Fill your eyes with can’t-miss art, and your ears with music that’s perfectly in sync.
The Art: Ayana V Jackson “Archival Impulse”
“Diorama” by Ayana V Jackson. Archival pigment print, 112 cm x 112 cm.
The searing photographs in Jackson’s “Archival Impulse” are an historical remix, and a confrontation of late 19th century and early 20th century photographs taken during the period of colonial expansion in Africa and the Americas. Sourcing from real images—some of reconstructed villages around colonial African nations, or of fake performances set up by European and American photographers—Jackson casts herself as both oppressor and oppressed, viewer and subject. She writes, “While the work is consolidated into singular photographic prints, Archival Impulse is at its root performance-based work.” Many of the images also consider and criticize the practice of “pornographic poverty,” interrogating the links between photographic representation of impoverished bodies in the global south and the racial stereotypes and cultural biases that persist today.
The Music: Rokia Traore “Dounia” (“The World”)
Recursively looping back on itself, “Dounia” is a revelatory exploration of a single theme, building in power and volume. Rokia Traore’s fluttering voice begins as a quavering whisper over a single guitar line—and oh, her plucking fingers are at the height of their hypnotic powers here on a vintage Gretsch jazz guitar—but slowly increase in ferocity, with a throaty growl eventually tearing through as the groove locks in. That re-examining of what came before makes this a thematic pair to Jackson’s photography, as well as Traore’s challenging of tradition and history—she consistently sings against misogynist practices in Malian culture.
Traore began her career as a slight anomaly from the traditional women jalis of Mali because she eschewed their full-throated singing style, that usual cascading vocal attack. She has gone even farther afield now, hewing closer to the improvisation of blues, the circling experimentation of jazz, and carving herself an impressive and welcome niche.
Rhiannon Giddens – “Black is the Color”
Rhiannon Giddens takes this famous Scottish love song and reimagines it with slink and wink. The uptempo, R&B feel—along with the classically-trained-meets-folk-music vocals that made Giddens an instant hit with the Carolina Chocolate Drops—lets the song jump from old, white Europe, to the contemporary racialmelting pot of the American South. Of course, Giddens’ fellow North Carolina daughter covered it back in the day, too: Nina Simone.
Mariane Ibrahim Gallery
608 Second Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
Exhibit runs September 17 – October 24, 2015
The Art: Alicia Tormey “Sojourns”
“Codex” by Alicia Tormey. Encaustic with mixed media. 24” x 48”.
Alicia Tormey uses a blowtorch to burn through layers of wax and paint, pushing and breaking the material with the power of fire. But the final result of her abstract landscapes is more aquatic and flowing than fiery. She presents us with vistas where the details are lost in blurred curtains of mist, like wide floodplains or cracked and crazed desert floors. Let her lost, empty landscapes swallow you up in “Sojourns”.
The Music: Ibeyi “River” Acceron Ra Remix
Ibeyi is twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz, channeling their French/Afro-Cuban heritage through traditional instruments, jazz and just a hint of hip hop. Songs like “River” show their strong spiritual Yoruba and Santeria connection, with mentions of Oya—Yoruban goddess of storms and winds—and, in this song, Oshun, goddess of rivers. There’s a sinuous, spiritual feel to their work, perfect for sliding into the water and letting it bear you away.
Of Monsters and Men “Yellow Light” Cillo Remix
In this atmospheric, airy remix of “Yellow Light”, singers Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson seem poised on the edge of the known world about to launch off into unexplored territory. The remix adds the sonic equivalent of fairy lights to the song, increasing its sense of wistful beauty, and the sense that some great journey is ending, or going farther than we can follow.
800 Bellevue Way NE, Suite 150, Bellevue, Washington 98004
Exhibit Runs Oct 2 – 31
Artist reception Oct 2
The Art: Susanna Bluhm – “Forty by Forty”
Yosemite Family Portrait – Susanna Bluhm. 70”h x 80”w Oil on Canvas. (Not indicative of the drawings in “Forty by Forty”. They’re keeping those close to the vest.)
For one night only—as all shows are at the apartment-gallery Calypte—Seattle-based artist Susanna Bluhm will explode her sketchbook and let us pick through the contents. Forty experimental drawings will be up for sale for $40 each, so if you’re aching to own a quick-as-thought idea from the Neddy-Award winning Bluhm, your time is here. Bluhm’s work is what you’d get if a landscape painter left her work on an easel, and a precocious Sesame Street denizen obsessed with geometry finished it off: symbols and words coexist with rivers, glaciers and rugged paths, and it somehow all comes together with a quirky, positive, dream-logic.
The Music: Girlpool – “Cherry Picking”
Two chords, two voices: that’s all Girlpool needs to keep your attention. On their stripped and spare songs, they create tiny worlds that seem immediately familiar, like little microcosms of being a certain age, or feeling one particular emotion. Their patchwork, hand-made sound fits the look of Bluhm’s paintings, but also connects to her specificity of place: each of her works is taken from a recognizable place or memory.
