I've written about Nathan DiPietro before. That was when he was working on a series that applied his post-regionalist approach to the new, "historic" beach "town" of Seabrook, Washington. Manufactured idylls and other such curious, sometimes grotesque, sometimes sci-fi collisions of artifice and naturalism are DiPietro's specialty.
He is a hardworking painter. He's prolific, for one. And he works in the tough medium of egg tempera. It is almost hard to believe how huge this new show is at Woodside/Braseth—it contains more than 30 paintings, 25 of which are new (Tumblr). It is called Body Snatchers. ("I'd say the 'body' is the environment before Western civilization," he says. "And there's that mindless replication.")
To make his paintings, DiPietro goes out into the morphing landscape. He visits the Issaquah Highlands under rapid construction. To the removed Elwha Dam. Other paintings are taken from his imagination, like the lovely Cul de sac (#26 in the slide show; sorry there's no direct link), or a combination of history, contemporary spectacle, and imagination, like the layered bizarro world of The Tonquin Reenactment, based on the June 1811 fight between the mostly British-crewed U.S. Navy ship the Tonquin and the Nootka tribe. (Naturally—in all sense of that word—DiPietro has also created a vision of the Twilight set in Forks: #2 in the slide show.)
There's just a lot to see and to consider in the exhibition. All of it directly related to the place we're living in.
In fact, it's so epic that I'm going to link to an interactive panoramic view of the exhibition, taken yesterday. (Note: This was shot on an iPhone using an app I'm considering downloading so I can give you more of these. Do you like it?)
One of the pieces that looks the strangest is in fact very true-to-life (which is just right). It's this one, called Dam Removal. Look at those little alien stump-growths. They exist. Here is a photograph of one, taken by Zac Corum, an engineer/artist who traveled out to the site with DiPietro earlier this year:
Here is my favorite vantage in former Lake Aldwell. These piles of sediment on the stump are the remnants of the former delta. ...Stump is about 10 feet wide at the base.
...The delta is the area where the river deposited its silt and gravel when it ran into the lake formed by Elwha Dam, the lowest of the two dams. The layers reflect the age of the deposits, the oldest at the bottom and freshest at the top. What you can't see are all the deposited layers washed away when the river cut down around the stump when the dam was removed. All you see are the most recent delta deposits. This is a very fragile geologic feature, I haven't seen one like this before. Not sure it even has a name!
DiPietro proposes that it's a cousin of chainsaw carving. The imaginative possibilities...
Now go already.
*The original closing date was weeks later and it was moved up, which (at least mostly) explains my coming to you so late in the run. Sorry! But go!