Color Cure at AVS Gallery

Color Cure

It was one of those stormy New England days that knocks you sideways I traveled across The Gold Star bridge to Groton’s von Schlippe Gallery (UConn at Avery Point) gallery to get a much needed pick me up.

Color Cure is indeed that, an exhibit consisting of bold abstract color, a group show consisting of five strong painters that I have now been introduced to including Cat Balco, Olivia Baldwin, Alyse Rosner, Leslie Roberts and Deborah Zlotsky.

Painting show is somewhat a misnomer as there is also a fantastic digital piece that makes my heart swoon as well:


The Gallery, located on the 2nd floor of the Branford House overlooking the sound,
is open Thurs-Sun. 12-4pm.
Color Cure dates 11/11-12/12.


What’s It About, Alphie

A brief note, as people frequently ask me what the name of the site means. Originally it was a prank on my friend who was working at the Online Journalism Review back in the late 90s and had launched his now long gone blog dangerous monkey.

I’ve had this site since February 2000, when I lived in NYC and blogging was just getting its legs.

It’s been a sporadic place since then, moving with me to Seattle and now in 2020 moving to Connecticut. Sometime in 2009 maybe I abandoned the site for awhile and subsequently had to re-up under the .net versus .com domain, but here we are.

Somehow it has survived and I still have the desire to write about art and artmaking.



Return to Webster’s Woods

A nice visit to the Webster’s Woods , part of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center which I hadn’t been to since 2004. Glad to see it is still actively in existence.


Cascadia Art Museum :: Woodland Reverie

Woodland Reverie: The Art of Helen Loggie

and graphite tree drawings by artist Donna Leavitt.

I always feel so centered upon entering the exhibit rooms in this museum. Here are the drawing and etching exhibits you personally complain are absent in most places. That the artists being showcased are local and most likely an under known female is wonderful. Coming here and then stopping at the waterfront to get that hit of salt water a few yards away is always soul cleansing.

My discontent in many gallery or museum exhibits lately is a considerable lack of featuring people who have drawing skills. That is never a problem here at Cascadia, which showcases the history of our local visual arts that were here from 1860-1970.

What does it take to be an artist living in the Pacific Northwest? Here at Cascadia there is always a direct plumb line back to those who would have asks themselves the same question.

Below are some of Loggie’s etchings:

In a separate room Donna Leavitt’s contemporary tree drawings pair nicely with Loggie’s historical etchings in particular.

I consider this the little museum that could.

More information on Helen Loggie is here.

Donna Leavitt’s website is here

The exhibit Woodland Reverie is up through June 30th.
190 Sunset Ave. S., #E, Edmonds, WA 98020

PS When you are done visiting walk a few yards away to the waterfront and get a hit of salt water and ferry boat departures.

Always Keep the T-shirts

Things you can get mad at yourself about.
I used to have a Dawn Cerney t-shirt but then it became too small and now it is gone. I bought it at the Henry Art Gallery when they used to have a shop, so now it additionally would have been an souvenir of times gone by. Here’s an interview with Joey Veltkamp from 2009 regarding the body of work this t-shirt was attached to. Dawn is currently in a two-person / two-gallery exhibit at Studio e (in conjunction with Season) right now in a show titled The Perfume Counter, and it is a marvel (seriously, go see it).

Here’s one of her recent pieces below:

I am going to Didi Herron’s art show this Friday and there will be t-shirts there based on her paintings.

I like this concept: always have t-shirts at your art opening. I hope I will make t-shirts when the time comes.

Incidentally I haven’t seen Didi since art school five million years ago but I am really excited to see her recent work. She always had beautiful paint handling and personally she was my favorite colorist (i.e. I liked what she did with all of the colors).

Here are the exhibit details:

More Didi paintings: Self Portrait, 3×3


Animal Farm, oil on canvas, 18×24, 2019


Kiki Smith

If you were to force me to pick just one artist to call my favorite the clear winner would be Kiki Smith.

Kiki Smith and the Pursuit of Beauty in a Notably Unbeautiful Age.

Her persistence and humility for the win.

I’ve always admired her ability to not let the work become ham-fisted narratives.

“For all the timely intensity of her work, she stayed curiously apolitical, never crossing a line into an overtly polemical gesture. “What I make is just a thing,” she says. “It has to sustain itself. It stems from me wanting to know what something is going to look like when I’m done. I’m completely influenced by where I am, what’s around me. I just react.” “

Smith on Art 21 at the Fabric Workshop.



Georgetown Galleries – November

Visiting art galleries is usually a means to inspiration for me and today was a good one in Georgetown.

I wasn’t going to miss the closing of Kim Van Someren’s exhibit and artist talk at Bridge Productions and I’m really glad I made it there. Kim’s discussion was facilitated by her friend and fellow artist Emily Gherard, a pair who have a long history together. Both are artists who place an importance on mark-making in their work, executed in very different manners though.

A few takeaways from Kim’s talk:
She has a deeply entrenched respect for printmaking that she feels she will always be with her. She emphasized it is important to her to have a skill that involves using her hands if electricity goes away. I’m paraphrasing poorly, but that is something I absolutely think about all the time. What endures in our culture if electricity and our digital world go away, essentially collapse? Our reliance on something so fragile as the electric grid seems tenuous at best. She asterisked her comment saying well she would be able to do printmaking in daylight hours at least.

