Here are four suggestions for art exhibitions — and one artist-written play — that rub elbows with the literary.
You might say that all visual art is poetic. It’s open to interpretation, attentive to form, and aesthetically, conceptually or emotionally evocative. But National Poetry Month has me thinking about visual art that overtly engages with writing. Here are some suggestions for art exhibitions — and one artist-written play — that rub elbows with the literary.
“Every Moment of a Book: Three Decades of Work by Julie Chen”
This survey of work by consummate book artist Chen is, fittingly, in a library. Sandra Kroupa, Book Arts and Rare Book curator for the University of Washington, pulled together stunning examples of Chen’s ability to play with relationships among image, text and the very structure of books. “Every Moment of a Book: Three Decades of Work by Julie Chen” is on view through June 30 in the Allen Library’s Special Collections, University of Washington, Seattle (206-543-1929 or http://calendar.washington.edu/122339804/EXHIBITEveryMomentofaBookThreeDecadesofWorkbyJulieChen).
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Manitach laboriously creates “text drawings” with edgy epigrams that pierce through soft decorative backgrounds. Her sayings are candid, sometimes sexual and often ironic, poignantly capturing her individuality and a relatable, vulnerable humanity. Manitach’s works are on view in “the back room” at Winston Wächter Fine Art through mid-May (at least), 203 Dexter Ave N, Seattle (206-652-5855 or seattle.winstonwachter.com).
“Pieces of Stories: Melinda Tidwell and Hibiki Miyazaki”
The two artists currently showing at Zinc contemporary manipulate text and image for very different effects. Miyazaki conjures up surreal narratives through a mixture of painting, drawing, print and handwritten words. Tidwell splices together fragments of books with an intense focus on formal arrangements; unexpectedly our own vague associations slip through the tight collages. “Pieces of Stories” is on view through April 29 at Zinc contemporary, 119 Prefontaine Place S., Seattle (206-617-7378 or zinccontemporary.com).
“I Dwell In Possibility: Artworks Selected by Poet Laureate Tod Marshall”
The art in this online exhibition wasn’t necessarily created in response to writing, but each piece was chosen by Marshall, Washington state’s poet laureate. Invited by ArtsWA (the Washington State Arts Commission) to dive into the state’s art collection, Marshall selected 16 diverse pieces that — to me — suggest storytelling or literary devices. There’s even a work (a window installation by Stuart Keeler and Michael Machnic) titled “Allegory.” Borrowing his title from an Emily Dickinson poem, Marshall states the works “reveal the many possibilities in which art allows us to dwell.” “I Dwell In Possibility: Artworks Selected by Poet Laureate Tod Marshall” is online, along with information about how you can curate your own web exhibition, at www.artswa.org.
“Pentimento” by Dawn Cerny
Cerny, who primarily works as a sculptor, crafted a play from text messages and emails sent between the members of Kraft Duntz (David Lipe, Matt Sellars and Dan Webb) and herself during the eight months they collaborated on “Fun. No Fun.,” the sprawling art/architecture installation currently on view at the Henry Art Gallery. Cerny, whose past literary ventures have included a project at Hugo House, will surely have her insightful humor on full display. The script-reading cast will include comedians Kevin Clark and Travis Vogt and storytellers Douglas Gale and Kathleen Tarrant. “Pentimento” will be performed April 27 at the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 41st Street, Seattle (206-543 2280 or henryart.org).