For all of those who moan about there not being enough art venues around (and of course I’m in no position to cast stones), Blindfold Gallery should momentarily assuage your sorrow and prove an inspiration. Back in November, Scott Burk, Sara Long and Laura Hamje found themselves wanting to open an art space and decided to look at available storefronts. They walked into the space at 1718 E Olive Way and immediately knew they wanted to use it. It’s airy, bright and split into three levels.
Six months later, Blindfold Gallery is up and running with a solo show of Kimberly Trowbridge’s new work. Trowbridge’s “Bolted Dream” series leaves Arcadia (a recurring subject in her paintings) behind and introduces works based on the paraphernalia of Native American dream quests, pioneers huddled around campfires, animistic psychopomps and shamanic guides. The series includes oil paintings popping with kaleidoscopic patches of purples, orange, turquoise and of course her signature splashes of emerald, ivy and forest greens. Also tucked here and there are a few small paintings on paper and in the foyer an installation made of cardboard, wood scraps, and split logs: one of the campfires from her paintings incarnate on the floor. This sculpture is assembled from studio detritus, from the fragmented remains and off-cuts of the frames she builds for her paintings.
Trowbridge is intensely passionate about oil painting. She talks about working with the medium, about the way it smells, the way it feels, the way it handles and moves around canvas with the enthusiasm of a lover. To see her painterly style transferred to installation and delicate little works on paper is a bit of a twist. And unexpectedly, the small works on paper almost outshine her other works hanging in the show. In recent oil paintings, Trowbridge’s figures have been increasingly whittled away at, their forms fractured and reduced to coarsely allusive, intuitive geometries. Figures huddled around a fire or passing through a prismatic landscape are barely legible except as scintillating color (perhaps this is the dreaminess implied by the show’s title). But the smaller works on paper manifest this dream-geometry with an intensity that feels very Trowbridge.
In these pieces jewel tone colors pop against stark, graphic forms and the crystalline graphite lines shimmer with a coolness that could in one stroke extinguish all the campfires in the room. The Apollonian chill of these small works is potent.
Two of Blindfold Gallery’s founders, Laura Hamje and Sara Long, are also painters and recently graduated from from the University of Washington together. Hamje takes credit for the name “Blindfold,”explaining that it references the non-visual origins of art and her desire that visitors encounter much more than just a visual experience at the gallery.
Hamje, Long and Burk plan on taking turns curating the monthly shows, and ultimately they want Blindfold to function not just as a gallery but as a mixed-use space where people from the neighborhood can come in, hang out, have coffee, create art-inspired community. In the foyer they already have a small library of art reference books and periodicals, which they plan on growing. They want to offer classes and figure drawing sessions in the upstairs studio eventually. They’re off to a good start.Blindfold Gallery is located at 1718 E. Olive Way, Ste. A in Seattle. The gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 1–7 p.m.“Bolted Dream” runs through May 5.