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.

Being Gustav Klimt


I loved Being John Malkovich, although Malkovich himself I find hard to stomach sometimes (obviously the point of BJM).
I truly love Gustav Klimt’s work, although the poster industry has done a pretty good job of ruining him by sanctioning far too many dorm rooms with The Kiss.

But Malkovich as Klimt, I might not be able to suspend reality long enough. At least they are filming in Vienna. I guess I am coming to this party late as I see now the news about a Klimt movie has been hatched since July 07, 2004 (according to SurfWax).
Film synopsis: A portrait of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt (Malkovich) whose lavish, sexual paintings came to symbolize the art nouveau style of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Footnote– Malkovich is also starring in this year in Art School Confidential, coming to you from the Ghostworld team of Daniel Clowes/Terry Zwigoff.
Film synopsis: Convinced that art school will put him on the path to fame, Jerome (Minghella) must come to terms with his anemic talent, as he watches the girl of his dreams fall in love with another student. Then, strangely, he’s arrested as a suspected murderer – only to discover that crime might actually pay.

PS. Pretty funny Metafilter exhange on Klimt including the dorm room reference I was praying for and and a tip off to the book The Painted Kiss (a genre of books I have resisted so far).

Annotated super footnote, I guess I’m on a roll here. ..I saw an amazing exhibit in 1997 in Amsterdam called Wenen 1900: Portret en interieur that literally gave me goose bumps. Two flights down (this was at the Van Gogh Museum) I had been windy winding my way around the huge crowds out to see Van Gogh, as always- hard. Upon entering the top floor though I found this showcase of Vienna Secession artists , forgetting my irritation as I was literally blown away. There were KlimtsSchielesKokoschkas and many of the not so well knowns such as: MollGerstl,Boeckl.
I have the catalogue which is the only reason my memory is serving me so well at the moment; unfortunately it is in Dutch, which in the last 8 years I have failed to learn. The decorative arts in the exhibit were additionally to die for. A wonderful sense of design went into everything from the mustard pot to your door handle. I’m really such a sucker for this whole era.
When I visited the Neue Gallery in NYC for the first time and saw more art from this same period (including an entire room of Schiele drawings) I had almost the same reaction. I’m sure this has been on my mind lately after reading Roberta of artblog’s posting about her recent visit there. It’s quite the gem of a place if you have any interest in German or Austrian modern art. I would link to their website but it appears to have disappeared.


After watching the news for too long,and seeing various internet thought lines cropping up….I am-

Hoping for a little more compassion and dignity out of people… a little less cheap sentimentality and vicious fanaticism.


Julie Heffernan at P.P.O.W. gallery

At the other end of the aesthetic spectrum from Mr. McCarthy, is the extraordinary painter Julie Heffernan. We found ourselves a few blocks down the way from the New Museum at a Soho’s,P.P.O.W. gallery.

Until a couple days ago,I was not even aware there was not only one, but two shows of her painting in NYC this month. As usual it is always a treat to see her work. In my humble opinion, she is the most talented painter on New York’s horizon. This new work retains its wonderful organic focus,continuing to combine those elaborate Velazquez suggestive self portraits with nature(and landscapes). This time around though she has snuck in bright pigments(lots of pinks hues)and additionally found a way to return to those strange allegorical “paintings-within-a-painting” that I first witnessed at the beginning of last decade. I almost missed this show (it all comes down in a couple of weeks) which I would have really kicked myself over later.

I feel very fortunate that I had the good luck to stumble upon her work eight years ago,for it has been fascinating to see how she has evolved. Her technique alone is phenomenal, I don’t know who as a contemporary, in this country anyway, would be considered comparable. As usual I find it really surprising she has not had more critical attention, although I suppose her quiet subject matter (oriented in the manner of seventeenth century still life painting) doesn’t qualify as hype provoking. All the better for viewers.

At any rate I could go on and on about the pleasure her work brings. A second exhibit of her painting can be found uptown at Littlejohn Contemporary Gallery, which I am hoping to grace with in the next week. At P.P.O.W. I purchased a catalogue of this new work for a reasonable $10.00.


March 5, 2001



not so bad after all…

Reality Check

Yesterday, while standing in line at the grocery store for what seemed to be standardized eternity, I picked up a copy of the recent Vanity Fair for leafing purposes, and came across a 2 page blurb about the “hot” Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Not that this is new spin. But Oh Lord, I thought,what if all these hipster want-to-bes could be here with me right now? Buying rotten produce in depleted aisles. Squeezing past all the empty carts in the store strewn in every possible direction. Rolling their eyes at the high school cashiers, who really don’t give one damn. Watching the asbestos stirring semi-trucks barrel down the street, and to be listening next to me, right at that very moment- to the store manager, for when an elderly woman complains to him what a poorly run grocery it is,he tells her in condescending tones,”How did you get to be so miserable, lady?”.


March 2, 2001


In Praise of Meat

I don’t know,could any thought be more delicious than having a meat-filled day on this first Friday of Lent? Sausage,steak and eggs? Beef jerky, hamburgers, corn beef hash and then a quiet dinner,just you and a pot roast?

I just had to meander into the world of carnivores- in dedication to all that is meaty.

Moonmilk’s “Meat Bubble Chamber” from the three part series: Meat on the Move”.

The Institute of Official Cheer’s Gallery of Regrettable Foods:Meat Cookbook

Two briefs: history of meat and foul

Disgruntled Housewife’s Heavenly Meatloaf

What’s for lunch Richard I? Mmmmmmmmm.

P.S. As if to curse me, Fox is running the Lisa Converts episode right now!

February 27, 2001


Praying for a flashback to 1992- when they didn’t exist in NYC…

Recently, I’ve noticed a completely unscientific but optimistic trend in my workplace: the barrage of Dunkin Donuts coffee cups littering fellow coworkers desktops and garbage. This welcome sight seems to follow a general consensus, finding it is a far superior beverage to that other product.

On to other related, but belated topics:

The article that ran in last Friday’s edition of Salon analyzingHugh Rodham, gets the “two-pint-Chubby-Hubby-with-extra-sprinkles” award from Dangerous Chunky.