SEATTLE URBAN & CONTEMPORARY ART Spring | Summer 2014
THE MON OCHROMES ISSUE THE MONOCHROMES ISSUE THE MONOCHROMES ISSUE
EDITORS’ NOTE WEAVE began as a live art event in April of 2009. It brought 18 dynamic Seattle artists together to collaborate on canvas over the course of one night, at the Henry Art Gallery’s Open Studio space. This first live event was co-curated and produced by Bherd Studios founders John and Michele Osgood, as well as Twilight Gallery and Halogen Gallery. The goal was to raise awareness and support around Seattle’s urban arts scene. The collaborative aspect showed how art is inextricably woven into our lives, and how a strong arts community is built on collaboration, communication and mutual hard work. We kept the dream alive over the next few years, and unveiled the WEAVE festival in 2013: 10 arts venues, over 80 local artists, and everything from live painting events, to lectures, to openings. For years, we have dreamed of producing an arts publication that did the same thing that the WEAVE festival does: highlighting and supporting the best of the Seattle urban and contemporary arts community. Last winter we stopped dreaming and started doing. We are proud to present the inaugural issue of this magazine. We were heading into the winter season when we began planning this issue. The beginning of this stark season inspired the theme for this issue. Even though we tend to have many shades of gray during the winter, there are still pops of color to be found, and beauty that surrounds us. The works we are featuring for this issue reflect this aesthetic. We are proud to feature Seattle artists whom we admire on a professional level and also on a personal level. All of these artists have an incredible work ethic and passion for their art. We hope that this magazine will introduce you to a couple of new artists and give you a deeper insight into artists with whom you may already be acquainted. Michele & John Osgood Bherd Studios Gallery March 2014 Cover Image: New Players, Old Stories #4 Kate Protage India Ink, Graphite on Mylar
Pele Robert Hardgrave Acrylic and thread on burlap
TABLE OF CONTENTS memento mori / momento vida:
the shift is on:
Adream de Valdivia
Miguel Edwards is an art shark
the mass (Paper) murderer of seattle:
Interference Robert Hardgrave Ink on Paper
MEMENTO MORI / momento vida A lot of people see it as smoke. But when I paint smoke, I’m highlighting the last breath... the breath of life. Smoke curls up past the jawline, encircles the head, and traces the delicate halo of dots at the margins of the portrait. It flows over creamy skin and satin-sheened hair, slips over the delicate lines of sugar-skull Dia de los Muertos make-up. The makeup is precise and ornate as icing: curlicues that flow down the throat, fleur-de-lis tucked behind an ear, tears cascading from eyes. But, look closer: not all of it is make-up. Here and there, bone and muscle leer through the skin, gaping holes that lead straight into the skull cavity. With these new paintings, Seattle painter Adream de Valdivia is daring us to fall head over heels in love with the beauty, the elegance and the coolness of Death. Adream is no stranger to thinking about mortality. The artist’s father was murdered when Adream was a child. More recently, a cousin of his was killed, and he lost a close friend to leukemia. These events prompted the artist to refine and clarify his ideas about life and death. As he said in our interview, “I began aiming to express what I felt inside.” In early 2013, Adream decided to look those ideas square in the eyes. The result are these elegant memento mori, the “Dulce Vida” series. The series’ title speaks to the fleeting sweetness of life, and our limited opportunities to enjoy it.
“Lucky” Luciano Acrylic on Canvas
I knew I wanted to create something iconic. I wanted to create something that would never get old... To achieve his goal, Adream conjures the spirits of young, fearless icons such as James Dean, 1920s mobster Charles “Lucky” Luciano, and Frank Sinatra, rendering them in velvety sepia tones. Captured in the liminal place between innocent youth and knowing bad-boy cool, his subjects are caught mid-transformation between skeleton and flesh. They are personas with lasting power, who weave tragedy and intrigue together; they are the carriers of “endless cool.” A near-constant in the series is a circle of tiny dots that outline or halo his subjects’ heads. These halos slyly pose questions about who can become a saint, and how good our saints from the past really were. If “Lucky” Luciano could be a saint, who else could murder their way into canon? “My great grandmother survived the Catholic War in Mexico around 1910,’ Adream recalls. “I was raised by her and heard a lot of survival stories. I always thought it was interesting hearing how people became saints, these same people before becoming saints stole, gambled, and partied non-stop. The contradiction is strong, I saw this as sinners becoming saints, regular people divine. That’s why the halo is important to me, we are divine people and miracles happen all the time.”
