One of NKOs pieces on a bank building on Madison, just before the building was demolished days ago.
  • One of NKO's pieces on a bank building on Madison, just before the building was demolished days ago.
When Seattle artist NKO woke up at Harborview last June 5, he had no memory of the bike accident that put him there 12 days before. He also couldn't speak. His head had been cut open, and he was breathing through a tube. Even after he finally came out of the hospital, "words weren't where they were supposed to be, and their meaning was elusive, uncertain." He had aphasia.

Tonight, the art he's been making while struggling with these conditions will be shown in the apartment where he lived when the accident happened, at the Dover. There's something of a cave-painting effect to what we are about to see. We'll be looking at attempts at communication from a great distance.

This isn't the first time NKO has experimented with the problem of written language. He often uses words in his works, and those words spiral off into lines that have their their own sense of life in addition to the meanings of the words attached to them. In 2009, he did something that seems like foreshadowing: He spraypainted every word of a Haruki Murakami novel onto a white van, until the words were unreadably thick (while DK Pan and another artist read and typed the novel aloud; this happened in Occidental Park). Then he drove the story around town, nobody knowing it wasn't just a black van.

In this new, intimate show, NKO is using sticker vinyl applied to glass, cardboard, and paper—almost exclusively recycled or found—plus spray paint, ink, white oil paint, white-out, and gold leaf. The opposition of white-out and gold leaf seems fitting for an artist struggling with what is preserved and what is lost, as well as working between the gallery system and the street. The opening is 5 to 10 pm tonight.