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From an artistic collaboration between a mother and two daughters to the unveiling of a massive gift to a major local institution, this fall offers a variety of new and novel ways to engage with visual art. While other art forms face uncertainty about reopening, visual art has been up and running since last summer, a low-key resurgence worth your time and attention. Here are the shows to put on your calendar this fall.
‘Vanessa German: W E’
“W E” describes a power figure sculpted by Vanessa German with objects contributed by the local community to create “the site-specific power figure that will be a protective force for people’s hearts and spirit.” This will be the center of a new show at Wa Na Wari.
“When Vanessa German opened the door to the installation, I burst into tears,” writes curator and Wa Na Wari co-founder Elisheba Johnson of the artist’s exhibition in a news release announcing the show. “Tears of disbelief that we, Black people in the Northwest, could have the art that is so often shown in other parts of the country. And then immense gratitude! I’m so grateful that I can be in her presence throughout the rest of the year. She is an assemblage of so many things I love.”
A self-taught artist based in Pittsburgh, German’s work examines “the historical and ongoing dimensional catastrophes of structural racism, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, resource extraction, and misogynoir.” Johnson is right: German’s assemblages are vivid and powerful, a privilege to witness.
Through Dec. 31; Wa Na Wari, 911 24th Ave., Seattle; free; 206-485-7563, wanawari.org
‘Packaged Black: Derrick Adams and Barbara Earl Thomas’
On the heels of her powerful show at the Seattle Art Museum, Barbara Earl Thomas joins forces with Derrick Adams for an exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery mining “representation, Black identity, and practices of cultural resistance.” According to the Henry’s catalog text, “Packaged Black” is the result of a yearslong collaboration between Adams and Thomas, incorporating Adams’ focus on “the relationship between Black culture and commerce that is core to his practice, alongside the ways fashion and self-styling communicate identity” and Thomas’ examination of “media and fairytales in shaping social expectations and her own conception of self.” The show will fill more than one gallery, “creating an exhibition that forms an interconnected constellation of relationships that span time and place, and celebrates the creative imagination, adaptation, and resilience of Black communities.”
Oct. 2-May 1, 2022; Henry Art Gallery, 15th Ave. N.E. and N.E. 41st St. Seattle; $6-$10; 206-543-2280, henryart.org
‘Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection’
Back in February, the Seattle Art Museum announced a massive gift: 19 20th-century masterworks of abstract expressionist and European provenance, from the Lang Collection, once belonging to Jane Lang Davis and Richard E. Lang, careful private collectors and pioneers of local artistic philanthropy. It was a bright spot in a rough year for the arts, and included an additional $10.5 million gift in dedicated funds for SAM. This fall, you can see the Lang Collection in person. “Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection” spans 31 years of painting, sculpture and drawing, and includes major artists like Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Francis Bacon and more. It’s essential viewing for Ab-Ex nerds and anyone interested in Seattle’s own history of art.
Oct. 15-November 27, 2022; Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., Seattle; $12.99-$19.99; 206-654-3100, seattleartmuseum.org
‘M(other) Tongues: Bodhild and Las Hermanas Iglesias’
“M(other) Tongues” features work from a duo of sister-artists: Janelle and Lisa Iglesias, raised in Queens, New York, by Norwegian and Dominican parents, collaborate as “Las Hermanas Iglesias” from opposite sides of the country. Their show at the National Nordic Museum brings in another family member: their Norwegian-born mother, Bodhild Brendryen Iglesias, who has cultivated a knitting practice since age 9. “M(other) Tongues” is a visual exchange between the three, drawing on Bodhild’s family traditions in fiber arts. In November, all three artists will take part in the Nordic Museum’s biennial Nordic Knitting Conference.
Nov. 4-Jan. 31; National Nordic Museum, 2655 N.W. Market St., Seattle; $10-$20; 206-789-5707, nordicmuseum.org
‘Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective’
From the way she captured luminous lilies unfurling to her iconic portrait of Frida Kahlo, Imogen Cunningham was and remains a giant of the photography world, and getting to see her work in person will be a treat at SAM’s forthcoming retrospective on the artist, the first in over 35 years. The locale is appropriate: Cunningham was born in Portland and grew up in Seattle, where she studied chemistry and completed a thesis on the chemical processes of photography at the University of Washington before launching into the career that would make her a household name to anyone who cares about photography. SAM’s show will include almost 200 Cunningham images, making for a rare, expansive look into one of the key figures in American photography in the 20th century.
Nov. 18-Feb 6, 2022; Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., Seattle; $12.99-$19.99; 206-654-3100, seattleartmuseum.org