American Painting Today is a great big exhibition with a very official-sounding title. But the grandiosity, on paper, of an exhibition of 120 paintings by 90 artists, is exposed as something else: a precarious undertaking about to be wiped away, like the dusty, ugly Value Village store that used to be inside this same space on Capitol Hill. Artists have taken over this space and called it V2 for most of 2016. Now they'll have to leave, and the building will be redeveloped into something more expensive and more exclusive.
Seattle artist Matthew Offenbacher organized the show (which is sponsored by Hedreen Gallery) by inviting painters, who then invited other painters. The artists sent him what they planned to show, and then many of them turned to darker, more difficult pieces after the election. Coming together this way, they form a community-building exercise that also turns out to be a strong survey of the vast range of possibilities for what a painting can be.
A few standouts from the tile of 16 pictures above: Mark Takamichi Miller's terrible flayed woman based on a photograph he found online (see Rembrandt's famous flayed ox from 1655); Sasha Ferré's droll selfie portrait Me (I Mean You); the pairing (at the very bottom left) of Susanna Bluhm's snowy candy-city landscape with Buddy Bunting's desert prisons; Francisco Guerrero's grotesque Lady Liberty/cheerleader; and next to that (above Bluhm and Bunting), a black-on-black image by Vic Haven reminiscent of the New Yorker's Twin Towers cover, but this time, with evergreen trees instead of towers.
Another highlight, sharing the space with American Painting Today, is a mini-survey of videos, prints, and installations by Vis-à-Vis Society. It's such a pleasure to see a full collection of their works. Don't miss Down Hill in the stairwell.
The opening is during Capitol Hill Art Walk on December 8, from 5 to 8 pm.