Two Bears
"Two Bears" is "on view" at In Lieu Exhibition Space this month. Courtesy of Daniel R. Smith
In Lieu Exhibit Space is an Instagram-based project that popped up this month, featuring the works of Seattle artists who do not have gallery representation. It was formed in response to the month-long Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair (SDAF)—which was, itself, a response to the lack of a Seattle Art Fair—as a way to highlight work from a wider variety of artists during a time when the stability of the arts scene is in danger due to the pandemic.

The project is spearheaded by Ellen Ziegler, who has gallery representation but wanted to create a platform for artists who "deserve to be represented" in lockstep with the animating energy and spirit behind SDAF. Ziegler told me In Lieu, self-described as a "counterpoint" to SDAF, isn't meant to be a negative critique of brick and mortar galleries in the city, but rather a more comprehensive showing of what the Seattle arts scene has to offer.

Though this "space" is just an Instagram feed, it's intended to be a more casual form of discovery, one that lasts beyond August.

To find the artists included in the show, Ziegler reached out to people in her network, from friends to participants in exhibitions she's curated. One such person is Daniel R. Smith, whose nanoforest photo series appeared in the Ziegler-curated Repossessed exhibition at SOIL last year. Three prints—all for sale—are "showing" at In Lieu. Over the phone, Smith told me he has never had gallery representation and works full time as a graphic designer in the city.

The photo series was shot on a small plot of land outside his home in the Central District, which he outfitted to look like a forest, a bit of thick wilderness in a residential area. Currently living in a neighborhood that was shaped by redlining and having grown up on the Tulalip Reservation ("one of the most extreme forms of redlining you can experience"), Smith said he was thinking about land reclamation and his homeownership when approaching this piece.

"It's about what the land was, what it could be in the future once we're all gone," he said. Incorporating taxidermy, bright lights, heavy landscaping, and his sister (dressed up as bear) in some of the pictures, the series reflects Smith's personal history with that of the Central District. He said the project was like "creating my own mini-reservation in the city."

The work is delightfully surreal. It hints at its urban setting in the background with the wooden fence, but the flatness of the light gives it a diorama-like appearance. Though dealing with topics like gentrification, the series has a sly sense of humor, with "death" in one of the pictures giving a tattooed and playful "thumbs up" to the viewer.

Kimisha Turner is another artist that Ziegler invited to participate in the show. Despite being in a lot of different places this summer—from painting the "B" in CHOP's BLACK LIVES MATTER street mural to painting another mural down at Seattle Art Museum—Turner has never been represented by a gallery in Seattle. After graduating from Cornish twenty years ago, her focus shifted from art to supporting her family. But in March she quit her tech job to work on both her art practice and caregiving, just as the pandemic hit.

Turner told me that despite the uncertainty and stress the pandemic brought, it's given her an at-home audience for the murals and other mixed-media art she's been working on. She sees In Lieu as an opportunity for her to "tease" her work—and hopefully get a gallery interested in doing a solo show down the line.

"Pieces of Me" is part of a series of work called Carbon Copy, which Turner describes as being self-portrait. For the piece, she grew sugar crystals out of her parents' ashes, globbing them onto her own dreadlocks which she then stuck on top of a replica skull. Beads colored like the Nigerian and South Korean flags are along the skull's bottom jaw and upper forehead, a representation of her heritage. It's a compelling, glittering sculpture studded with gems that would be at home on an altar.

"These pieces are dear to me and I don't want them gathering dust and nobody seeing them," she said.

In Lieu Exhibition Space features over a dozen un-represented artists in the city and will continue to post work periodically until the end of the month—don't miss it.