Q & A with Zinc Contemporary by Jacob Foran

What's the medium?
Ceramic and glaze. The drawings are charcoal on paper.



Can I walk you through the making of a piece?
The sculptures are hollow and made from the ground up using a coil technique. I start with the slab in which is essentially the cross-section shape of whatever I'm about to build (shoulders or neck in this case). I begin stacking and compressing coils of clay that are approximately an inch and a half in diameter. It's a big game of timing. Add too much too soon and it'll sag or collapse. Too little too late and it'll be too dry to work with. I work general to specific. With this series of heads I build up to what looks like a vessel, and then begin to form from the inside out. At this point I am up to what will become the forehead. I push the features into shape from the continuous wall of clay which I've compressed into the thickness of half to three quarters of an inch.  When the time is right, i build up and inward to close off the head.
   I allow them to dry slowly over the course of a couple weeks or so. They are then fired in the kiln to approximately 2100°F. Cone 3 in ceramic terms. The first firing lasts more than 24hours. Now they've changed from Clay to ceramic and I glaze them with 3 coats. The second firing is faster and to a lower temperature of 1945°F (cone 04).   done.

The drawings are made from charcoal on paper. Most of them are taken directly from photographic imagery of the ceramic heads in different lighting. I use my computer to zoom in and find intriguing moments/passages . Cropping and rotating, it's all really basic stuff.  It becomes interesting with shifts in scale so I often play around with the projector or a large TV monitor so that I can experience the image before I commit to re-creating it with a stick of charcoal. From there it's just like drawing a map or topography of value shapes.


What do I like most about this series?
What I like most is that it is so generative.  The work triggers more work. There seems to be an almost infinite creative presence here. I can walk in the studio grab a camera and just play. If my eyes are open, these things are talking back to me and I've got my next idea. So far it's felt like a pretty natural leap back and forth between two and three dimensions. Is the first time I have felt really at home with abstraction. And still there is the figure.


How would I describe this series?
They feel like things that are from really far away place, such as outer space or a strange alternate the universe. But also as things we haven't yet seen.  In the gallery they're both loud and very bold yet stilling and serene.

I described the sculptures as muted. The Clay forms Are like ancient heads from some Buddhist temple . The glaze is black but not black because it reflects the light around it. And I described them as changing with time and space. I describe them as kind of in between objects. someone said "like crystal balls with an inner eye!"

I Describe the head drawings as photo realistic until you get closer. They almost look like something that was digitally modeled but they're not, they're made by hand. Some of the drawings look like satellite imagery from outer space looking at a watery planet or the moon. Some of the drawings look like waves or flames or Sea creatures – – you could almost approach them like Rorschach's.  Others venture towards minimalism and focus more on the void, or the dark passages constructed by the light and reflective properties of surface.

What are you inspired by?

I'm inspired by other artists and simply looking at art. I deeply admire abstract painters as well as potters although i am a figurative ceramic artist and sculptor.  My source imagery is all over the board of art history, ranging from prehistoric figures all the way to modernism, then to contemporary abstract painting.   A few of my favorite artists: Jun Kaneko, Lee Bontecou, Anish Kapoor, Rothko, Brancusi.


Give me an idea of something I struggle with when making the work? How do you approach it, face it, and overcome it?

The challenge for me as I work on the body of work is not so different than any other artist who has a day job. When I make these things I just want to be working with them, And not be pulled away for any extended period of time. We come back into the studio a different place than we were before. It can be challenging to remember where we were at before. In other words it's easy to feel severed off from the emotional and mental state which initially prompted the making of an image or object.  One of the ways that I face it is just like we talked about during our studio visit , the Jeff Mitchell approach: I've learned what I love to make and I know how to make it fast. There's a lot of merit in skill, and part of it is just practical.  Another way I face it is being versatile enough to work a couple different ways so that I can move forward no matter how much time is on the table in a given day or week or month or year. For example, I know it takes 20 hours or so to build the head and I know that clay dries out. So a large portion of my sculpture work happens in the summer when I have three straight months. Drawing on the other hand happens from a static image that I can work on in short duration of time, no problem.  The sculpture is very intuitive and demands an ongoing engagement while the drawing is more planned out and methodical, somehow easier to walk away from and return. In some ways I try to use my schedule to my advantage and enhance what I do rather than the opposite-- i the case of this body of work, i've expanded by adding drawing into my practice.