Bad Boy Frank Acrylic on Canvas
In my studio I have a sentence that reads, “We are the flowers”. It took me years to understand what it meant. To me it means, ‘All the women who raised me, they are all flowers!’ Like all beautiful flowers cut and put in vases they inevitably fade away...
These monochromes are a departure from Adream’s earlier colorful, kaleidoscopic works. These paintings—reminiscent of traditional Mexican icons—cast Jimi Hendrix, Einstein or Cobain as modern-day saints. They were sometimes executed on burlap bags or as enormous murals where teenagers from his hometown could see and help work on them. Other works were hyper-bright recollections of his youth. “The first five years of my art career I painted things I saw growing up,’ Adream explains, “the garden I tended, religious themes and the super bright patterns the women in my household wore.” Growing up in the small town of Pasco, WA, the artist was raised by his great-grandmother. He credits both her efforts and the opportunity of making art in high school with saving his life. After the violent death of his father, school largely fell by the wayside and trouble seemed imminent—until he was assigned to an art class and it gave him the outlet he needed. Since then, Adream has reached out to students in turn, teaching art to kids at the Latino Youth Summit in Washington and spearheading mural projects in schools around Pasco. Community is a thread running through his life, first in Pasco, and now online. A full-time artist and master of social media, there isn’t a day (or an hour) that goes by without an update, announcement or new promotion on his many platforms.
Dulce Vida Acrylic on Canvas
Adream revels in the opportunity to share his work; after he finished one of the early “Dulce Vida” canvases, he uploaded it on Instagram, and it went viral. “People began using it as screen savers, some people were asking who made it, tattoo shops wanted to use it, and I sold out my “Bad Boy Frank” prints in 48 hours. It made me realize that if you create something beautiful, beauty begins to speak for you.” Adream transplanted to Seattle seven years ago. He sees the city as a blank canvas waiting to be painted, and he wants to paint loud and large. “Here in Seattle, we tend not to show off as much as other cities do. I’d love to see Seattle advertised as the ‘Best Place for Art,’ just like NYC is the Big Apple or Detroit is the Motor City.” Since his move to Seattle, his momentum hasn’t stopped: stints in London and Puerto Rico have made him new connections, and summers at an arts collective in Berkeley, CA run by Tom Franco (big brother of actor James Franco) had him running art showings in the street, meeting makers, and renting spaces in unlikely places. Ultimately, though, Washington is still home: “I really love Washington. The green growing everywhere is energizing. Something about the Seattle rain that creates a dreamy atmosphere mixed with a coffee buzz propels me to bubble with new ideas.”
See the artist’s work at AdreamStudios.com Find him at: Twitter: @HelloAdream Facebook: AdreamStudios Instagram: @AdreamArt Pinterest: AdreamStudios Contact him at adream3000.com (11)
The Last Kiss Acrylic on Canvas
THE SHIFT IS ON
It’s futile to try and sum up Robert Hardgrave’s body of work in one sentence. Go ahead, give it a shot. Peruse twenty years of past series, current experiments, and his Flickr feed. Where do you begin? The sumi-e-esqe ink monochromes? The dense, Piranesi-like conglomerates? The trompe-l’oil offspring of 1990s-era computer art and Dalí?
I was once told that we only come up with one or two great ideas and the rest is filler. After I heard that, my goal was to go beyond these expectations. I hope to work through as many ‘styles’ as possible throughout my career, as they develop through the needs of the work.
Each time you seem to have a sense of Hardgrave’s methods and materials (acrylic and watercolor on canvas? Yes. Ink on paper? Check. Needlepoint on fabric? Oui. Cloth on metal armature? Uh huh.) another series emerges from his bag of tricks that blows your theory to bits. The soft-focus, candycolored, abstract pastels. Toner transfers on Tyvek polyethelene. The dizzying compositions that are most closely related to a page out of Where’s Waldo?
Llama Tempera and Collage
A chameleonic virtuoso, the Seattle-based Hardgrave makes these 180-degree shifts in tone look easy. A self-described improvisational artist, he says that there is never an overall plan or process for his works. “Improvisation, for me, is setting up my workflow so anything can happen.” Don’t mistake “improvisation” for randomness, or lack of technique: even if it appears that he might flit from style to style, and technique to technique, he is executing each one masterfully. Hardgrave is admired by many fellow artists (and surely envied) for his constant flow of ideas for new techniques and styles.
Everything evolves in its own way. I just don’t know until I get into the work. Everything requires a solution that fits the circumstance. I just try to find it naturally without forcing my will too much.
