West Coast Art Run
Greetings from sunny Oakland! I’m here now visiting fellow editor Zach Clark, nearing the end of my Art-cation. From Seattle through Oregon, and now in the Bay Area, I have made a grand tour of northern west coast art. (Sorry, LA, I couldn’t take any more time off work.)
Growing up in the Midwest, and never having gone past the rocky mountain range, this past couple of weeks has been very exciting for me, seeing an entirely new ocean. My first stop was to visit my sister in Seattle.
This is a view of the iconic Space Needle and the Olympic Sculpture Park. Fun Fact: this year is the 50th anniversary of the Space Needle, which was created for the 1962 World’s Fair. In honor of this, the top of the Needle has been repainted to the original orange-y “Galaxy Gold.”
The Olympic Sculpture Park is a visitor-friendly place to relax, mingle with the artwork, and have a spectacular view of the Puget Sound. The largest and most visible piece is Alexander Calder’s The Eagle. Red chairs painted in the same hue are scattered around the park for visitors to enjoy. My personal favorites of the park are the Eye Benches of Louise Bourgeois, and Claes Oldenburg’s Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, which I affectionately refer to as the “pizza cutter/baster.”
My next stop was the EMP Museum, which houses galleries and interactive exhibits about music and science fiction. The first thing to note is the beauty of the architecture, designed by Frank O. Gehry, who I immediately recognize from Chicago’s own Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Inside the museum, though, I really enjoyed their look into the history and theory of the horror movie in Can’t Look Away: The Lure of the Horror Film.
I ended up my Seattle art parade at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). I really felt connected to the museum’s curatorial style and saw striking similarities to how we curate for Composite. Their exhibits are always a comparative conversation. For example, in one room was a collection under the title “Burden of History”, grouping the work thematically, rather than by genre or style.
“Burden of History” reflected on how all of history and the history of art affect those making work today.
“Artists struggle continually with the burden of what has come before them and how to make new contributions to the field. Likewise, most strive to create art—whether socially, culturally, or politically—that addresses the times in which they live. To find a path that incorporates all of these concerns is one of the greatest challenges contemporary artists face, and in this room one can discover a surprising range of innovative solutions to the problem.”
This style of curation was found throughout the building, in rooms such as the glass room, where contemporary glass artwork—such as Goblet by Chihuly on the right—were shown in comparison to ancient roman vessels made by Julius Alexander in 3rd Century A.D. Another exhibit housed ancient Greek pottery and sculpture next to contemporary vessels as well.
Another aspect about the museum that really made an impression on me was the emphasis on American art, and even more specifically to Pacific Northwest art. A great example is Chihuly, a great Seattle glass artist. I also particularly enjoyed this American Landscape of a fictionalized Puget Sound: Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast, 1870, Albert Bierstadt.
And so concludes Seattle.
On my way down to the San Francisco Bay area, I passed through Oregon, stopping in Eugene to visit the studio of my good friend, Katherine Spinella, who is working on her MFA through the University of Oregon.
Katherine is a Midwestern girl as well; she even grew up in the area in Michigan where I was born. Her greatest influence from the move to the west coast and the art found over here is the use of color. Her color palate creates a visual sound as she uses objects to “draw” in a space.
The last stop on the art train is here, in SF Bay. My gracious host Zach is showing me the Bay Area art scene. First off we visited artMRKT.
We noticed a growing trend of the use of books as materials and subject matter, which was neat to see, and made us think of one of our other editors, Joey. While there, Zach and I both purchased our own copies of Infra by Richard Mosse, who photographs in the Congo with old infrared film. It is nothing short of amazing. The surreal qualities of the pink landscapes reinforce the surreal political situation of that area. Last but not least, my new favorite artist discovery is Scott Hove, who made the above cake sculptures.
Today, Zach took me by his studio, which is a really great space, with great facilities, and great artists, including Giles and Jeanne—Giles will have work in the upcoming issue, and Jeanne was featured in No. 6 Process. I am greatly privileged to have met them on this trip, along with all of the artists and writers who came tonight to our SF Bay meet up! This trip has been amazing for me, and I’m so glad to have topped it off having a few drinks with some of our contributors!
Thanks for reading,