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  • Monday, December 27, 2021 11:00 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Kenjiro Nomura (1896-1956) came to the United States from Japan at the age of ten and was left to fend for himself in Tacoma at the age of 16 when his family returned to Japan in 1913. Two years later, he moved to Seattle and began to formally study art in 1915 in the studio of Fokko Tadama. He immediately attracted attention as an artist. At the same time he supported himself with his own sign painting business.

     

    “Kenjiro Nomura American Modernist; An Issei Artist’s Journey” finally gives a major exhibition to an extraordinary artist. Last given a solo show in 1960 at the Seattle Art Museum, his wartime drawings created during incarceration at Puyallup and Minidoka were all hidden away at that time. 

     

    Curator of the Cascadia Art Museum, David Martin selected a small group of the over 100 wartime drawings and paintings now in the Tacoma Art Museum as a gift from the Nomura family. (I would like to see a book of all of them!) The exhibition also includes early figurative work, important urban work of the 1930s, and abstractions of the 1950s. The range of the work through incredible challenges is extraordinary. 

     

    Barbara Johns’ invaluable book accompanies the exhibit. She eloquently expands on the artist’s career. Both art historians are experts on the Issei and Nissei artists in the Northwest, a unique chapter in American art history.  Johns and Martin have published other books. We are so fortunate to have their important work on this subject. 

     

    One of the earliest works in the exhibition is an accomplished “Self-Portrait” from 1925. It clearly demonstrates Nomura’s understanding of brushwork and subtle tonalities, but it is not just surface effects. It also suggests an intense inner vitality.

    In the 1930s the artist created complex urban landscapes, such as a view of the intersection of Yesler Way and Fourth Avenue, with a sharp eye for planes, angles, and the presence of nature. He layers different tonalities of browns and reds, building a geometric composition with an unusual intricacy of perspectives. I will never see this intersection in the same way again. 

     

    Nomura’s work was widely recognized in Seattle and nationally, and even shown at the Museum of Modern Art.

     

    On February 19, 1942, U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order 9066 authorizing the relocation of all persons considered a threat to national defense from the west coast of the United States inland. This year marks the 80th anniversary of one of the most brutal executive orders.

     

    Kenjiro Nomura and his family, along with 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were abruptly uprooted and sent to internment camps, first at the State Fairgrounds in Puyallup and then the remote camp at Minidoka, near Hunt, Idaho where he remained until the end of World War II. But, incredibly, he never stopped painting, making a unique record in watercolor of both camps. 

     

    These factual and haunting images record the ordinary lives of the camps, a barber shop, a mess hall, an outhouse, barracks and a water tower. But the scenes always include nature. Nomura even painted pure landscapes. As Johns recounts in her book, the internees at Minidoka were expected to take the sagebrush-filled land and turn it into rich agricultural farms with irrigation ditches dug by hand. They produced millions of pounds of produce, and Nomura records this transformation in several watercolors. But I found his tiny sunsets, views of the sky through a barrack window, the sun bursting through from the sky above the barracks, a sign that he never stopped looking beyond his situation. The persistence he had developed as a teenager when left alone in this country served him well. 

     

    After the internment, Nomura returned with his family to Seattle in 1945. He once again overcame incredible misfortune after his wife committed suicide and his second wife died. But with the encouragement of fellow artists, particularly Paul Horiuchi, he resumed painting. In the 1950s, he turned to highly original abstraction. Each painting demonstrates a new experiment, with media, composition, and color. There are understated gestures that point to his early lessons in calligraphy, but these are works that suggest a willingness to try something new in every work. 

     

    It is an amazing story. 

     

    Kenjiro Nomura belongs on all of our lists of major artists. Thanks to David Martin and Barbara Johns, we can now see his paintings and learn his history. Kenjiro Nomura’s art work demonstrates his incredible ability as an artist and his perseverance as a human being. 


    Susan Noyes Platt

    Susan Noyes Platt writes a blog www.artandpoliticsnow.com and for local, national, and international publications.