Double Half Hitch, sugarlift, aquatint, 18″ x 15″2018

The topic I most appreciated hearing them discuss was about the planning her studio time. She is now a Mom to twins (three years olds) and has a printmaking job at the University of Washington. How does one find the ability (and energy) to put together a show like the one that was installed around us in the gallery one wonders.

She stated she found she has to really hone in and take advantage of any quiet time (a rarity) and to be very disciplined. She spends 2-3 hours every day after teaching running prints in the studio at the University. Then from 10-1p every night she intricately assembles her pieces. Cutting collages, looking at compositions of different parts of her work from photos she takes, downloading and rearranging imagery on her computer and making micro decisions about what belongs where is all part of her practice She is currently learning how to weld as it was mentioned her work feels like it is growing off of the paper. I personally think artists need to challenge themselves with new materials to keep their internal search mechanisms and curiosity sharp, so that was exciting to hear. I hope we (the public) are privy to the results.

It was lovely to be privy to the back and forth between Kim and Emily, both whose work I heavily admire. I appreciated hearing the contemplative nature of what is behind the artwork, how humor seeps into the imagery and the query of did her midwest background have anything to do with her execution (yes).

The funniest thing Kim said was that printmakers are the serial killers of the art world as they are always strategizing, a hilarious aside.

As I mentioned this was the closing for Kim’s exhibit. Follow Bridge Productions at their website and on Instagram. Kim is here and here.

A snippet of her gorgeous work:


The Alice across the hall from Bridge Productions has a fiber-cross-pollination-one-person-show up of Jeanne Medina. I always appreciate seeing fiber arts creep into galleries and being taken seriously. She also uses performance heavily in her final work. There was a video example in the Alice of her wearing one of the pieces on the wall.

Here is a video example I found on her website appropriately titled for this weekend Daylight Savings Project that utilizes Laurie Anderson’s Walking and Falling (from Big Science) as a backdrop.

Daylight Savings Project from John Lui on Vimeo.

Here are installation shots of the show:

  The exhibit is up through November 17th. The Alice is here and Jeanne is here.


Finally I ended my day by driving five minutes and stopping by Studio E Gallery where I happened upon the closing of Molly Magai’s painting exhibit (which I liked and was too busy absorbing to document).

Her work, which I was unfamiliar with, has a certain kinship with Portland’s Michael Brophy whose landscapes I have admired for many years. I’m a sucker for painterly execution and her work demonstrates that beautifully while sitting on that fine line between representation and abstraction. She states, “I paint the landscape in motion, as we usually see it, from our cars“.  Sadly that’s how I witness most nature these days. I should add she works on somewhat tiny rectangles of canvas which I was pretty drawn to for the amount of visual information she managed to insert into each one. I’m glad I stopped in to see the show.

Molly Magai, Playground Cedar, 12 x 12 in., Oil on panel, 2018

Upstairs there was a one day pop-up of Michael Doyle’s work. If I use the word whimsical you’re going to groan and after saying it I think it is possibly inaccurate but that’s the first thing that popped into my head when I entered the room. I also was said out loud “I love it”, so make what you want of that. I thoroughly enjoyed the portraits and head cut-outs on display.

Studio E is here, Molly Magai is here and Michael Doyle is here.

Studio E. lived true to their welcoming offering of coffee, nice conversation and a warm reprieve from the traffic and rain outside before I got back on 99 and headed home. A good day was had.

Kim Van Someren exhibit at Bridge Productions

Kim Van Someren exhibit at Bridge Productions.

I laughingly told Sharon my one sentence review of the show is: “this is totally my jam”.

I’m in awe of Kim’s markmaking and how she has created a little world from various shaped and patterned forms, which I detect some humor folded in there. More clues to that nature come from the titles: Hooded Scoper, Reeler, Indexer, Troller. Each piece exudes funny and somewhat lumbering personality; I think that’s the best way I can describe the work. On the technical end of things it has been created by an assortment of printmaking processes including drypoint, collage, sugarlift, aquatint, porchoir.

On the wall directly outside of the gallery is the gorgeous
Gusted Hitch whose transparency and size is covetable.

Gusted Hitch
sugarlift, aquatint on pieced silk tissue
90″ x 96″

Gallery owner/curator/director Sharon Arnold has written a beautiful essay about the exhibit here.

Into Its Own Echo, opens today, Saturday 13 October
(opening reception is 6-9pm).

​Bridge Productions is open Saturdays 12-7pm

Kim’s website is here.

I’m in love with this show. You should go see it.

Reality Check

There was a point once where I really thought my life was going to be just like this. No really.

This is a condensed version of a film called The Reality of Karel Appel from 1962. Starring of course the Dutch artist name Karel Appel.

If you can’t tolerate most of it at least scoot forward to the 6:44 mark where he stirs up a cup of tea, signs his painting and takes his gloves off.

In the longer version he proclaims, “I paint like a Barbarian, in a Barbaric age“.

Halfway through the film, after an exhausting day of hitting the canvas the camera decides to follow him around to see what makes this man tick.

