[Susan Robb, I Am A Land Animal]
“Eco-macho…taps into that old and apparently endlessly rich metaphor of the Northwest as a place rooted in the interpenetration between the urban and the rural, a place that’s both somehow ahead of the mainstream and off the grid. The idea has been cultivated by Northwest artists and writers from time immemorial. Just to name a few recent examples: Charlie Krafft, with his Mystic Sons of Morris Graves crew and his weapon ceramics; Gretchen Bennett, with her Native American blankets, street stickers in the form of Mount Rainier, and colored-pencil adaptations of Kurt Cobain on YouTube (not to mention the Aberdeen native himself); Claude Zervas, with his Eva Hesse–like Northwest rivers and passages made in thin, white cold-cathode fluorescents with their dangling wires; Susan Robb, with her both hopeful and dark insistence on humans as animals. This is the current Northwest School.”
I just read this article by Jen Graves this morning, though it was written last April. It is so directly pertinent to our conversation about Regionalism. Talk about forgetting our own art history; even one that was articulated just one year ago! Or, in my case–rather than forgetting–just now learning our art history. For various reasons of life and cliff-hanging tumult, my attendance to all things art-related in my three years here has been spotty, at best.
I am very excited to be becoming a part of this art community, but I don’t really know that much about it, yet. It is with this confession that I named this blog; I started writing as a way to get to know the artists and spaces in my city. Also, my baby was taking twenty minute naps (which, to any babies reading this, DOES NOT REALLY COUNT as a nap) and blogging was a way to do something creative, at home, in a short amount of time. This medium is ripe for someone with a rather impulsive personality. I get all excited and worked up about something and make some seemingly-confident statements, click “Publish” and proceed to be overcome by the urge to run and hide under the nearest pile of dirt. Maybe this is just another extension of what it means to try to make your life as an artist — sticking your neck out; submitting to likely rejection; passionately, unknowingly, reinventing the wheel.
[Gretchen Bennett, Mountain of Dirt Sticker]
Sometimes the abundance of what I don’t know hits me like a sack of glass bricks, and I’m humbled by people that really do know a lot.
Seattle’s art-writing media are changing in nature, and I wonder how this will change the content. We are losing the model of the few people (i.e. “critics” that are invested full-time, employed, and published on real live paper) that know everything, and we’re gaining many voices (many of them artists who are already spread thinly across many projects, with time to write only in the wee hours of the morning) that know some things about some things. It is mind-boggling to me that I, for example, now have a platform not too different from that of some people who are much more entitled to it. Despite this fact, the seasoned critics have been nothing but gracious and welcoming to us renegade blogging artists. They could have relegated us as cocky, hapless, new-sheriffs-in-town; instead they’ve added us to their blogrolls with open arms, declaring that if people aren’t reading our blogs, they’re not reading about art in this town.
[Claude Zervas, La Bûche]
Likewise with some of the art spaces here. In the spirit of exercising my rights as the gushy, why-not-lay-it-all-on-the-line artist, I wrote my letter of (intentionally unrequited) love to the Henry, never thinking they’d entertain my ideas. (It simply felt necessary go through the motions of asking the question, if that makes any sense.) Now Betsey Brock wants to meet me for coffee and help me with an exhibition proposal.
So, in light of our collective examination of what’s missing in the Seattle art scene, this here is a gleaming representation of what we’ve got. Instead of an art establishment that turns up its nose at artists challenging the foundation, Seattle has one that joins in.
[Charles Krafft, porcelain firearm]