Fill your eyes with can’t-miss art, and your ears with music that’s perfectly in sync.
Kymia Nawabi, “It Is Written In the Stars, 2015”
acrylic, glitter, ink, sticker and watercolor on paper on panel
Ritual and sacrifice, burdens and blindness, snakes and birds, and piles and piles of glitter: Seattle, say hello to Kymia Nawabi’s fevered visions. Women’s bodies are at the core of each mixed media painting, and while her subjects are often captives being led–blindfolded or bound–there is never a sense of titillation or depravity: instead, these are women who are undergoing arcane ceremonies or trials that seem to promise power, knowledge or rebirth at their culmination. Traditionally “crafty” materials such as hologram stickers and glitter are elevated fine art in Nawabi’s hands: they glint and glow, bringing depth and unexpected fire to each painting. And then there’s that phrase popping up in most of the paintings: “The Future”. It sometimes hovers just out of reach, rears up from the ground in encrusted glitter, or weighs unbearably heavy on shoulders: this is the future as hope, as a promise, and as a threat.
Tuvan-born, Europe-based Sainkho Namtchylak makes unclassifiable avant jazz/electronic experiments that prominently feature her astonishingly flexible voice. This is a seven-octave range that soars into only-dogs-can-hear-it highs and spelunking lows, and she explores every inch of it. That odd, reedy sound in this track? Yep, it is her doing traditional Tuvan throat singing. And that’s one of the reasons she left Tuva: women are actively discouraged from learning throat singing, and it’s possible an attempt was even made on her life for doing so.
“A Beautiful Woman” by Deradoorian
Psychedelia meets Georgian polyphony: it’s Angel Deradoorian’s solo debut, and it’s everything you’d hoped it would be. You know her voice from all sorts of other projects (Flying Lotus and Dirty Projectors most significantly) but here it’s front and center; sinuous, looped and crystalline.
“Peacemaker” Jesca Hoop
Symbols, signs and a fairytale menace activates this bewitching song that was inspired by the Aristophanes play “Lysistrata”. This is driving, dark music for reciting spells to.
When: August 24 – September 26, 2015
Where: Abmeyer + Wood Fine Art
1210 2nd Avenue, Seattle, WA, 98101
Serrah Russell “Islanded”
“Islanded” finds Seattle-based Serrah Russell in an introspective mood. Russell is best known for collages made of photographs of nature or textured surfaces, cut apart and reassembled in subtly unnatural ways. Quiet, filled with light and a sense of delicacy, her hybrid collages sometimes need multiple viewings to tease out the intricacies and find the seams. “Islanded” is inspired by solo trips to the San Juan islands, where she gathered source materials for sculpture, photographs and video. Just how she put them back together again is where the intrigue lies.
“All On You” by Katie Dey
If Serrah Russell is messing with our perception by cutting, pasting and manipulating photography, Katie Dey is doing the same with our ears. The Australian musician mixes her voice into near-annihilation, and often all that’s left is an uncanny scrape, an echoing hollow thump, or a soaring yowl.
“The Air in Time” by Rachel Grimes
“Often thought of as a place of escape and rest, islands are full of inspiration and sensuality, yet also loneliness and a mysterious darkness.” That’s a description from the press release of Russell’s show, but it could aptly describe “The Clearing”, pianist Rachel Grimes’ new album. In each song coexists the glowering menace of a stormy sky, and the towering heights of sun-lit cumulus clouds.
