Thursday, July 30, 2009

Songs for Eating and Drinking

Last night I went to the third incarnation of Micheal Hebb & Chase Jarvis' Songs For Eating and Drinking. This one was held in the Sorrento Hotel's Penthouse Suite with a plated dinner. 

Members from the following bands all played one or two song sets: The Blakes, Throw me the Statue, John Roderick, Pica Beats, Eric Elbogen (Say Hi), David Bazan (Pedro the Lion), Sera Cahoone, Peter Holmström (Pete Int'l Airport/Dandy Warhols), Rocky Votolato, Dutchess and the Duke, Kevin Murphy (Moondoggies). Then we all shuffled outside (briefly stopping at the bar to rehydrate) to watch Mudhoney close the evening.  That's the only pic I have of the whole evening - it's snapped from my phone. The talented Chase Jarvis (and crew) took photos of the event last night. Based on his pictures, I'll be doing some drawings and maybe a booklet. 

There's something so inherently tender about the intimacy of these events that really moves me. The view of the pink from the setting sun was beautiful. The food was delicious and the music was amazing. 

Afterwards, it was still really hot (Seattle's hottest day...ever) so a group of us went nightswimming in Lake Washington. Felt so nice. I think it might have been the nicest evening I'll have all summer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stay cool at SAM

I know lots of folks like to head to the theaters to stay cool during extreme heat. But for me, nothing beats a museum. So yesterday, I headed down to the cool oasis of Seattle Art Museum. If you drive, you can duck right into their cool parking garage and not even get a blast of heat. The Chase Center parking garage is now only $6 (for 5 hours, plenty of time to see the museum) for SAM visitors if you enter after noon (or any time on Sat/Sun). You do have to get your ticket validated at the museum. 

SAM has some AMAZING shows up right now. I went specifically for Target Practice, which completely lives up to all the hype! Lynda Benglis, I love you for many reasons, but yesterday it was mostly for your poured paint piece, Baby Planet

When you're done looking at all the amazing art (check out Dan Webb's Shroud for sure!), head down to TASTE where you can revive yourself with food and drink while looking at Jeffry Mitchell's decorations. Added bonus, through the end of the month, if you say, "Beat the Heat" you can get a free iced-tea (with any purchase).

Another reason to love SAM, it's pay-what-you-can.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Jeff Mitchell / James Harris Gallery

Jeff and I ran down to check out his show today. I've been back a week and just finally got down there. I just loved it - it really is something else! It combines Jeffry's familiar traditions with new glazes, forms, and symbolism.

A large part of Jeff's success is the charm his pieces radiate. From a far distance, you could be forgiven if you thought you had walked into Miss Marchant's beginners' pottery class, all proudly displayed on a humble shelf. But as soon as you get anywhere near a vase, the craftsmanship is unmistakable.They're so strong because they're so vulnerable. The desire to touch them is overwhelming. The colors and forms attract you, the surfaces hold you and the subject matter pulls at your heart.  They are the direct opposite of fussy. 

Jen Graves and Regina Hackett have said nice things about the opening (a frenzied spectable) and the pieces. I love the density of the show (49 vases + 13 drawings). 

On view, along with Steve Davis and David Huffman, through August 22nd at JHG.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vita Table Midnight Supper / #CHBC

Midnight Dinner by one pot, vita and CHBP

If you know me even remotely well, you probably know I don't see much live music. Music usually involves a drive, staying up late and crowds and that combination is basically a triumvirate of angst for me! Apparently the promise of delicious food is my Achilles' heel.

Head Like a Kite (who might be my new favorite band!)

Last night's Midnight Supper removed the anxiety by throwing down an amazing dinner, complete with live music that I didn't even have to get up out of my seat to enjoy (all these pictures were taken right from my chair). Platters of assorted meats and grilled vegetables were passed family-style down the long tables (Michael said 70 people, but I'm guessing that number crept up to way over a hundred). 

We couldn't have been seated with nicer folks. Across from us were Andrew and Angela - two of my new favorite people. You should really check out Andrew's blog for all the info on this year's block party. To my left was one of my favorite bloggers, Cherry Canoe, who is just about ground zero for fun in Seattle. Between the four of us, I felt like we pretty much had the blogging bases covered: art, food, music and culture.


