crying and bleeding and tweeting in the rain at Dori Hana Scherers Never Eat Shredded Wheat at Glassbox Gallery
Dori Hana Scherer's piece "crying and bleeding and tweeting in the rain" in the exhibition Never Eat Shredded Wheat at Glassbox Gallery. Jasmyne Keimig
When I first walked into Seattle artist Dori Hana Scherer's Never Eat Shredded Wheat at Glassbox Gallery, I had to make sure that I wasn't in Los Angeles. There's a very LA-feel to this show, and I'm not sure that's a compliment. Maybe it's the white walls. The sparseness of the decoration. The implied weightiness of the text-based paintings. Or maybe it's the metal chain that's just hanging from the ceiling in one of the gallery's enclaves. I felt like I was in Kanye's Calabasas basement.

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In Never Eat Shredded Wheat (which comes from a mnemonic device to remember all the cardinal directions), Scherer is mostly interested in the aesthetics of early concept art and 1980s feminist art, concrete poetry, and Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophy of language. Basically, she's exploring the text as the thing itself, wanting you to encounter language in a way that isn't just understanding what it says but also what it represents. How its meaning can shift depending on the context of the encounter. This is an interesting concept. I like this concept. However, I don't think the show did enough heavy lifting to successfully communicate this idea clearly to the viewer.

"SO sO so So" and "i speak of cunt and i speak of death triptych (after Alejandra Pizarnik)" and...a "chair"

a corner of glassbox gallery
A corner of Glassbox Gallery. Jasmyne Keimig
There are certain things I like about the show—"crying and bleeding and tweeting in the rain," from above, is painted on a giant canvas that is then molded into a sculptural lump on the floor. The language is the surface of the canvas but also its form; it's a comment on the unfixed nature of language. Most of the text paintings in the show are done by Scherer's own hand, not a stencil, which gives them a less rigid quality. While text-based artists like Barbara Kruger undoubtedly had a lot of influence on the way we express ourselves in public spaces like Instagram, Twitter, etc., the way online emotional vulnerability is expressed in the show ("crying and bleeding and tweeting in the rain") doesn't feel entirely fleshed out.

I will say that this gallery environment makes you feel like you're walking onto a stage. I immediately attributed that aspect to Scherer's time working in the art department of films like Palo Alto and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. This middle section of the gallery feels like you're walking into a scene that someone just left. I think it's the chair in the corner, something I was a bit confused about, until Scherer explained to me that it's a nod to Joseph Kosuth's One and Three Chairs, an important example of conceptual art.

In Kosuth's piece, which consists of a chair, a photo of a chair, and a definition of a chair, he's asking the viewer which representation of the chair is most accurate. He somehow made the interpretation of a chair up for debate. It's playing with language in a way that makes something whir in your brain; it's clever.

But the connection between Kosuth's chair and Scherer's chair isn't really obvious. Other than it being an old-looking chair in a corner next the other artwork, how is it different from the chair behind the front desk? What, in the context of Scherer's work, is this chair adding to the conversation the show wants you to have? Intent and purpose seem to be a bit hazy in Never Eat Shredded Wheat and, for me, the inclusion of this chair represents the muddiness of a lot of the ideas conveyed in the show.

The same with the chain—its inclusion in the show feels a bit arbitrary. It's installed in front of a painting that quotes Wittgenstein: "My thoughts are 100% Hebraic." Scherer explained the chain to me as representing her links to the philosopher (they are both Jewish, and in that way they share a history).

"timeline" (the chain) and "my thoughts for (LW)"

Arbitrary chain. Jasmyne Keimig

The chain would have been baffling if the artist had not been in the gallery with me. While there were elements of the show I did like—namely the hand-drawn paintings—I found some of the more nebulous concepts presented harder to connect to and interpret.

Never Eat Shredded Wheat is up until March 17 at Glassbox Gallery.