Joey Veltkamp's Guide to First Thursday Artwalk

Seattle's favorite blogger, Joey Veltkamp, offers his recommendations for CAB readers needing a road map to First Thursday in downtown Seattle and Pioneer Square. Trust us, you're in good hands.

End This Night, If It Be Your Will
, Video Still, 2010 

Community World Theater by Gretchen Bennett / Howard House
Gretchen Bennett is an artist with a lot on her mind. The rainy summer of 1816, when a volcanic eruption obscured the sun, kept Mary Shelley inside, where she created Dr. Frankenstein’s monster. That same cold summer kept JMW Turner outside, painting the ashy atmosphere. They happened at once, like punk with disco.” And so we enter Gretchen’s Community World Theater, where she tells stories through the filters of stage lights, videos, Kurt Cobain, projections and the mind of Joss Whedon. Gretchen’s work can be subtle yet it has a quiet power – creating feelings of controlled vulnerability that stay with you long after you’ve seen it.

, 2009, Porcelain, light box, 16.5 x 39 x 9 inches

Illuminant by Yuki Nakamura / Howard House
Building on a recent commission, Yuki continues to investigate where light and form merge into sculpture. As the traditional incandescent bulb, popularized by Edison well over a century ago, becomes obsolete (being replaced by more energy efficient designs), Yuki’s work begins to shine with a pre-nostalgic hue.

Untitled (Roy & Dale)
, 2009, digital collage of the artist and his wife on found photo of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans

Dimestore Cowboy by Justin Colt Beckman / PUNCH Gallery
The Montana boy in me loves Justin’s art. His sentimental treatment of the cowboy and American West has always hit a tender spot. His last couple of shows at PUNCH transformed the gallery space into both a homestead and a honky tonk! The addition of videos like a dog chewing a bone projected on the ground made it feel almost real. I’m not sure if Dimestore Cowboy will be quite as ambitious as previous shows but no matter what his medium, Justin’s work is always great. We can look forward to a few more of his self-portraits. Go early because his shows are always packed!

hypnopomp 2
, detail, metallic pigments on tar paper, 2008

Hypnopomp by Ellen Ziegler / Canoe Social Club at Theatre Off Jackson
Note: 10 pm start time
Artist/designer/teacher Ellen Ziegler has been spending time in the in-between state between awake and sleeping (known as the hypnopompic state) in order to create her latest body of work. Using the unlikely material of tar paper as a canvas, she adds delicate, floating shapes to create large drawings that have bubbled up from her subconscious.

Ellen is also in another show opening tonight, A to Z: New Members Show with Iole Alessandrini and Julie Alpert at SOIL.

(left) Garland, 2009, Acrylic on paper, grommets, rope

In the backspace of SOIL, Nicholas Nyland presents The Problem of Universals. I love Nicholas’ art. His abstract shapes are modest vehicles that perfectly showcase his amazing use of paint and color. I get lost in his pieces. It doesn’t help that Nicholas typically shows in intimate spaces where you become totally immersed in the vitality and urgency of what he’s trying to say. His piece, Crucible, was one of my favorite things I saw in 2009.

Other "don’t misses"

New Work by Mark Newport & Wood Sculpture by John Buck at Greg Kucera Gallery
Juan Alonso’s (hopefully not) final studio sale
Jesse Edwards, Chris Sheridan, Jeffrey Taylor at Flatcolor Gallery
(a group show curated by Susie Lee) & Everything All The Time Right Now by Caleb Larsen at Lawrimore Project
by Amir Zaki at James Harris Gallery

To hear more from Joey Veltkamp on local art, be sure to read his highlights for the month ahead in every City Arts' "Now" section, aka our events calendar. Also, you can always read great things, including more FirstThursday previews, on his blog, Best Of