He takes the train, goes to the market, visits a scrap yard, overlooks a cemetery and my personal favorite of youth….goes to a fashion show. Then back to the studio.

Musique Barbare by the venerable Dizzy Gillespie which still holds water.


R/T Portland

Back from a day trip to Portland to catch up on art. A decade ago I could do this without batting an eye but my much older person today is feeling the effects of driving a car for hours.

It was worth it though. I got to see some good art, caught up with friends I haven’t visited with for a long time and it turned into a general clear your head kind of outing. Hopefully more soon after I catch my breath.



Deeper Than the Wall

Again I circle back to that original query I have in mind as an ongoing thesis here. What keeps someone’s hat in the game?

I went down to visit the ever articulate and generous Sharon Arnold today for a one day event at her Bridge Productions.

The three artists share the walls today are Emily Gherard, Sue Danielson and Kim Van Someren.

I’m a huge Emily Gherard fan and figured it would be ridiculous to let traffic or other nonsense as an excuse to keep me away.

Emily Gherard \ Out of Embers, 2017 acrylic, pigment, gum arabic, flash paint on panel 22 x 20 inches

Sue Danielson, both acrylic, ink, paper on panel

Kim Van Someren \ Holler 2018 drypoint, collage 14.5 x 11 inches

The work in the exhibit visually shares a quiet strength. Emily’s work shines as always and it was interesting to see a color piece that practically vibrates off the wall (Untitled (With\In No. 3)). I also have an eye on Sue Danielson’s small paintings which we’ll get more of at Bridge in September. I don’t recall seeing Kim Van Someren previously but Sharon noted I might be surprised if I revisited some of her earlier works from a few years back (which I will do). She has executed an intricate series of drypoint, collage works that have a beautiful presence on the walls.

Sharon has always curatorially stayed true to her loves and I believe it’s the integrity of that work she’s drawn to and compelled to share that is (hopefully) what keeps her going. I can’t help but think of former Seattle gallerist Francine Seders whose vision for her space and loyalty to her artists had a unique and singular presence in the Seattle art world for many years. I’m thankful for people like that.

“Bridge Productions is excited to host Deeper Than the Wall, a one-day exhibition of new works by Sue Danielson, Emily Gherard, & Kim Van Someren. Open Today (Saturday 7 July) 12-7pm.”

Breaking news – AND NOW Saturday July 14th, 12-7pm as well.

Address: 6007 12th Ave S, Seattle, Washington 98108 (Georgetown).

Always good news as well to find ample street parking.

Anne Appleby at TAM

Anne Appleby – We Sit Together The Mountain and Me.

More on this exhibit in a day or two but it was definitely worth my visit to the Tacoma Art Museum.

There is a great interview with her on my go to podcast Modern Art Notes (#336), which prompted my early Saturday drive from Seattle.

Sadly there was no catalog for the show, but Tyler who hosts the podcast indicates in his bio at one point there was supposed to be one in the works.


Over 70

Yoko Ono

15 Bad Ass Art World Heroines Over 70 Years Old.

This is the topic I’m interested in. Who hangs in there? I’m not going to tell you it’s easy to be here when you are 20 and 30, but it’s infinitely less road obstructed. By the time you get to this point of middle age, post-middle age, god forbid OLD AGE you’ve made decisions. You’ve made some sacrifices. You are probably by standard terms considered bat shit crazy. And still you make your stuff.

So yes, especially around this town, the fresh new graduates and young kids get the majority of recognition and so on. I’m here to be interested in the rest of us.

By the way, that has got to be the most sedate image of Yoko Ono ever.

The Frye Museum, 9.13.07


Scrib notes from a few shows

Sin and Victoria Haven – Up until October 14th

Victoria’s collaboration with Franz von Stuck.

When you walk in, it seems extravagant the piece gets an entire room. To Victoria’s credit, this would be a challenging piece to work with, given the shiny aspects of gold. The entire room is painted a deep turquoise, but only one wall is given over to the installation (another to signage).

Victoria’s lacy, fragile, but mountainous shapes are immediately recognizable. In a way it is just nice to sit in one room and meditate on a piece with no other distractions.

The von Stuck is one of my favorite pieces in the Frye’s collection- an elaborately framed portrait of a woman with snake. It is completely reminiscent of Klimt, especially his more operatic works.

This duo has the slippery danger of falling into the trap of a digitized Nat King Cole-pairing with his daughter. Yet the lighting pulls it all together and the two pieces actually compliment each other nicely.

Victoria was to build an altar (allegedly the von Stuck was originally situated in a garish and complex altarpiece). Her work instead feels as if the von Stuck is growing, like gilded bacteria, which I prefer. At the top it grows off the wall and into the shadow.

Hug – the main exhibit room was closed for installation.

Yvonne Twining Humber.

This exhibit was actually the main reason I came to the Frye today, I wanted to pay homage to this woman.

Her work, much of it from the 1930s and 40’s immediately speaks regionalism. I think of Thomas Hart Benton and a puzzle I put together again and again of a pastoral scene of rolling hills with cows and apples from childhood.