 

Works on Paper by Jacob Foran, 2016

Clay?VI at Kirkland Arts Center by Jacob Foran

"The Death by Drowning of a Once Laughing Boy."  Jacob Foran. 2015. Ceramic, glaze. 

"The Death by Drowning of a Once Laughing Boy."  Jacob Foran. 2015. Ceramic, glaze. 

"Clay? VI is the sixth installment of Kirkland Arts Center’s biennial exhibition that features mind-bending ceramic art from 19 artists across 9 states. This exhibit series showcases the versatility and unpredictability of clay, a medium that humans have been manipulating for over 16,000 years. This year’s installment drew submissions from 17 states in the US and 2 foreign countries in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures.

The jury for Clay? VI is comprised of three University of Washington Professors: Jamie Walker, Doug Jeck, and Michael Swaine. Walker and Jeck have been on the jury for Clay? since its beginnings in 2006. Swaine joins this year to replace Akio Takamori, who recently retired from UW. Walker is the Director of the School of Art + Art History + Design at UW and Jeck is the Chair of the 3D4M (shorthand for “3-dimensional forum”) program, for which all three professors teach." See more at: http://kirklandartscenter.org/eo/events/clay-vi/

Selected Artists

 

Seattle Art Museum, Party in the Park 2016. by Jacob Foran

Jacob Foran. 2016. @ Party in the Park.  Seattle, WA.  Materials: Ceramic, glaze, mixed media.

Jacob Foran. 2016. @ Party in the Park.  Seattle, WA.  Materials: Ceramic, glaze, mixed media.

Last night i set a table for one of Seattle's best museum fundraisers, the Party in the Park at the Olympic Sculpture Park.  Many thanks to the Seattle Art Museum for the invitation to participate and to TASTE Events chef Josie Urbick.  This year's party was truly incredible.  The food was fantastic and the artists tables were even more creative, beautiful, and playful than i remember from last summer. 

This year the museum provided artists with a prompt in theme: landscape.  While 'landscape' can be broadly interpreted, the connecting factor in the artists designed tables is that we all had the freedom to create a piece that reflects our individual concepts and aesthetics as artists. 

My project was influenced by the landscape of dreams.  Based upon childhood (imagery i often draw upon in my work), essentially i worked figuratively, alluding the present state of beauty and happiness that i am experiencing as i enter a new stage of life.  My project is both personal to me and has undertones of something largely human that pertains to breaking barriers of race.  Besides the more obvious shifts in symbolic color on my figures, at closer look their features are multi-racial. 

The narrative suggests a union of two figures: a blue boy and a lavender girl.  The two children face inward towards each other underneath an imaginative archway.  Their eyes are closed and they are smiling with facial expressions that suggests total happiness. It is as if they are dreaming the same dream.  They are surrounded in lyrical, linear, floating formations which suggest both flora (like a sacred garden) and also clouds (like heaven and dreams).  Its not often that i get the chance to engage an audience in the context of a party occasion where we literally sit and dine around artwork.  Therefore, creating a whimsical, optimistic, and celebratory plot seemed fitting. 

As usual, the museum invited a group of inspiring artists and it is an understatement to say that i was in good company.  Among our favorites were Jeffry Mitchell's bar designs, Liz Tran's suspending sphere paintings above the dessert stands, Paul Komada's upside down tent, Mandy Greer's incredible table made of all things black, Ben Hirschkoff and Natalie Jenkins' sod table, and an intricate collection of miniatures based upon Seattle's iconic public art and architecture made by artist Diem Chau.

Shannon and I had a blast getting to know our table guests.  Conversation evolved from a special toast in the onset to celebrate our upcoming marriage, to discussing the various programing of the museum and the sculpture park, to the importance of advocacy for arts in our public school systems, back to the art of marriage and having children.  As our new friends departed, we were taken by a memorable story told by a young couple who seemed to truly experience the emotion i hoped to convey with my figures.  They told us about recently witnessing their little daughter's first crush-- her hilarious and sweet encounter with a young boy and the powerful impact it had on the two of them as parents.  It was as if they were able to live vicariously through her and remember that all encompassing feeling shared in the onset of their relationship.   Their story made for perfect closure to the dinner and a perfect transition to the dance floor (the music was spot on).  So much to celebrate, so much to be grateful for!