The music was amazing and intimate. After Head Like a Kite's amazing performance, Blue Scholars came on full force with some new stuff. Can't wait for the release. Next up, the super talented Fatal Lucciauno. The man of the hour in my opinion was Spaceman. I don't really say things like this, but he killed it! I'm a huge fan after that performance. It was great t0 see Sportn' Life Records so represented.  That family is full of some of the nicest folks you're ever gonna meet.

Big thanks to Hebb, Vita and all the performers for a wonderful evening.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday art!

It's supposed to be in the 80s today, so it's a great day for the park and a bbq.

Untitled by Matthew Offenbacher, image via artist

Feeling creative? Come down to Olympic Sculpture Park (Alvord Art Lab) today from 1-3 to participate in SAM's The Experience Painting Project with Matthew Offenbacher. The workshop runs from 1-3pm and during it, Matt will lead you on investigation of what painting is and some different approaches to it. With Matt leading this, you can be guaranteed you'll both learn and be entertained - he's just that awesome! This workshop is related to the current SAM show, Target Practice, curated by Michael Darling.

Call 206.654.3121 for tickets or buy at any of the SAM sites. Members: $10, Adults: $20, Students/Seniors: $16

After your big burst of creativity, stick around and enjoy the park on such a beautiful day. Maybe head on down to the water to enjoy Roy McMakin's Love and Loss installation. After seeing Roxy Paine's huge installation Maelstrom at the Met last week, I have an even greater appreciation for his SAM installation, Split.

Post-event update: The workshop was a total blast. Matt's another one of those folks who always assembles a great group of folks! More pics here.

By this point, you're going to be hungry (for both food and more great art), so head on up to Crawl Space Gallery for Zach Rockhill's STOCKGAP opening tonight. Based out of New York, Zach is primarily known for his video art.

Zach Rockhill, image via Crawl Space

"For his solo exhibition at Crawl Space, Rockhill is presenting videos that examine moments of psychological rupture depicted in celebrated works of cinema, literature and art. In each of the videos, the artist revisits the impulse behind specific scenes in which individuals find themselves in two places at once. By presenting stories that weave parallel worlds with narratives that hold multiple meanings, Rockhill explores the limits of human perception. STOCKGAP -a pun on stop-gap- alludes both to the doubling down of meanings as well as the provisional means Rockhill uses to approach his referential material, and the suggestion of its continual unfolding."

As part of the opening, Crawl Space will be hosting a ZACH-BEQUE on their front lawn. They'll provide hot dogs and Pabst, but you're more than welcome to bring your grilling fixings and beverages. 

It all goes down tonight from 6-9pm. 

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Say Hello to Nayland Blake

Feeder 2 (1998), image via Matthew Marks Gallery

In a society that needs to put labels on people, you seem to live in between worlds. During different periods of your life you have self-identified as black and other times as white.  You're neither gay or straight. Do you think those experiences makes you an insider into more worlds or an outsider to the world at large?

I'm more interested interested in the spaces between worlds and words, the borders, the thresholds.  I'm disappointed when people treat the labels they've adopted as some sort of gospel. To me uncertainty is the most invigorating state, but for most of our society, even those
self declared alternative groups, uncertainty is a thing to be shunned and feared.  Because I'm willing to take that on, I think that I am less at home in more places, but I hope that I can act as a kind of connective agent, making different groups aware of each other and their similarities.

Coat (2001), Collaboration with AA Bronson
Image via Elisabeth Kley

Does it ever create an 'identity crisis' in your work?

I think my work succeeds to the extent that it makes people question their preconceived categories.  Since that's not the usual modus operandi for much art work, especially identity-based work, some people may interpret that as a crisis of identity.  I don't. I make the work to find out what I think or feel about a particular thing, not to express some notion about identity.

Joe Dallesandro as Augustin (1994), image via Matthew Marks

You've brought your childhood (bunnies, gingerbread houses, puppets) into your adult life as a way of exploring themes of sex, control and identity. Can you talk about that?

