While I felt genuinely enthusiastic about supporting artists whose work I liked, I always preferred going to galleries or museums on a quiet Saturday, moving and drifting through the spaces at my own pace without having to navigate awkward interactions or run-ins. Connecting with the work is what's most important—everything else can feel like a distraction.
But last night, while attending the first official Pioneer Square Art Walk since the pandemic began (which also served as the launch for the Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair), I felt silly about my previous misgivings.
I happily sweat ever so lightly in Pioneer Square's tiny galleries; roamed the neighborhood's cobblestones, looking for a free cup of wine (which I never found); pleasurably avoided the people I wanted to avoid; and took in art IRL next to living (and masked-up) patrons. Their body heat, errant observations, and awkwardness are part of what makes looking at art so much fun.
My one complaint: The art walk's time window is ridiculous for anyone who works a desk job—running for only TWO HOURS from 6 - 8 PM like we are good little NUNS who must get home before dusk.
But since it's literally my job to be at these things, I arrived around 6. Here are some quick takeaways (and LOTS of pictures).
Filling the downstairs space is a solo show of paintings by Portland artist Lisa Golightly. Her subjects and compositions are a little out of focus, based on found photos that all have a kind of generalness. While viewing "Secret Garden," I astral-planed to the summers when my family would visit my dad's grandfather in extremely rural Zenda, Kansas. It always seemed stuck in the '60s. Midwest plains have nothing on the lushness of Golightly work, but this painting's sense of privacy reminded me of that forgotten Kansas memory.
Upstairs, the work of Justin Duffus and Klara Glosova sat opposite each other in Blur Gallery, a space for emerging artists inside of Linda Hodges Gallery. As I looked at Duffus's fun and watery paintings, the women next to me marveled at details in "Bachelorette II" I hadn't noticed—a poster in the back, which was a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey game but with a dick instead of a tail and a dude instead of a donkey. And on Glosova's side of the gallery, I got emotional looking at a monotype called "Anthropologists II." Though the piece is from 2019, my pandemic-addled brain immediately connected the piece's PPE-clad figures to the present. Will I get emotional every time I see a respirator now? Fuck.
For the grand reopening of Pioneer Square Art Walk, the Alliance for Pioneer Square set up free live music and a hot dog stand in Nord Alley, on the same block as the generally pretty sleepy AXS Gallery. From 5 to 9 PM, bands shook the (mostly unreinforced) brick buildings in the area, generating a vibe clash of LOUD-ASS PUNK and delicate flower gallery that I think the art walk sorely needed.
I caught only one song from The Convictions because, again, the art walk is criminally short! I also forgot to get my free hot dog, but I did witness a human being happily eat a dog treat (?????) which assassinated my appetite. An Alliance rep assured me the music and food will be back next month.
Over at SOIL Gallery, artist Forrest Perrine's tiny show Holding Pattern, which buttressed the wonderfully meditative group exhibition Mineral Dive, contained not only colorfully goopy paintings but a real-ass fish tank. Coupled with his self-published magazine, a low table, and some benches, the tank unexpectedly tied the room together. As someone who has an irrational fear of knocking over aquariums, I found myself extra aware of how I moved through Perrine's show, delicately weaving my body around the seated patrons and art. I loved it!
In between the two, a middle gallery held the work of several Kucera Gallery regulars—Drie Chapek, Norman Lundin, Claudia Fitch. But a new piece by Anthony White called "Corrupt OS" held most of my attention. Commissioned by Seattle University, the piece depicts John Stanley Ford, an SU alum who became the first Black engineer in America and had an extensive career at IBM. While the work has all the familiar elements of an Anthony White™ original—the plastic medium, references on references, clashing vibrant colors—there's a gravity cultivated by White in the depiction of Ford that differentiates this piece from his previous work. I'm excited and curious to see what this painting will look like in a university setting.
And as I mentioned earlier today, in a space connected to the main gallery, Kucera also has a huge sale of some rare pieces from his personal collection to offload before he retires to a literal castle in France. There are books, sculptures, prints, and paintings all up for grabs, many at reasonable prices if you're looking to kick off or add to your collection. I snagged an excellent book on desire and photography and seriously contemplated if I had enough space in my studio apartment for this Akio Takamori Pieta sculpture (spoiler: I don't). Also, did I mention there's horny stuff for sale too?