But lest we think that it’s all fun and games in the studio, Hardgrave has a word of warning. “It’s not an easy road to take, requiring many years of practice to even be a decent artist...Strong support—along with a healthy community—is key.” Improvisation and a willingness to trust his instincts are also outlooks that have helped him get past roadblocks. His early style used illustrative, soft-bodied forms that combined a graffiti aesthetic with the swirls and coils of Chinese scroll paintings. The style proved popular, landing him commissions, exhibits, and glowing magazine profiles. “At the time it seemed I needed to stay with a technique to keep money in my pocket,” Hardgrave remembers. “But when that money dried up with the economy, it enabled me to not care what came out.” Since then, a strong sense of the experimental has allowed him to broaden his stylistic horizon, and increase his output.
Badlands Collage, Graphite on Paper
These days, the staccato clamor of a sewing machine issues from Hardgrave’s studio, having recently replaced the quieter sound of brush on canvas. The artist’s father maintained a sporadic sewing practice during his life, and Hardgrave sees his recent focus on fiber arts as a way of connecting to his father’s memory. Textiles creep into his works everywhere; manifesting as three dimensional quilted sculptures, and empty suit forms that swing from hangers. Collages on paper have stitched thread standing in for drawn outlines. But, like a searchlight moving across the ground, Hardgrave’s interests are constantly evolving, shifting and refocusing. Weeks ago, his Flickr feed was filled with sewn creations like Amish quilts gone mutated and amok. Today, it’s dominated with scratchy, minimalist, monochromes achieved by Xerox transfer. Hardgrave’s enthusiasm for creation is palpable, radiating through his experiments and process photos. “I am still early in my career. Who knows what I will become interested in later on? I can see how many ways I can push it and it’s exciting. Every day in the studio is a thrill.”
Robert Hardgrave is represented by Cullom Gallery: cullomgallery.com Contact the artist at roberthardgrave.com
Hairpin Collage, Thread on Paper
SIGHTS SET: Kate Protage on changing gears and facing the intimidating head-on. If you’re out and about in Seattle, there’s a chance that Kate Protage has seen you—but you may not have seen her. Driving in her stick-shift—camera in one hand, wheel in the other—she could have snapped a shot of a rain-slicked Pike Street as she whisked by, or a quick photo of I-5 under soggy sunset. If her camera caught you, you’d never know: by the time this classically-trained oil painter was finished translating her reference photos to her “Urban Slice” paintings, figures and other details are brushed away in favor of rain-haloed streetlights, sparkling puddles, and snatches of evening sky between skyscrapers. Protage has captured the rushing traffic and rainblurred lights of streets from around the world in her popular “Urban Slice” paintings over the course of the last decade. She has shown them in a wide range of Seattle venues, and nationally. But the last two years have heralded a shift. She has also begun another body of work that focuses on the one aspect she banished from her snapshots: people.
Leaving the Square Oil on Canvas In a Hurry Oil on Wood Panel
Urban Geometry Ink, Graphite on Mylar
Up until recently I had perfect vision, but I like to simplify and blur. I want to know what happens when I abstract things. “A few years ago I was challenged to do figurative work by the guest curator of the Seattle Erotic Art Festival,” Protage recently explained at an artist talk to celebrate a new body of work. “As I’m surrounded by people who do amazing figurative work, it was intimidating.” The first series that resulted from that challenge was the “What I See” body of work, which showed tightly cropped sections of the body rendered in monochromatic washes of ink on mylar. Like her “Urban Slice” works, they resided in the liminal space between figurative and abstract; connoting an image, but blurring it, as if seen through wavy glass. Oft-overlooked angles and sections of the body—the crook of an elbow, the back of a knee—were rendered as sensual, impressionistic landscapes. “We’re bombarded with idealized, unrealistic images of how we should look that are meant to inspire, but can overwhelm and even anger us instead,” Protage wrote of this first series. “Despite all of the hoopla, the fact is that the everyday things we see…basic parts, like the crook of an arm or the curve of a leg…can be beautiful.”
