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A&E Pick of the Week

You might think Seattle’s visual art scene is back, but it never really went away.

Unlike many arts and culture venues, Seattle’s art galleries were able to quietly reopen last summer at reduced capacity, and haven’t faced the same COVID-19-related cancellations and closures as other spaces.

This summer even brought some good news: The Seattle Art Fair, its future hanging in the balance after the loss of a major funder, will resume operations next year. And First Thursday, the city’s long-running monthly art walk, returned on Aug. 5 after a hiatus of 16 months, specially timed to the Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair, the event local gallerists worked together to put on in 2020 after the Seattle Art Fair was canceled.

But even if you missed the big return of First Thursday, there’s still time to take in the Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair, and, with 48 galleries participating, plenty of surprises still to come as the DIY art fair continues through the end of August.

Visiting these shows costs nothing, and with so many local galleries participating, you could spend days working your way through the Deconstructed Art Fair, and it’s impossible to mention everything worth seeing. Here are just a few things to see on your own time. Consider these a suggestion on which to build your own itinerary.

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Rachel Campbell’s “The Year of Small Things”

For a mood lifter, hit up ZINC Contemporary, where Rachel Campbell’s “The Year of Small Things” features glorious paintings of ordinary spaces in a nearly neon color palette. Though partly inspired by the confines of life amid COVID-19, the series is the opposite of glum, and it’s easy to get lost in the spaces Campbell conjures, from backyards and winding roads to porches and geometric fields.

In “Joy Lee’s Marvelous Summer Apartments,” Campbell depicts a delightfully symmetrical midcentury apartment complex behind a perfectly cerulean swimming pool. It’s a meticulous, soothing study in yellow and blue, the viewing equivalent of dipping your feet into cool water on a hot day.

Still life painting takes on a new meaning amid the pandemic, as in Rachel Campbell’s “Precious Little Things.” (Courtesy of ZINC Contemporary)

A still life, “Precious Little Things,” takes on a meaning bigger than the sum of its parts amid the pandemic. As we’ve become intimately acquainted with the objects in our homes, Campbell’s staging of plants and plastic milk crates, art books and an urchin shell is a delicate window into the way we arrange our homes, and the beauty of everyday objects.

Rachel Campbell refers to her style as “abstracted realism,” somewhere between abstraction and figuration. The setting of “Dusk on the Lade Braes II” is clear, but the more you look at it, the more you notice hints of abstraction, like the glowing pink and purple auras on the bushes. (Courtesy of ZINC Contemporary)

Campbell calls her approach to these paintings “abstracted realism,” said ZINC founder and curator Laura Zeck. Campbell’s subjects are clear enough — holiday houses, a field of snowdrops, a light in a window — but the more you look at one of her paintings, the more you realize odd little touches, like an extremely flat Bonne Maman jam jar, or bushes with glowing pink and purple auras, or shadowy trees that seem just a little too tall and skinny.

Each of these images is like its own little jewel box miniature. Precise, playful, blurring the lines between figuration and abstraction, they are tiny worlds unto themselves. Like a Barbara Cooney picture book for adults, they make for fun, comforting viewing, with depth, warmth and no shortage of bright color.

Jazz Brown’s “Intimacy Aware”

If you missed the start of the Deconstructed Art Fair, don’t worry: Several galleries are hosting openings and events throughout the fair, and J. Rinehart Gallery has a whole new show opening in the middle of its run.

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Jazz Brown’s “Intimacy Aware” features large, highly graphic geometric paintings in colorways both bright and subdued. With rainbow spheres evoking the work of Sonia Delaunay, and curves in subtler, abalone-esque color schemes, “Intimacy Aware” is a playful foray into abstraction that you don’t need a decoder ring to enjoy. According to gallery owner and director Judith Rinehart, Brown begins with a completely black gessoed canvas, then adds in color.

Jazz Brown’s “Blue Check” embodies the highly graphic quality of the artist’s new show, “Intimacy Aware,” at J. Rinehart Gallery. (Courtesy of J. Rinehart Gallery)

The gallery will hold an artist meet and greet with Brown on Saturday, Aug. 28.

The artist’s images replace an equally compelling show, Susan Bluhm’s “The Monkey-Rope,” which ran through Aug. 7, featuring partially abstract landscape paintings of everything from a Kansas RV park to a messy blue bed. She’s someone to keep up with next time she shows.

Choose your own adventure

The Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair is huge, and the shows mentioned here are the tip of the iceberg. So let’s play a game of free association to help you find other shows that’ll vibe with your aesthetic.

“Hover” by Thomas Stream at Stonington Gallery.  (Courtesy of Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair)

Do you strongly believe that summer is Seattle’s best season? Feast your eyes on Thomas Stream’s gouache paintings on paper at Stonington Gallery. In “Colors of Summer,” Stream captures the avian residents of our region with pointillism and symbolism, drawing on his Sun’Aq Aleut ancestry. His “Tricolored Heron” is a majestic sight.

Feeling weird about your possessions? Seoul Kim’s hand-colored etchings at Davidson Galleries take a bleakly playful, surreal look at how we interact with the objects in our lives, as tiny people are shown doing everyday activities in assemblage-like cardboard boxes, surrounded by teddy bears, electronics and clothes.

Staying home? G. Gibson Projects has an entirely online show, featuring photography from Sally Mann, Ansel Adams and Julie Blackmon. In-person might be preferable, but you can’t argue with a lineup like that.

There’s no wrong answer.

Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair

Runs through Aug. 31. More than 40 galleries are participating this year. Individual galleries may have mask requirements and other COVID-19 protocols in place. More info: seattledeconstructedartfair.com

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