by Jen Graves
on Sat, Sep 14, 2013 at 9:35 AM
A&P is Seattle's only quarterly arts and performance magazine and it's crammed full of awesome stuff. Pick up your own copy in this week's Stranger, or see it all here!
COURTESY OF SEATTLE ART MUSEUM (LEFT); COURTESY OF THE HARWOOD MUSEUM OF ART (RIGHT)
THE “REAL” AGNES MARTIN? The notoriously reclusive American painter of stripped-down lines and grids (like this one on the left, owned by Seattle Art Museum) destroyed many of her early figurative paintings. So it was shocking to come across this one (on the right)—a garish female nude by Martin that was included in the traveling National Portrait Gallery exhibition Hide/Seek. “Maybe,” during her lifetime, speculated Seattle dealer Greg Kucera, her figurative paintings “told too much about her as a woman, and as a lover.”
Sometime in the spring, I got an e-mail from an artist I'd never heard of. It began, "I have always appreciated your arts coverage and wanted to tell you about my first Seattle art show ever... I am new at this so forgive me if this isn't the right way to contact a reporter, but I'm excited and want to share!!" I clicked to her website.
The people in the paintings seemed to have all gone crazy, like they had been irradiated or poisoned or drugged. The works looked like classic vernacular art: obsessively patterned, highly irregular, and patently handmade. I made a mental note to go to the show when it came around, and I moved on to the next two dozen press releases I got that day.
A few weeks later, this artist—whose name I'm withholding for a reason—sent an equally enthusiastic letter in the mail that said she had a gallery show coming up and "I really really really really really hope you'd like to write about it." The same day I got that letter, the artist's name appeared on the short list for a high-profile local art award. It seemed like she'd come out of nowhere and was everywhere I looked. I had an opening right then for a story: If the timing could work out to visit her studio, see the works in person, and interview her, and if the results were interesting enough, then maybe I would write a profile prior to her show opening. If I was curious, other people probably were, too.