Any piece I make starts out as a kind of hazy idea of a thing I'd like to see, and it's through the making, the wrestling with the material, that I come to some understanding of why I wanted to see it in the first place.  I'm always asking myself “why does this feel right to me?”  The “this” in that sentence may be piece of artwork I'm looking at, a book I'm reading or a sexual activity.  I try to investigate my emotions and responses through making things.  So when I do that, the trail usually leads back to childhood.  There have been times where I've gotten a little tired of that in the work, where I start to suspect that the child-like nature of the imagery has become a gimmick.  That's one of the things I'm grateful to photography for. It's hard to be childish in a photograph.  At least it is for me.

Bunnyhole II (2007) image via James Wagner

I had always assumed your use of rabbits was primarily about fecundity. I read that you are also "... using the rabbit as this metaphor for something that's sort of in-between race. Of
indeterminate race. That came from thinking about Br'er Rabbit and Uncle Wiggily. Those stories are West African folktales that came into this country with slaves. They're like the progenitor of Bugs Bunny. So in thinking of my own racial identity, I kept sort of using this rabbit metaphor."  The rabbits seem to be able to hold many ideas for you. What do they mean to you today?

I kept coming back to them so often over the years because their trails of reference led in so many different directions.  It goes back to what I was saying above.  I get the idea of a certain kind of bunny thing I'd like to see and then having worked on it I start asking why was that image in my head.  These days they seem a little exhausted for me as a subject matter, so there really haven't been so many bunny pieces in the past four years or so.  I'm sure they'll come back at some point, but they haven't for a while.

Daily 1.9.05 (2005), image via artist

If I had to chose a favorite piece of yours, it would probably be Coat (followed closely by Starting Over). Coat was such a great convergence of your dominant themes. Is there a piece or show that you feel especially represents you?

Thanks for saying that.  I've always tried to make the work so that one thing doesn't sum it all up.  I think I'm best represented in the range of the work, the fact that there's representational drawings, and abstract found object sculptures, and text pieces and performances and that it all makes more sense the more you see it in combination. I like it when people investigate the work and see the different currents in it.  My favorite artists are those I see that kind of richness in and it's the thing I aspire to for myself.  It's something that I think has been lost in artists' training which seems to be focused on forcing people to pick one trope and to stick to it endlessly.

Video still from Gorge (1998), image via Matthew Marks Gallery

You were 21 and living in New York when AIDS hit. A year later, you moved out to San Francisco to get your MFA. Did living in those cities during the early 80s have a big impact on your art and politics?

Just two corrections:  I was attending college in upstate New York in '81 and went to grad school in Southern California after that. I didn't make it to San Francisco until 1984.  But yes the AIDS epidemic certainly had a huge impact on all of us.  I remember a gay man in LA trying to talk me out of relocating to San Francisco after school by telling me that “the all have AIDS up there”.  So the fear of the unknown was palpable.  The man who gave me my first job when I did move north was one of the first people I knew directly with AIDS.  I was not connected to the New York response however.  It's hard to say that AIDS “hit” New York in 81.  Truth is, very few people were talking about it then even though there was growing media response. The thing that AIDS did in the artworld, was that it changed people's perception of what “Gay Art” could be.  Up to that point, the only art that was recognizably gay was either beefcake or camp, neither of which were thought of as serious subjects for artists.  It was the rise of both the work of mourning and the work of activism that changed people's perceptions of what gay artists had to say. That happened in many different places worldwide, and it's something that's effects are still being seen today.

Video still from Starting Over (2000) image via artist website

What do you think the biggest misconception people have about you is?

Wow, I kind of don't know how to answer this. Usually people don't tell me so much what they're thinking of me, so it's hard to tell when they're off. I suppose it's that I think I know what I'm doing, that the work is the expression of some preconceived idea that I'm trying to deliver to an audience.  Really I'm just thrashing around in the middle of it.  But that's a misconception that people tend to have about art making in general and less about me. I guess certain critics have assumed that I was cynical at certain times, and that has rankled. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Server (2000), image via Matthew Marks Gallery

You've recently completed a 25 year retrospective.  Do you feel you can breathe a little easier now? Or does it create a sense of urgency to make more work?