    “Kenjiro Nomura American Modernist; An Issei Artist’s Journey” is on view through February 20 from Thursday through Sunday from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M.  at Cascadia Art Museum, located at 190 Sunset Avenue South in Edmonds, Washington. For further information, visit www.cascadiaartmuseum.org.




  • Monday, December 27, 2021 10:47 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    How has your perception of your sense of “self” changed over the past two years? Has this time been a pivotal period of image-making or remaking? We all seem to have gained a new awareness of our body and how we can impact the bodies of others during this pandemic. As people start to physically gather again, how will these lessons impact our future interactions? In the exhibition, “Up Close & Personal: The Body in Contemporary Art,” visual representations of the human body take on renewed significance. How artists and their subjects see themselves and choose to portray the physical, and emotional, self is on display in the museum. The exhibition is from the collection of Driek and Michael Zirinsky, which adds a layer of interest to the selections. What can we learn about ourselves by the artworks that resonate with us, but also why did the collectors select these specific artworks for their collection? All these questions circle around a central figure: the ever complex and analyzed human body. 


    To say that this exhibition simply showcases portraiture is a mistake. There are contemporary portraits in the exhibition that demonstrate the more traditional aspects of portraiture: the artist creates a visual representation of a subject and there are clues about the person’s identity or values included in the artwork. But these are contemporary images that are also evoking ideas about identity, race, sexuality, politics, and more. Many of these images are intimate and personal, like Titus Kaphar’s “Womb,” a tar on paper portrait of a pregnant Black woman. The artist includes aspects of her clothing to give the viewer clues about the time period (likely 19th century), but her breasts and unborn child are on full display as if the viewer has x-ray vision. They are let into this private moment as the subject looks off into the distance. We are left to consider what she may be feeling as the birth approaches. Is she fearful? Hopeful? It is difficult to tell. 


    As the viewer continues through the exhibition, there is a text panel to remind us that artists use the figure to tell narratives. Not all figurative art is portraiture, but the figure is a powerful tool in storytelling because they can connect people. If viewers can see themselves in an artwork, maybe that will help them connect to each other in deeper way. One method used to create this connection is by obscuring the figure so that the individual is not recognizable. They become a shell for the viewer to inhabit. Noah Davis erases the identity of the person in his painting, “I Wonder as I Wander.” A figure leans against a pedestal and cradles a sculpture in their arm. The background is black, and the artist has allowed the paint to drip and spread across the canvas, which gives the impression of deterioration. The face of the individual is overcome by dark background and is completely hidden. Who is this person? Their identity has disappeared, allowing the viewer to insert themselves into the work. What can we learn about figures in society who are erased? Whose futures are being extinguished? The artist pushes the viewer to think about these questions.  


    It is disconcerting to see important physical elements of a figure obscured from view, and it can be disturbing or visually alarming when the body appears to be dissected in an image. There is an entire part of the exhibition devoted to “figure fragments” which analyzes artworks that focus on certain elements of the body. The element may carry historical or social significance, such as the raised fist in Samantha Wall’s “Fists” from her “31 Days” series. While Wall highlights one body part to focus our attention on it, Mark Calderon hides a child’s face in “Regalis (red)” while also exposing their nakedness. The figure’s legs are crossed as they appear to float alone against a white background. The arms are drawn into the body and the face is cut off to bring the body flush against the wall. The child is completely physically vulnerable, and their existence is puzzling. 


    The exhibition provokes intriguing questions about our physical existence, how meaning is applied to the physical, and the various historical and social implications interwoven with body representations. There are these layers of questions on top of the fact that these works are all from the same private collection. Not only do Driek and Michael Zirinsky collect important contemporary artists, but there is a through line in their collecting that deserves further attention. What is it about figurative work that interests them? What is it about figurative work that interests you? 


    Chloé Dye Sherpe

    Chloé Dye Sherpe is a curator and art professional based in Washington State.


    “Up Close & Personal: The Body in Contemporary Art” is on view Thursday to Sunday from 12-5 P.M. through February 27, at Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher Building, located at 250 Flora Street, in Bellingham, Washington. For more information, visit www.whatcommuseum.org.


