Friday, March 16, 2012

U DISTRICT: Gargoyles and Such

Gargoyles Statuary on the Ave has been one of my favourite Seattle shops since I first discovered it back in high school (it's been a while). So much Gothic elegance and neo-Victorian aesthetic squeezed into such a small space... It's nearly impossible to turn about without bumping into a mystical trinket, but if you're looking for high quality hand-dipped incense, essential oils, distinctive home accents, or unique local art, Gargoyles is absolutely the place.

I wandered in this past weekend to re-stock my incense supply and ended up speaking with Gayle, shop proprietor and coordinator of the University District Art Walk. The art walk is scheduled for the 3rd Friday of every month, but apparently, the past couple months have been a bit rough on the Ave's art scene. The U District Art Walk used to be sponsored by the University District Service Fund, a non-profit organisation managed by the Greater University Chamber of Commerce. Recently, however, the GUCC dropped the art walk from the service fund, citing frustration with coordination of artists, venues, and publicity.

Gayle has been spreading herself thin attempting to allocate art walk responsibilities in addition to managing Gargoyles, so I offered to pick up a little of the slack. In addition to my blog, I do a bit of web design, so I have now officially taken over as web designer/webmaster for the University District Art Walk. As far as I'm concerned, art events in Seattle can never have too much positive press, and I'm happy to volunteer a few hours each month to make sure the art walk on the Ave has a current and dynamic website. Also, I get to work with a fantastic group of dedicated art enthusiasts, and I get a sneak peak at the works of monthly featured artists. 

This month, Gargoyles is featuring "Denizens of Mythology," the art of Jeffrey Shaw, original works inspired by mythology from around the world, and created with a combination of digital and traditional media. Giclee prints and figurines of griffins, goblins, mermaids, centaurs, gnomes, and the Egyptian cat goddess Bast are spread salon-style across the back wall. The metal prints glimmer through the darkness like portals to fantastical worlds. Jeffrey's inspiration comes from his travels and his childhood fascination with recurring mythological themes that transcend geography and culture.

Jeffrey Shaw @ Gargoyles

Just up the road from Gargoyles is Tully's Coffee, a well-established coffee chain with roots in the Pacific Northwest. "I Wonder," a selection of photographs by Tom Whipple covers two entire walls beside the barista station. Tom's artistic process involves both traditional and digital media; he chooses his subjects based on form and perspective, captures the scene with his camera, and then digitally combines multiple exposures to create his compositions. The overall effect is like viewing a world just a little to the left of real.

Tom Whipple @ Tully's Coffee

My final stop of the night is a clothing shop called Aprie. Their featured collage artist, Dominique Cliento, is based in Seattle; each of her pieces are hand-painted and embellished with vintage playing cards, letters, book pages, recipes, sheet music, leaves, found objects, and other ephemera. The resulting works are haunting in feel and antique in aesthetic.

Dominique Cliento @ Aprie

In addition to Gargoyles, Tully's, and Aprie; other University District Art Walk participants this month include Chaco Canyon Cafe with the paintings of Sarah Ghanooni, Starbucks Coffee featuring African painter ABA, and the University Business Center with the photography of Shauna Kruse. The University District Art Walk might be a little smaller than it was a few months ago, but the excellence of the art and the singular essence of the Ave haven't changed. We already have a couple more retailers on board for next month, and with a little luck and a good bit of persistence, the art walk on the Ave will be back to its familiar bustle very soon.

Support your local art scene! Cheers!

~ BCDuncan

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