She could cram so much information into such a tiny space, the paintings being easel size. Her style is so definitely of an era, the attention to detailing in clothing and other minute places is what strikes me the most.

I think my favorite piece in the exhibit is Pubic Market, which she painted while living in Seattle (1944-45).

The explanation for her absence in the 50s was unfortunately typical.

“Twining regularly exhibited until the late 40s or early 1950s, when the demands of family life refocused her energies” (why does this always read as a failure to me?) “She resumed painting in the late 1960’s after the death of her mother and husband.

The paintings are pleasant scenes: carnivals, parks, factory districts when she lived on the East Coast.

Interestingly she was a WPA employee, which I learned from this exhibit “artists were required to work in their home states. This dispersed artists and creation of new art through out the country.” Yvonne ended up moving back to Boston before eventually settling down in Seattle.

I also like the 1937 Park in Spring, which allows its focal point to be two terriers encountering each other on a dog walk. The man in the closest foreground absolutely radiates (let’s use that word a few more times!) 1937 (looking off screen, in his news cap).

This is a small show, hung in the hallway exhibition hallway between the museum store and the main gallery. It is brief but dignified. Humber knew how to paint, as is shown in her self portrait that greets you at the beginning of the exhibit from 1948,

Humber, undoubtedly a product of her era produced some work that is too saccharine for my tastes, but I am impressed the Frye continues to honor woman who if we find it hard to get it together to paint now, only imagine what the expectation level was in the early 1930s. Bring back the WPA!

Frye Futures – Show ends September 30th

There is something so gleeful, in contrast to the Sin room, to the salon style hanging that is Frye Futures. It is so quiet here on Thursday night. An elderly couple sits closely to one another on the cozy velvet conversational benches that anchor the room. They whisper quietly to each other associations about each piece as I pass by. The dark paint of the walls and the low light are peaceful.

(I have always loved the stately elegance of the permanent collection since first viewing it).

I like seeing this Frye collection as an ammasment of a whole. Similar to the thrill of thumbing through a childhood stamp collection, I almost forgot for a moment the original mission of the Frye was to collect figurative art. But now I look out at all those lovely faces staring at me. Some in their Sunday best, some with bright flowers in their hair. Emma and Charles are lording over my left shoulder, as I stare out into the opposite direction into the vista of Daniel Somogyi’s View of Konigssee.

Amy Helfand is commissioned a gossip chair from Wave Hill. It is too busy to go with the portraits.

As I am about to exit the room, I spy little minis of Emma and Charles to the left wall of their larger portraits. As if some turn of the century drawing room version of Where’s Waldo, they are also painted by Henry Raschen, in the same year, and undoubtedly studies. Yet hidden into the rest of the images they seem mischievous when you spot them.

(I have enjoyed the concept the Frye is working through right now, attempting to sort through what makes their collection relevant to the world today).

Yvonne Twining Humber

David Kane.

What a funny little show.


*Victoria Haven image courtesy of The Frye.

No Man’s Land by Elise Richman

I spent Saturday with Elise Richman’s beautiful new work, conducting my sitting duties at Shift. It was one of those fantastic weather-wise day people brag about in Seattle, bringing a fair amount of people out to view galleries that day.

Some of my visitors:

Michael Brenner, Director of Hotcakes Gallery in Milwaukee (and his brother).

He told me to check out Art In Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network which he is directly involved with.

Very nice guy visiting our good city for kicks.

Also saw my friend Jim, below.

Also another Jim later on I forgot to photograph.

See more of Elise Richman’s show here.

Frye Artist Spotlight

As a brief coda to Jim Demetre’s thorough and insightful overview of Swallow Harder, Swallow HarderSelections from the Ben and Aileen Krohn Collection, at the Frye, I wanted to mention I spent a nice two hours at the Frye Museum last Friday night in attendance at their Artist Spotlight Artist Talks.

Thinking this would be an auditorium filled sit down gig, I was surprised to find a large crowd of us moving en masse through the galleries as we were directed to gather around the art. Nine local artists in the exhibit were given ten minutes each to discuss their work and answer questions that might arise. While ten minutes might seem like a brief moment, it can seem like forever when you are on the spotlight.

Artists are usually known through their work, so it’s fascinating to see what they actually have to say about their process, their choices of materials or even how they arrived at that moment to be standing in front of you. Some people, I site Leo Saul Berk and sidekick Claire Cowie, in particular we’re funny smart asses while speaking, while others like Patrick Holderfield were solemn and introspective, turning to his work to actually speak to it. I always find it rewarding when artists tend to be a lot less theory laden and get to the meat of why they do what they do. Victoria Haven spoke of how she arrived at her mapped drawings and why she will never again use rubber bands as material. Jeffrey Mitchell, still fresh in my mind from the Western Bridge show talked about his choice of building his over-the-top objects with every day materials.

Steven Miller, represented by his Milky Series in the show spoke about engaging participation, from friends to chat rooms – to arrive at the photographs. Scott Fife, whose lumbering big head of Mies van der Rohe greeted you upon arrival to the museum, talked about the historical importance of such a personality to his own work. Alice Wheeler, represented by two large Nirvana related portraits spoke about studying photography at Evergreen and how photographic film is quickly getting phased out by the digital age, causing her to reexamine everything she does. Of courseMark Mumford, whose pieceSwallow Harder, Swallow Harder is utilized as the title of the show talked about how the Krohn’s have this piece in their home above the dining room table.