When: September 3 – 11, Opening Sep 3 7pm-11pm
Where: Glass Box
831 Seattle Blvd S, Seattle, WA, 98134
Elizabeth Gahan | Kate Protage | Kellie Talbot
“Satellite 3” Elizabeth Gahan – Watercolor, Oil & Acrylic on Canvas
“Better Still” by Kate Protage – Oil on Wood Panel
“Pink Champagne” by Kellie Talbot – Oil on Canvas
Cheers to the SAM Gallery for not making it a big deal that “Neighborhoods” is an all-lady affair (but we will). This exhibit brings together three women painters–all Seattle-based–who look to human-made places and objects for inspiration. But it’s in their differences that they really shine: each painter concentrates on what makes architecture, cities and human detritus worth focusing on. For Kate Protage, it’s all in the light: our dense network of highways and roads, ringed by streetlights and studded with taillights, seen blurred as if through a rain-spattered windshield. For Elizabeth Gahan it’s in the lines: parallel and intersecting, gridded and angled, she plots buildings and streets faithfully until rings of organic color or honeycomb patterns spring out, unbidden. And for Kellie Talbot it’s in the things we make and leave out in the elements: neon signs that become weathered and streaked, some still flickering on an interstate beckoning travelers, or just their weary, unlit ghosts.
Kellie Talbot: “Gunsmoke” by Ancient Warfare
Half rambling rock and half ambling country, “Gunsmoke” sounds like it just wandered in from a dusty road and straight into a bar fight. Echo Wilcox’s voice has a world-weary raspiness that makes every word sound truthful, lending both gravity and heft to her lyrics. Quintessentially American, with a wild west tinge, Ancient Warfare seems an encapsulation of Talbot’s signs: battered, sparking, but still kicking.
Kate Protage: “Hey Now EP” by London Grammar
Few bands can conjure the feeling of driving through a past-midnight city full of anonymous others quite as well as London Grammar. All of their songs brim with empty space: where drums skitter through like trashing blowing in a night breeze; where a lone guitar dopplers in and out of hearing like a car passing on a rainy street. There’s a special kind of loneliness to driving in rain and darkness in a city, and this band can drop you into that mode even if you’re in brilliant sunshine. Explore Kate Protage’s blurred cityscapes and rain-slicked roads to the sounds of Hannah Reid’s plaintive voice calling out into the darkness.
Elizabeth Gahan: “Design” by Glasser
Architecture, organic growths, and gentle warmth: only the angular electronic explorations of Glasser encapsulate all three of Gahan’s major themes. Like hot breath clouding a chrome surface, Glasser lays her warm voice and lyrics about a tantalizing, dripping fruit (mmhmm) over spiky, cold electronica. Glissandos bloom out of the digital landscape, echoing the patterns in Gahan’s paintings, while little vocal whoops add color and humanity to the programmed proceedings.
When: Sept 10 – Oct 22
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 10 6pm – 7:30pm
Where: SAM Gallery @ Seattle Art Museum
1300 First Ave, Seattle, WA, 98101
Jody Isaacson Collections: Continuum (Part One)
New York-based artist Jody Isaacson was once a chandler, and she channels that experience in a new exhibit at Greg Kucera Gallery. Says gallery’s press release:
Individual candle wicks were dipped into white wax, once for each year of the person’s life. These nearly 250 wax pendulums are dedicated to the many individuals who have been present and then passed on from the artist’s life. Everyone lost, from many contexts and places, are brought together in the installation. Their common thread is now transformed to a string of candle wick.
If the idea of walking amongst hanging ivory pendulums measuring lifespans isn’t enough to catch your breath in your throat, then I’m not certain what else you want from art.
“Sexfaldur” by Amiina
Accretion is the name of the game with Amiina, Iceland’s all-female neoclassical answer to Sigur Ros. Each piece begins with small, disparate sounds: a xylophone plink, a theremin vibration, a low synthesizer drone. But they build, almost infinitesimally slow, until a wide curtain of delicate sound stretches out from their instruments. Like Isaacson’s accreted candles, Amiina’s music also seems to hang in the air, being pushed and pulled by currents and wind.
“Clam Crab Cockle Cowrie” by Joanna Newsom
There are bats all dissolving in a row
into the wishy-washy dark that can’t let go.
I cannot let go,
so I thank the lord, and I thank his sword!
