I’m writing a full report on the Lawrimore Project for this week’s issue, but here’s a little dish on what went down Thursday night. (I know, I meant to post it yesterday, but circumstances intervened.)
The place was packed, and just about everyone (except an unnamed Seattle Times writer who I have not come upon at a single event in my six months covering this town) was there, including curators from all three Seattle museums; plus artists who don’t come out of their houses for just anything, such as the great ceramist Akio Takamori (whose show at the Henry opens July 8); and all three of the other contemporary dealers in the city, Jim Harris, Billy Howard, and Greg Kucera (for whom Scott Lawrimore, the owner and creator of the Lawrimore Project, once worked). Sam Davidson, another of Lawrimore’s former employers and another longtime dealer, might have made an appearance, I’m not sure.
In typical fashion, I made several bloopers, the worst of which was nearly running down with my car a powerful art person who already holds a legitimate grudge against me while trying to park in a completely illegal spot, then ramming into the curb in front of me while attempting to make a quiet getaway from said parking spot — all with several onlookers.
Oh, and steely conceptualist Susan Robb told me she’s making illusionistic paintings. That was more shocking than hitting the curb. I cannot wait to see them. She says they depict rocks and minerals. At least I think she said that. It was hard to focus after she told me she’s making illusionistic paintings.
John Sutton, Ben Beres, and Zac Culler have the opening show at Lawrimore Project. It’s a combination of photography, video, two outdoor installations (their mobile park with bench, tree, and fountain; and their mobile living room, complete with working VCR and a copy of the 1970 movie Little Big Man, in which Dustin Hoffman wears a choker made of cowrie shells—is he the one who started that terrible trend?—and plays a Western gunslinger captured and raised by Indians), and an installation including a giant box the artists will be sealed inside during business hours until July 15, when the sides of the box will be lowered outward like the petals on a flower, and whatever they’ve made will be on display. (You can go there, look at the photographs, squint at the tiny video, listen to the guys working, and then step outside and watch Little Big Man while sitting on the couch of their living room.)
They promised to go into the box around 7 or 8 pm, but by 9:30, they still were holding beers and chatting. Around 9:45, they stepped into the box (where Stranger chow writer Bethany Jean Clement was smoked out for trying to smuggle herself into the project), Lawrimore drilled some screws in to seal the door, and a lot of noise began. Sparks flew. It was a bunch of hooey because the guys were coming out in 15 minutes anyway to go to the Hideout for more drinks, but they put on a show nonetheless and the crowd shouted and cracked up and recorded cell-phone videos in response to the absurd and historic occasion.
The other opening “show” is the space itself, by the artist-architects Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo, who operate under the name Lead Pencil Studio. (Curiously, I didn’t run into them Thursday.) This is what I’m writing about for this week’s issue, so I won’t say much here, except that Lawrimore Project is much like a local version of the nationally oriented Western Bridge, which opened in 2004, and it’s certainly the best thing to happen to Seattle’s art world since WB started. The variety of spaces in LP makes it like a small museum, and so does its size. I’m guessing here, but I think it’s the largest gallery in town outside of WB. And judging from the first show, it not only has the stomach for experimentation, but a craving for it. Lead Pencil Studio, Sami Ben Larbi, Cris Bruch, Claudia X. Valdes, and Kerry Skarbakka are the other artists on Lawrimore’s roster as of now, but he’s talking to some prospects (they have to remain nameless) that would make terrific additions.
It was quite a night overall. Things ended after last call at the Hideout, where owner Greg Lundgren told me he has a book coming out this week. (It has an intro by former Stranger critic Emily Hall.) I haven’t seen it yet, but I will soon, he says.
About eight hours earlier, I started things off at Christian French’s installation Waiting for BodhiDharma, which is up through Sept 30 at Installation Space, in the hallway of a business on the fourth floor of the tower near the Nordstrom Rack. The work—sumi-style paintings, odd nature photographs, and mixed-media installations like little shrines—is the result of a trip he took to Japan, a mix of his experiences with Buddhism and his background as a pop-inflected American artist. I wasn’t partial to much of it, but I did enjoy the disco-ball helmet (reminded me of Brian Jungen’s refashionings) and the shelf of trophies printed with Buddhist-style sayings, such as, “The ass looks at the well,” and, “The well looks at the ass.”
After that I went down to the openings at Platform (Unnatural Presence, through July 29), James Harris (Todd Simeone: A Difference of Outlines and Outcomes, also through July 29), both of which I can recommend, but I’d run, not walk, to Simeone’s show.
And after Lawrimore but before the Hideout, I stopped in to see the installation that is eating Wyndel Hunt’s apartment, Landscape for Phantom Limbs Pt. 1: there, there. Again, I’m going to return to this subject in this week’s print edition, so I won’t go into it here, but suffice it to say that the installation includes near-total darkness, a flashlight, Sharpie marks, Scotch tape, more than a dash of German romanticism, and a mention of Kasimir Malevich. It’s worth seeing, and you can tonight—its only hours are Saturday nights from 9 to midnight, at 420 Second Ave, #102.
Here are two images from works that I want to get back to see again. The first is Three Corner Peak by Eric Eley at Platform, and the second is Simeone’s 1 and 6 from the suite of inkjet prints Six Ways to Roll Seven.