Having followed most of these artists for a while now, it was funny to think you were witnessing a kind of aural debriefing for the best hits selection of Seattle’s art scene. People stayed engaged and the crowd, being what it was, asked intelligent questions. The staff from the Frye seemed surprised that so many people had decided to spend their Friday night at the museum.

The Frye has more goodness up its sleeve, opening a show of Robert Yoder on May 26thHenry Darger on August 19th and one I can barely believe will be coming to Seattle: Life After Death: New Leipzig Painting…which we have to wait 9 months for (February 17th).

As a footnote to the coda, and more recommendations from Demetre, Claire Cowie has a show opening tonight at James Harris. I squarely put myself in the camp of being a large fan of her work. I neglected to mention her discussion about process was its self worth coming to the artists talks and look forward to witnessing it this weekend.

Swallow Harder, Swallow Harder closes this weekend, if you are looking for something to do on Sunday, they are open 12-5pm.


Amy S. in NY

I tell myself I don’t give a shit anymore about what is going on in New York and then I find out Amy Sillman just closed a show…instant remorse. I love her work. As duly mentioned hereHere. And here.

On a brighter note, the most amazing bright fuchsia breasted hummingbird was just nosing around my back yard. Not quite a trade off but lovely in it’s own right.

Robyn O’Neil at the Frye

May I recommend between now and July 30th that you stop by the Frye Art Museum, and spend a quiet moment with Robyn O’Neil’s work…? I would particularly recommend you do this if you have any interest in drawing to see what the humble hand and a graphite pencil can do.

O’Neil’s work, depicting imaginary scenes of humanity is profound in that she allows the characters she has invented to be more than just evil or compassionate. As noted in other writing about her work, groups of “lumpy track-suited men” and their dogs depict cruelties on each other and nature. In other pieces they grieve for what they have done… or at least some of them. The stark use of only graphite on expansive white paper contrasting with the small barely decipherable characters do lend themselves a bit to Bruegel. For those of us who like to draw, and often find ourselves bobbing in the sea of conceptual trickery so apparent in today’s modern world, this exhibit is a wonderful relief.

The titles add a layer of seriousness to her work that cue you into the emotional intent of the author. The one I that impacted me the most, which I had to leave the room and come back again for a last look is titled: As my heart quiets and my body dies, take me gently through your troubled sky.

O’Neil lives in Houston,Texas. Houston’s Glasstire site has written a nice piece on her here.

In 2003 she received the Artadia Houston Award, and noted what she would do with her new found resources:

” I’ve been working in my tiny apartment driving myself crazy. I plan on getting a studio immediately. This is something that was simply not possible before I got this grant. I will furnish my studio with a table large enough for me to make my drawings. This grant will aid in the proper packing and shipping of my work which is very delicate.”

O’Neil’s work can regularly be seen at NYC’s Clementine Gallery and Chicago’s Bodybuilder and Sportsman Gallery.

The Death and Life of Jane Jacobs

Today everyone who values cities is disturbed by automobiles.

Traffic arteries, along with parking lots, gas stations and drive ins are powerful and insistent instruments of city destruction. To accommodate them, city streets are broken down into loose sprawls, incoherent and vacuous for anyone afoot. Downtowns and other neighborhoods that are marvels of close-grained intricacy and compact mutual support are casually disemboweled. Landmarks are crumbled or are so sundered from their contexts in city life as to become irrelevant trivialities. City character is blurred until every place becomes more like every other place, all adding up to Noplace. And in the areas most defeated, uses that cannot stand functionally along—shopping malls, or residences, or places of public assembly, or centers of work—are severed from one another.

But we blame the automobiles for too much.

—Chapter 18: Erosion of cities or attrition of automobiles,

The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs, 1961.

I just learned that Jane Jacobs passed away on April 25th, 9 days before her 90th birthday.

Not finding the stomach to keep up with the general news these days, I came across this fact mentioned in an offhand way somehow. It is sad news.

I can’t claim encyclopedic knowledge on Jacobs, but I found her practical sense to do the right thing in life poignant enough to write a little homage to her while still making small contributions to Bust magazine a few years ago. It was upon reading the piece in publication that I learned we shared the same birthday. I took this as a nice coincidence and of course always think about her when our day rolls around. Little did I know this past week she was off to (hopefully) that bigger city in the sky.

When I moved back to Seattle almost four years ago, I was so disturbed by what I found in a decade’s absence, I practically ran to Elliot Bay bookstore to buy The Death and Life, Jacob’s most famous treatise on urban planning. In it, I found relief reading her essays, seeing my gut reaction to all the senseless overbuilding (and lack of preservation) was indeed valid. At the time I was living between what used to be the market and Belltown and it was indeed a ghost town at night. (Chapter 2: The uses of sidewalks: safety. “This is something everyone already knows: A well-used city street is apt to be a safe street. A deserted city street is apt to be unsafe. But how does this work, really? And what makes a city street well used or shunned?).

