The Art: “Vital Fluids” by Seb Barnett
Some say that Seb was not born, but came out of a tree. That’s how painter Seb Barnett’s artist bio begins, and if that’s not enough to convince you that this Washington-grown painter puts great stock in their environment, “Vital Fluids” is. Figures sprout tendrils and vines, are caught mid-transformation between bone to root, and roll in verdant forests. Seb also reminds us that growth and change can involve splitting, piercing and breaking: most figures bear wounds, scars, and pained expressions. If you haven’t been able to get your body in a glacial lake or up a mountain yet this summer, “Vital Fluids” might give you that nourishing whiff of Northwest leaf rot you crave.
The Music: “Daphne” by Lia Ices
A song honoring a woman who transforms into a tree to escape a rapist seems apt for Barnett’s work. Daphne begins ephemeral and soft, but gains strength and depth throughout. Ices builds to a haunting, sweeping climax on the back of a wave of intertwined voices as Daphne becomes the tree and her soul ascends.
When: Tuesday-Saturday, 10-7, through Sept 6.
Where: Spectrum House Salon & Photo 5811 Airport Way S, Seattle, Washington 98108
The Art: “Mad World” by photographer Lauren Max and hair/makeup artist Naomi Rincon
Max and Rincon have the uncanny knack of making any activity look ineffably cool. Turn your envious eyes on their new collaborative portrait series in “Mad World”, shot recently across Seattle during the heat wave. The series “focuses on a fantasy world all their own by pairing natural settings and elements with unusual and futuristically-styled models as their subjects.” Whether her models are lounging in graveyards, squatting in bushes, or licking cactus ice cream cones, Max’s portraits depict a familiar world skewed just a few degrees off center. These are indelible images that’ll leave an imprint on your brain and won’t wash off soon.
The Music: “Hard Time” by Seinabo Sey
A stomping beat propels this track from Gambian/Swedish singer Seinabo Sey, but it’s her gospel-trained voice that makes it soar. She sings quick verses, hard and edged, each one flung confidently and leaving its mark in your ears. Confidently asserting, “This time I will be / Louder than my words”, she shows the power and the undeniable high of spitting truth.
When: Opens Thursday, Aug 13 (6-10) – Runs for a month
Where: The Factory – 1216 10th Ave, Seattle
The Art: Put the Needle on the Record
Ready Steady by Michelle Kingdom | Is This Just Fantasy? by Julie Sarloutte
Tiny stitches make up the works in this group exhibit at Twilight Gallery, echoing the thousands of individual notes that make up the songs we love. Curated by LA-based Ellen Schinderman, the show brings together an arsenal of artists who stitch, sew, quilt, embroider and embellish, each honoring music, artists, and the act of listening. The late 80s and early 90s are strong with this crew, so if your life is missing a Bowie cross-stitch or a Bjork pillow, you’re in the right place.
The Music: I love a show whose art is its own playlist. Based on the works in the exhibit, you’re set if you fill your ears with anything from Devo, to Nick Cave, to Ani — just don’t stop believing.
When: Encore opening August 13 – Runs August 1st – September 15th, 2015
Where: Twilight Gallery 4306 SW Alaska Street Seattle, Washington 98116 (206) 933-2444
The Art: Defining Women
Mary Hamilton by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Lithograph (1925) | The Victorious Young Girl in the 1000 Meter Race by Mariette Lydis, Lithograph (1931)
Shayla Alarie, curator of “Defining Women”, wants you to know that ‘defining’ is an adjective and noun–she’s not interested in the verb form. An exhibition of works on that spans centuries–yes, that is an illuminated manuscript from the 1400s–it considers the roles of women in print media as subject, creator, or both. What kinds of identities were available (or unavailable) to women as models and artists, and in what ways were those identities challenged, or changed from within? The real gem in this show is Alarie’s commentary (also available online) that sheds light on and strengthens what could be perceived as tenuous connections to the theme.
The Music: “’Tain’t Nobody’s Bizness If I Do” – Bessie Smith
Half of this Jazzland standard is a joyful shucking of convention, as Smith tells haters to mind their own. The other half is not as celebratory: she sings that she’d rather her man hit her than quit her, and that she promises not to call the cops if her father beats her. This uncomfortable push and pull between societal norms, expectations for women, and hard realities make this an ideal pairing for the themes in “Defining Women”.
When: August 6 – 29
Where: Davidson Galleries 313 Occidental Avenue South
The Art: Lush Life V: Reverie
“ Borderlands (Observatory)” by Adrian Cox
Towering dreamscapes, grotesqueries, chimera, and sylphs with brimming eyes: “Lush Life” is everything Roq La Rue does best. This group exhibit conjures works from some of the gallery’s best-known artists, and the result is a show that is gluttonous in its beauty. Like fruit so ripe that it’s almost tipped to rot, or the feeling of a bacchanal gone spinning into inebriated excess, Lush Life brings us intoxicating phantasmagoria that’s perfect for summer.
The Music: Young Wonder – Orange
The shimmering waves of Young Wonder’s electronic fantasy are an apt pairing. As Rachel Koeman’s voice dopplers in and out of range, swathes of pulsing synthesizers envelope you in a haze from every direction. Once enmeshed, it’s hard to find your way back out again.
When: Opens August 6th.
Where: Roq la Rue, 532 1st Ave S. Seattle WA 98104
The Art: NEPO 5k Don’t Run // The End Is NEPO
The annual tradition comes to an end this year: for the last time local artists will transform nearly 5km of ordinary city streets into an urban wonderland. NEPO organizers have invited over fifty local artists to mount site-specific installations and performances around Seattle, from the miniature to the huge. NEPO wants you to bring your friends, kids, uncles and aunts, and remember: hop, skip and jump – just don’t run!
The Music: La Luz – “Don’t Wanna Be Anywhere”
NEPO seriously doesn’t want you to run this art-filled 5k, so we need some good strolling music. La Luz’s brand new album fits the bill: sunny vibes and airy guitar will push you forward, and the surfer-style chill will keep you slow. There’s also the pervading sense of shadow in their brightness, which will remind you to stay on your toes and watch out for unexpected surprises along the route…
Where and When: 5k of outdoor art and performances on August 29th.
Start in Hing Hay Park: 12:00 – 3:00 PM
(423 Maynard Ave S, Seattle WA – corner of Maynard and King)
Art Walk: 1:00 – 6:00 PM
Finish line at NEPO House: 6:00 – 10:00 PM – 1723 S Lander St, Seattle WA