Whether you’re up to date on all our area has to offer in terms of art or a novice who is just wading into the creative scene, “Out of Sight” is a must-see show. It’s a comprehensive survey of contemporary art from Pacific Northwest artists, and this weekend is your last chance to peruse the works.
Standing at more than 12 feet tall, Electric Coffin’s “Wolf Temple” is an imposing piece that easily dominates the room. A temple sits atop the majestic cardboard beast and a neon sign reading “VACANCY” in blue lights shines within the temple. According to the collective, the temple represents the pursuit of higher knowledge and the wolf symbolizes freedom.
In all, 300 works of art are spread across two multilevel buildings in Pioneer Square. One can easily spend a couple hours or more absorbing the unique creative vision transformed into murals, installations and sculptures. In previous years “Out of Sight” was housed at King Street Station. Rather than a linear experience, the new location on S. Jackson Street provides more twists and turns.
“It creates more of a fun house like a winding path,” said Curator and Exhibition Manager Justen Waterhouse. “Kind of a Disneyland feel where you can go into these little nooks and crannies and that adds to the experience.”
Tucked away in a small room with a low ceiling, visitors will find Junko Yamamoto’s “Between Consciousness.” Colorful and oddly shaped cotton sculptures hang from wires. The mixed-media piece also includes bright LED lights on the floor. Julia Freeman’s “Drug Dealers 1-6” is a grouping of portraits calling attention to leaders in Big Pharma. James Coupe’s rotating video installation in the basement centers around people’s eating, exercising and meditative habits. Neon Saltwater created a space whisking the viewer away to a coastal motel. Once inside the neon-green-dominated room, it’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of a larger art show.
Multidisciplinary artist Barry Johnson is one of 109 artists with work in the show. His three mixed-media portraits show Black men with their faces obscured. Inspiration for “Shaded,” “Phases” and “Untitled 26” came from a group art exhibition produced by Onyx Fine Arts called “Truth B Told,” which focused on artists of African descent telling their own story. Johnson is furthering the narrative.
“The whole idea was built atop of how men of color get profiled throughout the news,” Johnson said. “The faces were covered because it’s very often that the story of who we are as people of color or what we’ve done, our contributions throughout history kind of gets stretched and pulled to fit someone else’s narrative.”
Johnson recently became a full-time artist. Working across several disciplines keeps his creativity flexible. He’s interested in creating a community that can talk openly about race with the aid of visual art such as portraits, photography or film.
Storme Webber’s work draws on her personal experience as a Black and Indigenous person. Like others of mixed heritage she has found herself between two worlds. Not being Black enough or Indigenous enough.
“It’s an interesting argument because you know we can’t go back and unmix our blood,” Webber said.
Webber points out the absurdity of the one-drop rule, which states that one drop of Black blood means you’re Black. And conversely with the blood quantum law, some Native American tribes enforce to maintain status. “Ancestors Know Who We Are” is informed by her family and how they’ve survived.
“We are our ancestors. We are their living embodiment upon this Earth, and we’re here because of them,” Webber said. “Surely they’re free of these sorts of judgments and they see a lot more than we can and they know who we are and they love us. That’s the foundation of all the work that I do.”
Greg Lundgren is the producer and curator of “Out of Sight.” He created the independent satellite exhibit in response to Paul Allen’s Art Fair as a way to solely focus on showcasing the talent of artists in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and British Columbia.
Each of the four curators brought their distinctive tastes together to create a full-scale visually stimulating show. Waterhouse was specifically interested in art addressing the displacement of people of color and economic forces.
“I’m also interested in trying to have a farther reach as possible geographically because I think it’s important to consider how all the parts of the Pacific Northwest relate to each other as well,” said Waterhouse. “It’s exciting to bring all those artists from different backgrounds from different little social niches together into one show. What happens when you draw people together from all across a geographic area who have never shown together before.”
Show attendees are asked to make a $10 donation at the door. Waterhouse said the money goes to support those participating and the project.
Being in the show has already elevated Johnson’s visibility. He’s proud to be showing alongside other artists such as Jazz Brown.
Because of its extensive scope of talent and range of viewpoints, “Out of Sight” is an impactful show. Webber succinctly sums up why one should attend: “It is vital art. It is the voices of many young and various aged artists who are local, whose work is perhaps not that easy to find in public spaces. It’s speaking to our present moment. I think in our present moment we need all of the voices to help us.”
WHAT: “Out of Sight”
WHEN: Final days, Aug. 25 Noon - 8 p.m. Aug. 26 & 27, Noon - 6 p.m.
WHERE: 115 S. Jackson St., Seattle, $10 donation
Lisa Edge is a Staff Reporter covering arts, culture and equity. Have a story idea? She can be reached at lisae (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Twitter @NewsfromtheEdge, Facebook
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