Cranes, building condo after condo reached up through the sky line with unfinished projects, but if there was any indication of life after 6pm it was only found hidden in bushes backed up into the viaduct and infrequent spurts as bar life filtered out into the street. It was depressing. The truth of the matter is the vast majority of Seattleites don’t live in down town proper, and I don’t either any more.

Last night, on a lengthy bus ride home from First Hill, I stared out the window as the sun set over my left shoulder. Our bus traveled gradually— with complete lack of urgency, from the downtown waterfront, through Eastlake, over Portage Bay, and into the congested Friday evening of the University District. If anything can mark an instant return to youth, it’s a lumbering Metro bus ride, one whose routes remain practically unchanged. As the radio towers standing straight up on Queen Ann darkened and car lights brightened, I realized all in all Seattle actually does seem unchanged from the viewpoint of a bus. Downtown disappeared and slowly an almost suburban spread of green lawns and full blown rhododendrons threaded out in replacement.

I think this is the livability that people really mean when they talk about Seattle, (we’ll pretend for a moment, for livability’s sake that it isn’t one of the most over-priced housing markets in the country). In a 2001 interview with Reason magazine, Jacobs sites Seattle as one of the cities that has improved with age:

Reason: Do you think that the people who run American cities have learned what to do and what not to do?

Jacobs: I think some of them have learned a lot. There are quite a few cities that are more vigorous and more attractive than they were 10 or 20 years ago. A lot of good things are being done, but it’s not universal.

Reason: Can you give me an example?

Jacobs: In Portland, a lot of good things are being done. Same with Seattle. San Francisco has done many attractive things.*

Jacobs by Arbus

[Jane with son Ned, by Diane Arbus,Esquire, 6/65]

At any rate, much has and will be said about Jacob’s legacy, and it is neglectful to leave her in 1961 as she wrote many other books. Some site her as missing the point, but I would like to depart thinking of her as someone willing to leave her mark in a positive way on humanity. Besides she was a character:

“Togetherness” is a fittingly nauseating name for an old ideal in planning theory. This ideal is that if anything is shared among people, much should be shared. “Togetherness”, apparently a spiritual resource of the new suburbs, works destructively in cities. The requirement that much shall be shared drives city people apart.”

Chapter 3: The uses of sidewalks: contact. –D&LoGAC.

More notes on Jacobs since her passing:


Michael Blowhard

Outgrowing Jane Jacobs and Her New York

Reason Obit roundup

Jane Jacob’s Memorial 

*Portland boosters should continue to read as she has much more to say on your city, and you’ll get no arguments stateside here.


Liability Insurance Anyone?

It’s First Thursday, and I think a lot of people are coming downtown, to see art on the notion (just like I did in my 20s), that they’re going to be getting a lot of free drinks. All fine and dandy I guess. Maybe years later someone will have a glass of wine and get the sudden impulse to be standing in a gallery or thinking about art. Perhaps.

On a related note, someone brought an article to my attention yesterday – on the topic of booze and art which I actually thought was hilarious- mainly as it’s spotted in the current Scientific America. Titled The Proof Is on the Painting, it’s a analytical piece on how chemically harmful food and booze could potentially be to works of art.

What prompted the article was the recent and by all reports out of control all-you-can-drink for $30.00 Martini-fest (First Annual) held at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Hmmm.

According to Scientific America:

Here’s the capsule summary from the Journal Sentinel: “People threw up, passed out, were injured, got into altercations and climbed onto sculptures.” Which is either really bad management or a fairly banal example of postmodernism.

The article goes on the entail what impact the contents of your stomach lining might have on your favorite work of art.
More fun reports from Milwaukee here and here. I love the fact there was actually a Chihuly in the building too during this raucous event.

Here is the Milwaukee Museum site…no mention of said fest remain.

Tacoma’s Critical Line

Those fine folks of artrod down in Tacoma, who bring you Tollbooth Gallery amongst other events have opened a new gallery space called Critical Line. From what I hear it’s a gorgeous space and will be officially opening this Friday.

“Please join us on May 5, 2006 from 6-9pm as we celebrate the opening of Critical Line and our inagural exhibition, Found Space! “

I was happy to see that Shift gallery mate, Kevin Haas is part of the inaugural festivities with a new piece being shown at Tollbooth and work at Critical Line.

More images can be found at artrod’s flickr site.

A few weeks ago, between that irresponsible moment when I was sweating out the deafening tax moment of April 15 and the second my sister said,”file an extension, duh“*… I decided I just had to learn a new piece of mapping software called Wayfarer. For kicks I mapped out everything I knew about the Tacoma art scene…things are looking pretty hopping down there from a cartographer’s perspective.

Yes, then I procrastinated enough to get a start on Seattle (still have a few blanks to fill in), and spent about 10 minutes thinking about the Eastside…which only resulted in a sad four dots. The software is pretty clunky still, but I wasted a good afternoon spinning my wheels in it. Then I think I spent the rest of the day complaining about how I never have any free time any more.

*actually, she didn’t say duh…but that is how obvious it should have been.


Very nice, shiny new Visual Codec, hot off the press.

Fine discussion panel with some online representation by some of our favorites and nice photos too, nice salute to the Flintridgers and some great photos by Alice Wheeler.

