Ron Van Der Ende, Still-Life, represented by Ambach & Rice at the Armory Show this week.
  • Ron Van Der Ende, Still-Life, represented by Ambach & Rice at the Armory Show this week.
Ambach & Rice, the A-list gallery that grew over the last three years out of a former art-on-the-walls anime toy store in Ballard, is at this minute exhibiting as part of the Armory Show in New York—and this spring, is relocating permanently down the street from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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Ambach & Rice got hot locally when it snagged Jeffry Mitchell and Roy McMakin for its roster away from James Harris Gallery, but it's continuously been putting its private money toward a solid membership in the Art World, setting up at fairs from Miami to New York despite the recession that's kept other galleries at home.

The art at the gallery has been strong and varied, ranging in tone from Seattle artist Grant Barnhart's loose, cocky, bright paintings to the current show of a cinematic piece comprised of black-and-white slides with audio narration, by Berlin-based Brazilian artist Pablo Pijnappel, in his first US solo show.

Ambach & Rice in Ballard.
  • Ambach & Rice in Ballard.
For Art World credibility, it's impossible to argue Seattle over LA. LA's a haven for collectors, artists, curators, writers, and teachers, and the artists represented by Ambach & Rice will almost certainly benefit from the gallery's move. I only hope owners Charlie and Amanda Kitchings will continue to look at Seattle—if not a place for selling art—in order to find, and elevate, deserving artists.

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After Pijnappel's show (through March 27), the next, and last, exhibition at the gallery will be The Strong, Star-Bright Companions, by Betty Bowen winner Ellen Lesperance. It will run April 2 to May 15; Ambach & Rice will open at 6148 Wilshire Boulevard with an installation of new works by Alon Levin on September 10.

At this point, Seattle's got a sizable gap opening up in contemporary art galleries: Closed in the last couple years are Howard House, folk-art redoubt Garde Rail, and Crawl Space; Lawrimore Project has downsized, and Western Bridge and 619 Western are on their way out. Folks like these are keeping the flame alive—without a dime to their names. Fun with recessionism.