Erin Langner

December 02, 2014, 9:06am

The Unlikely Likeness of Quilts and Monsters: Whiting Tennis at Greg Kucera Gallery

Quilts and monsters would seem to have little to do with one another. Were it not for Seattle artist Whiting Tennis’s show of that title at Greg Kucera Gallery, I doubt the two would have ever come together in my mind. Inside the gallery, the quilt-inspired works stand across the space from the monsters, the two sets of paintings occupying opposing walls, making it seem as though they should be considered separate entities. Spending time among their equally weathered palettes, their rigid, fragmented subjects and their unlikely overlaps, however, I only became more convinced that quilts and monsters do, in fact, belong together.—Erin Langner, Seattle contributor

Whiting Tennis | Quilt #3 (brown quilt) , 2014, acrylic and collage on canvas, 87 x 68 inches. Image courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery.

Listed under: Review

October 29, 2014, 8:46am

Being There Again and Again: Joy Garnett at Platform Gallery

Most of the time, as soon as I am awake, I begin scrolling through the layers of news on my phone, while still laying in bed. The ISIS updates, the new Ebola cases, and the pithy comments on the latest art world drama barely stick during this first round of skimming headlines and images, my awareness of the day coming into focus as I work through the tweets and the “Likes.” This activity would seem to have little to do with the meticulous, studied ways we usually interact with paintings. However, Brooklyn artist Joy Garnett proves otherwise, as evidenced by her new show, Being There, which opened at Seattle’s Platform Gallery last week. Pulling images from the media—including photographs of conflicts in the Middle East and screen grabs of leaked US military videos—Garnett’s new paintings bleed and blur their scenes into places that seem as familiar as the widely-disseminated photographs they reference. However, the artist also brings out the distant, fleeting way we absorb these images, turning their subjects into things we can never fully know. —Erin Langner, Seattle contributor

Joy Garnett | Standoff, 2013, oil on canvas, 38 x 44 inches. Image courtesy of Platform Gallery.

Listed under: Review

September 25, 2014, 9:21am

Erupting Unknowns: Ryan Molenkamp’s Fear of Volcanoes

The first time I came to Seattle was to board a cruise ship, the same reason so many other Northwest outsiders first experience this city. Since I had been traveling with family (not to mention thousands of other cruisers), the only time I recall being alone on the trip was during the cab ride back to the airport, after we returned to port. Sitting in the backseat, moving alongside the lines of cars traveling southbound on I-5, the faint image of Mount Rainier floated among the license plates. It was among this swarm of rendered, friendlier mountains that I first saw the real Rainier, looming seventy miles away, above the mass of clouds that coated the passenger-side window.

Although I have lived here for nine years, and few things I saw during the cruise visit look the same to me now as they did fresh off the ship, Mount Rainier still radiates the same sense of severe immensity, even during its sunniest appearances. Walking into SAM Gallery’s Made in the Northwest show, I was met with a similar hum of severity—this time coming from Seattle artist Ryan Molenkamp’s (NAP #97) painted volcanoes. — Erin Langner, Seattle contributor

Ryan Molenkamp | View from Mt Erie, 
acrylic on panel, 30 x 40 in., 2014. Image courtesy of the artist.

Listed under: Review

August 25, 2014, 9:06am

Amanda Manitach on Painting, Feminism, Whiskey and T-Shirts

Knowing what to expect from Amanda Manitach is a tricky endeavor. The Seattle artist, writer and curator has linked the goring of a matador to menstruation, through imagery of red platform stilettos and dripping shards of beets. She has embroidered lambs’ tongues with clusters of tiny, antique beads, discarding the meticulously renedered work upon completion. She draws and paints works on paper that fuse classical nudes, horses detailed with prominent genitalia and melancholic ghost figures. But, a pair of legs in black stilettos walk behind the lamb tongue scene, and the tongue’s bulbous shape billows like the clouds that tint her watercolors, amending the surprise that the abrubpt shifts within her body of work evoke with the sense that perhaps we should have seen this coming, after all. A similar sensation continued in my conversation with Mantiach on her new show, T-Shirts, at Seattle’s Joe Bar, during which we discussed Instagram inspiration, third-wave feminism, sex murder, and the time she lied about her relationship with painting. – Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor

Amanda Manitach | Ten Reasons Having A Dick Sucks
, ink on paper, 18 x 24 inches, 2014. Image courtesy of the artist.

Listed under: Interview

July 30, 2014, 8:30am

Storied Surfaces: Philip Miner’s Dark All Over Europe

“You have to touch the paintings,” Robert Yoder, owner of Seattle’s SEASON gallery suddenly insisted, as he, artist Philip Miner and I stood beside a set of five canvases included in Miner’s new show, Dark All Over Europe; the artist stopped his train of thought to emphatically agree. Titled One by Four & Four Minus One or Two, Maybe More, the acrylic and flashe paintings in question stood side by side, in a tight row, coated with a texture that looked like a literal manifestation of blood and sand—speckled, saturated, and sticky. The surface that met my fingers, however, was the precise opposite. These paintings were so uniformly slick it was hard to believe they were made by a human hand.  While One by Four & Four Minus One or Two was unique in its need to be touched, each work in Dark All Over Europe had a story that started at its surface. — Erin Langner, Seattle contributor

Philip Miner | One by Four & Four Minus One or Two, Maybe More. 2014, acrylic and flashe on canvas, 20 X 16 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and SEASON.

