement.  These aren’t just grandmas and bored housewives looking for a creative outlet and a bit of mischief.  Many yarn bombers are fiber artists who connected with the whimsical style and slightly rebellious nature of yarn bombing.

In many cases, the yarn bombing is done illegally, just like traditional graffiti and often under the cover of night.  However, bombers are rarely prosecuted, if caught.  Perhaps due to the playful, non-threatening nature of the “tagging”.  It would be like arresting Tinkerbell.

Fiber artists have tagged iconic public sculpture such as the Rocky Balboa statue in Philadelphia, a traditional red London telephone booth and Wall Street’s famous Charging Bull sculpture ( But don’t call that one yarn-bombing to the responsible artist, Olek.  She takes offense and considers her own work art, while the work of others to be trite.  Not sure I see the difference, but that is her prerogative, I suppose. )  What began as a clandestine art movement is now moving into mainstream favor, with artists, like Seattle’s Suzanne Tidwell, being commissioned to produce large scale public installations and corporate projects.

Totems and Yarn Bombs, Occidental Park, Seattle, WA

There is so much darkness and despair in our world today.  I say thank you, yarn bombers, for seeking to bring a little sunshine and fanciful wonderment to our world.  Long may you knit.

If you’d like to learn more about Suzanne Tidwell, whose work is featured in Occidental Park in Seattle as part of the summer ArtSPARKS program, check out her website and Facebook page.  To learn more about yarn bombing, check out this website, run by two knitters living in Vancouver, BC who also wrote a book about the phenomenon, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti.  

The Poetry of Shapes: Susan Melrath

29 Jun

“Rich colors draw me in, patterns guide me through, and flat, poetic shapes allow me to rest.”  — Susan Melrath

It is just these rich colors and flat, poetic shapes that drew me in to Susan Melrath’s work.  Susan takes complex forms like flowers, architecture and figures and condenses them to their most basic shapes.

Crimson Kiss

By doing so, the viewer becomes more drawn in by the emotionality brought to the surface through her use of vibrant color applied to the forms, rather than by the subjects themselves.

Going Home

 

Cafe

Though I love ALL of Susan’s work, it is her Garden series that speaks something to my soul.  Perhaps it is how I am amazed by the flora to be found here in the Northwest.  ( Wildflowers!! )

Spring Flowers

She takes what could be a mundane subject and with the use of pattern and color creates something extraordinary.  It’s a little bit Pop-Art, a little bit Fauvist, kind of Cubist without the hard edges ( Cone-ist? ).

Moon Flower

The flowers seem to be underwater, floating in a happy haze of pattern.  Or maybe it’s drizzly rain?  We ARE in the Northwest..

Out of the Blue

Sometimes it seems that we are seeing the flower’s shadow, rather than the plant itself, looking through the shadow to the play of patterns and light beyond.  Which makes the work groovily mysterious.

Susan created a floral series called “Bloom” for a recent Art & Sustainability show at the Sightline Institute in Seattle, integrating technology and traditional painting, posting a mobile tag by each painting providing more insight and information about each work of art.  You can see the progress of one of these works and hear Susan speaking about the work here.  And because I always personally find these things to be so much darn fun, here’s a time-lapse video of Susan completing a painting.  What’s up next for Susan after her technology driven show?  Unplugged, artwork created during a one-week period in which artists went without TV, internet, social media and texting.  Because great art is always about finding balance.

Be sure to check out Susan Melrath’s website to see more of her work and learn more about the artist.

Hands-On vs Hands-Off Artistry

27 Apr

In my daily reading of Artinfo.com this morning I came across two articles, seemingly unrelated, until the Facebook comments regarding one of the articles tied them together for me.  The first article, found here, poses the question, “Should Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Remain Unfinished?”  The Barcelona basilica, begun in 1882 by renown artist-architect Antonio Gaudi is still under construction eighty-five years following the architect’s death. 

Sagrada Familia under construction in Barcelona, Spain

 Though Gaudi left plaster models and drawings, many of his notes were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, leaving his vision open to interpretation by current sculptors, architects and designers.  While some critics feel the current direction doesn’t jive with Gaudi’s original vision, even during his lifetime, there were many sculptors working on the basilica.  Like any monumental undertaking, “it takes a village” to bring Gaudi’s creation to life.

Close-up of one of La Sagrada Familia's spires. Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Should Gaudi’s original design be so open to interpretation?  He gave artistic license to those working under him while alive, would he so object to modern interpretations now being imposed?  Unlike other types of sculpture, cathedrals are often the product of centuries worth of work by multiple architects, artists and craftsman. 

The star-studded ceiling of the east wing of La Sagrada Familia under construction. Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

As Gaudi was aware he would not be alive to see it to completion, wouldn’t he have known his original design would be open to interpretation by those who came after him?  Does the fact that Gaudi is not here to personally oversee the work negate the additions?

Artists using apprentices and assistants is nothing new.  The art world of the Renaissance era, which produced such celebrated masters as Michelangelo and DaVinci was built upon the concept of apprenticeship.  But what about now?  The second article I read this morning was regarding the approval of a Dale Chihuly museum at the site of a former amusement park in downtown Seattle ( now the Seattle Center ).

The museum in itself is the subject of controversy, but that isn’t what I’d like to address here.  Instead, I’d like direct attention to another Chihuly controversy– his use of others to craft his designs.  One Facebook poster thought it necessary to point out that since losing the use of his left eye due to a car accident, he is no longer the person actually blowing the art glass he is so famous for.  ( In reality, Chihuly continued to blow glass for three years following the accident, until a body surfing incident dislocated his shoulder, so he was no longer able to manually manipulate the glass ).   The poster’s statement that “His employees make everything.  Just sayin’.” seems to somehow fault Chihuly for continuing to create in the only way he physically could, by having others help him.  The artist himself has said that his role, more of a director, allows him better perspective on the work.

As stated above regarding Gaudi, the practice of using assistants and apprentices to create monumental works of art has been done for centuries ( and yes, many of Chihuly’s creations are monumental in scope ).  So as long as the artist himself continues to design the creations with his name on them, what’s the big deal?

And what about so-called “production originals”?  You might be thinking of the ones advertised as “hand painted original works of art”, usually being sold out of a hotel ballroom.  But what I’m talking about are the production art studios– where perhaps one “lead artist” is creating original works of art, which are then being recreated & reproduced by the hand of “assistant artists”.  There are more of these studios around than people realize and the work can be found in galleries, corporate and private collections all over the world.  While the savvy gallerist, art consultant, designer and art afficionado knows production art when they see it, what about the collector who thinks they are buying a true original work of art, only to spot an almost exact replica when in their hotel while on vacation in Hawaii?  Do we lump Chihuly in with these?

These are three examples of artwork being completed and accomplished without the direct hand of the creator.  What are your thoughts?  Is it ever OK to put your name on something you didn’t actually physically create?  This is definitely a gray area.. would love to hear your thoughts!

New American Paintings: Interview with Claire Cowie

30 Mar

Oh how I wish we were already on the West Coast!  Claire Cowie’s work is intriguing and this exhibition is hanging in Seattle only for a few more days.  The article goes into the importance of placement and hanging for the exhibition, something many gallerists overlook, but is often so important to the artist’s vision of how the work is to be viewed.

Read on!

A Colossal Place of Being: A Q&A with Claire Cowie.