 

 

New Exhibit | Pushing Forward the Department of Visual Arts by Jacob Foran

On October 13th, our team of colleagues in the Visual Arts Department at Lakeside Upper School celebrated the first faculty exhibition in recent history.  After last year's visit from an outside consultant named Kim Sheridan (who strongly values visibility within the context of arts education), we decided to push forward by kicking the academic year off with a display of our own accomplishments as practicing artists.  Along with the polish, we also opened up with a bit of vulnerability, revealing to our students that we too face the gritty hurdles, challenges, and struggles that emerge throughout making an exhibition.  From collaborating with each other on staging the exhibit, to decision making of aesthetics, to drafting, editing, and rewriting artist statements, we showed it —after all, process is at the forefront of our everything in this profession. 

At Lakeside, we have a dynamic Visual Arts program that offers 9th-12th grade students the opportunity to explore up to 4-year tracks in Sculpture, Ceramics, Drawing & Painting, and Photography.  Students who fall in love with a specific medium and choose to take our advanced courses must produce a culminating exhibition prior to graduating.  While I’m clearly energetic about what our students accomplish, I’ve heard many guest artists compare our high school juniors and seniors to BFA college students.  It is no surprise coming from an esteemed private school that our kids are bright, motivated, and have multiple talents.  But what I love most about our arts program is that: 1) students develop a distinctive visual vocabulary and they build the chops to articulate their ideas. 2) Our students learn to ask really good questions, and in the best scenarios they learn to think like artists. The mindset.

The word creativity is at the forefront of almost all dialogue in higher education.  How does it happen?  Can you teach it?  Where does it come from?  While I have spent much of my early teaching career researching, exploring, and probing at these questions—and essentially being energized by them—it is quite difficult to articulate definitive answers. Yes you can teach how to access creativity.  It happens best in a studio environment where making is at the forefront.  What I also know is that building a faculty of educators who truly and deeply know creative process yields unbelievable student growth.  I love teaching, but I especially love working with my inspiring colleagues.   Putting together the first version of the Lakeside Faculty Exhibition has been nothing short of positive. It is just one new exhibit, but a big step in pushing forward the Department of Visual Arts. 



Jacob Foran "Fragments" at ArtScape 2015 by Jacob Foran

A few months back during an opening reception at my former gallery space at Seattle Design Center, I met an interesting man named David Francis who threw an idea by me that has since held my curiosity.  I learned that David is an archeologist by training with an MFA and a PHD in Poetics and Critical Theory.  He is also a glass artist and enthusiast, and the former curator for the Tacoma Glass Museum.  Now, his mission is based in activating spaces in interurban and park settings in the north Seattle Area.  With much less than a hefty budget to work with, he seemed a little hesitant to ask but passionate about the idea of working with me on a small public art project.  “Which family of work?” I asked him.  “The biggest one, the submarine.”  While open minded and instantly respectful of his boldness, I still have hopes of landing my 20ft ceramic submarine in a museum someday, I still like it a lot. So while my answer to that was, hell no, not yet, I shot back with a project that’s been in my mind for about two years since beginning a body of work at California State Long Beach University while a guest artist in residence in summer 2013.

A part of my studio mind is preoccupied with the concept of fragmentation.  Another part of my brain is fascinated with how we construct and perceive time.  Yet another part of my head contains a bank full of imagery of human statuary, art history, architecture and modern art, which I have acquired and embedded in my space of memory through an ongoing pursuit of learning about the past.  Clearly it is a part of my vocabulary.  From the onset, I’ve contextualized my own work within the framework of figurative sculpture, but never public art (not that the two are mutually exclusive).  Until I saw images of the work of Jason Decaires Taylor, who has cast concrete figures and placed them at the bottom of the ocean floor to live and evolve below the surface.

Work by Jason Decaires Taylor

Work by Jason Decaires Taylor

Peter Olsen, gallery director of Yama Project, writes: “When one visits a museum to look at ancient statuary, we are often searching for what a culture meant or wanted to be remembered for.  The way that sculptors treated the figure was meant to give a key to the religious, political or aesthetic ideals of whoever could afford to pay the artist.  Jacob Foran’s recent body of work alludes to those past cultures and monuments.  The faded and stoic figures suggest something that has been lost; a vague remembrance of something with no particular dogma attached.  ‘Remnant’ is a word that he uses.  Torn from their context, these remnants become a sort of blank screen to impose ideas of meaning and purpose onto.  They raise more questions than they answer.  Their power lies in that function.” 

