Sunday, February 26, 2012

MARCH: Upcoming Art Events

If you need your art fix for the first couple weeks of March (and I know I do!), here are some shows that you won't want to miss:

The 1st Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square, Thursday, 1 March from 5-8pm (some galleries open as early as noon). The very first art walk in the United States, Pioneer Square's "1st Thursday" was established in 1981 by a group of art dealers with the intention of promoting their galleries. Now, three decades later, the art walk includes more than 50 galleries, studios and cafes, and is a fundamental part of the Seattle art scene.

"Gauguin and Polynesia" @ the Seattle Art Museum, Thursday, 1 March from 10am-9pm. Gauguin dabbled in Impressionism in the early 1880's before settling in French Polynesia and immersing himself in Primitivism, the style for which he is most remembered. The "Guaguin and Polynesia" exhibit will be up until 29 April.

The 1st Friday Art Walk in Fremont, Friday, 2 March from 6-9pm. This month, Fremont features the art of Soopajdelux @ Portage Bay Goods, Ivan Meljac photography @ Frame-Up Studios, the artists of Under the Needle @ the High Dive, and many, many more!

Print Exchange @ Captive Spirits Distillery in Ballard, Saturday, 3 March from 7-10pm. Captive Spirits is celebrating its grand opening! Although no alchohol will be served, it will be an open house for the new space, the Captive Spirits distilling process, and a showcase of fabulous print art.

The 2nd Thursday Art Walk in Capitol Hill, Thursday, 8 March from 5-8pm. Check out Ghost gallery, Gamma Ray Games, CakeSpy, Cupcake Royale, Bauhaus, Boom Noodle, and dozens of other art spaces for new and exciting work!

"Look Up Here" @ Bherd Studios celebrates five years of Northwest urban and contemporary art. The exhibit opens during the 2nd Friday Art Walk in the Greenwood-Phinney neighbourhood, Friday, 9 March from 6-10pm, and will remain on display through 27 April.

Support your local art scene! Cheers.

~ BCDuncan

Friday, February 10, 2012

GREENWOOD: Tasty, Pretty, Sexy, Dirty, Girly

*WARNING - Mature Content*

Art Up! The art walk in the Greenwood-Phinney Ridge neighbourhood spans over 20 blocks and includes more than 40 galleries, studios, and cafes. I'd love to hit them all, but that's a tall order for a single night. 

I'm wandering with friends this eve, and one of them has work in a couple different art spaces, so our mission begins with Tasty, a gallery of 'delectable collectibles'. Regularly featured are selections of crazy-beautiful creations by local artists and craft masters. This month the collection is "Girls Gone Wild", cutting-edge art by inventive women artists.

Redd Walitzki's new work is an ethereal melding of watercolour and sparkle dreams. She captures waif-like figures emerging from delicate bits of foliage, and bugs made somehow adorable.
Redd Walitzki @ Tasty
Redd Walitzki @ Tasty

The sparkle stencil pop art paintings of Glitter Mortis glimmer from across the room, and the surreal stylings of Patricia Ariel intrigue and beguile.

Patricia Ariel @ Tasty
Glitter Mortis @ Tasty

Would that I could spend the entire evening sipping champagne surrounded by cupcake clocks, fuzzy monster puppets and tiny top hats, but there is yet more art to see!

Tasty has teamed up with Bherd Studios for their second annual joint art walk exhibition. "Pretty, Sexy, Dirty, Girly" is a collection of works by female artists portraying aspects of feminine sexuality. This month the Bherd Studios boast a wide variety of media and performance art - dance, burlesque and a live DJ flavour this evening with awesome! The exhibit challenges viewers to consider not only their initial reaction to the subject matter, but also the ways in which it affects their interaction with the work, the artists, and the performers.

I've always been intrigued by the many facets of the human form. Finding myself suddenly confronted with and surrounded by femininity is both fascinating and inspiring. My paint brushes are going to get a work out to-night.
Crystal Barbre @ Bherd Studios

In her series "Magnetisme Animal", Crystal Barbre depicts provocative forms of human-animal fusion. Deftly rendered, her oils contain a hint of humour and a healthy dose of symbolism.

