It’s First Thursday (although it seems like it’s been May forever already) and there are a number of exhibitions opening tonight in Pioneer Square. Not the least among them, this time, is a pair of outstanding shows at Davidson Galleries. (Full disclosure: I work at Davidson, but I handle antique prints and don’t work directly with the contemporary artists. As always, these are my personal opinions.)
As I have mentioned before, I think John Grade is one of the most interesting—and perhaps definitive—artists currently working in the Northwest. He specializes in sculptures that endure a variety of natural processes between exhibitions, such as Fold, an organic lattice of varying density wood designed to be buried in the desert and partially destroyed by termites, or Collector, a pair of oversized wooden tusks that has been alternately anchored to the bottom of Willapa Bay for 16 months and lodged in a slot canyon in southern Utah since it was last exhibited at Davidson Contemporary in 2007. The once-clean surface now reads as a weathered palimpsest of time, decay, and organic processes.
Grade’s current show at the original Davidson Galleries location on Occidental provides documentation of these processes in the form of slick, gorgeous photographs; their presentation on the patinaed walls of one of the oldest galleries in the region (in a building which has housed both a pool hall and a jazz club during its century of use) provides additional counterpoint on the theme of time, erosion and evolution.
Another piece, described by one SLOG commenter as looking like a rock climbing wall, is actually an illuminated rubber grid of human lips cast by the artist himself (designed, of course, to be frozen and unfrozen on a glacier). Mine are in there. (If you need help finding them, or yours, there’s a key.)
In the back half of the gallery is an exhibition of recent monotypes by California printmaker Kevin Fletcher. Kevin’s haunting, complex compositions are evocative of architecture that is simultaneously being built and coming apart at the seams. They are created both additively and subtractively; meaning that the artist begins with a fully or partially-inked printing plate and uses scraps of matboard and other tools to push pigment around dig the white space out of the darkness. The images are beautiful; knowing about the process (and that there is no photography involved, despite their often high degree of realism) makes them amazing.
Other highlights for this First Thursday include an opening of sound artist Yann Novak’s Relocation at Lawrimore Project, Zac Bent’s Buffalo Trace at Gallery 4 Culture, an exhibition of member-artists working outside their comfort zone at SOIL, and Grätüitöüs Umläüt, a group show about heavy metal culture curated by Jacob and Justin Gibbens at PUNCH. This last show features work by Seattle favorites Dawn Cerny and Garek J. Druss, as well as a promising roster of artists from the outside world. Finally, at James Harris, promising solo shows by Beth Campbell and Claude Zervas play on abstractions of organic geometry.
See you tonight!