PS interview with Punch gallery too which I finally visited on Saturday, fine street level space, I spoke breifly with Punch member Jen Erickson whose small drawings I admire.

Punch website here.

I admire VC’s tenacity it takes to keep up with everything going on around here.

W/R/T David Foster Wallace

I came home from the library last night, started reading and couldn’t stop. I have the lastest David Foster Wallace book in my possession , Consider the Lobster, and feel regretful I have to go to work today.

This is a relief. After many years, after dodging through some not so bearable books (especially his short fiction Hideous Men, which I own, but couldn’t get through) someone decided to put together another chronicle of the essay pieces he has written for various magazines (including the surely it bombed idea– the only released via e-book “Up, Simba“, which finally you can actually read on paper). I have been a fan for a long time, but a very estranged one as in recent years he delved deeper and deeper into less legible territory. The stuff he writes for populist publications such as Harpers or Gourmet for some reason allow a passageway for his humor, which I find his strength. Or maybe I just like to be entertained.

More on this soon after I finish the book, most likely tomorrow….

Canaletto vs. The Tribbles

My co worker Amy yelled at me down the hall yesterday, asking me if I’d been to the new art show at the EMP. Of course I haven’t, even though I have been really toying with the concept of finally setting foot into one of Paul Allen’s museum’s. I told her on principle, I’d never been to the EMP because I found it insulting that it was terrifically over priced and additionally they never featured a free or reduced admission day. Being the fine coworker and fellow art enthusiast that she is, she totally agreed with me. However she said, she’d had an opportunity to go to one of the opening events for the latest venture: Double Take, and she said it was totally worth it just to see a Canaletto. I actually have no idea which Canaletto is featured in the show Double Take but Amy has me convinced it might be worth my while.

I got the full scoop, no bullshit report on how she sat through a five minute movie featuring the curatorial aspects of putting the show together (they obviously had to come up with an arching theme for the random collection to pull it all together), how she endured, for about five minutes the heinous head set lecture that accompanies the exhibit (after about five minutes she switched to the one produced for children but after two secondsof helium pitched vocals she silenced the mechanism all together. But then there wasthe Canaletto,that made the entire trip worthwhile. After she left the exhibit she was asked to participate in an exit interview, quizzing her on what she thought of the space, how the exhibit was put together, etc- which I find sincerely much more intriguing than anything else I’ve heard about the show. So yes, I will go for Canaletto and perhaps a few more amazing pieces that normally live behind closed doors normally in our fine city of Seattle.

I haven’t read much press on the show as I hate to have my brain flavored by other’s reactions (before concocting my own), however Amy’s full report has left me with enough bias and curiosity to actually make me want to go soon. And frankly it’s stupid to let my principles over admission prices keep me from seeing art that that isn’t likely to be on display in the region again any time soon. However, about those Tribbles….

Judy Glantzman at Betty Cunningham Gallery

Tonight, Betty Cunningham Gallery , in Chelsea opens a new show by painter/sculptor Judy Glantzman.

I wish I were there. Not only do I love Judy’s work, but in some regards have a huge line of thanks out to her for being a cultural buffer for me last summer when we were both teaching in North Carolina. I can’t decide if I have written too much or not enough about being in the South, but Judy― a born and bred Manhattanite was my huge breath of fresh air while there.

One of first our great conversations we were sitting in a small café in Sylva, North Carolina at night – catching up on shows we had both seen in New York. I asked her if she had seen the East Village USA show (I hadn’t) and she said, yes- “I’m in it”. (!) Whoops.

During our stay, I had brought some films with me to show as a film festival to the students, and one of the first ones- (regrettably horrible) was All The Vermeers of New York. However as some second hand history lesson, it featured Judy’s first dealer from the golden days- Gracie Mansion. We also watched the Basquiat movie, which as follow up to seeing the expansive show at the Brooklyn Museum was bittersweet. Possibly a good indicator of a great art film is it makes you want to paint.

Anyway, Judy was great company while she was there. Not only did we discover a low brow affinity for Adam Sandler movies, we ended up sharing a night at the Asheville Art Museum in some weird panel discussion, where we were supposed to comment on contemporary artists presented to us on the fly. She was gracious, and the only thing I remember from the night was getting dissed for not liking Richard Serra and saying the best thing about Matthew Barney was Björk.

Looking at the work presented in her latest exhibition, I note I took a very important lesson from her: Super Sculpey. Totally robbing her of the idea as a medium I made my latest works, knowing the medium was both packable (for long trips) but as I found also- unfortunately fragile.

Judy Glanzman, a very hardworking artist and real person, I raise my wine glass to you tonight. Cheers, hope all is well.

Judy signing prints in Cullowhee.


Lovely Boys and Flowers


I just got back from a quick outing to Western Bridge’s new exhibit Boys and Flowers. I have only one word: lovely. It’s a good thing I’m not a real art critic or I would be D.O.A.

There is something about going there- from moment of entry, I just feel content*, and I must give credit to Roy McMakin for his building. It’s so nice to be in a space where the art is installed with designs to let it breath. The rooms absorb traffic to the extent you feel you are the only one there, which is a greedy desire fulfilled. The True’s have done a very generous thing in allowing Western Bridge to continue to thrive and be a continuous batch of fresh air that I hope Seattle is appreciative of.