Siolo Thompson, curator of the "Pretty, Sexy, Dirty, Girly" exhibit, is displaying her "Naked Alphabet" drawings, deliciously scintillating with a Victorian flair.

Siolo Thompson @ Bherd Studios

Bherd Studios is part of the Greenwood Collective, an art space shared with Echo Echo, Home Suite Home, and Urban Light Studios. As a nod to the upcoming romantic holiday, "Sadie Hawkins" at Home Suite Home features collaborative works by female and male artists.

"Sadie Hawkins" @ Home Suite Home

Redd Walitzki and Carl Faulkner co-created a piece that speaks to both of their styles: Redd's muted watercolour palette and distinctive otherworldly figures, and Carl's colourfully abject 'visual taffy', in this case, bits of string ooze from the model's mouth.

Redd Walitzki (collaboration with Carl Faulkner) & her model Fox @ Home Suite Home
Next door to the Sadie Hawkins show, oil painter Iris Scott is exhibiting some of her newest works. Her impressionistic pieces are vibrant, textural, and painted by hand. Literally. Eschewing traditional technique, Iris prefers to paint with her finger tips. When I ask her about her process, she laughs and replies that finger painting is far more fun than cleaning brushes.

Iris Scott @ Greenwood Collective
Other notable art nooks in the Greenwood Collective include the spray paint/acrylic steampunk birds of CASH (Curtis Ashby), the MantisArt grafitti wall, and Nicole Dinardo's custom couture kitchen mixers.

CASH @ Greenwood Collective
MantisArt @ Greenwood Collective

Nicole Dinardo @ Greenwood Collective

The community of artists at the Greenwood Collective is imaginative, controversial, and compelling. The only down-side to the evening is that by the time I've finished exploring Bherd, Echo Echo, Home Suite Home, and Urban Light, the majority of the studios along the Greenwood-Phinney art walk have closed. I'll have to work on being in multiple places at once next time around...

I'll definitely be back next month for Bherd Studios' five-year anniversary show. "Look Up Here" celebrates five years of Northwest urban and contemporary art, and features artists who have made an impact in the Seattle art community by promoting and supporting other artists.

Come out and support your local art scene! Cheers.

~ BCDuncan

Thursday, February 9, 2012

CAPITOL HILL: Gamma Ray, Bauhaus, Cake & Ghost

The cunning plan is art walk with a friend this eve, but, due to a series of migratory events, I'm hoofing it alone. I don't mind; it just means I can indulge my own easily distracted pace. I've actually never been to the Blitz Capitol Hill art walk before. I'm familiar with the neighourhood, but not the art scene.

First stop: my favourite shop for random adorableness, CakeSpy. It's always filled with fascinating bits of fun, but the pieces that catch my attention are a series of culinary still lives by Patianne Stevenson. They look delicious (even if they are made out of recycled cardboard).

Patianne Stevenson @ CakeSpy
 A short way down the block is Gamma Ray Games. Gretchen Fuller's stunning mosaic portraits of super heroes and pop culture idols is a perfect complement to Gamma Ray's eclectic selection of board games and comic cards. Don't mind the demonic winged rabbit in the corner. The TNT to which he's strapped probably isn't explosive...

Gretchen Fuller @ Gamma Ray Games
 I've visited two art spaces, and I realise it's been close to an hour. (Art is distracting.) Bauhaus Books and Coffee lives on the corner at the end of the block, so I stop in for a chai. A giant octopus greets me, its tentacles a vibrant shade of orange glowing amidst the gloom that shrouds the wall of books. Jesse Link has created a host of creatures, some realistic, some fantastical, and they all seem perfectly at home in Bauhaus.

Jesse Link @ Bauhaus
 The last stop of the night is Ghost Gallery. An art gallery and boutique, Ghost currently features an interesting assortment of 'miniature art', jewelry, and a collection of new and recent works by Chris Sheridan. Rich with symbolism and exquisitely executed chiaroscuro, Sheridan's paintings are an excellent end to an inspiring evening.

Chris Sheridan @ Ghost Gallery
 To-morrow: the Greenwood-Phinney art walk! Come out and support your local art scene! Cheers.

