The little white flecks stuck to Stephen Hilyard's flagrantly Photoshopped portraits of killer waves at Platform Gallery last week were not part of the art. They were bits of packing peanuts left over from Platform's preparation for Aqua Art Miami, the fair starting today that—with dozens of other art events in Miami this weekend—has by now largely evacuated Seattle of art types. Types, schmypes. There's still plenty of art here, starting with Hilyard's terminally romantic wave photographs. The amped-up pictures of deadly surf hang above small shots of signs designating the placidly named sections of L.A. Cemeteries, like "Slumberland" and "Resthaven."
Greg Kucera Gallery is showing prints by Robert Motherwell, whose 2-D abstractions, with their masses and voids, always seem to be straining to become sculptural. Meanwhile, upstairs, Seattle-based Scott Trimble built objects the way he might make a drawing, amassing lines of wood boards that vary in size from toothpick to gangplank. Trimble's ecstatic installation is a major expansion—more like explosion—of what he did at Crawl Space earlier this year. He has created a riot of architectural and sculptural forms that run along the Kucera walls and around the pipes like a band of rats on a sugar high. It's minimalism, maximalism, allegory, and the pattern-and-decoration movement all in one. Just look at The Warp and the Weft, essentially a wood weaving with a ski jump and a ladder.
(An aside: Kucera is a new member of the Art Dealers Association of America, selected by peers nationwide. Knowing Kucera's golden reputation, I at first considered this a nonstory. The real question is, what took them so long? Congratulations on an overdue honor, Greg.)
Media and its discontents are on provocative display at Seattle U's Lee Center for the Arts. Visible from the street is Tivon Rice's arrangement of school desks with computers set on them that feature the same boy's face moving through subtle expressions; but indoors, standing in front of the desks, you realize you're cast as teacher. James Coupe's silvery, singing boxes on the wall in Difference Engine are intelligent life forms: Each one is in charge of its own e-mail account and engaged in its own search for meaning on the web. Justin Beckman's entertaining project on the back wall reverses the making of an action painting using a clever device that exposes something virulent and funny about American life.
The sleeper hit of the moment is the CoCA annual. A long, thin fraying mattress spilling its guts is a roller coaster riding off the rails in Stephanie Robison's floor sculpture Mattressland. Every one of Shen Wei's photographs of strangers is charged. Robert Yoder's slightly spastic and gorgeously steely collages are revelations. I saw these works on a cold, edge-of-rain day, in weather I remember in shades of black and white, like Melia Donovan's box housing a high relief sculpture made of tiny parts that resembles the aerial view of a city painted white. If you step back and squint, the play of shadows in the box re-forms the source for the sculpture: a chilly photograph with a lonely tree.
A new In/Visible podcast is available for download every Thursday at www.thestranger.com/visualarts.