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.