Today's blank sheet of paper is just as terrifying as the one I sat in front of twenty years ago. The only difference is that I have a bit more experience with saying to myself: OK, if you commit to being in the midst of this terror, the odds are good that you'll learn something in the process.  I was very happy to see that group of works brought together, because we did it in a way to make people reevaluate what they thought of what I was doing.  It was very nice to see the way things spoke to each other across the years, but that doesn't change things in the studio.  There are no guarantees; we have to face each new thing fresh and with as much honesty as we can muster.   


Nayland Blake is represented by Matthew Marks (New York), Fred (London) and Gallery Paule Anglim (San Francisco). He's popped up a few times recently here in the Northwest. TJ Norris curated him into .meta in Oregon and Volume (Robert Crouch/Ed Patuto) included him in their recent show Scores at Lawrimore Project. Two of his pieces (including Joe Dallesandro as Augustin) are currently on view at The Frye Museum as part of The Puppet Show.

The Quarterly Disorderly / Rob Roy

My buddy Strath, along with with his good friend Spin, are starting a new night called Quarterly Disorderly. Four times a year, they'll be spinning their extensive vinyl collection along with invited guests & friends.

You probably already know all about Strath but if you don't, you should! He's had a pretty cool career, starting way back when he wrote for The Rocket. He also had his own record label called Conception Records. He's worked for Martha and has been involved with several other cool design projects. He also writes a great blog (along with his equally amazing wife, Emily) that is on my daily read list. To top it off he's a super great designer and all around nice guy. 

Rob Roy /
Tuesday, July 28th, 6pm-11pm
2332 Second Avenue at Battery
No cover charge, happy hour specials 'til 8pm

This will be a great way to relax after work. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cupcake Royale is open!

Well, it's completely official, Jody Hall opened up her 4th Cupcake Royale location this morning at 6am.  You shouldn't have any problems finding it, just look for the big cupcake with pink neon writing. 

I know I'm biased (I'm now curating the art for the different locations), but the space is AMAZING! Every time I walk in there, I get a little breathless. It doesn't hurt that white, pink and brown are my favorite colors. Domestic Furniture seriously nailed it.

Flat Screen Figurine (2009) by Claudia Fitch

They had a pre-opening art party last night to show off the design and introduce the inaugural exhibition. Roy McMakin curated the first show and folks brought their A-game. Walking in, you're greeted by a brand new sculpture piece by Jeffry Mitchell. Two mama elephants with a little baby one holding up a cupcake. Too cute! He's also showing a few vacu-formed plastic pieces -- a beaver and a bear.  Ken Kelly created a brand new painting (the red line piece seen up above). His new stuff has been killing me! I could look at it all day and don't ever want the piece to leave the space! How he managed to transition from sinuous curves into geometric blocks and lines and remain completely Ken Kelly is beyond me. The incomparable Claudia Fitch (you might have seen her enormous head sculptures at Safeco Field) turned in a real stunner called Flat Screen Figurine. Also included is her curvy piece Calligraphy and a paper piece called Old Timey Interior (I love that title!). 

There have been a lot of mentions about the new space. Here are a few of my favorites. 

And okay, no more cupcake posts for a while as long as you promise to check out the space. You're gonna love it!

Archie Bray Auction

Skull, Snake & Butterfly by Jeffry Mitchell

One of my favorite things from the town I was born in is the Archie Bray Foundation. It seems like just about anyone doing ceramics in the Northwest has some sort of connection to this esteemed Helena institution. Their fundraiser (an online auction) ends this Friday at 7pm MST. That leaves you with just a little time to bid on one of the 44 amazing pieces of art, including the two shown here.

Bird Jar by Ayumi Horie

Monday, July 20, 2009

"Ain't it great?"

photo via JHG

Jen Graves does a nice post about Jeff's new show at James Harris Gallery. From all accounts, it sounded like an absolute frenzy in there last Thursday. He sold over 35 pieces that night alone! Congrats, tiger!