 A dozen of these works were exhibited with Yama Project during a solo show in Seattle last fall and one piece from the series is currently being exhibited at the Fuller Craft Museum's "Continuum of Innovation." While up to this point i have been quite fortunate to find early career opportunities and avoid the pigeonholes that surround 'ceramics' in 'artworld.'  Although my shifting of aesthetic sensibilities and broad range of conceptual territory from one body of work to the next has left most commercial galleries that I have worked with questioning my next move.  It is becoming easier now to realize that the nature of my studio practice and my gigantic impulse for making work will yield some ideas that are best suited for alternative venues outside of the traditional gallery platform.   

So this is where David comes into play.  Our interests have come together and we have launched a small scale public artwork in conjunction with the City of Shorline's ArtScape 2015.  A series of 4  "Fragments" will be up for the duration of 1 year in various locations in North Seattle. Beginning on August 6th, we will have installed the works somewhere in the 17500 Block Midvale Avenue North, between Aurora Avenue and Midvale.  If you know Aurora Ave, you understand that this project is prone to the unexpected.

In many ways, my project is a social experiment as much any public art as we know it— if it is a display of figuration, they are just as much modern artifacts with nowhere else to go.  Right now I am simply curious to see what happens over an extended period of time if we place these monument-like sculptures into a volatile, interurban space.   While the forms are durable enough to endure the wear and tear of the elements, they are fragile enough to record a history of marks such as graffiti, vandalism, or physical change made by people. It is easy for my imagination to paint the raw and clean surfaces with mold, color, and vine growth, and perhaps they will to encounter tagging and more violent moments-- breakages of appendages or disappearance.   

In the end, I plan to re-exhibit whatever is left of these objects in a museum-like context where we are able to examine the parallels between ancient and modern.  For now, they are half buried two miles from my studio in the north Seattle area waiting for time to play its part. 

To follow this project and see time lapse progression, subscribe to this blog below as well as on Facebook. Link: www.facebook.com/jacobforan

Seattle Times Review, "Bridging the Real and Surreal at Abmeyer + Wood," Michael Upchurch by Jacob Foran

"The Endless Irony of it All." by Richard Notkin

"The Endless Irony of it All." by Richard Notkin

Check out the nice review of the current show at Abmeyer + Wood in the Seattle Times, written by Michael Upcurch.  Thanks for the shout out Michael!

http://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/visual-arts/bridging-the-real-and-surreal-at-abmeyer-wood/


EXHIBITION REVIEW ‘Bodies + Beings’

By Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times

Stroll into Abmeyer + Wood this summer and you’ll find yourself surrounded by creatures not quite of this world.

“Bodies + Beings,” a group show curated by gallery owner Jonathan Wood, explores “the human and animal figure along with fantastical beings that bridge the gap between the real and surreal.” Featuring work by glass artist William Morris, ceramic sculptor Patti Warashina and mosaic wizard Richard Notkin, it boasts a dozen or more masterpieces, each pursuing its own maverick flight of fancy.

Adrian Arleo’s ceramic sculptures greet you as you enter. “Awareness Owl II” seems a near-naturalistic rendering of a branch-perched owl staring straight at you … until you notice the dozen or more eyes gazing from between the feathers of its torso. “Apiary Twins” is just as striking: a honeycomb-textured bust of two women conjoined back-to-back at their shoulders and at the tips of their ponytails.

Calvin Ma’s two stoneware-glaze-and-stain concoctions are whimsical automatons, both of which have little cottages (complete with chimneys and windows) for heads. One of them sits on a rather disgruntled bulldog (“Hard to Breathe”) while the other proudly rides in a little car (“For Show”).

Striking a mythological note, Jacob Foran’s “King” and “Guardian” are small ceramic busts of regal figures that are a sharp contrast in personality. “King” is meditative, melancholy and guarded in expression, while “Guardian” has a bright-eyed shaman-like energy.

Newcomer Christopher David White, who just got his MFA this year, makes a strong impression with “Going Hand in Hand,” a depiction of two oversized hands turned away from each other, yet linked by a tiny crumbling bridge. The piece is in ceramic and acrylic, yet everything about it — the dilapidated bridge, the splintery skin of the hands — suggests roughly hewed wood.

Renowned sculptor Morris, of course, is another artist whose work’s appearance belies its materials. His blown and hot-sculpted glass has a distinctively ceramic look to it, especially in “Idolo,” a turquoise-robed tribal figure, and “Kaesong Man,” a distorted mask with lips that curl in the manner of a butoh performer.

