Visiting the City of Glass


If I have a crush on Portland, Oregon (and I do), then I have come to the conclusion this past weekend I’m having a full blown romance with my city to the north, Vancouver B.C. Luckily my love will probably never become a worn out thing as the possibility of myself ever living there is pretty much 0% (not being a Canadian citizen). However, is great to know only 120 miles separates me from this beautiful city that boasts unpasteurized cheese, the Canadian demeanor, bars playing Lacrosse on big screen televisions as opposed to Football, and more sushi than I could ever manage to stuff into my mouth. Lovely place and like Portland, it had been more than 15 years since my previous visit.

It was surprising to see Vancouver is a boomtown too, condominiums being raised into the skyline everywhere. Douglas Coupland wrote a homage to his hometown calling it the City of Glass, and rightly so. Silhouettes of erector sets dot the landscape everywhere, putting up new glass cased skyscrapers, the heavy design influence of Hong Kong.

As Marja-Leena reported on her web site, (and as we are experiencing here in Seattle as well) spring blooms seem to be coming up early everywhere, the weather has been so mild. It rained, but people were out in a flurry of activity. I mention the cheese, as it is illegal in the states, and if I had been feeling very defiant I could have purchased Cuban cigars as well. Travel always delineates the differences between holiday and routine, no matter how short the time span it consumes. You can’t help noticing the small details that make up someone else’s life. Yet, you are at the mercy of holiday time, sitting drinking coffee some place and noticing these things instead of doing your laundry- it’s a luxury.

We stayed at the handsome old Sylvia Hotel. I cite this because it put me in the place of a novel I once read by Anita Brookner titled Hotel Du Lac, where a woman sequesters herself in a hotel to escape her life. The Sylvia is right on the beach and most beguilingly had cocktails on its room service menu. A few months of that would probably do any one right. The rooms had some pretty wacky art on the walls that cracked me up:

Speaking of art and being in town less than an entire weekend, I randomly picked a few places to visit: The Helen Pitt Gallery which featured strange taxidermy as art. With this being the third time in the last few months I’ve seen taxidermy being used as a medium I wonder if Natural History Museum’s are being pilfered. I’ve heard Vancouver has quite the vital art scene and knowing the Helen Pitt is a non-profit and artist run gallery I’d be curious how much of a reflection the art work seen there holds to what else is being shown in the city.
We visited the venerable Vancouver Art Gallery as well. Unfortunately they were between exhibits and two whole floors were shut down, but this happens in the museum world. It was a cozy way to spend some time. I had actually been here a long time ago and it was nice to revisit the paintings of Emily Carr, now that I have better appreciation of her work in relation to history. Too short a stay, but glad to finally be reacquainted with the neighbors to the north.

Garden of Earthly Bytes

I know I have been beating this drum to death, but this whole 35mm vs. digital situation continues to intrigue me. Last week somebody told me that Kodak has stopped making 35mm slides. Perhaps they meant slide projectors, which they discontinued last fall. So I came across this little story about a gardening club lectures and how it appears people are embracing the bells and whistles of PowerPoint and leaving their clunky projectors in the dust bin.

First of all there is still the argument invariably by the experts that the digital specimen just doesn’t hold a candle to the venerable slide. At a grant workshop a few weeks ago, again it was stressed that you can utilize digital images to represent your work, but a projected 35mm slide is going to win quality wise every time. I guess we are now looking at our watches and biding our time when this too becomes arcane information.

Back to the gardeners:

In large auditoriums, where duplicate digital projections can be made, and in rooms that cannot be fully darkened, digital images are on a par with or better than slide film, said Rick Darke, a landscape photographer, writer and speaker based in Landenberg, Pa. Darke, with a library of 75,000 slides, plunged into digital photography five years ago and sold off all his film equipment on eBay two years ago.
His early digital equipment included a then-$4,000 digital projector, knowing that the venues where he would speak may not be geared for PowerPoint. Now, he says, it is the speaker arriving with a carousel of 80 slides who has to worry. “They’re scrambling around to find a slide projector and often it doesn’t work very well: the gate jams, the bulb has got a crack in it. What’s out there is quickly getting old and obsolete. The average venue isn’t going to be putting money into repairing that.”

By the way according to the article, Fuji and Kodak continue to make slide film, and have no current plans to end production.

Speaking of digital, fun (are you allowed to use that word?) to see Ivan embracing Flickr, I must confess I like it. The possibilities of what could be done with that software seem large.

Partly Cloudy

Debra Baxter’s weather formations are everywhere this month. As you head into the current show Seeing Green at Soil, a Baxter cloud hovers above your head as you enter. A few blocks over she has her own solo show at Gallery4 Culture aptly titled,” The Cloud That Fell To Earth” (the title based on the Tevis’ novel The Man Who Fell to Earth, but I think of it strictly as “The Bowie Movie“.)

