New shows explore interactions with surroundings in very different ways.
Icescapes, landscapes, bodyscapes, doomscapes. Fine new shows in Seattle art galleries offer a theme-and-variations look at how we inhabit and interact with our surroundings.
“Zaria Forman: Antarctica”
“Nice photographs,” you might think when first looking at Zaria Forman’s epic-scale images of Antarctica. Only they aren’t photographs — they’re soft-pastel drawings on paper that capture the shimmers, shadows and glacier-borne grit of ice in action in astonishing ways.
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Forman drew them after a four-week residency aboard the National Geographic Explorer as the ship explored the coastline of Antarctica. The variety of effects she achieves with a medium that’s mostly associated with gauzy impressionism is startling.
“Errera Channel, Antarctica No. 4” captures the wet reflective sheen of melting surface ice under a moody sun. “Whale Bay, Antarctica No. 4” is a tumult of icy cliffs and crags, ranging in brightness from blinding white to storm-cloud gray.
“Cierva Cove, Antarctica No. 1” depicts a chaotic ice field seen in near whiteout conditions, while “Risting Glacier, South Georgia No. 1” presents a whole horizon-filling pageant of disintegrating ice turrets, glowing white and blue, cracked and scarred with fissures and veins of sediment.
“B-15Y Iceberg, Antarctica No. 2” emphasizes the architectural aspect of two towering flat-topped floating ice structures. The boldest composition is “Cierva Cove, Antarctica No. 2,” with its oddly vertiginous close-up of a mountainous ice formation, its liquid character caught in dazzling frozen form.
The show is accompanied by an 8-minute video in which the camera circles an open-arched iceberg in Whale Bay. It’s beautiful, but also makes clear the extraordinary depths and subtleties of the drawings’ pastel work.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays through Nov. 4, Winston Wächter Fine Art, 203 Dexter Ave. N., Seattle (206-652-5855 or www.winstonwachter.com).
“Ed Kamuda: Cabin and a Dream”
In Bellingham artist Ed Kamuda’s small oil-with-wax-varnish paintings on board, there’s a fanciful shorthand at work that calls to mind the work of Arthur Dove and Paul Klee. There’s also a metaphorical vein to them that goes beyond straightforward depiction.
“Adrift” depicts an unwieldy composite structure — part ark, part jerry-built tenement — that looms, top-heavy and uncertain in its movement, against a flat horizon. It’s ambiguous whether its backdrop is a landscape or seascape, yet it’s utterly direct in conveying an unmoored state of mind.
“Reach” is a sloping agrarian scene distilled to its simplest essence: outbuilding, bare trees, winding lane, mountain peaks on a tilted horizon, stylized sun overhead. The title, however, derives from a free-standing ladder rising from a field, offering a wobbly escape route from this pleasant scene and endowing the whole painting with a sense of restless aspiration.
Other paintings simply reflect seasonal changes (“Spring,” “Autumn Dance”) or rural moods (“Night Talk,” “Cabin and a Dream”). There’s something simultaneously tawny, tactile and jeweled about Kamuda’s work. The most gorgeous piece is “Ebb Tide,” which evokes vast coastline spaces in a 12-by-18-inch painting.
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays through Sept. 30, Harris Harvey Gallery, 1915 First Ave., Seattle (206-443-3315 or www.harrisharveygallery.com).
“Adrian Arleo: Continuance”
Botanical and wildlife elements are startlingly incorporated into the work of ceramic sculptor Adrian Arleo. Herds of deer stray across the torsos of female nudes as if calmly wandering precipitous mountainsides. Flowers and foliage enwrap Kuan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of compassion, sometimes obscuring her entirely.
Arleo has total mastery of her craft and a daring flair for composition. In “Artemis/Diana II,” two hounds float against the body of the Greco-Roman goddess as if, in Arleo’s words, they’re “an intensified extension” of her. All the pieces use clay, glaze, gold leaf, wax encaustic and other materials to create hybrid worlds and creatures, transforming human figures into hanging gardens and vice versa.
Arleo’s stated aim is “to process the difficulties of our time by engaging with imagery that might be restorative.” She succeeds.
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays through Oct. 2. Abmeyer + Wood Fine Art, 1210 Second Ave., Seattle (206-628-9501 or www.abmeyerwood.com)
At the other extreme, William Hooper conjures apocalyptic scenes with a gallows sense of humor. In “Other Than That How Was It?” a bent-over figure goes up in flames in what appears to be a refugee camp. Another painting just as scathingly titled (“It Was Our Understanding There Would Be No Math”) shows two men in Hazmat suits tending to what might be a disaster site.
Hooper’s oils on canvas have the feel of blurry photographs taken in hazardous conditions. Yet there’s a sickly beauty, a perverse toxic uplift, to some of them. “The Angelus,” named for a Catholic prayer, shows two more Hazmat-suited men weighing how to dispose of rusted chemical barrels on a desolate beach. This young artist has found both his style and his in-your-face content.
10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays through Sept. 30. Linda Hodges Gallery/BLUR Gallery, 316 First Ave. S., Seattle (206-624-3034 or www.lindahodgesgallery.com).