  • Monday, December 27, 2021 10:33 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)


  • Tuesday, November 02, 2021 10:59 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    “Packaged Black” amusingly begins with works in the four niches of the gallery foyer: two tall wire mannequin torsos dressed in skirts of cut out Tyvek by Barbara Earl Thomas and two wig stands with ornate hair by Derrick Adams.


    The next galleries left and right follow directly on the theme of the foyer. Barbara Thomas features a group of portraits of elegant Black men created with black cut outs against hand printed backgrounds in shades of green highlighted with orange. The men are named by a characteristic, such as “sonorous” or “divine.” A poem on the wall suggests the role of clothing and fashion “Dress up, dress down, dress to kill, dress to chill, dress for success, dress to challenge—it’s a vision, a meditation on the real and the ideal our one chance to magnify or suppress the perceived imperfection of our bodies.” Thomas comments on the crucial importance of dress for African Americans as they step out into the public eye: “ I see fashion as armor, talisman, the magic-cloak, bigger than life.”


    In the opposite gallery is Derrick Adams’ video “On,” a send up of late night TV advertising. Against a background of the color bars of old fashioned televisions, performers sell something with no value, such as a box labeled “more for us” “new and improved” promising the “next level” or “extra.” Their cacophony as well as their individual hypes give us hilarious nonsense at the same time that “On” comments on the role of media and branding in colonizing our public personas.


    These two rooms set the stage for the fabulous main gallery and the transformation of the white fairy tale of Cinderella into a glorious African American ensemble. As Thomas states “Cinderella is my gateway dream, the every-person’s story I’ve fashioned black.” First we see a huge, headless Cinderella dressed in a luscious gown of cut out pink Tyvek. Her train fills the center of the gallery. Her royal court includes more of Thomas’s elegant portraits of creative stars and Adams’ homage to black women based on their extraordinary hairstyles. Adams made photographs of mannequins in beauty shops in Brooklyn to which he adds intricate hair styles and mask like faces. Their intriguing individuality contradicts generic media hype.


    Adjacent to the main gallery, Thomas lined an entire small gallery with cut out Tyvek floor to ceiling in what she calls “The Transformation Room.” The artist painted the room peach, immersing us in a glow of lacey cut-outs on the walls and even the ceiling. In a shrine-like niche a black and white cut out portrait suggests a young woman transforming herself at a dressing table.


    On the other side of the Cinderella gallery Derrick Adams “Changing Rooms” are also about transformation. They feature an homage to Patrick Kelly (1954-1990), the brilliant Black designer who rose to eminence in Paris. Kelly’s fashions based on the vernacular clothes he observed around him going to church as he grew up. He featured patterns, and materials, especially buttons, that transformed couture fashion. In Adams’ homage, the artist creates a series of “Runway” works: mixed media collages with clothing patterns, and painted polka dots and stripes, to evoke Kelly’s transformations.


    In the back room of the exhibit, the two artists collaborated on “Rotating Lantern,” a ceiling light (evoking the mirror ball of a nightclub) that projects alternate cut outs from each of their work. It suggests a party for all of these transformed people, and we are the people having fun.


    Just before the entrance to “Packaged Black” is “Viewpoints: Queer Visibility,” two starkly contrasting paintings. “Boyz of the Wild” by Anthony White is a lusciously detailed expression of male desire painted with a sensuous surface created by polylactide (a thermoplastic made from renewable resources). Facing it is Dean Sameshima’s “Torso (Black on Silver)” a seemingly reductive black and white flow chart until you look more closely! The exhibition includes several poetic responses by members of the community including Jasmine Fetterman’s “A Letter Written in Queer Longing” a beautiful evocation of desire.


    On the lower level of the Henry, Syrian-born artist Diana Al-Hadid’s “Archive of Longing” exhibit presents extraordinary sculptures that evoke the destruction of culture. The artist created “Blind Busts” blindfolded. The face is generic, the figure sits on a bizarre pedestal that suggests dripping mud (it is bronze). Another work, “Smoke and Mirrors” leans dangerously as it seems to disintegrate before our eyes.


    At the moment the entrance is pay what you wish!


