Culture Herd We Hunt – You Gather

Drowning in a Sea of Wax

Encaustic is melting all over Seattle.  It has been forming pools in nearly every art gallery recently and spreading.  Medias like that have a way of infiltrating ever corner of this city's art scene: it seems that if one artist does it, someone else has to 'one up' them until it is in everyone's repertoire.

But artists, please heed my warning.

Bad encaustic is certainly the majority out in the scene.  A friend once said that he thought most encaustic was the result of an artist trying to make a piece they fucked up somewhat acceptable, it forms a mask over a pile of shit.  I would absolutely agree.  Generally it is messy, unintentional (not in a good way), and trying too hard all at the same time.  It should never be used as decoupage.  This media can be an amazing addition to many forms of visual art, but not everyone can be good at everything.

And to all you artists that think you are good at encaustic:  bad news, you very certainly aren't.

 

However,  I have two artists to commend on their work with encaustic in two very different ways.

When standing in front of the paintings of Alicia Tormey I am brought to another world.   The large scale, vibrant colors, and complete control over such a difficult media combine to make her pieces absolutely unforgettable.  She builds depth with intention.  They are just lovely.

 

The newspaper based creations of Kate Hunt are a refreshing change to what I consider to be the 'standard'  Seattle sculpture scene (I don't necessarily know what that is exactly… but it just feels different).  The quality that comes from the unevenly covered stacks is fabulous - visual and actual texture combined.

 

If you think that you are worthy to show encaustic in Seattle, go and take in these artists - you probably don't stand a chance.  Way to go ladies.  Your work makes everyone else's look like an elementary school experiment.

 
 

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why I like installation art…

I'm an artist.

"So what kind of artist are you?"

Oh, I do installation.

"…uhhhuumm"

Actual definition:

A genre of art which incorporates any media, including the physical features of the site, to create a conceptual experience in a particular environment.

Really broad for something that can leave such an impression.

I like to define it as:

Anything(s) made out of any material(s) that is arranged for any reason(s) in a particular space(s) to communicate an idea(s). But, the most important thing about installation art is… it's temporary.  And it should be.  That's what creates the conceptual experience.

A few months ago at Artwalk I was enjoying the Toshiro-Kaplan building when I came across an installation of these bowls made out of salt crystals balanced delicately on lumber cut at different levels.  Unfortunately I do not remember the name of the artist or the piece but the picture of it in my mind is so clear and I will will certainly recognize when I see their work again.  There was such a feeling when I walked into the room.  It was not the only piece there, although you wouldn't know it.  Effective installation can't really ever be accurately transcribed because of the overwhelming change in perception, it should grab you and bring you to some other place entirely.  You should get lost in it.  And i was floating on those bowls - flying and bouncing across them - and yet I felt as if there was something that was supposed to be there but intentionally missing.  It was uplifting and eerie at the same time.

But who really wants to buy this stuff?  I don't.  Just like I love Damien Hirst's satirical pharmacy - yeah, its fucking fabulous but am i really going to hang 4 shelves of prescription boxes on my wall?  And where would i put those 126 salt bowls?  I am constantly trying to wrap my mind around how these artists are making a living, and at the same time I feel impassioned to follow this path.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I like installation art because I want to force you into my eyes, because of the challenge of it, because of the people who get it, because of the ability to change someones mind if for only a second.  When art surrounds you, you have no choice but to submit yourself to it.

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My 1st time

Six weeks ago I was a virgin. Fresh from the Midwest, I came to this city to inspire and be inspired, to be uncomfortable and yet more comfortable, to create and expose. I came to this city searching – and I immediately found Artwalk.

As a struggling artist from Denver, my 1st time was a bit overwhelming. I have never been so surrounded by such an appreciation for local culture. There is not a city in this world that shows as much support for its’ own artists than this one. There are certainly levels of clique-iness that are apparent in the scene here but just the fact that the galleries are able to coordinate one day a month that there are all open is a feat in its own right. This is an event that happens NOWHERE. And even though I notice that certain types of people hang out in certain types of galleries, generally speaking: PEOPLE WALK AROUND. This is a miracle.

I think I saw everything that 1st night. I certainly tried. But what impressed me the most were the studio buildings. Real artists opening up their personal spaces to show what they do. It is voyeuristic and intimate. It is a deeper and more personal experience than a traditional gallery. I am no virgin to art, but that night I felt it deeper.

My intentions for this article were originally much different. I am an art historian: I focus on facts, but my notes that night were all across the board. My articles in the future will be much more dry, rest assured, but here is a little color from my first visit to the Six19 building:

“…beginning in a grape cage elevator, unevenly painted floors lead into a smash of different artists and styles – this is real art – space being utilized for the creation and destruction of ideas – there is music and friends, creativity in progress, cultivation – here there is no competition, no fighting over the highest price tag, only support.”

~Candon Michelle

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