King, by Jacob Foran. 14in x 10inx 8in. 2012
On July 2nd, Abmeyer+Wood opened its doors for the national invitational exhibition titled 'Bodies+Beings.' As the title suggests, the show focuses on figural artwork from celebrated artists from around the country. The work ranges from large-scale, totemic glass objects marked at just under one million dollars made by artist William Morris to a variety of narrative heads, busts, and animal figures created by younger artist such as Erika Sanada, Calvin Ma, Christopher David White, myself. In between, Richard Notkin, Patti Warashina, Adrian Arleo, Jason Walker, Cynthia Consentio, Margaret Keelan, Ross Richmond, and artist duo Pohlman Knowles provide mid to late career maturity, giving this grouping a work the common connecting element: technical mastery.
The second commonality of this show is, simply put, the inquiry by each artist of what it means to be human. While Richard Notkin pulls at the heart of history and politics of America through imagery of the internal human body, the perished human body, and war machinery, Calvin Ma and Erika Sanada bring more whimsical youthful notions of dealing with (or escaping) the challenges of the present. Residing side by side, Ma and Sanada have very interesting crossovers in their respective subject matter. Both artists draw from a super-natural world of story told through animals, toys, and pastel color pallets, perhaps as allusions to the origins of the image base that now shapes their practice. Both artists create metaphorical links to the lands and times where only childhood minds can construct such imaginative strategies for coping with the intensities of this life.
Cynthia Consentio's sweet and delicate whales swim amongst the gallery walls casting gorgeous shadows while also drawing the viewer in to observe them for their preciousness, fragility, and beauty. Her deliberate use of scale shifts the experience into one where the human viewer feels much larger and empowered than the gigantic and beautiful sea-creature. Their power lies in that function. During the opening reception, i watched nearly every person in the gallery have at least one moment of feeling a slight unease as others got too close to the sculptures for comfort. So, if this engagement in the gallery space were to translate to the natural environment, perhaps the motto may be: while we browse and consume and prowl as the humans we are, we must not dismiss and ignore the fragility of our environment (and the life that exists below the surface level).
Christopher David White's "Going Hand in Hand" was one of the crowd's favorites. White uses conventions of trompe l’oeil to probe at illusions of permanence. However, the viewer still may not notice that the piece is actually made from clay because it is that well made. Its texture mimics aged driftwood and its surfaces are gorgeously painted with washes of grey and brown, providing clues into a mysterious narrative that can only be older than the artists himself. However, it's slight sheen gives the object an aura of fragility that only ceramic can evoke. In some ways like Cynthia Constentio's whales, Christopher White's dislodging of reality through shifts in scale give what is human about his sculpture a momentary illusion of grandness. When one does in fact look closer, the opposite positioning and gesture of the two hands insists that this story is not only about grandiose themes of man, nature, life, and death-- but about the beauty and simultaneous power and fragility of human relationships.
The collectors showed up to Thursday nights opening reception ready to buy. Among the works that found red dots and new owners during the first two hours of the exhibition were Sanada's 'Rumor Has It', my own 'King' head, Adrian Arleo's 'Awareness Owl', as well as the stand-out piece made by Christopher David White. Along with Arleo's piece which sold at $9,000, White's was the next most expensive item to pre-sell priced at $4,800 and was absolutely a good buy for the California based clients who have yet to see the actual work in person. The fact that they can pull the trigger on such items demonstrates the high level of trust the client has with the dealer-- this to me is a sign of an outstanding gallery. It was really fun seeing the team Lauren, Emily, and Jonathan at Abmeyer+Wood do their thing during the early stages of this exhibit. They are down to earth, really sharp, and genuine. I like these qualities in an art gallery.
So, If you find yourself in Seattle this summer, go see them. This is a grouping worth checking out and it is on view until August 21st, 2015. There is quite a range and yet all of the work is accessible, even to young children. Of course, hold their hand because they will want to know what it feels like to touch a translucent Ross Richmond belly or the tiny hand of a Patti Warshina (i brought my niece to see the show and i must admit, i was feeling a bit uneasy at just how much she liked the work). I am excited about Abmeyer + Wood's gallery presence in our city. While still relatively young as a gallery, i have a feeling they will have a continuously growing impact on the arts in our city. The location is prime, sitting away from most major Seattle Galleries in Pioneer Square-- but instead right across the street from the Seattle Art Museum. You can find garage parking in the building by entering Seneca street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Many thanks to Lauren, Emily, and Jonathan for their top notch work and support, and for the generous invitation to this show. For more information on the exhibit and the gallery, click here: Abmeyer + Wood Fine Art.