Visual ArtCurrently Hanging: Ed Wicklander's Piles of Kittens
by Jen Graves
on Mon, Mar 11, 2013 at 11:36 AM
Ed Wicklander's Kittens, 2012, five of them: carved English walnut and enamel paint, 3 1/2 by 12 by 9 1/2 inches.
On Saturday afternoon, I caught the tail end of Ed Wicklander's talk at Greg Kucera Gallery. "Back in Chicago, where I went to school, they really get objects," he said, in closing. "When I show there, they appreciate it."
Does Seattle just not get objects? How would we begin to measure that?
Wicklander's show is called More Objects, as if to underscore his point. While his work has never seemed to be fashionable, Kucera has been a steadfast supporter: This is Wicklander's 10th show at the gallery since 1985. He was born in 1952 in Puyallup—land on the edge of a million wood-carvers—and he now lives in Seattle.
I like the challenge that somehow objects are harder to fathom than images. (I have no real read on whether that's truer here in Seattle than anywhere else; my instinct tells me the opposite might actually be true, and that obdurate wood objects might actually make some sense here as opposed to in New York or LA. Then again, maybe Chicago has a specialty in objecthood. Chicagoans?)
Have we met before?
Wicklander is a master of his materials. But he has left his mark most indelibly on his students, artists like Dan Webb. For me, his works are uneven in their interestingness. When I look at his balloons made of steel, I feel like I've seen them before. I glaze over. His kittens? There's nothing else like them. They're hilarious and heartwarming, an almost impossible combination in contemporary art. They know about kitsch and they zoom happily by it traveling on the same road, another near-impossibility. So smart and so dumb at the very same time.