Come Saturday, Lawrimore Project Is No More (For Real This Time)
by Jen Graves
on Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Courtesy Lawrimore Project
LEAVE NO TRACE Matt Browning's painstakingly handmade sculpture (wood, lint, beeswax, matches) will leave nothing behind it if it burns down. Not a single ash, the artist says.
Six years after the artist trio of John Sutton, Ben Beres, and Zac Culler sealed themselves inside a giant plywood box and constructed a mock Chinese restaurant inside the new contemporary art space called Lawrimore Project on Airport Way—and three years since a fire at the gallery destroyed a major sculpture by those same artists—an era is coming to an end.
For its first four years, Lawrimore Project was a great big contemporary art center, with a large-scale front gallery, a domestic area with fireplace in back, and black and white box galleries in between for videos and smaller-scale works. The office, detailed in hot pink, was an adaptation of a trailer set up on cinderblocks (Lawrimore's family owned a trailer park, where they lived when he was growing up). Lead Pencil Studio designed the storybook environment.
In 2010, citing a lack of support from collectors and patrons, Lawrimore closed the doors and moved to a smaller space—much smaller. The new spot in the Union Trust Annex building near Occidental Square is a single room with a small gray-felt-lined wall bench. No reception desk, no restroom. Certainly no fireplace and black box theater with stadium seating.
Stalwart Seattle dealer Greg Kucera, who has been representing contemporary artists since the early 1980s, once (humbly) described Lawrimore Project as "one of only two art spaces here in Seattle that were distinct from what everybody else did."
Other artists: Sami Ben Larbi, Raymond Boisjoly, Liz Cohen, Andrew Dadson, Elena del Rivero, Matthew Clifford Green, Elias Hansen, Jennie C. Jones, Chris Jordan, Meiro Koizumi, Charles LaBelle, Caleb Larsen, The Reader, Steve Roden, Bert Rodriguez, Carolina Silva, Michael Simi, Kerry Skarbakka, Betty Tompkins, Trimpin, Oscar Tuazon.
What's next for artists who were represented by Lawrimore?
"His artists are very self-motivated, so him closing just means, well, they're going to keep doing the things they've always done," Lee says. Tonight she's staging a "Speed Dating" performance between artists and tech workers at Capitol Hill's The Project Room. She has also directed dance performances. None of these endeavors gives a dealer much to "hang on the wall and sell to collectors," she admits.
She hopes Seattle's contemporary artists, with their sometimes unorthodox approaches, and the typically more orthodox commercial galleries that do still exist will apply some lessons from the life and death of Lawrimore Project to influence each other.
"Hopefully, galleries are responding to what artists are doing, and vice versa," Lee says.
As for Lawrimore, he has "accepted an appointment to a position that expands my ability to contribute to the art community in Seattle. Because of this new post, I will no longer be ‘projecting’ with the Project. While this is wonderful news for me personally and professionally, I am quite sad that I won't be working with my stellar stable of artists in a gallery capacity. I do, however, look forward to working with them in new and exciting ways in the years to come. A formal announcement of my new appointment will happen soon."
"Soon" will be around mid-July, he says. One of his popular projects, the Art Klatch—a casual morning conversation at a cafe, open to anyone, featuring local and visiting artists, writers, and academics in open dialogue and debate—will continue, he said.