~ BCDuncan

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sadie Hawkins & Blitz

If you don't mind braving the impending wet weather this week, wander down to the Greenwood-Phinney Ridge art walk on Thursday eve. Bherd Studios at the Greenwood Collective is hosting "Pretty, Sexy, Dirty, Girly" and the "Sadie Hawkins" show, a collaborative exhibit featuring local lady artists and the gentlemen they've artistically conscripted.

Also check out "Wild Girls" @ Tasty, a coordinated effort with Bherd Studios to showcase local women artists.

The Blitz Capitol Hill Art Walk opens the following night with new work at a number of venues including Bauhaus Books & Coffee, Cupcake Royale, Ghost Gallery, Green Door Studio, and Vermilion.

Support your local art scene!

~ BCDuncan

Thursday, February 2, 2012

PIONEER SQUARE: The Times They are A-Changin'

The air is crisp and the sky is clear, unusual weather for a Seattle evening in February, and the art walk is heartily underway when I arrive in the Pioneer Square district.

Destination #1: Delicatus on the corner of 1st & Western. Their sandwiches are delicious (order The Activist + bacon, and you won't be disappointed), and all of their ingredients are local. They recently began featuring local musicians on 1st Thursdays, and this eve it's Gabriel Mintz who provides a folk/comedic accompaniment to dinner.

Following food, I would normally head to 619 Western and make the multi-storey climb to re-visit some of my favourite art spaces before settling in to tend bar at Studio X-17. But the historic building now stands empty, an unfortunate victim of budget cuts and Seattle's ongoing transportation fiasco. And I am interested to see how the rest of Pioneer Square compares to the uncensored diversity of the 619.

Destination #2: The Tashiro Kaplan Building. The studio lofts only open their doors once a year for art walk, but the first floor gallery is a fantastic place to view new work. Jimmi Indigo, one of my contemporaries from Cornish College of the Arts, is showing his portrait series examining cultural identity and stereotypes through photographic collage. If he and the other artists in the downstairs gallery are an accurate representation of the artists of the TK Building, I certainly look forward to the once-yearly opening.

Jimmi Indigo @ Tashiro Kaplan Gallery

Destination #3: The rest of the TK block. It's a vibrant maze of Galleries and studios such as Core, Gallery4Culture, Platform, Rock/DeMent, Shift, and SOIL. I meet a number of artists (new to me), including prolific pastel painter Barbara Noonan; I run into some old friends, and am saddened to learn that to-night is the final 1st Thursday opening for the Rock/DeMent Gallery. The art walk circuit is an ever-changing entity, but such is the nature or art and creativity, and I can be certain that the next art walk will surprise me with something shiney and new.

The Pioneer Square art walk hasn't been quite the same since the 619 Western Building closed down. An artists' enclave more than three decades in the making, the 619 was rich and raw and loud and colourful. Home to more than 100 artists and performers, it was one of the only places in Seattle where you could see an understated still life photograph, a Victorian-Steampunk spray paint collage, and a lurid purple penis monster happily sharing wall space. It might have been crumbling at the edges, but it housed a tenacious arts collective unique to the Seattle art community.

In August of 2011, the 619 Building was condemned by the WA State Department of Transportation. The decision was due in part to the weakening structure of the building, but mostly to the imminent SR99 tunnel project scheduled to replace the Viaduct in 2015. The artists were evicted (with minimal compensation), their studios scattered, and Pioneer Square lost an integral part of its artistic culture.

619 Western Building

The closure of the 619 Building is, in some ways, the end of an artistic era for Pioneer Square. But when one door closes, another inevitably opens.

A new project is in the works - PiSquare (Pi2), a combination of live/work studio/gallery spaces intended to "revitalise the Seattle art community, and give emerging and established artists a chance to connect with each other and the public." The masterminds behind Pi2 hope to sew the seeds for a new artist collective built on collaboration, mutual inspiration, promotion, and exhibition.

Pi2 Building (photo courtesy of

Check out the site, spread the word, lend your support, and I'll catch you next arts walk! Cheers.

~ BCDuncan