A Review of Every Work in Genius / 21 Century / Seattle at the Frye Art Museum
Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker leaves the Frye Art Museum at the end of September after eight years as director, and I predict that her tenure will look like a high-water mark when she's gone.
Genius / 21 Century / Seattle was a Birnie Danzker–esque event: ambitious, sprawling, local. Because it featured the dozens of artists who've won Stranger Genius Awards over the years, I felt I shouldn't give it too much attention, but I should have thrown caution to the wind and written a review of every goddamn work.
I still think about Sherman Alexie's miniature story printed on the museum's wall, called "Capitalism," about an engineer and his lawyer wife who quit their jobs to become "liberal landlords" and get swallowed up by black mold. About C. Davida Ingram's duet of very different videos. About Alex Schweder's The Hotel Rehearsal, a traveling van with a scissor lift and a hotel room on top. I wish I'd sat with Nep Sidhu in his Toronto studio during the long afternoons when he hand-wove Malcolm's Smile, and sat with Ishmael Butler as Shabazz Palaces wrote Ecdysis. I wish I'd followed SuttonBeresCuller's flashing phallic forest to Oklahoma City for its private hotel museum opening—and convinced Schweder to come along with his hotel van. Lead Pencil Studio's slice-of-street earthwork Thereafter was yet another testament to the obsession of artists today with the land regrades that created Seattle. And... I could go on.
DK Pan's #dayinthelifeofaflowerdeliverer
I don't think the artist DK Pan intends his Instagram series #dayinthelifeofaflowerdeliverer as an art project, but it is one, and I need to write about it. (I hope it's ongoing.)
The New Arts Program at Yesler Terrace
There's a new arts program where the low-income housing project Yesler Terrace was demolished to make way for a mixed-income future. It involves a trailer parked there splashed with advertising. What's happening?
Pablo Helguera's Librería Donceles at Henry Art Gallery
Henry Art Gallery curator Luis Croquer says that for the four months the museum hosted Librería Donceles—an itinerant secondhand bookstore that's an ongoing (traveling) art installation by New York artist Pablo Helguera—it was the only Spanish-language bookstore in Seattle. I visited. It was inviting, the shelves and books and chairs tinted that old golden bookstore color, and I could not read anything inside. I wish I'd written about empathy, literacy, and illiteracy.
Art AIDS America in Atlanta
Tacoma Art Museum curator Rock Hushka spent a decade putting together an exhibition about art and AIDS in America. He fought to get the show funded, to borrow works of art, and to persuade museums to show difficult works that reject once and for all the detestable politics of shame around AIDS and HIV. But he did not succeed in representing those who are most affected by AIDS and HIV today, particularly the Black community, which is hit hardest. Protesters, using the hashtag #StopErasingBlackPeople, spotlighted the problem, and the Atlanta-area stop of the exhibition, the Zuckerman Museum of Art at Kennesaw State University, changed how the show was presented. I wish I'd been there to see how that went.
The UW Light Rail Station by Leo Saul Berk
I'm taken by the sparkling archaeology-in- situ at Leo Saul Berk's UW train station. How does it work when so many pieces of public art fail?
Mimi Allin's Voyage
At Vermillion in April, Seattle artist Mimi Allin announced she's taking "a physical journey to the interior later this year, a human-powered journey by boat to Alaska for a work called IN SEARCH OF BAS JAN ADER, WITH THE MIRACULOUS." Bas Jan Ader was a Dutch artist who disappeared in 1975 after setting out to sea on a boat in a piece called In Search of the Miraculous. He is assumed to be dead. Worried, I asked Allin what she intended. She wrote that she wants to find "the Miraculous," not to die. She leaves soon.
Norman Lundin's Solo at Greg Kucera Gallery
What I should have done was simply record a conversation with Lundin about his new paintings. His conversation is an odyssey.
Joey Veltkamp's Life Is Beautiful Quilt
"WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE," spell the giant black letters across Joey Veltkamp's pink quilt. But there are faint letters underneath, sewn in pink on pink, and they're the titles of songs he listens to in order to survive. In this case, I wish that I'd written a specific piece: the one by fellow artist Gretchen Bennett, findable on Vignettes online (vignettes.us).