Seattle Galleries- January

For everyone that keeps stating that January is the quiet or the dead season in the art world, I call bull. In my personal opinion that term belongs to the god-forsaken month of August. As proof, I found some interesting exhibits in the local galleries last Friday worth mentioning.

As most of the rest of the United States was getting ready to be hit by harsh winter weather, it was strangely warm in Seattle for January. With people eating sack lunches in the little downtown pocket parks and looking bewildered as they peeled off their too hot winter coats –always the cynic, I squinted through my sunglasses thinking only of one thing- thanks global warming!

Two star exhibits of the day, Debra Baxter at Gallery4Culture and Francis Celentano at Bryan Ohno Gallery.

First things first, the Celantano show is a strong exhibit by a painting veteran. His two dimensional work, full of vivid color has been paired with sculptural columns that vibrate across the gallery. I was impressed. The most appropriate comment heard that day was a fellow gallery goer asking if this show was catching any of the impact witnessed over at the Wright Exhibition Space, where the Wrights have mounted an amazing show of their Color Field painters. The answer can probably be found somewhere in this article about Celantano the Seattle Times ran a few weeks ago:

In Celentano’s case, op art never would have survived if he hadn’t left his stark loft in Manhattan and taken a job teaching in the School of Art at the University of Washington. After a brief flurry of shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (which included Celentano) and a big splash in Life magazine (which did not), the quite promising international movement fizzled and flopped to be quickly supplanted by pop art and minimal art.

Luckily galleries around the city are opting for longer runs with their shows; in this case the Celentano exhibit is up through 2/26.

(some photos I snapped from my meanderings).

A minor segue here– I visited the Wright Exhibition Space a couple of weeks ago to catch their exhibit Color Field Paintings and Related Abstractions currently up on at their Dexter exhibition gallery. As always, it’s a pleasure to step into their large quiet space to view a slice of their collection. A nice little pamphlet has been produced to go with this exhibition, with a two page essay written by Virginia Wright herself:

“Matthew Kangas and Bagley Wright have been after me for some time to organize this show because our collection includes many Color field paintings. They felt that after some thirty years, it is time to take another look at these “merely decorative” works. As a new century begins, we will perhaps begin to look back at the 20th century with a new eyes, and Color field painting may get a reprieve.”

It is an amazing survey. I was surprised by the fact my own personal favorite was also the image they chose for the cover of their brochure, Helen Frankenthaler’s Venus Revealed (helpful I know, I don’t have any images to give you). I was also pleased to see a Motherwell, a Larry Poons who is instantly recognizable with those little ovals of color, as well as some of the Morris Louis paintings. Also included are paintings by Tom Holland, Kenneth Noland and Jules Olitski, as well as a sculpture by John Chamberlain. Suprised by Frankenthaler because she is not someone I am normally drawn too, maybe I just haven’t seen enough of her work. Some artists become known over time for very specific types of work,and often there is much more.

More gallery hopping rehashing soon, including a thought or two on Debra Baxter.

In the mean time, read Artdish’s very nice, as always well written piece on Billy Howard in their latest installment of their journal.