Dianas – “Good Enough Girl”
Dianas are a trio from Perth, and–perhaps unsurprisingly–lack anyone by the name of Diana in the band. They’re riding the current wave of lady-fronted indie surf rock, but they’re doing it better. Rather than going for constant upbeat lyrics and endless sorbet sunsets, they’re kicking sand in your face as they jam. Unsettling minor chords are strewn liberally through “Good Enough Girl”, like teeth-cracking pits mixed in with cherry pie. Like the aberrant shapes and symbols that seem to emerge uncomfortably in Bluhm’s paintings, there’s just enough dissonance to keep things interesting.
1107 East Denny Way #A2 (11th and East Denny across from Cal Anderson Park)
Seattle Wa 98122
October 8th 5:30-9:00pm. Show is one night only
The Art: “I Wonder If This Will Kill Me” by Stasia Burrington
“Ribs” by Stasia Burrington. Oil on birch panel.
This art is my way of tugging at old wounds, stretching out and gnawing over old heartbreak and disappointment…
Stasia Burrington presents monochrome oils on panel that explore the aftermath of her car accident three years ago. She recalls the stages of the accident: force and noise; not feeling pain at first, then sensation and nerves firing belatedly; the terror of words failing her and briefly not being able to read; then the lingering aches and pain of whiplash, physical therapy, and long mornings in bed. Her paintings focus on portions of her body that float disconnected from the rest, or images of herself collapsed and hunched in discomfort. I’m getting a neckache just thinking about it.
The Music: Susanne Sundfør – “The Silicone Veil”
Let me out, let me ache
Let me out, let me ache and itch
Susanne Sundfør skips romance and parties, and goes straight for hunger, rot and the jugular. While her piercing voice and stormy piano soar high above, her lyrics wallow below in the gutter of delicious fear, death and ignominy. The Norwegian pianist and singer meditates here on beauty and decay, and the feeling of being trapped within and behind flesh that keeps her from transcendence.
Vaults – “Mend This Love”
Blythe Pepino isn’t afraid to get emotional: the frontwoman for Vaults regularly plumbs the depths with her expressive, classically soaring voice, dialing up the theatrics to 11 in the most satisfying way. This is music that’s the equivalent of collapsing dramatically onto your bed, while sobbing, with some rose petals and candles and skulls, and throw in a thunderstorm for good measure. Rich, epic, and gorgeous.
4306 SW Alaska Street Seattle, Washington 98116
Show runs: September 19th – October 31st, 2015
Artist Reception – October 2nd, 2015 6 to 9pm
The Art: Samantha Wall “Let Your Eyes Adjust to the Dark”
also showing: Casey Weldon & Jeff Jacobson
“Breathe” by Samantha Wall. Sumi ink & dried pigment on paper, 30″ x 22″
Samantha Wall’s nationally acclaimed series, “Let Your Eyes Adjust to the Dark”, is a collection of hauntingly beautiful black and white figures of women painted in sumi ink, dried pigment, and charcoal. Flowing and ethereal, they are a compelling exploration of ethnicity, feminity, and the gaze. Wall interviewed and photographed multiracial women, “nurturing the emotional exchange of ideas between herself and her models.” The delicate, barely-there portraits seek to dissolve racial boundaries, and walk an effective line between homogeneity and specificity.
Wall’s work is upstairs this month at Roq La Rue, while downstairs are Seattle-based painters Jeff Jacobson and Casey Weldon. This is a one-two punch: Jacobson’s hallucinatory—yet hyper-real—paintings, paired with Weldon’s lurid, neon-tinted fantasies will blow you away.
The Music: FKA Twigs “Water Me” Dakeyz Remix
At first the remix touch is light on this iteration of FKA Twigs’ “Water Me”, from the debut album that rocketed Twigs to the spotlight. Almost untouched for the first minute, with just a bit of added stutter and static washes, it eventually begins to morph into a glitch experiment, with just the sound of Twigs’ voice saying one word: he. The soundscape of “Water Me” seems to emanate from some fragile, underwater place, as if conveyed by echo and air bubble and long, long telephone line. That feeling beautifully complements Wall’s use of sumi washes,highlighting the way that her portraits seem only temporary—as if they might wash away with the next tide.
Empress Of – “Agua Agua”
Lorely Rodriguez released this song as “Water Water” on her recent debut as Empress Of, but since she wrote the the album while living for five weeks in Mexico, it seems more apt to link to the Spanish version. The bilingual Honduran-American electronica artist produced and wrote the song as a reflection on living in a country where having potable water is seen as a given. “Water, water is a privilege/ Just like kids who go to college”, she penned in a house in remote Mexico. The pulsing, shuddering beat behind her voice is like a tap turned full blast, almost drowning her lyrics in the downpour.
532 1st Ave S. Seattle WA 98104
Show runs Oct 1 – 31 | Opening reception Oct 1
The Art: Grand Opening of Common AREA Maintenance
After successfully raising funds to renovate their space, Common AREA Maintenance is opening this October. CAM is a new community gallery, designed to offer affordable workspace for artists, and a place for exhibits, installation, performance, readings, and basically any old thing they feel like putting out there. Don’t miss the party on opening night!
The Music: tUnEyArDs – “Water Fountain”
There’s a feeling in the Seattle arts community like there’s not enough space, money, resources and supplies to go around. Thirsting for for it? Do as tUnE-yArDs and CAM do: band together, step up, show up, make it happen.
2125 2ND AVE, Seattle, Washington 98121
Opening Celebration 6pm-2am October 1st