‘tho it be mincing up the morning,
Joanna Newsom’s voice was at the height of its prickly powers on “The Milk-Eyed Mender”, and rarely–since her battle with vocal nodules that left her voiceless for two months, and permanently changed her timbre–has she sounded this pure, affectless and plaintive. Just barely ornamented with plucks of her harp, “Clam Crab Cockle Cowrie” finds her looking back at the place where she has been and at the road beyond, in a perfectly poised moment of morning. That pre-dawn still lingers long past her final “oh whoas” and the closing, lonesome plucks of her strings.
When: Sept 3 – 26
Reception: First Thursday, September 3, 6pm-8pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, September 5, at noon
Where: Greg Kucera Gallery
212 Third Avenue South, Seattle, WA, 98104
Trace Amounts – A Pop Up Show
“Trace Amounts” brings together thirteen visual artists, three musicians, a spoken word performer, and a fashion designer for a one-night-only pop-up exhibit. The venue? The roof of Purple Wine Bar downtown; the kind of thing that can only be done in the twilight of Seattle’s summer. Sip an aperitivo downstairs, and then head up into the clouds for some atmospheric art.
Stand-outs include Erin Pollock’s portraits of people staring rapt at their phones…sans phones; ceramic busts of grinning, grimacing, garghoulish figures by Jeremías Lentini; Michelle Anderst’s chimera paintings that wantonly combine flowers, fractals and tentacles with the fine hand of a biological illustrator; and Drie Chapek’s lusciously textured abstracts that conjure dense forest, dripping mountain cliffs, and islands in clouds.
“Elusive (Flako Remix)” Lianne La Havas
“Liar (Bootleg Kyo-Ken Remix)” by Lianne La Havas
The end of summer calls for the slow, languid music of Lianne La Havas, who makes music that can intoxicate just by listening. Kyo-Ken, who will perform at “Trace Amounts” slows La Havas down even further, drenching the track in a heavy, humid languor that we rarely experience in Seattle. How much have you had tonight? Only trace amounts remain.
When: September 3rd, 6pm-10pm — one night only
Where: Purple Cafe & Wine Bar
1225 4th Ave, Seattle, WA
Nikki McClure – The Landscape Beckons
“Work” by Nikki McClure – Cut Paper. 2015.
If you’ve been in the Northwest a while, chances are you’re familiar with Nikki McClure’s work: she creates annual calendars and books that are mainstays of fancy papergoods stores. But you rarely get the chance to see her original cut paper pieces — and seeing is believing. McClure works with just two materials to make her vignettes of Northwest life and landscapes: an exacto knife and paper. In most cases, we’re talking a single sheet of paper, in which she can make no mistakes or the whole scene is sunk. It’s worth taking the time to see these pieces in person: get your face up close to the glass, peer around at an angle to see the tiny wisps of paper curling up from the background, see the shadows they throw.
“Sun Song” by Laura Veirs (with Neko Case)
McClure’s work highlights scenes that honor hard work, family time, and life spent in nature. Fellow Northwest musicians Laura Veirs and accompanist Neko Case celebrate the well known feeling of seeing that first sun break in February after the long, gray Northwest winter with this paean.
“Shells” by Mirah
You learned how to be a diver,
Put on the mask and believe.
Gather a dinner of shells for me.
Take the tank down so you can breathe below.
Move in slow,
You are an island.
All the secrets until then
pried open, I held them.
Until they were still.
Almost a koan in its brevity and mystery, “Shells” appeared on Northwest-based Mirah’s beguiling (a)spera album. Speaking of secrets–and opening them to the light, where they wither–this is a restrained, elegant song that expends little energy but has great effect. McClure deals in secrets, too: each of her calendar pages bears a single word, the meaning of which is often opaque at first. Meditate long enough on them, and you begin to relate the two and solve their mystery.
When: Sept 3-27
Opening reception: Sept 3rd, 6-8pm
Where: Stonington Gallery
125 South Jackson St, Seattle, WA