by Jen Graves
on Fri, Sep 2, 2011 at 8:32 AM
COURTESY THE ARTIST
Michele Domingo's Jeepney Ride, 2007, from her series on religion in the Philippines.
The idea is simple: There are plenty of art galleries where the invisible default culture is majority white American, so here's one that will explicitly highlight minority artists as well as majority artists doing work that relates to minority cultures—"primarily those of Asian, African, Latino, Native American, and Pacific Islander heritage," says the web site of IDEA Odyssey.
The name is short for International District Engaged in the Arts, it's located at 666 S Jackson St for now (it's a Storefronts Seattle project, and has another six months on its lease), and it opened its first group exhibition, Sense of Place, in July. I finally got over to see it last week. IDEA (if we just refer to it with this single word, will they drop the cheesy second one? Please?) is a nonprofit collective.
Sense of Place is over now, and new shows will go up in the coming weeks (stay tuned). But Sense of Place—juried by Juan Alonso, with 14 artists selected from about twice the number of applicants—established a good sense of what you might see at IDEA. The web site has great documentation.
IDEA was founded by photographers—Carina del Rosario, Minh Carrico, and SuJ'n Chon (from connections made at Photographic Center Northwest)—and there was plenty of photography in the show. But there was plenty of sculpture and painting, too, and a mix of familiar artists and new discoveries, as well as familiar artists stretching themselves (Laura Castellanos, may you always work big and blurry!). The quality was a mixed bag, some works strong and surprising, some weak sauce. Overall the visit was worthwhile for sure.
References to culture and identity—Vietnamese, Filipino, transgender, Chinese, Egyptian, "white" (the artist inscribed the question on tiny grains of rice: "Am I white?"), Mexican, Chamorro (from Guam)—ranged from direct to absent, but the content wasn't the point, the environment was. It is a room of one's own.