Friday, January 13, 2012

2011: Retrospective

Welcome to Art Scene Seattle, a contemporary artist's exploration of the Emerald City's creative culture through art walks, events, and exhibitions.

I'll be your host - painter, photographer, and occasional dabbler in the literary arts. I am a portrait artist by trade, imperfect by choice, and a cog in the machine of human mythology by default. Here's a bit more about me, and my past year in artistic retrospective.

I lost my art studio during the Great Roommate Migration of 2011, and finding cat-free spaces to create art became a somewhat exacting challenge. Despite the limited art space, however, I did manage to put together a few public appearances.

For a time, when art walks at the 619 Western Building in Pioneer Square were still in full swing, Michael Shephard shared a studio space with Johnny Wow. In February, Shephard offered me his gallery walls for the evening, so I collected some of my favourite pieces from recent years past to create "Selective Compendium".

While it was interesting to see multiple bodies of work in one place at one time, it made me realise how much I missed my studio space, and how desperately I needed to create something shiney and new.

BCDuncan, "Selective Compendium" @ Johnny Wow! Studio

Nestled next to Johnny Wow in the maze of the 619 Western Building lived Studio X-17. Owners/operators Redd Walitzki and Carl Faulkner consistently curated shows that pushed boundaries, celebrated eclectic aesthetics and just plain looked pretty.

In May, X-17 hosted Seattle's first Ball-Jointed Doll Expo, a gathering of doll artists, collectors, and vendors designed to coincide with the Pioneer Square art walk. A few visual artists were invited to accompany the dolls and the hand-crafted off-kilter Victorian scenery, so I took the opportunity to add two new watercolours to my "Tangled Marionette" series. 

BCDuncan with Redd Walitzki @ "Uncanny Dream", Studio X-17

In June, I was approached by the Seattle coordinator of RAW: Natural Born Artists to participate in their "Interactive" showcase at iMusic. RAW is an organisation run by artists to promote local artists and art culture in major cities across the United States. Painters, photographers, musicians, film makers, a hair & make-up artist, and a fashion designer all collaborated to create an evening of total RAW intensity.

As an official RAW artist, my profile is a permanent fixture on their website. I also have free admition to future RAW events, which, I have to say, is not too shabby.

BCDuncan, "RAW: Interactive" @ iMusic
In late September, I completed a portrait series that has been on and off of my drawing table for the better part of a decade. "Imperfect Beauty", a project commissioned by my East Coast patron, is a study of humanity that crosses the boundaries of age, race, gender, culture, and economic class.

"Imperfect Beauty" includes a total of 144 portraits:
"Heads" - 12 portrait exercises referencing Alex Kaiser's photography
"Portraits" - 12 portrait exercises referencing Steve McCurry's photography
"Teen Centre" - 12 portraits drawn from my own photography of friends and classmates at the Bainbridge Island Teen Centre
"From Birth to Death" - four series of 24 portraits each, drawn from my imagination and spanning four different individuals ageing from birth to death: Mikhail (Caucasian), Min (Korean), Maria (Mexican), and Mulalo (African).

"Imperfect Beauty: From Birth to Death", 2003-2011
"Body of Work (Imperfect Beauty)" @ Rossetter Street Gallery
 I consider the completion of this commission my greatest artistic accomplishment of the year. It feels brilliant to have finished an undertaking of such magnitude, and I look forward to seeing what my patron chooses to do with the completed series. So far it has been exhibited in various art studios and educational institutes in Massachusetts and the Northwest.

My goals for 2012 are to recreate an oil-friendly art space, to continue work on my current watercolour series, and to explore Seattle art culture since the dissolution of the 619 community.

Stay tuned for more news and adventures from Art Scene Seattle! Support your local art scene! Cheers.

~ BCDuncan

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