Alfred Harris paints dignified abstracts with Ovidian names.
But not in the Parallel Universe of Seattle art at Grey Gallery, where every artist is represented by something unrepresentative—something that doesn't look like their usual work. Painters Joe Park and Francisco Guerrero made the show by going into studios and picking the surprises.
For Harris, the surprise is Expensive Interior Design from 1977—I'd love to see the cheap version.
Virtuosic Park is showing a painting on velvet.
Matthew Offenbacher, painter of spirit animals, collaged a glam photo on an exhibition catalog from a recent show of French 19th-century paintings.
Other artists turning their faces to show another side of themselves are Lead Pencil Studio, Harrell Fletcher, Claude Zervas, and Dawn Cerny. Not everything is better than what we're used to, and not every artist does something unexpected (Jeffry Mitchell's drawing is a Jeffry Mitchell pure and simple). But plenty of surprises light up new facets: Nicholas Nyland (colorist, sculptor) and Eric Elliott (painter of near-monochromes of plants) collaborated on a Nyland-tinted portrait of Elliott's photinia plant. It's funny to look at a collaboration and so clearly see each artist's imprint. These artists want to stand in their styles as much as walk away from them.
This show doesn't hang together; it's not supposed to. You're supposed to hang it, in your brain, with the other shows you've seen by these artists. (There's art to appreciate here even if you can't do this, but it's best if you can.)
But at the very least, it makes you wonder what you're missing when you see a show full of Whiting Tennises that look like Whiting Tennises, or Offenbachers, or Vic Havens. There's more to these artists than we know. And maybe than they know—which they want us to know.
This is very good to know.