First Thursday in February

5 Feb

well it’s never an easy time of the year to have an opening. people are still paying off their credit card bills from christmas and the stores are pressuring us to buy our partners something special for Valentine’s to prove to them how much we love them. i think Ze Frank summed it up best, we should have to prepare for valentine’s day as if it were a test. so we spend the entire year buying gifts and giving massages to hopefully hear on February 14th that we have proven our love – not this one day a year scramble to purchase some pre-packaged love stock!

but this post isn’t about valentine’s day, aka hallmark day… no, it’s about seeing some art. i spent a good portion of my day today behind the lens of a camera trying to take artful pictures, so composition, form and execution have been on my mind. but after such a long day, i was hoping to see someone surprise me with a good February show – and i got what i wanted. i also got some that i didn’t…

so of course i had to stop into the Gilt Club and snack it up snacky style. i felt no remorse while savoring the delicious milk braised veal with beets and kale – oh man, i’m still full from it and i want more. that’s how fucking good that was! i’m also back now for some post game drinks so it might be a little heavier on my mind for that reason, too! : )

anyway, it was raining pretty good when i made my way on to the scene and i was slightly stumbly from all the tasty morsels – which is a good balance for walking through Old Town – just look out for vomit piles (i’m not kidding).  i stopped in just a few this spaces this month – the crowds are less intense during these drippy days, but that just draws more attention to me. so i try to go see the ones that look really good or really bad… the rest aren’t worth the effort it takes to be politely silent while walking in and walking right back out.

Artist: Sterling Lawrence "Untitled 1 of 5", 2008, mdf, formica, paper, urethane, 25 x 25 x 45 inches

so at the top of the lame list was the work over at Half/Dozen in the Everett Station. i will say this, their presentation is definitely of higher quality than a lot of the galleries in this building, but they need to take some of that common sense and apply it to the art they are showing. the garbage bag sculpture was nice and shiny and crumbly, but it didn’t make up for the rest of the show. the exhibit title, The Quadratic Logogram of Almost Everything, was definitely the most interesting part of all.

next up was the gallery, Garbageman Astronaut (not related to the prior show) and at least there was some craft here. however, i personally find it irritating when galleries/artist choose to use numbers with a list at this level. is a tag really going to take that much away from your work – so much that you have to make people search for a piece of paper with the work titles on it (usually smudged with greasy paw prints and stained with cheap wine) only to find that there are no prices at all – what the fuck?! just display the names by the pieces on the wall and let people understand what the hell you are doing. not everyone who buys or appreciates art went to art school – consumers need to be spoon fed sometimes.

i’m sure people will hate that i say that about spoonfeeding buyers – but you know what, that’s how a lot of big galleries sell work. they shove it down the throats of the people stupid enough to listen. just because it’s 50,000 and showing in a fancy space doesn’t mean it’s an amazing piece of art history. and just because it’s hanging in a 150 sq/ft spot where earlier that day a bum snapped one off in the doorstep, that doesn’t make it any less worth appreciating or buying!

that being said, i didn’t hate the work at Astro-G-Man gallery. the show itself felt a little disjointed and you should never put a giant sculpture in the middle of a room that can only accommodate 15 people in the first place. however i felt like there was some good craft at work here. one of the pieces definitely reminded me of some Tom Sachs stuff – i’m willing to bet the influence is unintentional.

funny side note – as im sitting here writing this, a good friend mine came up to me who i hadn’t seen in a while telling me that he was here meeting some friends at their gallery… guess which one?!  zoinks!

anyway back to it. so earlier my friend and restauranteur Jamie, recommended that i go check out his friend’s show down the block.  i’m always a little reticent about recommendations, but thankfully this one was spot on. the wonderful watercolor work of Alexandra Becker-Black at the In House gallery, was a truly a delight to behold. i usually don’t get excited about watercolor work, but when it’s done well it can really be amazing. the subject was nude woman… meh… don’t get me wrong, i like nude women, but it’s just so academic – plus everything that my father creates (who is a professor i might add) is pretty much inspired by the female form – i’ve been looking at naked ladies for a loooong time.

this piece is from her website - I didn't get a clear shot of the work at the show, so go see it in person!

regardless of my lack of enthusiasm about the subject, the near perfection of the execution had my brain bubbling! such simple, intentional movements with the brush and ink – so sensual and so subtle made me question whether these were digitally enhanced (what can i say, i spend a lot of time each day doing that kind of stuff so it’s always a thought when something looks too good). but there’s nothing fake about these pieces. gorgeous!

my only complaint would be the seemingly random blops of ink that were alongside these beauties. someone with as much skill as Alexandra could hardly make some something so random… i almost feel like those elements are signs of a lack of confidence in the work itself. as if the artist felt these legitimized the piece. for me, they didn’t need it at all.

the final gallery i’ll talk about tonight – if you are even still reading – is Fifty 24 PDX gallery at Upper Playground. the show by DIA titled Keys to the City was definitely my speed. dark and beautiful illustrations on doors, scrap wood and paper. the line work was a little rough but eligant as the multitude of images, shapes and textures wound around and most of them ultimately took the form of .. you guessed it, keys! i love this gallery because it expresses (almost) exactly what have always tried to encourage which is that these new forms of artistic expression are just as valid as the rest and that the best way to mingle them with the minds of the masses is to present them in a forum which they already associate with art.

6' x 3' aprox

Upper Playground is not a gallery first and a t-shirt company second – quite the contrary. they don’t shy away from their roots. instead embracing their heritage and celebrating it through the presentation of the vary artists that helped make them the t-shirt mogul that they are. nothing but mad respect for what these guys do and if i didn’t have a kid on the way (and some disposable income) i would have bought a piece from DIA tonight. but i do. and i didn’t. so i’m writing it up here to help promote. i have a feeling that this work wont be left on the walls when it’s all said and done.

well that’s it from me folks – i’ve got to pee like a pregnant lady (and i know what that means to say that, too) so it’s time to close up the laptop and call it a night. until next time, go out and check out the local art in your community. some of it’s good, some not so much but all of it entertaining!

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