Jesse Edwards / Bravo Art Reality Show

Ceramic TV (showing Thomas Kinkade) by Jesse Edwards

Congratulations to former Seattle artist, Jesse Edwards. He got a shout-0ut in the New York Times this weekend. Jesse auditioned for the upcoming Bravo art-reality tv series.

"By the end of Saturday’s cattle call almost 400 hopefuls had turned up. About a third of the way back in the line, Jesse Edwards, a 31-year-old painter and ceramics artist from Seattle who has been living hand to mouth since moving to New York this summer, opened his portfolio to show a picture of a work that the producers might keep handy as a cautionary reminder: a ceramic television with an image of painted apples as its screen. 

The piece was titled “Still Life Channel.”“It’s a snoozer of a channel, the Still Life Channel,” Mr. Edwards said, but then quickly showed a picture of another ceramic television, this one with a mirror as its screen, titled “Your Personal Moment of Fame.”

“That channel can be whatever you want it to be,” he said. “It can be great. It’s all up to you.” "

Congratulations, Jesse -- hope you make it!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The High Line revisited

I blogged about the High Line before I got to NYC here. I'm happy to report that it more than lives up to the hype. It's a bit crowded and I expect it will remain that way until they lengthen the route. I would love if it if Seattle could retain part of the Viaduct and do something similar. Could you imagine how beautiful an elevated park along Elliot Bay would be?

My flickr set here. Other people's pics here.

Daily Art

Out of all the art I've seen in the past couple of days, the Ensor and Bacon exhibits really stood out. Today, I'm hitting galleries in Chelsea (first stops will be Nicole Klagsbrun and Matthew Marks).

Skeletons Fighting Over a Pickled Herring (1891)
James Ensor
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Sabam, Brussels

I knew a few of James Ensor pieces, but I wasn't prepared for just how weird his paintings were. As Dave said, "He must have been the David Lynch of his time." The exhibit was great. Lots of prints, drawings and paintings. I even ran into Chuck Close (which made me absolutely giddy!). There were so many pieces that I loved, but I kept coming back to the skeletons above. I expected it to be huge, but the painting is actually really small. Here's a review by Jerry Saltz.

Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953)
Francis Bacon 
The Estate of Francis Bacon/ARS, New York/DACS, London

Painting (1946) by Francis Bacon
The Estate of Francis Bacon/ARS, New York/DACS, London

I thought the Francis Bacon exhibit at The Met was pretty amazing. I'm actually not the biggest fan of his later stuff, but I find his story really compelling and tragic. I watched a documentary about him before I visited NYC and I think I would have enjoyed an evening of drinking with him, but his paintings leave me extremely angsty. It was actually hard to be in the same room with some of the darker ones. His painting Painting made me shiver. It's the same feeling I got watching the movie Hellraiser, things feel hopeless and you know they'll remain that way forever. There's something about the open mouths that made me want to scream along with them. If there is a hell, I have a feeling it would feel like that. Here's another Jerry Saltz review.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Save the Date / No Friends Only Enemies

No Friends Only Enemies - An Implied Violence Fundraiser

by Darin Shuler

Save the date of August 1st, folks! My favorite rabble-rousers are about to give Seattle a punch in the arm (or somewhere else according to their press release). 

In preparation for their invitation to perform at the New Island Festival, they're raising money to get the crew over to New York. Tickets ain't cheap and their new project (like all of them) is Ambitious to say the least! The folks of IV are hard workers, they're not just asking for money (though they'd certainly take it!), instead they want to throw a party that will knock your socks, aurally and visually. They describe it better than I can so take it away, Implied Violence!


Implied Violence will be hosting an all night Art House/Hell House in the basement of The American Hotel. Located on 5th and King St.,Once owned by The Union Gospel Mission  serving women and children, it will soon to be overrun with young and soft European hostlers. Through both legitimate and below grade dealings, Implied Violence  has been granted the space to install bands, art, bars, and performance for a one-night only vagina punch. Take it and smile.  With art by Implied Violence, NKO, several friends, and many many more enemies.  Featuring performance by JERRY, & Implied Violence Shot-A-Thon Sponsors.  Implied Violence will convince about a dozen bands to rock our beautiful Chinatown basement well into the wee morning hours--Strong Killings? TacocaT?  Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death?  Past Lives?  Ribbons?  The Parenthetical Girls? Idle Times?  Who knows?  We don't yet, but once they're all cooked up, we'll give you the recipe. The funds earned from this event will go directly towards flying over twenty degenerate villains and enemies alike to New York for the bizarrely prestigious New Island Festival.