Left: New Players, Old Stories #2 Ink, Graphite on Mylar Above: What I See #1 Ink, Graphite on Mylar
New Players, Old Stories #5 Ink, Graphite on Mylar
Since the original series made its debut, Protage has continued to explore its possibilities. “I just kept coming back to that first series. Eventually, I thought, ‘ok, I can do a little more figurative stuff, I guess...’” Her most recent series—“New Players, Old Stories”—is the result of a twoperson exhibit at Bherd Studios Gallery that paired the artist with classical oil painter Crystal Barbre. Inspired by Renaissance sculptures in Florence and Rome, the two painters mounted a seven hour photo shoot with local models who were asked to approximate the poses of classic sculptures such as Giambologna’s “Rape of the Sabine Women” and “Hercules Killing the Centaur.” While Barbre worked on the large scale with her paintings, Protage zoomed in on compelling interplays between muscles and skin, and intertwined arms and legs. The title of the series speaks to the “old stories” that these poses reference, which in turn were referenced by Renaissance sculptors retelling Roman and Greek stories. The new players are her models, and Protage and Barbre themselves.
New Players, Old Stories #3 Ink, Graphite on Mylar
Protage has not only shifted the focus of her imagery, but her media as well. After sketching the image with graphite onto the mylar, she washes extra black india ink on top, diluting the ink with water to create gradations. To control the flow and direction of the ink she pushes and dries it with a hairdryer. “It’s like playing with crayons,’ she laughed, making pulling and pushing motions with her fingers. She came up with the innovative technique after working with tusche, a greasy black liquid used for lithographic printing. Though she found the brand of tusche she bought inadequate for its intended purpose, its possibilities intrigued her. However, by the time she started this series, she had run out and it was no longer being made. “I tried so many different things to approximate it, and extra black india ink was the closest.” It’s a process that is completely different from the traditional method of starting with midtones: here, she starts with the lightest areas and goes darker, working midtones last. “Once the ink is down, it’s down, you can’t go back. You have to let the ink be the ink. It’ll go a different way, make a different shape than you wanted or expected, but you have to let it go.” It’s been a challenge for Protage, who is happy to own up to her need to keep creative control. “I truly learned the meaning of ‘happy accident!’”
Protage’s work inhabits the gray area between abstract and figurative. From city-scapes to the landscape of the body, she continues to bring our attention to vistas that we might otherwise ignore. The next time you see her sweep by in her car, camera at the ready, give her a wave; you might see yourself reflected in her blurred, impressionistic world.
Kate Protage is represented by SAM Gallery and Bherd Studios Gallery. Contact her at protagestudio.com
Case Study 2 Ink, Graphite on Mylar
Once I am going, it’s easy to keep going. If I stop and lose my moment, I can sink.
is an miguel edwards art shark Little sleep. Constant momentum. Resisting the dreaded pause that leads to creative fatality. That’s just how mixed-media artist Miguel Edwards likes it. It’s not surprising, then, that this sculptor, photographer, and installation artist keeps himself busy with nation-wide art shows, Vice Presidential duties with Seattle’s CoCA (Center on Contemporary Art), and collaborative projects across a bevy of media.
Mariposa Steel, Hand Patinated
Born into a DIY family that built their furniture and house alike, Edwards became a consummate mad inventor. From his workshop come oversize, sculptural works that seem sprung from a sci-fi universe of LED lights and glowing orbs. A sexy and dangerous neon Venus fly trap glints and beckons; a wicked metal scorpion-tailed bed invites a sleeper to dream; an enormous death ray looks primed to destroy any opposition. These works have a sense of joyous experimentation and playfulness that reflect Edwards’ exuberance for creation. “I do love that analogy,’ he says of the mad scientist archetype, ‘I am very inspired by technical “what if?” questions.” Innovation is a constant inspiration to me. I don’t buy into the notion that it has all been done. I think there is plenty that has not been done yet.
Left: Advena Vasculum Above: Transmogrifier Steel, Glass, LEDs Steel, Mixed Media
Surrealism is a by-word for Edwards’ work, whether sculptural or photographic. Outside of his workshop, Edwards works in photography as his main medium, delighting in creating imagery as if Photoshop never existed. He prides himself on creating painterly imagery than goes beyond typical perceptions of analog photography.
If I create a scene or experience, and then shoot a slide or a negative of that, it is a slice of time and honest to that experience, with the film as an artifact. When you introduce Photoshop and layers and multiple ‘undos,’ it’s no longer a documentation of an event, or time, and place.
