Slurp up all that color, baybee.
Slurp up all that color, baybee. Courtesy of Koplin del Rio
If you haven't yet heard, the winter solstice is upon us. And with that comes the Great Conjunction, when Saturn and Jupiter will align for the first time in 800 years. To mark the occasion, Pioneer Square art gallery Koplin del Rio is hosting its second annual Winter Salon exhibition with an emphasis on the Winter Solstice. The show brings together 30 works from 17 artists and explores the anticipation of brighter days and moving toward a more abundant future.

One of the artists featured in the show is Washington-born, Oakland-based artist Sean Howe. Howe had a solo show, Spillways, at Koplin del Rio this summer alongside Einar and Jamex de la Torre's Neopaganismo, which I had a chance to see in-person. I remember looking at Howe's work and immediately thinking juicy.

Can I live here?
Can I live here? Courtesy of Koplin del Rio
Howe's paintings are sumptuous and deep, easy to get lost in. The abstract landscapes are almost recognizable and poised to slurp you up into their mishmash of horizons. In Spillways, Howe connected his paintings to spillways built by beavers and humans within dams to relieve excess water. His work provides a similar function, instead releasing energy through paint.

We can see that idea at work in "Crawlers, Swimmers, Flyers," which was on view at his solo show and now also part of Winter Salon. It reminds me of a sunny day at the beach: an errant frog-leg, the hot sand, clusters of flamingos, the mouth of a giant whale, the bubbly surf.

But look at how the lines in the piece contribute to its sense of movement. The abstract swath of magenta and peach on the left side of the painting brings your eye to the gray block near the top. How the white blobs near the top seem to crash against the left side of the painting. The rigidity of the brown orca on the right of the piece, pulling our gaze upward.

All these factors—and the colors!—contribute to the dynamism of "Crawlers, Swimmers, Flyers." Even just looking at the painting on my computer screen provides some measure of relief on this unrelentingly gray Seattle afternoon that will, in less than an hour, turn to night.

Check out more of the artists and works in Koplin del Rio's Winter Salon here.