Listed under: Review

July 21, 2014, 9:29am

Painting the Uncontainable: Introductions at G. Gibson Gallery

“Central Washington Fire Not Contained,” reads the headline of the Associated Press’s silent footage showing the plumes of gray and black that presided over entire mountains full of charred treetops in Washington State over the last week. Somewhere between the brush fires that maintain a forest’s health and the catastrophic fields of flames that consume the homes and the national parks of the western United States every summer resides the invisible line that separates controlled chaos from the uncontainable. Standing among the natural phenomena dominating the paintings of Introductions at Seattle’s G. Gibson Gallery while the fires burn across other pockets of the state, the related tensions investigated by these artists take on a new level of relevancy. — Erin Langner, Seattle contributor

Susanna Bluhm | Yosemite Rock (Pretend Feathers & Corduroy Patch), 2013, oil
and acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and G. Gibson Gallery.

Listed under: Review

July 14, 2014, 9:05am

A Quiet, Creeping Reality: Buddy Bunting’s Valley Fever at Prole Drift

A tortoise, a gas station, a sleeping dog, a shadowy tree and a juvenile detention facility: these are the subjects of Buddy Bunting’s five new paintings. At first sight, the mystery of their connection hangs in the air with a sense of heavy deliberation; these unlike things are somehow meant to be together, but it is hard to see how. Then, slowly, as you linger inside Seattle’s Prole Drift gallery, that sensation of heavy air becomes more pronounced and persistent across the scenes—the stillness of the dog, the haze surrounding the tree, the immobility of the tortoise. The title that gathers them together—Valley Fever—evokes the slowed pace that feverish heat commands, and this proves to be the best approach to journeying through Bunting’s thick environs. — Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor

Buddy Bunting | Antelope Valley Juvenile Detention Center, Lancaster, California, oil on linen, 2014. Image courtesy of Prole Drift

Listed under: Review

June 06, 2014, 8:30am

Prefab Paintings: William Powhida’s Unretrospective

“ANYTHING can be ’editioned.’ Repetition is your friend.” This is one of the rules in William Powhida’s The Rules, which itself an edition of sorts. Referred to by the artist as a “republication,” The Rules is an oil painting that was made by an employee of painting village in Shenzhen, China, based on a JPEG image depicting the Brooklyn artist’s text-based drawing of the same title. This republication is available in three sizes and can be purchased through the artist’s website, for the duration of his show at Platform Gallery, Unretrospective, along with any JPEG that can be found on the site.  In effect, Powhida has created a space where anything really can be editioned, and repetition is your—or at least your wallet’s—friend.— Erin Langner, Seattle contributor

William Powhida | WHAT CAN THE Art World TEACH YOU?, 2014 (republication)
oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Platform Gallery.

Listed under: Review

May 19, 2014, 4:53pm

Close Encounters with Falling Realities: Cynthia Camlin’s Divided Earth

Last week, when I heard the news of the West Antarctica’s falling ice sheet, it was hard not to think of the floating, fragmenting masses that comprise Cynthia Camlin’s (NAP #109) new paintings. For over ten years, the artist has been manipulating frozen landscapes into rich imagery that ranges from the luscious, bulbous forms of her watercolor icebergs, to graphic screen prints of broken, frozen shards made flat by their map-like, textural surfaces. Camlin’s latest series, Divided Earth, on view at Seattle’s PUNCH Gallery, reexamines her familiar subjects, which have become increasingly prominent representatives of the world’s most pressing environmental concerns.  These new, articulated ice shelves—one of which spans a colossal ten panels—loom directly above and beside their onlookers, the grid structures building an illusion so tangible that, at times, the mounds’ jagged edges feel as if they break into our space on a disturbingly intimate level.  I caught up with the artist to find out more about the new works and the way our evolving relationship with climate change has shaped her practice. — Erin Langner, Seattle contributor

Cynthia Camlin | Water Fragment, 1-10, ink, watercolor and vinyl polymer emulsion on paper panels, 12" x 9" each. Image courtesy of the artist.

Listed under: Review

April 22, 2014, 9:03am

Mountains Made of Paper: Saul Becker’s Dead Reckoning

Svalbard is an unincorporated Norwegian archipelago that resides in the Arctic Circle, between continental Norway and the North Pole.  While its indisputable date of discovery surrounds a Dutchman’s search for the Northern Sea Route, in 1596, Scandinavians may have found it as early as the twelfth century.  In either case, a human presence made its way into this distant, arctic land filled with fjords, mountains, polar bears and arctic foxes, through a history of interactions ranging from whaling, explorations and coal mining, to the last armed German military unit’s surrender, after World War II. Svalbard is also now the site of The Arctic Circle residency program, where Tacoma artist Saul Becker (NAP #49) took in the landscapes that became part of his new show, Dead Reckoning, while aboard a grand, 120-foot schooner. — Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor

Saul Becker | Folding Coastline, 2012, watercolor, ink and gouache on paper, 29.5 x 41.5 in. Image courtesy of Prole Drift.

Listed under: Review