704 Terry Ave, 622-9250
* MARK RYDEN
In a giant and welcome leap, the Frye exhibits one of pop surrealism's finest painters. With Wondertoonel, Ryden goes well beyond easy kitsch, drawing on a tradition of underground art that nods to everything from Bosch and Dali to Little Golden Books. He produces painstakingly painted canvases of big-eyed children in environments rat-packed with nutty and telling details. Through Feb 13.
HENRY ART GALLERY
15th Ave NE and NE 41st St, 543-2280.
* AXEL LIEBER
The German artist's monumental and awe-inspiring installation Release is currently on exhibit and not to be missed. He will be working in the Open Gallery, creating new work through Dec 17, in view of the public. Lieber lectures about his stunning sculptures on Thurs, Dec 9, 7 pm. Through May 1, 2005.
* W.O.W. (THE WORK OF THE WORK)
Chief curator Elizabeth Brown organized this spectacular new show, which features the work of Kimsooja, Steve McQueen, Catherine Yass, James Turrell, Hannah Villiger, and Gary Hill. The connective tissue between all the disparate strands of the exhibit is the viewer's response, which can move from meditative to agitated and back again, and Brown's unerring eye for the way art works us. Through Feb 6.
SEATTLE ART MUSEUM
100 University Way, 654-3255.
SPAIN IN THE AGE OF EXPLORATION 1492-1819
The exhibition features more than 100 works of art and science, including sculptures, tapestries, maps, armor, and paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, Titian, El Greco, Gianlorenzo Bernini, Diego Velazquez, and Francisco de Goya. Through Jan 2.
* ANIMAL INSTINCT
Who doesn't love stuffed animals (and by stuffed I do not mean taxidermied)? Just in time for the Christmas season No Space mounts Animal Instinct, which features handmade stuffed animals by artists Bree Nichols, Ryan Lincicome, Anna Weber, Kevin Willis, Matt Moroz, and Jody Fausett, whose contribution includes animal constructed from his mother's old cheeerleading uniforms, which is the blend of crafty and creepy that sets my heart aflutter. Opening Reception Thurs Dec 9, 8-11 pm. No Space, 534 Summit Ave E, 709-8780. Through Feb 3.
* URSULA GULLOW
There Is Little Sense in Having Arrived Anywhere is a mural installation about selling out with a title worthy of a Lydia Davis short story. The mural is 12 feet by 6 feet and divided into 32 square panels that are for sale--hence selling out. Opening reception Fri Dec 10, 6-11 pm. Aftermath Gallery, 928 12th Ave, 709-9797. Through Jan 10.
ILLUMINATOR2 ANNUAL CHRISTMAS SELLOUT
You can't blame artists and galleries for wanting to cash in during the season of virgin births and absolute capitalist whoring, and here is another show aimed at some holiday register ringing. There are design objects, photos, birdbath periscopes, contemporary jewelry, and lots more. Opens Fri Dec 10. Illuminator2, 1501 Pike Place #321, 778-7520. Through Dec 24.
Bridges and Branches is an exhibition of old and new paintings. Artist reception Sat Dec 11, 7-10 pm. The Palm Room, 5336 Ballard Ave NW, 782-PALM. Through Jan 8.
* JOE NEWTON, MICHAEL LEAVITT
Former Stranger art director and esteemed artist Joe Newton and shit-stirring sculptor Michael Leavitt deliver the last show of 2004 at Roq la Rue. Newton's new series of narrative paintings Babes In the Woods tells the story of two children who wander in the forest and don't come out again. Newton uses Japanese comic imagery painted on found wood with acrylics and automotive primer for an aesthetic that could be called "Appalachian Superflat." Leavitt takes hilarious swipes at commercial artists he views as sell-outs in totemic sculptures. His targets include R. Crumb and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Opening reception on Fri Dec 10, 6-10 pm. Roq la Rue, 2316 Second Ave, 374-8077. Through Jan 5.
* TONY WEATHERS
Yes, Oui, S,; Waiting Room is a site-specific video installation about ownership. Opening reception Sat Dec 11, 6-9 pm. 1506 Projects, 1506 E Olive Way, 920-8618. Through Jan 9.