Art from Both Places
The Startling Openness and Locked-Up Secrets of Klara Glosova
A person can have a whole lot of fun—and accidentally break a great many things—walking through Klara Glosova's show at Gallery4Culture. It's a treasure hunt of ceramics—charismatic clay sculptures scattered on the floors, propped against walls, perched on shelf edges. Some of the art is camouflaged, like the fourfold top of a cardboard box that got rumpled in the process of folding. You could swear it needs sweeping away, but it turns out to be made of clay and placed on the floor deliberately.
Glosova divided the show into two sides, domestic life versus dream life, and the L-shaped gallery lends itself to the division. On the Seattle scene, unlike most artists, Glosova has dual roles: impresario and maker. She created the NEPO 5K Don't Run, an annual walk studded with the contemporary art of dozens of local artists. She also hosts blowout one-night exhibitions in her Beacon Hill home, where her husband and two children also live. Art and performances have appeared next to the toilets, in the recycling bins, on the bed pillows, in the shower. The place is called NEPO House, a play on open house—and the extent of the openness can be startling. I've been on this woman's bed and in her bathtub. But NEPO House also reveals how little about a person's life resides on the surface. Despite having been to nearly every NEPO House event, I do not know the life story of Czech-born Klara Glosova. She has not deployed her home as an extension of her identity. She's used it as a site for reflection about art, which constitutes a quietly radical vision for an art that's intimate but not egocentric, personal yet collective. Glosova's art is never the center of NEPO events, because all the many artists are represented equally.
Entering Gallery4Culture—a public space distinctly different from her private home—feels like meeting her all over again, and oddly, more intimately.
Rather than the usual handout that lists the titles of artworks in an exhibition, Glosova hand-drew a map, turning art-viewing into a recreational adventure and abolishing gallery stuffiness. The pathway into the gallery is a procession of boys' athletic socks, made of clay. At the path's terminus, looking like they've also been tossed to the ground, there's a pair of girls' shorts, the manufacturers' tag painted precisely. Farther inside the gallery you find cookbooks, bedcovers, slippers, piles of folded clothes—a tour through anyhome.
Glosova has displayed her ceramic doubles of everyday objects before, but here she's synthesizing them with color photographs, esoteric texts written in ropy clay, and an abundance of sketches from her dream notebooks. The photographic prints are snapshots freezing fleeting views: a plant in full flower, the just-so way the moon hangs above that wintry tree. They're simple moments memorialized, just as the ceramics perpetuate simple objects soon to be outgrown, used up, and discarded.
Then comes the dream world, setting the plainness of the previous objects on edge. Fragments remembered upon waking fill an entire wall (though unfortunately, to preserve the notebooks, the sketches were photocopied). The sketches are tantalizing, never finishing the stories they start. With so many drawings and sculptures, there is so much narrative traffic in the gallery that the concentrated madness that derives from awakening from a dream gets diffused; the show could have used a good editor. Certain material stands out, like the wizened old cowboy—David Lynch-ian—who pushes toward you with his pointer finger an enigmatic red "Gift Card." Or the tiny, lumpen, seated figure appearing to shoulder an emotional burden more massive than someone that little can possibly take.
Glosova's art is feminist in that it links naturally to artists whose work has reflected on their day-to-day routines as mothers. Imagine her ceramics exhibited alongside 1960s acrylic paintings of laundry by Sylvia Mangold, Mierle Laderman Ukeles's art of performing chores and Mary Kelly's exhaustive Post-Partum Document from the 1970s, and Laurie Simmons's oversized dollhouse photographs from the '80s and '90s. One sculpture by Glosova, called The Dark Side and alone in a side area, is a pair of pantyhose stuffed with clay that unevenly encrusted and stained them. It has the grim, dingy reality of an Edward Kienholz assemblage.
When it's rooted in the groundless territory of dreams, Glosova's art is cryptic, locked in mystery, a heavy yet floating vault. But her son's dirty socks bring her screaming back to earth. "I dream like crazy," Glosova tells me. "Sometimes I feel real split, between two worlds." She made a good decision, to make art from both places.