Left: Looking Inside (Analog Photograph) C Print Right: Gods Head (Unmanipulated Digital Capture) Aluminum Print Facing Page: Valence Stainless Steel, Glass
In the summer gloaming, a crown of metalâ€”studded with glass and lightsâ€” soars above the ground on slender supports; an Edwards sculpture taken out for a jaunt. An aerialist snakes her way around the struts, hangs off the sturdy metal arms, twisting and twining. Edwards snaps photographs from the ground. A sculpture, a performance, a photograph, all integrated and discreet works of art. Setting up shoots with live models, Edwards often incorporates his sculptures as backdrops or props. He spends anywhere from days to weeks working towards the desired effect. The result is usually an uncanny blend of hallucinatory color, where perspective and blurred motion make it impossible to judge exactly where and who and what we see.
A Seattle transplant, Edwards found that the city’s collaborative spirit was strong. Embracing and championing Seattle’s art scene through CoCA and working with City Arts Magazine, Edwards sees the character of the arts scene as rich, scrappy, and familial. “Seattle and so many other art scenes tend to knee-jerk reference what’s happening in New York, Miami or Los Angeles. Obviously great work comes out of these and other large markets, but Seattle is an oasis of creativity and collaborations. And I choose to embrace our ecosystem more than referencing theirs.” What’s next for Edwards? After a full schedule of recent collaborations with Ryan Blythe, David Kitts, Paul Thibault and John Osgood of Bherd Studios, the artist has new projects in sight. He’s heading to Palm Springs for an upcoming installation and exhibit at Archangel Gallery; he’s presenting sculptures for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle; and then he plans to dive into experimental video and virtual interfaces. The art shark just keeps moving forward.
Miguel Edwards is represented by: Shidoni www.shidoni.com Archangel Gallery www.archangelgallery.com Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park www.matzkefineart.com Contact him at migueledwards.com
Cyclone Steel, Powder Coating
THE MASS (PAPER)] MURDERER OF SEATTLE Daniel Voelker might be on his way to becoming the George R. R. Martin of collage. The way he describes his art-making process, you’d think it was a life-and-death saga fit for an HBO series. “I often see the [paper] shapes I’m putting down as supporting cast members to an overarching dramatic event,” he says. “I’m always surprised which ones survive and which ones sacrificed themselves so that others could exist...It’s really quite dramatic, this psychological game I play.”
Convincing them you’re a ghost... Charcoal Drawings/Collage on Board
Finger-smudged, textured, and subtle, Voelker’s abstract collaged works are made from multiple monochrome charcoal sketches that have been sliced up and reassembled on a panel. It’s difficult to tell at a glimpse that these works are collage: the black charcoal is so dark and dense, the grays so gradated, that the eye almost misses the many fine edges of individual shapes. Though these Cubist-flavored compositions are often small on the wall, they demand attention; seeming to seethe, grow, and suck our gaze into their depths. Voelker skilfully draws the eye in with hypnotic patterns, and moves our gaze around the composition using juxtapositions of black and white. “Collage allows you to put light valued shapes on top of darker ones—much like paintings,” he explains. “In my older drawings I would often draw myself into corners—any area touched by black was now gray...and you couldn’t use lights anymore. Collage has given me the freedom to get my lights back into the work.” Though he works in shades of gray, being an artist is a black-and-white choice for Voelker. He fell in love with abstract art during his undergraduate years at the University of Washington School of Fine Arts, and turned from studying graphic design to working in paint, charcoal and collage. 2012 saw him throwing energy and attention into learning his fundamentals at the Gage Academy of Art, in Mark Kang-O’Higgins’ Atelier. Now in his late thirties, Voelker has the goal of being a full-time artist in his sights. Inspired by the Romantic sense of adventure and beauty he sees in the Northwest, he feels a sense of pride in adding his voice to the Seattle arts scene. Let’s just hope he keeps his penchant for slicing and dicing his cast members strictly to paper and panel.
Contact the artist at voelkerart.com Guardian Charcoal Drawings/Collage on Board
Next page: Tidal Charcoal Drawings/Collage on Board
A& contemporary art scene thriving in
bout WEAVE: Seattle has a rich urban
neighborhoods across our city and WEAVEâ€™s mission is to promote and grow this art scene. We are a year-round resource for upcoming events & exhibits, a twice yearly publication featuring Seattle artists and an organizer for WEAVE Fest, an annual festival that includes exhibitions, events, forums and temporary installations. Learn more at weaveseattle.com Seattle Urban & Contemporary Art Issue 1, Vol 1 (c) 2014 Bherd Studios Gallery All artwork copyright and courtesy of the respective artists. Forward by Michele & John Osgood Interviews, Writing & Design by Sarra Scherb Weave logo designed by Beau Simensen of Dragonfly Development
Back cover: Adream de Valdivia Linda | Acrylic on Canvas