Morris’ glass materials are more evident in “Mazorca Installation,” an 8-foot-high tower of masks, skulls, animal heads, gourds and corncobs, hung on thick ropes like some animistic fertility offering.

Warashina is in fine form with “Fat Cat,” a feline figure whose attitude hovers somewhere between good cheer and bared-teeth aggression. The comic dramas of “Not You Again” (chattering bird, listening woman) and “Magic Fly Zone” (three birds in a beeline, with two reclining-cavorting females below them) are equally delightful.

Notkin — whose atom-bomb-in-ceramic-tiles mosaic, “The Gift,” is one of the sinister glories of the Portland Art Museum — supplies the show’s most powerful piece. “The Endless Irony of It All” is Art as Doomsday Clock. The tiles in its turquoise hourglass are embossed with skulls, bombs, an Abu Ghraib image, an allusion to Picasso’s “Guernica” and coins stamped “In God We Trust.”

The red-tile backdrop is a mélange of human body parts — mostly ears that may not be listening as closely to the hourglass’s warning as they should. It’s an extraordinary work.

The rest of the show ranges from the eerie to the lightweight. But for Notkin’s “Irony” alone, you don’t want to miss this.

Michael Upchurch: www.michaelupchurchauthor.com


ARTSLANT New York

Bodies and Beings: What Place Can Ceramics Have In Contemporary Art Now?

by Alex Anderson

From the didactically ornate, magical sculptures of Adrian Arleo to the pensive and powerful busts of Jacob Foran, Abmeyer+Wood gallery’s current exhibition Bodies + Beings represents a range of aesthetics that reflect the potential of ceramics today. Bringing together some of the most established names in contemporary ceramic art—including Patti Warashina and Richard Notkin—it also introduces some emerging artists working in a medium many once thought of as limited to cups and bowls.

Visitors are greeted by three stunning works by Arleo: Apiary Twins, Awareness Owl II, and Reclined Lion with Interior Woman. Reclined Lion is a small, enchanting piece depicting a lion whose face displays a certain wisdom and deep sadness—evoked by traces of blue that highlight the folds in the lion’s fur. Surrounding the lion's face is an intricate mane with a tree branch motif spotted with gold at the tip of each spiraling branch; inside the space that the mane creates sits a golden woman; perhaps indicating that this lion’s strength, knowledge—and even his melancholy—come from this female element. Reclined Lion seems to reflect Arleo’s views on gender relations but quality and concept aside, the placement of her works is questionable. A friend noted that one of Arleo’s works was placed directly next to the guest book, prompting the question “was this exhibition curated by work release inmates?"

 It's not a good start, and next, you land upon the diminutive faunal forms of Erika Sanada. The works are, to me, less compelling in their size and subject—more miniature decorative models rendered in clay than sculptural works of art engaging with broader questions. A number of them seemed to appeal to the "terminally cute" charm of adorable animals.

 

 Jacob Foran, King. Courtesy Abmeyer+Wood

Fortunately, around the corner, the show improves. Here sit the striking works of Jacob Foran, adjacent to the hyper-realistic, politically charged Heart Teapot Petrol Hostage from Richard Notkin’s Yixing series, exploring human conflict through the unlikely shape of the teapot. Foran’s figures are technically well executed, for example in his thoughtful choice of surfaces—using glazes, paints, and gold leaf. This initial interest is preserved by the distant, yet focused gaze held by both figures. The busts have a captivating, yet aloof presence; the sense of supercilious detachment and the divergently vibrant headwear of the two pieces almost makes them seem as though they are simply playing their respective titular roles of King and Guardian, inviting the viewer to question the characters they may have chosen to embody or project in their own lives. 

 Meanwhile Notkin’s evocative sculptural pouring vessel depicts the form of a human heart with valves in the shape of oil drums or gas nozzles that also serve as the spout and handle of the teapot. Ceramic chains are sculpted around the form to indicate our systematic demand for, reliance upon, and conflicts surrounding fuel. It's a very singular piece, but the connection between Foran’s and Notkin’s works was not clear to me, and they suffer as a result of this lack of curatorial precision, despite being fine examples of the expressivity of ceramic sculpture. While there were other works that displayed technical prowess or quality in concept, Bodies and Beings could have easily focused only on the display of Arleo, Notkin, and Foran’s works, which anchored the show conceptually and aesthetically.