The most ridiculous thing I can say about Baxter’s work is it reminds me of Polly Apfelbaum’s work – with the color removed. There is a sense of piecing together each cloud formation in the same manner that Apfelbaum composes her dyed cloth arrangements. Baxter also had work in last month’s Paperwork show at Platform. Baxter’s work is simple in concept but the forms take on a unique presence in installation. In the 4Culture show Baxter has photographed the variety of places she has placed the work, in kind of a pun on her own craft. The cloud is seen hanging from a tree or as kind of a parasol for herself- lifted above her own head. Spare yet billowy, Baxter fills a space with more than constructions; she actually gets at the essence of a cloud.


I applaud Eva’s idea for an upcoming radio broadcast titled: Be an Anonymous Art Critic (see her 1.25 entry). Unleash the unedited and possibly drunken artistic tongue.

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.

Stealing Beauty


Weighing in on the new exhibit The Triumph of Painting, The Guardian recounts all things Saatchi in a week long spree of articles.

Waiting in the wings, Dana Schutz will be featured in Saatchi’s part two of Triumph. Wow, how does she do it, success right out of the starting gate? *

Angle Magazine, way back in 2003 stated.” At twenty-six, mere months after her graduation from Columbia’s MFA program, Schutz has her paint-stained running shoes poised on the fast track of budding international stardom. It couldn’t happen to a nicer painter.”

Pointing more to the recent future (2004), Index Magazine interviewed Schutz about growing up in the midwest and having the benefit of an art teacher mom. Still no assessment of how someone shoots cannon ball fast into fame, so soon after dipping their big toe into NYC.
*Still muddled? Here’s your answer, on Columbia’s own web site: could it be connections?

Schutz does mention the reason she arrived at limbless figures the previous year was from being “really tense.” Perhaps it was reading commentary left on Dennis Hollingsworth’s blog, accusing Schutz of stealing ideas (!).

You most certainly know some thing is up if Eric Doeringer is making bootlegs of your work. Doeringer was recently on the radio program Studio 360 explaining his bootleg project. As he says on his site,” So far I’ve only had a couple of artists demand that I stop selling my Bootleg versions of their work.” Doeringer, who sets up shop bookseller-like, outside of big gun galleries is hardly more of a threat (with his 8″ x10″ reproductions) to an artist’s career than the postcard reproduction you can buy at your local museum. Who pray tell is doing this demanding?


Mary Ann Peters at Winston Wächter

For my money, the best show up in Seattle that nobody is speaking of is the small installation of Mary Ann Peters drawings at Winston Wächter “Lucky 7” exhibit. Peters was seen last month in Platform’s Paperwork show that featured two of her drawings. I managed to do a pit stop drive through of their gallery right before Christmas and found myself especially taken by her pieces. These are beautiful drawings underlining the eloquent skill of a mature artist.

Now Peters is featured in Lucky 7, at Winston Wächter’s large new gallery space (a few blocks down from their old space on Dexter- right next door to the Holiday Inn). A large scroll drawing (see on WW’s website) is one of the first pieces you see upon entering the gallery, and then more drawings which appear to be from the same series presented at Platform. Minimally secured to the wall with pushpins these delicate works on paper show Peters fluid and intelligent line work. As a long time working artist in Seattle, Peters was a recipient of a Neddy Fellowship in 2000 and has collaborated with choreographer Pat Graney. I hope to see more of her work soon.

Also included in Lucky 7 are some tile pieces by Ann Gardner that caught my eye. Gardner is another seasoned Seattle artist I’m glad to see receiving exposure. She was previously represented by Linda Farris and William Traver and is now on WW’s slate. Lucky 7 is an exhibit featuring only a handful of artists from their regular line up, I am not sure if it might be an introductory show for the others, or in the case of Susan Dory (repped by Howard House), just visitation rights.

At any rate, the trip to Dexter was worth it as I had hoped; Lucky 7 is currently up through February 1st.

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.

$39,999.99 (shipping and handling included)

Costco – the place to buy five pound tubs of butter, a years supply of shampoo and caskets has been moonlighting as a place to buy art for awhile now. This week though they really got down to business when they started moving Picasso.

According to reports:

“Picasso probably did it in a minute and a half, so it would be tough to sell this thing for more than $100,000,” said Bengis, who said Picasso probably bartered the drawing for services. “But Picasso’s work is the gold standard of art, in that the prices of his work, whether print or painting, increase every year.”
Costco, which also sells framed lithographs and prints by celebrated artists such as Marc Chagall, Fernand Leger and Henri Matisse, plans to increase and diversify its offering of fine art, although it has one stipulation: no nudity in the artwork.

