CHRISTIAN FRENCH Mermaids on drugs need jewelry stores too.
  • The Stranger
  • CHRISTIAN FRENCH Mermaids on drugs need jewelry stores too.
Storefronts Seattle has been one of the highlights of living in Seattle while caring about art in a crappy economy. Stores may close, but artist-run storefronts are popping up all over the place in emptied-out spaces in Pioneer Square, the International District, and now, Capitol Hill: I'm walking home last Friday night when I see a sparkle in my periphery, which as I turn my head broadens into a full sparkleview: Is that a Christian French installation I see? Yes, in fact, it is, just sparrrrrrrkling it up in three windows like a jewelry store for mermaids on drugs. (I even like the fact that someone has sprayed light white graffiti on the window; it seems to add to the streaky glory.) I take a few pictures, I keep walking down Broadway—I'm next to Dick's—and what is this here now? Racks and racks of designer clothes, an area where fashion photography is occurring, and the designer herself, Rene Ropas, in residence.

EVAN BLACKWELL In BOOM!, the scale and dimension of the tower cranes telescopes and collapses.
  • The Stranger
  • EVAN BLACKWELL In BOOM!, the scale and dimension of the tower cranes telescopes and collapses.
What else is currently awesome about Storefronts Seattle, you ask? Storefronts keeps a very up-to-date and well-written blog you should check out. But of what I've seen, I can recommend Evan Blackwell's subterranean installation BOOM! involving imagery of tower cranes, both sculpted and scattered on the floor as screenprints, in homage to the starting and stopping of construction. The piece can't be entered; it's looked at through the windows, like a diorama beneath street level. It's located between Gallery4Culture and Gallery 110 on the side of the TK building. I'm also intrigued by what artist Jennifer Zwick describes as her "upside-down living room directly mirrored by an outdoor scene." She's finishing it now in the International District. And for sheer boldness mixed with genuine sweetness, there's nothing like Strange Fruit by Saybree James and her 8-year-old son, Jaylin James, in Chinatown. The installation raises the spectre of the lynching song made famous by Billie Holiday, but also acts as a soft, communing space.

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To the artists out there, I'm here to remind you that the deadline for all Storefronts applications for 2012 is coming right up: February 22.

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