    Susan Noyes Platt

    Susan Noyes Platt writes a blog www.artandpoliticsnow.com and for local, national, and international publications.


    “Packaged Black: Barbara Earl Thomas and Derrick Adams” is on view through May 1, at the Henry Art Gallery from Thursday, 10 A.M. to 7 P.M., and Friday through Sunday, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. Visit www.henryart.org for more information. 


  • Tuesday, November 02, 2021 10:34 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)


    In 2012, a new arts organization opened on Front Street in Lynden. Entitled the Jansen Art Center in tribute to the Eleanor and Henry Jansen Foundation, this non-profit is part art school, part exhibition space, and also recognizes the historic buildings in which it is housed. With quarterly rotations of classes, programs, and exhibitions, the organization seeks to bring to life its mission: “The Jansen Art Center creates opportunities for the community to engage in the arts.” With several exhibitions ending in November to make way for new shows, this is a busy winter for the staff of the Jansen who serve not only Lynden, but all of Whatcom County and beyond. Classes are filling up again after the challenging past years and guests are returning to the admission-free exhibitions that celebrate and highlight artists of all backgrounds. 


    Susan Bennerstrom’s architectural and light focused paintings are displayed in the Fine Arts Gallery on the main floor. In her statement for the show, Bennerstrom reiterates her renewed focus on light and shadow as a method for grappling with the changing world. Her paintings are like a metaphor for what many people felt and continue to feel during these times. Bennerstrom’s interiors are intimate and can be visually restricted. However, she masterfully directs light across the picture plane as if to encourage the viewer that there is something better on the other side of the door. Her paintings are a visual guide through a very real place and can recede far into the distance. In this writer’s opinion, the interiors that lead into exteriors are particularly fascinating. “Passage,” for example, illustrates not only an interesting composition, but how the artist is able to push the boundaries of a 2-dimensional space to create depth and movement. These paintings are representational, but still utilize geometry and abstraction to bring these spaces to life. 


    After experiencing Bennerstrom’s paintings, the guest continues through the historic space. Along the way, dozens of artworks from the Whatcom Artist Studio Tour remind the viewer of the organization’s mission. A short journey to the next floor leads to the Library Workshop, another exhibition space. In November, paintings by Antonio Gonzalez are on display. Bennestrom’s paintings are focused on light and shadow, while Gonzalez highlights the figures in his work. But the paintings are more personal and intimate than simple figures, and Gonzales wrote that his identity as a Chicano artist continues to be affected by the people and culture of the Lower Yakima Valley. The artist treats everyone with reverence, even including a nimbus, or halo, around their heads. These art historical references are continued with “Sacred Heart Guitar Man,” which draws from centuries of paintings of musicians. But unlike Pablo Picasso’s “The Old Guitarist,” Gonzalez included rays of energy and light emanating from the guitarist. These subjects are active, direct, and represented with attention. Antonio Gonzalez worked with a non-profit that assisted farm workers and their families, and he cared deeply about these individuals. Sadly, Gonzales passed away several weeks before his exhibition opened. 


    December brings three new Washington state-based artists to the Jansen Art Center: John Keppelman, Maxine Martell, and Chris Beaven. Keppelman and Beaven bring an almost hyper-realism to their work. Each human subject is represented in detail with confident brushstrokes and an intimate look into the scene. Both artists utilize an internal tension to their work, and it is as if the viewer has happened upon a moment before action. Maxine Martell’s recent paintings explore her identity and heritage couched in the visuals of vintage photographs. Her portraits are also a moment in time, with the subjects staring at the screen as if Martell herself is painting them directly. 


    The Jansen Art Center is filled with art. Display cases exhibit ceramics by students and teachers, paintings are displayed at the entry to the building, and all available wall space is used to highlight artworks by local artists. It is work exploring the building during a visit. The historic buildings were once the City Hall and Fire Hall, complete with a jail and morgue. The buildings are surprisingly sprawling and the organization appears to utilizes every square foot. There is a music practice room, ceramics, and jewelry studios, a large textile studio with windows onto Front Street, and a room for dancers to practice. This relatively young organization truly holds a wonderful resource in trust for the public. In speaking with their staff, it appears that the community is eager to visit the exhibitions, participate in classes, and attend music performances once again.


