Deb Achak's photos thrill me. TK
Deb Achak's photos thrill me. Courtesy of Winston Wachter

If January has got you down, let art pick you back up.

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I've made it easy and compiled four killer shows to go to this weekend. Don't forget to wear a mask!

Diana Al-Hadid's Archive of Longings at Henry Art Gallery

Archive of Longings brings together 13 of sculptor Diana Al-Hadid's works made between 2010-2021 into an "interpretive grouping" for the first time, says the exhibition's press materials. Walking through the show feels like stepping onto a sandy beach where emotions, memories, and histories have washed ashore. As an artist, much of Al-Hadid's work concerns the female body as it relates to the Western art canon, nature, and "Syrian, Muslim, and immigrant histories and mythologies." Her bronze sculptures range from small to monumental in scale and look as if they've been ravaged by time and the sea. On low pedestals, bronze legs lay on top of and just off their platforms, covered in rust and drippy polymer gypsum. Above, giant sculptures like "Moving Target" resemble a sort of curtained staircase, inviting viewers to walk underneath and consider their body's relationship to the space. It's mythic.

Archive of Longings by Diana Al-Hadid closes next Sunday, February 6 at Henry Art Gallery.

Colby Bishop's Weirdly Clingy at Specialist
I love a soft sculpture.
I love a soft sculpture. Courtesy of Specialist Gallery

Down at Specialist in Pioneer Square, Cornish grad Colby Bishop has a delightful show of soft sculptures up through February 19. If you peer through the gallery's front window, you will get the sense that Bishop's creations are all hanging out with each other. With no backbone or spine of their own, these brightly colored blobs bend over the walls, sprawl across the floor, and curl up in the corner, just hardcore vibing inside the space. Bishop pulled inspiration from stuffed animals from their childhood and maternity to create these bad boys that serve as a playful antidote to these Touch Starved™ times. Go have fun.

Weirdly Clingy by Colby Bishop is up at Specialist through February 19.

Deb Achak's Personal Space at Winston Wachter Gallery
Catch me.
Catch me. Courtesy of Winston Wachter Gallery

The first thing that comes to mind, for me, when looking at the terrific photographs from Deb Achak is a bridal bouquet. A lot of time and thought is put into how the bouquet should look—the colors, the meaning of the flowers, how they are arranged—only for it to be tossed into a preening crowd of loved ones at an afterparty. I'd like to think that pictures that compose Achak's Personal Space at Winston Wachter Gallery capture the bridal toss, but from the perspective of the bouquet hurling through the air. But of course, that isn't quite how Achak creates the shots. She actually shoots the flowers under the water, resulting in images that land somewhere between a meticulous oil-painted Dutch still life and a spur-of-the-moment action shot. As a whole, the show is meant to be "a soft look under the surface of what might be blooming inside all of us." Sexy.

Personal Space by Deb Achak is up at Winston Wachter Gallery through March 5.

Sasha Rudensky's Open Files at Das Schaufenster

Opening in July 2020 during the first year of the pandemic, Das Schaufenster ("viewing window" in German) is an experimental window gallery space in Ballard. Run by Seattle artist Anna Mlasowsky—who happens to live and work in the building—the gallery has embarked on a six-month-long series called The Middle Seat, which features immigrant artists from Eastern and Central Europe each month. First up on the docket is Russian-born photographer Sasha Rudensky's Open Files, which closes on February 12. This show takes censored and marked-up images from the US News and World Report's archive and blows them up, installing the photos in the window like a lightbox. Together, it "underscores the incomplete and fictional nature of an archive, questioning and subverting its inherent authority." Check it out on your evening stroll.

Open Files by Sasha Rudensky is up until February 12 at Das Schaufenster.