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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Currently Hanging

posted by on September 24 at 11:35 AM

Chauney Peck’s Love Seat (2008), vinyl on wall, 40 by 53 inches

At 4Culture. (Gallery site here. The show is only up through Friday, so get down there soon.)

Last week I posted a “Currently Hanging” about a promising young Seattle artist that turned into a heated debate about whether I’d left the artist high and dry by only referring obliquely to why I thought his work was promising. But! That will be followed up with a full review of his work in the paper coming out today, so stay tuned and leave your further comments on that story.

In the case of this artist, Chauney Peck, there isn’t time for a full review in the paper. Her show closes Friday and I just got to see it yesterday (I’m sorry! I was out of town!). So I’ll try to explain why I think she’s also on the move.

When I first saw her work two years ago at SOIL (here’s her web site, to look at some older work), it struck me as interesting but too light, too cute.

Her new work is darker in subject matter—mostly she’s depicting piles of castoff stuff you might find on a sidewalk or in a temporary housing camp—and it’s more of a technical highwire act. What I mean by that is that she’s not using three dimensions, only the very thin layering of strips of vinyl, so the tension is heightened between flat abstract patterns (think Matisse’s cutouts meet Whiting Tennis’s anthropomorphic architecture) and the illusion that the objects are actually fat and taking up space.

What really excites me, though, is the change in tone, from sweet to aware-that-there’s-a-housing-crisis-going-on. You can’t look at these things without thinking of the sorry state of the country, about the fact that it’s only in times of great crisis that we recognize that, for some people, crisis is a constant state. Here’s a perfect piece of contemporary patriotism, titled Flagship:


I hope I’m describing this well. With the tone shift (those faint, non-cartoonish stains on the right arm of the love seat are an indicator of that shift, for example) comes another profound change in Peck’s work: She often depicts a tent or a blanket covering something up. When the work was overly endearing, I didn’t think much about what might be under the blankets or behind the tarps. But in this show, you do worry about what’s under there. A couple more images on the jump.

Moose Blanket (2008)

Plaid Cover (2008)

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Just saw the show the other day. It immediately brought to mind the city's awful sweeps, where they toss the homeless even further out on the streets and further into crisis. I saw some photos of the stuff they had been throwing out (peoples' backpacks full of personal items like photos and ID, and blankets, furniture, tents, etc.); Chauncey's work looks disturbingly similar. If you'd like to witness and help out, head on down to Nickelsville 7115 West Marginal Way SW, just across the river from Georgetown.

Posted by pbaitch | September 24, 2008 11:48 AM

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