    Chloé Dye Sherpe

    Chloé Dye Sherpe is a curator and art professional based in Washington State.


    On view through November 26, are exhibits by Susan Bennerstrom and Antonio Gonzalez. The winter shows featuring John Keppelman, Maxine Martell, and Chris Beaven, are on view from December  2 through February 25.  Jansen Art Center, located at 321 Front Street in Lynden, Washington, is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 A.M. to 7 P.M.and Saturday from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. For more information, visit www.jansenartcenter.org.




  • Tuesday, November 02, 2021 10:27 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)


  • Tuesday, November 02, 2021 9:49 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)



    It’s not surprising that there’s a revival of interest in the life and work of Sister Mary Corita Kent (1918-1986). The only surprise is that she fell off the radar in the first place, and remains relatively unknown. 


    It’s not like Kent labored in obscurity. She was named woman of the year by the  L.A. Times in 1966, and featured on the cover of Newsweek in 1967 (“The Nun: Going Modern”). In 1984, one of her designs sold more than 700 million copies (it was a popular, even iconic, U.S. postage “LOVE” $22 cent stamp)—but that was a special case, and anyway we are getting ahead of ourselves. 


    Why the revival? For one thing, a favorable zeitgeist: social justice movements like BLM and #MeToo, the resurgence of progressive and activist voices in media and politics—all these resonate with Kent’s vision and convictions. She instigated happenings and be-ins before any of these things were a thing. Her work addressed world hunger, poverty, and the war in Vietnam, but all in a spirit of playfulness and hope. She titled one of her final prints “Yes we can.” It’s hard to imagine a more inspiring model—but we don’t have to imagine her, we just have to remember her. 


    To this end, you can visit an exhibition at the Davidson Galleries, “Sister Mary Corita Kent: Speak Out.” This exhibit presents pieces from all phases of Kent’s varied career. Its focus is on the artist’s serigraphy, but the show also includes books she authored, and other surprises.    


    The artist was born Frances Kent in 1918. After high school she entered a Roman Catholic order, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She took the name Sister Mary Corita Kent and taught art at the Immaculate Heart College in L.A. The college was a hotbed of liberalism and the avant-garde, and Kent its liveliest live-wire. It was her teaching methods, not her artwork, that drew visits from Charles and Ray Eames, Buckminster Fuller, and John Cage. (Her classroom rules still circulate on social media, though they are sometimes attributed to Cage, not Corita Kent.)


    At IMC, Kent made art communally, democratically, allowing students and peers to decide colors, to contribute passages of text she might then draw into her creations. Art making as collaboration, as connectedness. Her tool of choice, screen-printing, was not only DIY, it was all about mass production: she meant her images to spread outward, to make impressions on as many minds as possible.


    The “Speak Out” show includes several of Kent’s early pictorial works from the ‘50s—she made her mark with these, but it is not the work she is most known for. Muted in color, these prints deal with medieval religious iconography. They stand in contrast to the vibrant colors and free-flowing gestures that came later, but they are remarkable statements on their own terms.


    In 1961, Kent saw the first solo show of an unknown commercial artist from New York, Andy Warhol (thirty-two Campbell soup can labels at L.A.’s Ferus Gallery). Pop Art energized the art world, but for Sister Mary Corita Kent it had deeper ramifications. It seemed to fit with the radical changes rippling through her faith: the reforms of Vatican II. Suddenly the Roman Catholic mass would not be in Latin but in the vernacular. Kent was already ahead of all these upheavals and she embraced them with gusto. 


    Kent began to include imagery from consumer culture. She appropriated Wonder Bread’s brand elements—those colored dots—but not as a nod to Warhol and his soup cans. She was riffing on the Catholic ritual of the Eucharist, the sacramental bread. And perhaps commenting on world hunger, a pressing problem of that time. Audacious moves like these, she felt, were aligned with Vatican II directives. (Her Archbishop came to see it differently; under pressure, Kent eventually left the sisterhood and moved to Boston.)


