Arts Painters: Seattle Has An Opening
posted by February 1 at 13:20 PMon
This weekend, I stopped by Crawl Space for the absurdly titled exhibition Centennial (the gallery’s been open three years) and met the painter Ori Ornstein, a newish member of the artist-run space having his first show this month.
He’s a painter, and a transplant from the East Coast, and he claims there’s not much painting in Seattle.
We are about to see a bunch of it: the contemporary Leipzig school written about so fascinatingly in today’s Guardian at the Frye Art Museum opening February 17, Mary Henry at Howard House opening tonight, and Ten Painters at Francine Seders opening February 23.
But in a deeper sense, is it true that Seattle is painting-lite?
Anne Mathern and Chad Wentzel, his CS cohorts, say yes on this week’s In/Visible podcast. They’re planning to fill the gallery one of these months with just two large “painty paintings,” as Mathern calls them, largely because, well, it seems to them like nobody else is filling their galleries with painty paintings.
I think I know what Mathern means by “painty painting,” and I can think of a lot of artists represented in Seattle who fall under the category: Mary Henry, Joseph Park, Squeak Carnwath, Mark Takamichi Miller, Robert C. Jones, Olivia Britt, Donabelle Casis, Margie Livingston (this year’s Betty Bowen Award winner), Brian Murphy, Susan Dory, Michael Schultheis, Matthew Offenbacher, Mark Danielson, Francis Celentano, Juan Alonso, Denzil Hurley, Mike Spafford, Anne Appleby, Joseph Goldberg, Patte Loper, Jaq Chartier, Michael Knutson, Roger Shimomura, Jeffrey Simmons, Susan Dory, Bo Bartlett, Claire Johnson, Nicholas Nyland.
But there is no coherent strain of emerging Seattle painters to fill out the rosters of interested dealers like, say, Billy Howard or Scott Lawrimore, the way a crop of photographers sharing at least some collective concerns has developed, from Tim Roda and Todd Simeone (no longer in Seattle, but represented here) to Anne Mathern, Chris Engman, Isaac Layman, Steve Davis, and Chris Jordan.
Lawrimore Project has thrown its hat into the painting ring for the moment—sort of. Scott Lawrimore has no painters in his stable and this month’s LP *Hearts* Painting is comprised of a single painting in an otherwise empty gallery: Michael Linares’s “Fuck Duchamp” statement, “pictured” here in a funny non-photograph. (Linares, also, is not a painter.) It’s as if Lawrimore were throwing down the gauntlet to local painters: where are you? Why do I have this empty space in my gallery?
The image seems to be a telling one for Seattle painting. Is it here at all? Is it hidden? Is it taboo? (I’ve heard the criticism of the UW painting department before—can that really be the reason for the paucity in new painting? Why don’t any interesting painters come out of the ceramics department, known as it is for churning out grads in any medium but ceramics?)