Off the wall: Three shows at Greg Kucera Gallery take unsettling turns
Originally published January 12, 2016. Updated January 14, 2016
By Michael Upchurch
The bag is decidedly mixed - but its array of goodies, enigmas and non-starters includes enough fine work to make the three new shows at Greg Kucera Gallery well worth a visit.
Pride of place goes to "The Potato Eaters," a group show curated by Seattle artists Dawn Cerny and Dan Webb. The title comes from a Van Gogh painting of Dutch peasants eating the humblest of meals. In their curatorial statement, Cerny and Webb explain that they're examining "The unarticulated rigors of ordinaray encounters."
Those rigors hit unsettling heights and Sean Johnson's "There's a Story Here," consisting of a well-worn couch uphostered in sickly green-gold, suspended froma wall with twine that looks too fragile to hold it.
'The Potato Eaters,' 'Hello Again: Select Offerings,' 'PuzzleParts & Sears Portraits'
10:30am-5:30pm tuesdays-Saturdays through Feb. 20, Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Ave. S., Seattle (206-624-0770 or gregkucera.com)
Fine-art skills are on display in the work of Michael Van Horn and Gretchen Bennett. Van Horn’s archival inkjet prints are like faux-pragmatic architectural renderings. His fanciful overhead “plan views” of a firepit garden, tree garden, fountain garden and labyrinth garden are sharp, intricate, bewitching places for the mind to inhabit.
Bennett’s two archival inkjet photographs hardly resemble photographs at all. Instead, they’re more like faded memories, especially “Honeymoon view with windscreen and small tear,” which reads like a snapshot of a concrete road-trip experience translated into the gauziest terms imaginable.
C. Davida Ingram’s six-minute video and archival inkjet print, both titled “Bodies of Knowledge: Not a Butch Specimen,” focus on gender ambiguity and the pain of having an existence that you take for granted seen as something anomalous or exotic. On the sculptural front, Nancy Shaver makes mischief by cramming found materials — fabric, paper, wooden blocks — into a metal-skinned slice of “Sausage” and other packages.
Webb’s own contribution to the show — a set of oversized, wood-carved salad tongs — is disappointing, especially for anyone who saw his terrific 2014 retrospective at Bellevue Arts Museum. Other works in “Potato Eaters” are either visually dull or downright cryptic.
More fun is “Puzzle Parts & Sears Portraits,” a show by Seattle art trio SuttonBeresCuller. “Sears Portraits” consists of two crowded mantelpieces of photos the trio have had shot by “much amused or annoyed technicians” at the Sears photo department over a 13-year span. SBC would arrive for these sessions dressed as bridesmaids, soldiers, college graduates, zombies and other characters, while sticking closely to their chosen template: the cheesy family portrait. Some shots are jokey, some unnerving and a few are poignant.
“Puzzle — A Painting in 150 Parts” is a work in progress, consisting of pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle. Their seeming abstraction gives no clue to what the puzzle portrays. Only in 2021 will it all be assembled and its subject revealed. Until then, viewers will have to keep guessing.
Another group show, “Hello Again,” has no specified theme. It’s a miscellany of art collectors’ holdings brought into the gallery for resale. But it boasts some terrific pieces, including a Warhol “Cow” and “Marilyn,” a comically blustery “Windstorm” by Gaylen Hansen, some beguiling beach and backyard scenes in aquatint by Eric Fischl and four typically caustic acrylic-on-canvas reflections on Japanese-American internment-camp experiences by Roger Shimomura.
The most striking piece: Francesco Clemente’s “Conversion to Her” (1986) in which permutations of a male nude, portrayed at varying angles, capture the essence of protean sexual identity. It’s unusual to see any Clemente in Seattle. Grab the chance while you can. The Seattle Times – 1/14/2016
Michael Upchurch: www.michaelupchurchauthor.com
"The Potato Eaters"
the everyday becomes art, and art becomes the everyday.
January 7th, 2016 - February 20th, 2016
Opening: Thursday Jan. 7th from 6:00 - 8:00pm
Curatorial Walk-through and Artist Talk: Saturday Jan. 9th at noon
The Potato Eaters is an exhibition that examines the ways we consider the unarticulated rigor of ordinary encounters. Things like refrigerators, bedside tables, mantels, and even our cell phones contain evidence of the ways we unconsciously curate and display the things we value. This show is an opportunity to move around the idea of the authority of the art object by seeing them as daily negotiations with the tangible and intangible stuff that makes up a life. As one begins to inform the other, we wonder how the everyday becomes art, and art becomes the everyday. –Dawn Cerny and Dan Webb
Works by: Dawn Cerny, Gretchen Bennett, C. Davida Ingram, Sean Johnson, Margo Quan Knight, Dave Lipe, Rob Rhee, Matt Sellars, Nancy Shaver, Michael Van Horn, Dan Webb.
A group show curated by Dan Webb & Dawn Cerny.
Greg Kucera Gallery
212 Third Avenue South in The Lofts Building
Seattle, Washington 98104
Tuesday through Saturday 10:30 - 5:30
Closed Sunday and Monday