Drawbacks aside, though, this range of works, and its accompanying range of quality, is a rare demonstration of what clay can become—anything—but it also shows how unaccustomed curators can be to working with displays of this kind. There is clearly some work to still be done on how to get audiences to engage with this medium and its fusty reputation.

I asked Jonathan Wood, one of the gallery owners, what inspired this specific theme and he told me that he is committed to “championing ceramics and exhibiting this ‘craft’ alongside media that has traditionally been considered fine art—in essence blurring the lines of that silly fine art vs. craft debate that seems so antiquated today.” This intent in approaching the exhibition touches on a larger conversation about the place of ceramics in contemporary art. However, by focusing exclusively on figurative sculpture—which as an artistic taxonomy has never been denied the title of fine art—the exhibition seems to have evaded the issue altogether. With that in mind, the question still remains: why is ceramic art still so often ignored by the contemporary art world?

M. Anna Fariello’s essay, "Regarding the History of Objects," suggests the schism between fine art and craft resulted from shifts in thought during the Renaissance defining these categories with the development of art and art theory. This system still troubles ceramics, as many works in clay continue to have minimal visibility in museums and galleries.

Jacob Foran responded to this issue “…the truth is, the ceramics community is a small one compared to others. So, I don’t think that it is ignored altogether, it just maybe does not have the momentum or take up the same amount of bandwidth in the big scheme of things. I don’t know if it is ignored. In fact, I think it is celebrated when it happens.”

With a long process fraught with potential for failure with each firing, any piece that survives the kiln is an achievement in itself. Why then, do artists chose to work in clay when it is technically difficult, still broadly underrepresented, on top of which, it is an historically unappreciated art form? Foran shared his thoughts on this too: "I’m not sure if I could access the things in my work quite the same way with other materials. With clay, once you commit to making a thing, you immediately slow down your intuition. You can’t just raise a magic wand and make the thing appear in front of you. It can be temperamental and it is sensitive in a way. Ultimately, like any artist, I make things that I need to see the most." 

Bodies and Beings evidences the reality that clay—an inherently conceptual material of the earth—can become and connect to sculpture or "fine" art. Though this exhibition may have struggled in one sense, the gallery’s choice to highlight ceramics and attempt contextualize them now is opportune, and a sign of progress. On the back of major exhibitions of late, such as Ken Price's retrospective and major exhibitions, and 2009's touring Dirt on Delight: Impulses That Form Clay, ceramics are gaining visibility in the art world. They are also earning currency in the art market, with a generation of artists like Jessica Jackson Hutchins and Sterling Ruby who fluidly use ceramics within their wider practices—and are getting recognized in big commercial galleries and art fairs. This will hopefully stimulate more galleries and patrons to move beyond the confines of tradition and engage the public in greater depth with this incredibly varied medium.

 —Alex Anderson

http://www.artslant.com/ny/articles/show/43582

Bodies|Beings Exhibit at Abmeyer + Wood by Jacob Foran

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.





Seattle Art Museum, Party in The Park, 2015 by Jacob Foran

Special thanks to Seattle Art Museum.  Image above: Jacob Foran with fiance Shannon Long

Special thanks to Seattle Art Museum.  Image above: Jacob Foran with fiance Shannon Long

 I set a table for Party in The Park at Olympic Sculpture Park last night with this installation of a reflective ceramic boy centerpiece and flowering mountain forms.

Many thanks to Seattle Art Museum for inviting me to participate in this amazing fundraiser alongside ingenious Seattle based artists such as Jeffry Mitchell, Trimpin, Dan Webb, Claire Cowie, Leo Berk, George Rodriguez, among others.  It was energizing and exciting to meet so many art enthusiasts, patrons, and supporters of all that we do.

 We had a blast with our new friends from the table.  The night flew by as Shannon and I talked with  our gracious hosts Margaret Breen & Stewart Landefeld, Chris Larson (thank him if you are an M's fan... he is the owner of Seattle Mariners and helped our city keep them here!), Susan & Chuck Armstrong, and Nichole Gibran & Frank Isik-- conversation drifted and morphed around art, law, children, baseball, the Big 10, the Midwest, heath+fitness, as well as our beloved Arts Program at Lakeside School.  

An incredible dinner for our table was prepared by chef Brock Johnson from Dahlia Lounge.  For appetizers, we ate duck pinch buns with strawberry sambal as well as fresh spring rolls with Thai basil and cucumber.  The main course was a delicious Alaskan halibut with garlic and dill, asparagus and a ginger lime carrot salad.