Review

December 18, 2014, 8:52am

Signifier and Signified: Helen Rebekah Garber at Gallery Wendi Norris

Helen Rebekah Garber’s paintings must be heavy. They’re covered head to toe in thickly impastoed oil paint revealing a layered painting process that must surely take months to complete. The paintings (on view in “Numbers” at Gallery Wendi Norris through January 9, 2015) seem heavy not only because of their size and impastoed heft but also because from a distance their nearly monochromatic surfaces can resemble talismanic rock engravings. They hang on the walls like sacred tablets. There’s a kind of spiritual allusion in Garber’s forms, at once seeming to reference mandalas, religious altarpieces, and Mayan hieroglyphs. The paintings speak to a kind of transcendentalism that we also find in the paintings of Chris Martin (like “For Paul Thek”) or even Forrest Bess (like “Before Man”). But up close Garber’s paintings tell a different story. – Matt Smith Chavez, San Francisco Contributor


Helen Rebekah Garber |
Haniel I, 2014, Oil on linen, 60 x 60 inches (152.4 x 152.4 cm), Courtesy of Gallery Wendi Norris

Listed under: Review

December 17, 2014, 10:51am

Rothkos in Space and Paintings of Dumpsters: The Absurd Worlds of Ralph Pugay

Out-loud laughter is not usually something you hear at a paintings show, particularly one inside of a museum. However, this is the reaction I saw over and over again, as I stood among Portland artist Ralph Pugay’s (NAP #97, #115) paintings, at the Seattle Art Museum. Filling a small but highly trafficked gallery that was wedged between exhibits of glass and of traditional nineteenth and twentieth century American art, the artist’s small canvases excelled at catching people off guard. The flattened, cartoonish scenes captured the eyes of people en route to another space, who would wander towards them with looks of befuddlement. The point at which the artist’s frank titles, absurdities and language games began to sink in was the moment the laughter began.— Erin Langner, Seattle contributor


Ralph Pugay | Rothkos in Space, acrylic on canvas, 24"x24", 2013. Image courtesy of the artist.

Listed under: Museum Admission, Review

December 04, 2014, 9:47am

Field Notes: Bethany Johnson at Moody Gallery

In a strong showing, Austin-based artist Bethany Johnson’s (NAP #108) recent exhibition Field Notes at Moody Gallery in Houston explores her affinity for natural sciences and is a continuation of her interests in the “study of systems and the visual representation of information.” Field Notes is comprised of a variety of complex drawings detailing landscapes–both familiar and unfamiliar–that immediately call to mind a more electronic or mechanical means of production including computer printouts, maps, scans or 3D renderings. –Claude Smith, Albuquerque/Santa Fe Contributor


Bethany Johnson | Apollo stacks, 2014, ink on paper, 11" x 8 1/2"; image courtesy of the artist and Moody Gallery, Houston, Texas

Listed under: Review

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

November 03, 2014, 9:34am

Rebecca Farr’s Sweet Broken Now

Rebecca Farr’s recent solo show at Klowden-Mann was a strong force to be reckoned with--both in terms of the physical presence of her paintings and in the contending contemplation her subject demanded.

With heavy paint on blotted and torn, layered paper, Farr collages print photos from 1970s and 80s coffee table books as her source material. She layers those with paper and heavy paint on wood panel, creating works that feel dense and heavy, yet very exciting and current.

Farr paints photos into vague suggestions of landscape paintings, as if her subjects inhabit a ghost world or ethereal dream. In “Sweet Broken Now,” Farr’s third solo show at Klowden-Mann, Farr made Manifest Destiny her subject of inquiry and aimed to capture the complex history arising from the ideology and religious fervor that justified white westward expansion during the early 1900s. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor


Rebecca Farr | Installation view featuring Tilth 1, 2014, Mixed media on wood panel, 48 x 72”. Courtesy of Klowden-Mann.

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

October 13, 2014, 9:46am

The Notion of Landscape: Michael Cook

Albuquerque-based artist Michael Cook (#42, #114) has long been exploring the vast terrain of both landscape and our perceptions of it. Citing an interest in semiotics and specifically, the point at which “objects become visible in culture” he often conflates symbols, language and diagrams to build complex, multi-layered compositions. In his current exhibition The Notion of Landscape at the Francis McCray Gallery of Contemporary Art at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, NM, Cook presents a diverse body of work that spans the years 1981-2009. –Claude Smith Albuquerque/Santa Fe Contributor


Michael Cook | Venetian (Alamogordo) 2007-2009, oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches; image courtesy the artist

Listed under: Review

September 26, 2014, 9:17am

Matt Magee at James Kelly Contemporary

In his first solo exhibition at James Kelly Contemporary in Santa Fe, Phoenix-based artist and recent NYC transplant Matt Magee (NAP #14) offers a bit of a departure from his typically looser, more shapely and often-codified works. In this stripped-down, analytical offering, Recent Paintings and Sculptures features works inspired by observed and imagined forms, collections, data analysis and the Arizona sky. – Claude Smith, Albuquerque/Santa Fe Contributor


Matt Magee | Narita, 2013, oil on panel; image courtesy of James Kelly Contemporary

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

September 24, 2014, 9:49am

Edgar Arceneaux’s “A Book and a Medal” at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

Edgar Arceneaux’s “A Book and a Medal: Disentanglement Equals Homogenous Abstractions” opened at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects earlier this month. Challenging and compelling, the show is a triple threat of musts (must-see, -feel, and -experience) all in one.


Edgar Arceneaux | installation view of PLATONIC SOLID’S DREAMING/DETROIT’S SHRINKING (Dodecahedron), 2014, Paintings on mirrored glass, graphite and ink on vellum, layered over colored paper, in a hand crafted steel frames. Courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.

The exhibit features the contents of a partially redacted 1964 letter from J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI and part of the “Suicide Package,” blackmailing Dr. Martin Luther King by referencing his extramarital affairs and encouraging him to commit suicide. Another letter that serves as the former’s bookend came 50 years later as Bernice King, MLK’s daughter, urges her siblings not to sell their father’s Nobel Prize and bible (objects for which the show is named). Arceneaux explores the complexity of iconicity and monument-making; history and storytelling; and forgetting and memorializing. Using mirror installations and the shape of the redacted letter as a recognizable and repeated template throughout the exhibit, he creates a mood of intrigue, redundancy, and disjuncture. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

Listed under: Interview, Review

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