Meanwhile, it is obvious artists who exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Sugar have been raiding Costco’s storehouse of sugar to create their latest works. Their latest exhibit, Gingerbread Houses By Contemporary Artists. The museum, which along with tooth decay is looking for a permanent home currently has an exhibit up at Terminal 2 East at Lindbergh Field.

Seattle, art, hammer away

The above image of Hammering Man falling over Seattle reminds me of a local bar that has parked outside its front door a construction of a likeable enough resemblance to Hammering Man. This version though, instead of wielding a hammer is pumping a beer all day long (Hammered Man). Same bar, you know the kind which is carpeted with peanuts on the floor, can be noted for the occasional hand written sign out front that says “Free Wife Inside, Take Her”, hardee har har.

The Seattle Weekly is running a series of articles this week about the current temperature of the Seattle art world. Roger Downey writes about arts funding, Andrew Engelson gives suggestions on how more people should be collecting art. My suggestion would be more actual coverage of the arts from the local critics so people know what is going on.

On the flip side, I’ve been enjoying the new local blog Art Collector who has been sharing thoughtful responses to what she likes in art. I appreciate how she optimistically states: “Fortunately Seattle has art everywhere – neighborhood coffee shops, restaurants, galleries. So I’m always entertained. ” See perhaps if you build it they will come.

Roger Feldman at Suyama Space

At the end of the month, Suyama Space, the beautiful exhibition space in Belltown will present a new installation by local artist Roger Feldman. The title of the exhibit is ROCK, here is their mini blurb:

The contemporary alternative gallery of Suyama Space, located at 2324 2nd Avenue in Seattle presents sculptor Roger Feldman in a site-specific installation entitled ROCK. The exhibition is open to the public January 31 – April 22, 2005. The Seattle artist will present an installation lecture at the gallery on Saturday, January 29 at 12 noon. Gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and admission is free to the public.

Feldman is described as being an architectural- constructivist sculptor, and with the creation of three separate structures going into Suyama, should be an interesting use of their cavernous exhibition room.

More on Feldman’s sculptures here.


The Grass is Always Greener syndrome:

I am very appreciative to be noted in Portland Art News latest installment, however I must note I am on the other side of the fence and currently feel it is Portland who has superior art offerings, or at least superior art enthusiam being generated from the local bunch. Just this morning in my inbox an email from Red76 Arts Group down in Portland regarding a Laundry Lecture they are holding tomorrow evening:

Laundry Lectures w/N.I.N.E
@ F & I U Wash
Wednesday, January19 6pm
28th st. (btw. E. Burnside and S.E. Ankeny)

Here is their back ground:

In the Fall of 2003 Sam and Laura were sitting in the Polish Laundromat (Laundry/Prania) around the corner from the then Red76 headquarters in Chicago, IL. They got to thinking about places you wait in. Places wherein their function is mainly sitting around for something to happen. From this the Laundry Lecture Series was initiated.

Why not set up a series of talks in your local Laundromat? Why even ask the owners? We didn’t. As long as you are a paying customer what’s to stop you from gathering you and your friends to talk about whatever you’d like, as the socks get lost, and your favorite pink t-shirt gets frayed one more time in the dryer? Nothing, we say. Go ahead, get your friends together, feel free to be open and honest wherever you are. Speak your mind. Share your thoughts: in Laundromats, on checkout lines, and so many other wonderful shared-use venues all over the world.

Please bring your laundry along to wash at all lectures in this series. Not only will you leave with a fresh perspective on the world, but a fresh perspective on your wardrobe as well.

at any rate, interesting stuff is definitely going on in both back yards. Please note the mention of the lovely Eva Lake on PAN’s list and rounded out by Jeff Jahn. I personally think the mere existence of PAN presents a strong case for its self as superior, by the fact alone there is enough material down in Portland’s art world to find satire in.

Recommended: Drawings at Francine Seders

I went to the very tail end of the opening of Drawings yesterday at Francine Seders Gallery. I highly encourage a visit to this show in the next month if you are a fan of the sport of drawing. I was particularly taken by Caryn Friedlander’s work, which is heavy in the mark-making division, and absolutely beautiful. I found her process reminiscent slightly of Susan Rothenberg’s large scale charcoal drawings. I was also glad to see James Deitz’s work, which could be situated in that same camp, using less abstraction though.
Francine Seders , who has had her own gallery for almost 40 years takes her artists seriously as well as the art they make. You will find she consistently mounting exhibits worth your time as a viewer.
The opening of Drawings was well attended. I did not run into Mr. Deitz, but as I snaked my way around the crowd I was appreciative of four young men engaged in a heavy discussion while looking at one of Friedlander’s pieces. After making my way upstairs and back around the main gallery for another look, they were still at it. I’ve probably said this before, but it is certainly not a coincidence that Seder’s church like gallery is open to the public on Sunday.


