Saturday, July 30, 2016

Seattle Art Fair at CenturyLink Center & "Juxtapoz x SuperFlat" at Pivot Art + Culture: Aug 4 - 7 | Out of Sight at King Street Station: Aug 4 - 28 | "Death and the Maiden 2" final group show at Roq La Rue: Aug 6 - 20

Proceeding the success of last year's inaugural Seattle Art Fair there was abundant speculation as to the nature of the exhibit local philanthropist Paul Allen and the organization he had assembled with Max Fishko of Art Market Productions, would be bringing to the city. At the time the little the public had to go on included the fair's press release which made it out to be half-commercial gallery, half-curated exhibition, featuring some 60 galleries representing local to international dealers and an emphasis on the West Coast and Pacific Rim. The majority of the then dialog focused on the fair's relation to the art market, with Brian Boucher's "Why Are Gagosian, Pace, and Zwirner Signing On for the Seattle Art Fair?" and The Observer's "Paul Kasmin and Pace Gallery Join the Inaugural Seattle Art Fair" leading the discussion. With later pieces like Seattle Times "High Art Meets Deep Pockets at Seattle Art Fair" and the New York Times, "Seattle Art Fair Receives a Boost From Tech’s Big Spenders", and Art News "Why the Seattle Art Fair Is Important for the Art World", positioning the art fair as it relates to the moneyed local tech industry.

All of which were little more than discussions of the art market and the inclusion of some of the gallery world's international power players. For insight into the curatorial direction and work to be featured, one had to rely on regional media in which there was no small supply of skepticism expressed concerning the fair being another of Paul Allen's pet cultural projects, both for the good and the bad. The extent of the fair's conception became apparent opening weekend with favorable coverage in both the New York Times and Artforum. The exhibitions and galleries drawn from Asia were among the three day event's greater successes. In addition to the participating galleries Kaikai Kiki and Koki Arts from Tokyo, along with Gana Art of Seoul and Osage Gallery from Hong Kong, the "Thinking Currents" wing curated by Leeza Ahmady, director of Asia Contemporary Art Week produced a premier exhibition of video, film and sound work exploring themes related to the cultural, political, and geographical parameters of the Pacific Rim. Next week Seattle Art Fair returns for it's sophomore edition, this year with an expanded body of galleries, some 80 in total, along with it's program of talks, on-and-off site performances and collateral events around the city, including the In Context: Satellite Exhibition. Notably, in the way of influential presenters, "Roberts & Tilton and Marlborough are Among New Galleries" yet New York preeminent arts entity, Gagosian will not be present next week when, "Seattle Art Fair and Out of Sight make a Return". Organized by new Artistic Director Laura Fried, the fair's Projects present immersive and large-scale works spanning sculpture, performance, and installation, offering a platform for presentations beyond the art fair booth and into adjacent neighborhoods of the city. This year's Talks program present a daily two-person dialogue by an array of artists and leaders in creative fields. Teaming musician and artist Kim Gordon, actor Carrie Brownstein, art historian Branden W. Joseph, architect Sharon Johnston, artist Rita McBride, curator Anne Ellegood, and actor Kyle MacLachlan, in discussions both in and outside their respective fields.

Foremost among the Projects on offer this year, Paul Allen's Pivot Art + Culture space host the return of the KaiKai KiKi collective and it's cultural figurehead, Takashi Murakami, as "KaiKai KiKi & Juxtapoz Curate a Pop-Up Group Show in Seattle". In collaboration with Juxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine, their group show "Juxtapoz x SuperFlat" follows in the footsteps of Murakami’s previous curatorial efforts which began with 2001's SuperFlat exhibit at MoCA Los Angeles. Together with Juxtapoz editor Evan Pricco, the two conceived the exhibition as a survey of emerging artists, originating from both east and west, who operate outside of the central hubs of the global art world. A continuity of vision can be seen in the decades-spanning work featured in 2005's "Little Boy: The Art of Japan's Exploding Subculture” exhibit and and more recently the Brooklyn Art Museum's “©Murakami” retrospective. The latter's coverage in the New York Times "Watch Out, Warhol, Here’s Japanese Shock Pop", speaks to Murakami's role in bringing an awareness of Japan's Otaku-generation anime, design, sculpture, video and urban art scene to the larger art world. But it was the proceeding SuperFlat touring exhibit that introduced the west to the blissfully macabre transposition of dream and waking world seen in the vibrant surrealistic work of the loose collective of artists, and their reflexive dialog with Japanese popular culture.

Also in it's second installment, Out of Sight returns to the King Street Station exhibition space for its annual survey of contemporary art in the Pacific Northwest. With a new curatorial and production team under the direction of exhibition caretaker, Scott Lawrimore of Lawrimore Project and current Director of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery alongside the new curatorial team of Sierra Stinson, Greg Lundgren, Minh Nguyen, Beth Sellars, Julia Fryett and Molly Sides. Credited as "The Real Seattle Art Fair is Out of Sight" in local press, last year's exceptional program was a collaboration between Kirsten Anderson and Sharon Arnold of Roq La Rue and Bridge Productions along with Seattle artist Greg Lundgren and Sierra Stinson, founder of Vignettes for Vital 5 Productions. Offering a counterpoint to the global vision of the Seattle Art fair, this 22,000 square-foot survey of contemporary art read like a who's-who of the best work seen about the Pacific Northwest in the past decade. While no longer shepherding Out of Sight, Anderson's gallery space will be active this month with Roq La Rue's group exhibition, “Death and the Maiden 2", held concurrently with a Femke Hiemstra solo show in the loft gallery. This will be the final show at the long-running contemporary art space, its focus the pop surrealism of New Contemporary art scene, as detailed in their 2004 collection "Pop Surrealism: The Rise of Underground Art" edited by Anderson and Published by San Francisco's Last Gasp. In her interview form Hi-Fructose, "Gallery Spotlight: Exclusive Interview with Kirsten Anderson of Roq La Rue", Anderson maps the genesis of this new generation inspired as much by the urban and street art of the 1980s, as the kitschy, provocative work of Robert Williams, Anthony Ausgang, Isabelle Samaras, Lisa Petrucci and The Pizz. Particularly that these players in Southern California's Low Brow scene embodied a post-Punk ethos that made divestment in gallery culture and art academia central to their position.