    Text became central to Kent’s work. At first, excerpts from the psalms. Soon pop lyrics of the moment appeared. “Don’t you need somebody to love?” “Let the sunshine in.” “Help!” These she juxtaposed with longer passages from weightier sources—secular writers with a strong spiritual game were favorites (Whitman, Camus, Arendt). She quoted her renegade contemporaries, like Martin Luther King Jr., and the Jesuit priest Dan Berrigan, an anti-war activist who brought some disorder to his religious order. 


    With her distinctive (and barely legible) handwriting, she set her texts within or between freeform shapes and brushstrokes, or scrawled within commercial letterforms ripped from billboards. (She dearly loved a good billboard.) A highlight of the “Speak Out” show is “American Sampler,” an almost purely typographic piece. The slab-serif letters in red, white, and blue ink have a menacing presence. Variations in color reveal shorter words within the larger words—“I CAN,” “SIN,” “NATION.” (Did she set the M, I, and A together as a reference to missing soldiers, or some other absence?)  


    Her later work took on an airier and more peaceful tone, as if a storm had passed. An example at the show is “The Common Dandelion” with its bit of Emerson “The invariable mark of wisdom Is to see the miraculous in the common.” 


    Kent did not confine herself to screen printing. She authored and illustrated books, and “Speak Out” includes some of these titles, including two from her “Believe” trilogy. The books may seem dated to you, unlike her prints, which appear to be ageless.


    The show also includes some prominent commissions, including one of Kent’s most popular pieces, a US postage stamp, now iconic, with its six rainbow-colored strokes and the word “LOVE.” At Davidson Gallery, the stamps appear on a set of addressed envelopes—it is charming to see not just the design but the actual stamp itself in use, as designed, in all its commonplace ordinariness. Or do you see something extraordinary there, too?


    The postage stamp may be Kent’s most recognizable image—the USPS issued more than 700 million of them—and it is certainly her smallest. But another contender for that “most recognizable” claim is the mural on the Boston Gas Company’s liquified natural gas storage tank, a 140-foot-tall container near downtown Boston. It is the largest copyrighted work of art on the planet, and yet it’s simplicity itself: six rainbow-colored strokes. (In this regard, the Boston Gas Company liquified natural gas storage tank and the tiny US Postal Service stamp are unified—talk about designs that scale well!) It is regrettable but understandable that the Boston Gas Company’s liquified natural gas storage tank will not be on display at the Davidson Gallery for this show. But you’ll be content to see the stamps, the books, and above all the marvelous prints of Corita Kent.


    Tom McDonald

    Tom McDonald is a writer and musician living on Bainbridge Island, Washington.


    The “Speak Out” exhibition featuring art by Sister Mary Corita Kent, is on view November 5 through December 24, Tuesday through Saturday from 11 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. at Davidson Galleries in Seattle, Washington. For more information, visit www.davidsongalleries.com.




  • Tuesday, November 02, 2021 9:31 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)


    in a morning conversation


    at a fork 

    in the road

    beside weeds

    a large pothole

    impersonating a lake

    invites my eyes

    to skate over

    the mirror

    of its reflection


    a bowl of clouds

    in a morning conversation

    about where this day

    might be heading


    and later that evening

    a gibbous moon

    stoops down

    to drink from this water

    admiring its complexion

    and wondering

    what to do

    with this silence


    Alan Chong Lau


    Alan Chong Lau is a poet and visual artist based in Seattle, Washington. He serves as Arts Editor for the International Examiner, a community newspaper. As a visual artist, he is represented by ArtXchange Gallery in Seattle, Washington.


    John Levy is a poet and photographer. His most recent book of poetry, “Silence Like Another Name,” was published by Otata’s Bookshelf. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.


    Alan Chong Lau and John Levy have published three volumes of a poetry and photography collaboration online that can be found by searching online for “eye2word.”


  • Tuesday, August 31, 2021 3:05 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Fulgencio Lazo at ArtXchange Gallery • Seattle, Washington


    To be a painter is to have a responsibility to others.

    Our work must have a purpose. It must give life and hope. 