August 1st 2009
Doors at 7p.m.
Bands at 9p.m.

Basement of The American Hotel (enter through the alley)
520 South King St.
Seattle WA 98104

$15-$30 Suggested Donation


If you can't make the big party, you can still help them out by participating in their SHOT-A-THON!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Black Acid Co-op / Deitch Projects

Now in its 3rd incarnation, Jonah Freeman and Justin Love's ode to a meth lab continues to amaze. Converting a pristine gallery space in Soho into a multi-level labyrinth of detritus and oddities, they capture the zeitgeist of today's meth culture -- right down to the smell. 

You show up, sign a waiver (it's a rickety installation) and walk into a bright room of fluorescent bulbs and so begins your journey into the rabbit hole. Up and down stairs and crawling through holes between walls, you immediately forget you're in a gallery. The exhibit creates a palpable tension of what might be around the next corner. Guns? A body? Snarling guard dogs? Nope, just a tripped out version of a Chinese apothecary. Is that blood on the floor in the next room? Nope, just the red carpet of an incongruent high-end gallery space showcasing cacti paintings. My favorite space was the upstairs chill-out spiritual center of the exhibit. Alongside rows and rows of jars preserving random objects like t-shirts in liquid were traditional totems like cow skulls and dream-catchers. The thin layer of separation between the viewer and actual gallery space (you could peek through wooden planks and see the actual ceiling) is a faux-geodesic dome of brightly colored fabrics stretched over a timber framework.

At the end of the day, it's less of a judgement on meth and more of an anthropological study of what counter-culture has become today. Black Acid Co-op is a must see if you'll be in New York before August 15th.  Check out my flickr set to see the whole show. More info at

Roberta Smith's review here. updated 7/18/2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day of art firsts

New York City -- you blew my mind today, again!

Without even stepping into a museum, it was a total day of art firsts for me.

My first Jean Dubuffet. I loved this! Perhaps even my highlight of the day.

My first Jeff Koons. The only thing that would have been better is Michael Jackson and Bubbles.

My first Damien Hirst. Bloated? Of course. But that man is a marketing genius and I've loved many of his pieces. 

My first Jenny Holzer (okay, actually my 2nd, but this one was HUGE). I loved her work long before I ever thought about becoming an artist. If you're in Seattle, the Convention Center actually has a Holzer, in case you didn't know.

My first Banksy. Yes, I like his stuff. So there.

My first Marion Peck (shown here with her husband Mark Ryden and my friend, Brad).

My first Ugo Rondinone to which I did indeed say, "HELL, YES!" Ugo also shows at Matthew Marks with a couple of my other favorite artists, Nayland Blake and Roy McMakin.

Tomorrow, we're going to Met. I'm so excited to see my first Francis Bacon!

Darin Shuler / ID Art Walk

do you believe in ESP by Darin Shuler

If you don't already know the name, you will real soon because Darin Shuler is doing some really cool things! While he's primarily a drawer, he's also done some rad horse sculptures for Implied Violence. He's shown at CoCA and last year, he did some jaw-dropping huge drawings for Soil. I LOVE him and his drawings and if you're a bit out there, I think you will too!

get me out now fast by Darin Shuler

This Saturday, he'll be participating in the first ID Art Walk. Don't miss it - he'll have tons of new drawings, tshirts and booklets.

This Saturday from 5-8pm in the ID (676 Jackson).

Os Gêmeos / NYC

We checked out Os Gêmeos, twin brothers Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo, painting a huge mural down at Bowery & Houston. They've done a few other pieces here in NYC before. Read a bit about the twins here and here.

This wall has a rich history of graffiti art. Last year, a group of organizations commissioned a recreation of a Keith Haring piece that used to live on the same spot way back in 1982. It was a tribute for what would have been his 50th birthday.