WANAWARI! and A Salute to A Few Other Galleries
WaNaWari wins a headline again with five provocative installations.
Carletta Carrington Wilson’s “Night of the Stereotypes,” in the kitchen, includes assemblages and a zine you can take home for $30. The artist summarizes the zine: “mammy and pickaninny embark, with a host of other stereotypical caricatures prevalent in the 19th and 20th centuries, on a journey to confront the image-makers and, especially, to demand a role in the portrayal of their likeness on the silver screen.”
Watermelon-themed fabric hangs from the ceiling and over some of the windows. Wilson’s hand-made textiles and assemblages reframe the rampant stereotypes of slaves that pervaded products, cartoons, language, and above all, film. My favorite was “You ever think about owning your own home” a four-sided assemblage with references to the food served (heavy meals), songs, and slave caricature-kitsch embedded in small piles of cotton that fill the house. Carletta states: “Stripped of the ability to make themselves known as, not only historical but human beings, the African body, under enslavement became a surface upon which images, representation meanings and definitions were ascribed and imposed upon by their captors: Through the use of paper, pen, film, cloth and other materials countless objects populated a world of caricatures traveling further, wider a longer through and over time.”
Filling the living and dining room and focusing on the black body in an entirely different way, dancer-photographer Shoccara Marcus created “Choreographing my Past.” Her extraordinary dance positions intersect and somehow remain isolated from the members of her family in her childhood home. Although she created the series in 2014, it perfectly speaks to today, as so many people have returned to their parents’ home to wait out the pandemic.
Another nostalgic work upstairs by Mia Imani Harrison Good Mourning: A Collective Calls to Miss Annie, combines audio and video recollections of an exceptionally beloved black hairdresser, Miss Annie. It includes a handout with homages to black beauty products, poems by the artist and the narrative of the audio. This work generously shares a very private aspect of the lives of African American women.
Also upstairs is the work of Lisa Myers Bulrush, just selected by the Northwest African American Museum to represent Seattle in a docuseries “The Story of Art in America”! Her exhibit at WaNaWari “Holding Patterns: The Memory Palace” includes altered books and collages that explore what the artist calls “Afro Futurist fantasy” that feature “Black people fleeing racism on earth.” Her intricate work has layers of references that take time to explore.
The last installation by Kyle Yearwood, is also full of fantasy. Manipulated photography paired with animation creates compelling magic realism. Short videos suggest a dream world. In “Fueled by Love” hearts pour out at us, but the showstopper is “I heard the Black Girls in Baltimore can Fly” (until July 18, Thursdays and Fridays, open by appointment only. Saturdays and Sundays, drop-ins 10am–5pm 911 24th Ave).
Galleries of Note
Be sure to also visit our wonderful local galleries, often no appointment is required. Here is a selection:
ArtXchange, one of my favorites, currently features a major retrospective of the work of Donald Cole “Precision and Freedom.” Now 90 years old, Cole’s work spans six decades from New York City in 1970s SOHO to the present. His work is mostly abstract, ranging from geometry to swirling colors. He also cuts up old work, as in this year’s glowing red painting Realaction. You can see more of his work online on the ArtXchange website and meet the artist Saturday, May 15th from 12–4pm. (512 First Ave South, Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–5:30pm, until May 22)
I was fortunate to see the work of Gaylen Hansen this month at Linda Hodges, another stalwart gallery. Gaylen is now almost 100 years old! He lives on Whidbey Island, a stark contrast to his many years on the Palouse of Eastern Washington. His paintings now feature dense woods: his familiar alter ego “The Kernel” is barely visible among the trees.
Traver Gallery (opposite the Seattle Art Museum 110 Union Street) had a deeply moving Preston Singletary exhibition, “Lifting Up from the River,” an homage to his father who died in November at the age of 80. In varied formats of blown and sand-carved glass, a poetic narrative began with a portrait of his father and continued through evocations of his life of fishing and his gradual transition to death.
I explored the minimalist neon installation by Kelsey Fernkopf at METHOD gallery on the last day. Their upcoming installation by Hugo Moro will be just the opposite, “a dystopian greenhouse, inhabited by glistening and surreal, vines, ferns, and flowers.” (Fri–Sat, Noon–4pm, by appointment, 106 3rd Avenue South).
More good news: the Asian Art Museum opens to the public on May 28. Tickets will be released every Thursday at 10am and everyone must get tickets online in advance of their visit.
~Susan Platt, Ph.D.