    —Fulgencio Lazo


    In the Seattle art community, Fulgencio Lazo stands out for both his dazzling paintings and his commitment to community. Based in both Oaxaca, Mexico, where he was born, and Seattle, where he came to study art as a young man, he connects the two regions in many different ways. 


    Fulgencio Lazo’s new exhibition at ArtXchange Gallery, “Estrellas del Norte al Sur” (Stars from North to the South), sings from the walls. His layered imagery builds from geometric shapes and lush color that gradually emerge as specific references. Fulgencio combines the magnificent color and energy of his native Oaxaca, with abstract modernist structures and his personal iconography. Within his paintings and sculptures, he also embeds the social issues facing Mexicans today. In this exhibition, he focuses on the migration of children. The artist is honoring the challenges that children face as they emigrate at the same time that he celebrates them. 


    In “La Máscara de los Inocentes” (The Mask of the Innocents), we see a single figure that may be riding a scooter. The child is caught up in a swirl of circles, spheres, and spirals that both constrain the child and provide energy. The rich reds, and yellows evoke Oaxacan colors, while the blues at the bottom and top suggest the North and its cooler palette.

     

    “Travesía con los Juguetes” (Crossing with Toys) speaks to the touching images of children grasping a single toy as they travel for hundreds of miles toward the U.S. border. In this painting we see a more somber group of three children, more gray suggests less joy. They seem to each be trapped in a separate sphere. Their movement is arrested, although the wheels and hats at the bottom suggest leftovers from a carnival. 


    “La Sombra de los Niños” (Shadow of Children), has a lonely leafless tree at its center. One child appears behind it, but the composition is dominated by repeated circular forms that look like curled up birds. Are these birds suggesting the ghosts of children who have died trying to cross the border? The center of the composition is dominated by blues, while the top and bottom are orange, as though the glow of Mexico is a memory. 


    The exhibition also features several striking sculptures suggesting the challenges of migration. In “Equilibrio Infantil” (Childhood Balance), entirely in shades of blue, a single child balances on a semi circle; around its head are circles within circles that provide the counter weight to prevent the child from falling. In the “Poder de las Manos” (The Power of Hands), we see a child with multiple small hands reaching out as it balances within a semi wheel. Lazo has frequently used wheels to suggest movement, freedom, mobility. Here the surrounding wheel in the yellows of Mexico holds the figure, but we see it is stopped by a wall like image of blue parallel bars. The child is balanced precariously between the wall and the wheel. The figure is in shades of blue, while the golden wheel of Mexico provides a foundation. 


    In addition to his artwork, he also has been a prime activist in our Seattle community. He helped to create Casa Latina, that excellent worker’s organization; he initiated Day of the Dead festivals at the Seattle Art Museum and elsewhere. In addition Lazo curates shows of other Latinx artists, opens his studio space to community celebrations and brings Oaxacan artists to Seattle. Lazo co-founded the annual Oaxacan celebration Guelaguetza as well as International Children’s Day.


    Even in our present challenging times, Fulgencio Lazo continues to believe in the possibilities for change through art. He says, “My world, like all of humanity’s, has been upended by the global pandemic, humanitarian crises exacerbated by climate change, and massive movements for racial and social justice. This trifecta requires that we transform ourselves and our institutions. As an artist I must visually show what transformation looks like.”


    Susan Noyes Platt

    Susan Noyes Platt writes a blog www.artandpoliticsnow.com and for local, national, and international publications.


    Fulgencio Lazo’s exhibit “Estrellas del Norte al Sur” is on view through September 25, Tuesday to Saturday from 11 A.M. to 5:30 P.M., at ArtXchange Gallery, located at 512 First Avenue South in Seattle, Washington. ArtXchange Gallery is planning two community events: “Indigenous Connections” on Friday, September 10, from 5 to 7 P.M.—a multi-disciplinary evening of poetry and music exploring the themes of Fulgencio Lazo’s solo exhibition. Then, an afternoon with National Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera on Saturday, September 18, from 1 to 3 P.M. Visit www.artxchange.org for more information. 




