Tavares Strachan’s newest work, Always, Sometimes, Never, currently occupies a large portion of the Frye Art Museum, spanning across the three main galleries and down the length of the hallway. Strachan is an internationally renowned Bahamian conceptual artist who is best known for The Distance Between What We Have and What We Want; the excavation and subsequent installation of a 4.5 ton block of Arctic ice at his past elementary school in the Bahamas. Strachan was also the first Bahamian artist to be represented at the Venice Biennial, all of this makes him a much-anticipated guest of Seattle’s rising contemporary art scene.
Strachan conceptualized this exhibition, Always, Sometimes, Never, with the Pacific Northwest in mind–tailoring it to our individual geographic history. Strachan is known for focusing his works around the history and natural landscapes of his sites, whether they be mirrors of the landscape or in opposition of them. Emulating the water and rainfall of our area, The Frye Art Museum’s team and Strachan installed large black shallow pools in each of the three galleries. Hovering above, surrounding, and perched within each of the pools are Strachan’s sculptures and collages. Each room tells a different story: there is a large clear box which conceals a 3D form of the Panchen Lama, two neon wall installations based on previous site-specific works, including one of his most successful pieces, You Belong Here, and a series of collages.
There is no specific flow to follow, no guidelines for how to move through the galleries and no chronological order to the experience. Moving from one room to another, it is the black shallow pools, the rhythmic dripping of the water from a glass form attached to the ceiling, and the gorgeous royal blue that now covers the walls of the galleries that unifies this installation. Hosting Strachan’s work at the Frye signals a new turn in Seattle’s fine art scene and I am grateful for the continued push by local curators for Seattle to become a destination for great contemporary artists.
Always, Sometimes, Never is up at The Frye Art Museum through April 15.