So I didn’t make it to my Modern Matriarch’s show at MoNA. Time seems to be increasingly fleeting on the weekend especially when I am being greedy with my own studio hours. Factor in a four hour round trip drive on icy roads and…well maybe next weekend. I was looking forward to seeing that group of artists at their reception though.

For fun, here is one for Todd: Is figure sculpting dead?. These kind of conversations remind me of that game from childhood Gnip Gnop.

and one last thing, as Tyler mentions in his post today, there is some strange sorting out going on over here in Seattle in attempting to answer the question: how to bring a donor’s wish to fruition by using his $1M grant for a public fountain (parameter: must contain naked man).
The good news, Louise Bourgeois is short listed as the chosen artist for the project. As noted Saturday in the PI:

“The Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park is in final negotiations with Smailes’ lawyer and New York artist Louise Bourgeois, allowing her to create a fountain featuring two male nudes.The contracts have not been signed, but sources involved say the artist has agreed to create the sculpture for the waterfront park opening in 2006. ”

Yes, please.

What to do with old work?


I have been sifting through the stacks that have piled of old work. What to do with it?

I have some really large drawings that I did in after living in NYC for 3 or 4 years. I had become obsessed with nature, feeling particularly deprived. I did these large charcoal drawings of bird houses- at human scale. I only showed them once, at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis. So I think I still like them-they’ve been rolled up in a tube since- moved from one storage place to another.
After that wall space or floor space to produce work at that scale was non-existent as I closed that studio making tiny panel paintings in a small corner of the apartment.
Should the drawings languish?

Sometimes I hold on to old work just as a reminder of what the hell was I thinking or on the flip side the piles of life drawings from this era remind me I wasn’t totally stagnant. Other times I just get rid of stuff I really hate-or in practical moments I’ve turned large panels (actually hollow doors) over and used them as worktables.

Cleaning up the studio-these are the times I envy writers or those that follow less “thing oriented”, conceptual work. To those that can place their entire life’s work on a CD or just cart around a laptop, I am envious. Us painters and drummers hauling around all that stuff- then just add a little turpentine to the responsibility. For gods sake, I won’t even go into the needs of sculptors. I live with one who hung up his sculpture hat and always threatens to take a load to the dump. No! I say.
Still one wonders the burden of these things we make.

Things to not think of in the studio:

Artists are often concerned with the archival quality of their work, yet museum storerooms continue fill up with unseen works and landfills pile high with discarded work. As a young retail clerk in an art supply store I remember being pointedly amused by people buying shopping carts of acrylic paint and stacks of foam core only to tell me at check out to “save the bag— to save a tree”.

Cold snap work arounds

The cold has been really fucking with my drying times, both in pouring slip and in painting. I have a whole routine down to a science now with the molds, come home from work, pour, let sit for in the garage for four and half hours, dump and let the shell sit in the mold in the kitchen over night. In the morning every day is like getting an Easter egg prying that thing out of there. Clean up the seams while drinking that coffee. If I fall asleep too early in the evening – don’t do the dump, the shell gets too thick and I’ve made yet another door stop— much to my vast annoyance. For awhile I was just leaving them out in the garage and they’d keel over still fat and wet even after an all nighter. A very slow going learning process.

Painting right now, luckily working small so the heat register in the bathroom is fueling its magic. It’s also blowing the fine smell of medium all over the house but option B – leave piece out in the studio is akin to refrigeration, it’s probably colder right now than our own in house appliance. There’s a heater in the studio but it’s just blowing out little whispers of heat. The challenge is to figure out how to work hovered smooshed against the wall with hands poised against the heat outlet. Bundled in hat, gloves and coat. I can’t imagine people surviving cold-water flats; I am such a wuss.

raise your hand


I went to a grant workshop last week for artists. The person giving the workshop asked for a show of hands how many of us were painters. 98% of the room put a hand in the air. Musicians got two, performing artists, just a few. Then he asked how many sculptors. One lone person up front raised up her pinky finger.

Footnote: It was not I that lone voice. I raised my hand with the rest of the painters. It’s a weird psychological thing, how you end up slotting yourself, or even feel about how you spend your time in the studio. Just because I’ve painted for a long time (drawing conveniently falls into that category too luckily) that is what I think I should be doing. I have spent more time in the past few months pouring things into molds, and am hoping to cast some more soon to make even more (production is down!). Yet in my minds eye they are containers for color. Pretty silly, but something to think about, of course it doesn’t matter.

dusting off the cobwebs


Assessing the damage of falling off production. And doing a little house cleaning and tidying up around here to get the New Year off to a good start. I thought it might be fun to try out flickr as loading photos is a chore I would love to find an easier solution for this month. Well see how it goes.