  • Tuesday, August 31, 2021 2:15 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    During the month of October, Stonington Gallery brings together three glass artists in the aptly titled show, “Luminosity”. In a region known for its remarkable glass artists, viewers are sure to recognize the work of Dan Friday (Lummi), Preston Singletary (Tlingit), and Raven Skyriver (Tlingit) through their unique artistic perspectives on the world around us and how we interact with that world. Each artist has exhibited widely and is known for key aspects of their work, and this is a special opportunity to see that work in one location.

     

    All three artists speak about the importance of their community, and Dan Friday is no exception. Friday’s great-grandfather was Joe Hillaire, a carver who created a totem pole for the 1962 World’s Fair that eventually traveled to Japan. Friday also draws on the impact of his Aunt Fran James, a talented and revered weaver. Several of his glass baskets reference her importance and influence through the artwork titles. The brilliance of Friday’s artistic style is in his use of simplified shapes to visually translate the object’s key elements into glass. “Woven Bear” is an excellent example of this visual code. One of Friday’s most identifiable works are his mosaic baskets that mimic woven baskets. The undulating blocks of color give the feeling of vibrations, and it’s as if the basket is moving when the sun hits the glass. In addition to his work at Stonington, those interested in Friday’s work can see a wonderful selection at the Museum of Northwest Art in the exhibition, “Future Artifacts.” This exhibition also includes the works of Coast Salish weavers and celebrates their work alongside Friday’s glass sculptures. 


    Dan Friday gained much experience working with master glass artists, including renowned artist Preston Singletary, who in turn trained with Italian master glass artists in the European glass blowing tradition. Singletary is celebrated for how he utilizes both traditional glass blowing techniques and formline design to tell Tlingit stories and connect ideas from his cultural heritage for viewers. Singletary’s work is instantly recognizable: his expertise with formline design in combination with blown and sand-carved techniques enable the sculptures to glow from within. His traveling exhibition, “Raven and the Box of Daylight,” is due to open at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in early 2022 and tells the story of Raven bringing light to humankind. Locally, viewers are soon to have the opportunity to see a sculpture by Singletary and David Franklin at the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. Singletary’s work can be found in many major museums, including the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, the Denver Art Museum, and the Seattle Art Museum. He continues to be inspired to engage the medium with new ideas, which can be seen most recently in collaborations with fellow glass artist, Raven Skyriver. 


    Raven Skyriver’s inspiration is rooted in marine life that he then transforms into glass through both observation and his dedication to learning about these creatures. Growing up on Lopez Island, Skyriver felt connected to aquatic ecosystems from an early age. He also trained in the Venetian glass techniques and spent time working in William Morris’ studio. Skyriver’s work is exact, and yet filled with emotion. Skyriver spends time researching the physical attributes of each animal and the ecosystems in which they live. In addition, he is also able to capture their living qualities as if they are alive and in motion. The skin of the salmon is translucent and shimmers in the light, while the diving seal tilts its head to look up at the viewer and the walrus’ rolls fold onto one another as it seems to props itself up to peer across the room.  Skyriver’s collaborations with Singletary are a blend of two distinct and strong artistic visions. While Skyriver focuses on the interconnectedness of the fragile ecosystem. Singletary expertly shares Tlingit stories through his use of formline design.  “Coastal,” a grey whale, is a recent example of this collaboration. 


    “Luminosity” is on display through October at Stonington Gallery in Pioneer Square. It is a very special opportunity to learn about glass, cultural heritage, marine ecosystems, and more. Each artist continues to push the boundaries of glass in exciting ways to communicate their artistic vision and share information to their viewers. Glass is a beloved medium, especially in the Pacific Northwest, and “Luminosity” provides an opportunity to see how three artists expertly form the material to communicate both ancestral themes and contemporary ideas.


    Chloé Dye Sherpe

    Chloé Dye Sherpe is a curator and art professional based in Washington State.


    Through October, “Luminosity” is o view Wednesday through Saturday, from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M. at Stonington Gallery, located at 125 South Jackson Street in Seattle, Washington. For more information, visit www.stoningtongallery.com . 





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