And yes, with magnolia and cherry trees coming to life right outside our windows, the thematic concerns of the exhibit are very timely. After such a long, dark, dreary, moist and dreadful winter, I’m sure we would be hard pressed to find any arguments from the peanut gallery. My personal favorite from this visit was Kutlug Ataman’s The Four Seasons of Veronica Read. However, I also found Jeffry Mitchell’s new piece byobu strangely beautiful and thanks to having read Christphoer Frizzelle’s heartfelt piece in the Stranger a week ago (concerning the demise of Club Z), I agree it could indeed be Mitchell’s Rosetta stone.

Jeffry Mitchell’s new installation juxtaposes a handmade Japanese byobu screen of molded paper with a vitrine containing ceramics in the vein of Chinese funerary sculpture―though this particular tomb is for a soon-to-be closed Seattle bathhouse, Club Zodiac. The form of the vitrine echoes that of Charles LeDray’s Milk and Honey, 1994-1996, an installation of 2000 minuscule ceramic vessels. The screen arranges a Mitchellian zoological garden―elephants with spurting trunks, bunnies, peonies―under a line from the Prince song “Alphabet Street.” The silkscreened pattern on the screen’s verso is modeled on a William Morris wallpaper design, which was also used on the cover of the Bee Gee’s album Main Course. The installation is a sort of Rosetta stone of Mitchell’s interests, linking Asian and European craft traditions, botanical and animal imagery, ritual ceremonies, sex, life and death.

from the nice map/handout that WB gives out at the front desk to help navigate the work.

Probably too much to have duplicated here, and I am not a huge fan of needing text to explain a work of art. In this case though, the background material made the piece all the richer. I was particularly struck how the work was given a large upstairs room all to its self, perhaps the last thing you find on your visit. The screen hiding the vitrine is placed almost to the far wall, adding the essence of surreptitiousness that Mitchell obviously meant to provoke. It’s timely, it’s pretty, it’s obsessive and it put a new spin on Mitchell’s work for me.

At any rate, I just wanted to briefly say, luckily this show is up until August 12, which gives you plenty of time to see the loveliness for your self.

I was curious too, here is the LeDray Milk and Honey reference:

*content, now there is another word that just isn’t allowed in the realm of critical theory.

con·tent2 (kən-tĕnt)

  1. Desiring no more than what one has; satisfied.

tr.v., -tent·ed, -tent·ing, -tents.To make content or satisfied: contented himself with one piece of cake.

n.Contentment; satisfaction.



The Written Journal

A discussion about what to do with all of your accumulated journals a week ago immediately brought to mind this photo of Anais Nin, her life’s work stacked safely in a bank vault. I was a huge fan of Anais all through out my 20s and some of my 30s, I am sure her writing and the what she conveyed as an expectation level of how an artist should live their lives influenced me heavily. I recall the summer I found a paperback diary of hers in a used bookstore in the University District here in Seattle, and ate it up.

I don’t recall if I actually read all of them but it was to a point where people would give me rare editions of her books as gifts. However, a fated day at the Strand bookstore in New York, probably eight years ago brought me Deirdre Bair’s huge examination of Anais’ life. Page after page unfolded the lies upon lies that were hidden from Anais’s published work. Perhaps that was not Bair’s intent, but I felt angry and betrayed. Perhaps I always thought it was feasible that I too would live in a houseboat, live a bi-coastal life and continue the life of a “boheme” forever. When I found out her carefree lifestyle was the product of an unmentioned banker husband and all kinds of other assorted pieces of unsavory evidence I felt betrayed. A book that was supposed to be about the honesty of a person’s life was really fiction. I was pissed. I sold or got rid of all of my Anais library, holding onto only the Bair book.

This weekend I was at Elliot Bay Books an came across one of her diaries in their used book section. I picked it up and looked at the cover, thinking maybe they would be of interest to reread from a new perspective. I couldn’t do it though. Too many other books to place my time into now. However, the thought of holding the act of keeping a journal up as a serious activity still resonates with me and for that I am still thankful.


Last night was so popular I couldn’t find a parking space. I thought maybe I had run into baseball season traffic or something…but no, the crowds came out in force to see art. I did a drive-by of a handful of galleries.

It was the opening of Foster White’s gallery relocation, now sitting side by side with the Greg Kucera gallery. The cavernous new space was a bizarre thing to enter after previously knowing Foster White as a small maze like set up. A running joke of the night though was allegedly signage on the gallery front says “Painting, Sculpture, Chihuly”. Perhaps the next generation will major in Chihuly in art school.

While I missed some new spaces that were right under my nose, like Punch, it was great to see some now established places like Platform really hitting their stride and packed to the gills.

Good news for fellow Shift Studio mates, Garth and Pierre, whose collaborative effort Inventory opened last night. Garth was just awarded a Fulbright to Mexico next year and Pierre last night missed going to the opening of Fresh at Elizabeth Leach Gallery which also features some of his work.

Stayed tuned, next week we’ll be heralding a new column looking at back at Seattle’s old art cosmos.