City Arts Culture Column: May 33, 2024
Lately there’s been talk of moving First Thursday from its historic location in Old Pioneer Square—that subterranean labyrinth of mildewed studios and crumbling garrets beneath the recently completed New Pioneer Square—to the Vulcan Biodome on South Lake Union. Critics of the traditional location cite poor air quality, groundwater contamination and intermittent armed skirmishes between the Federal Reserve Strike Force and Cascadian Separatist guerrillas, not to mention the haggard gangs of disenfranchised web designers standing on every darkened corner, hassling gallery-goers for spare e-credits and nicotine wafers. I admit the Biodome boosters have a point (it truly is a marvel of modern engineering as well as Frank Gehry’s finest post-corporeal work) but wouldn’t an important part of our cultural heritage be lost?
After making my way through various fortified checkpoints to arrive downtown, I started my art walk at SOIL Gallery for an exhibit of Bev 9 Glacier’s photographs hacked from the live video feeds of Seattle Police Department drones. The works had been heavily “redacted” by an unnamed federal agency just before the show, resulting in a lot of thick black brushstrokes slopped over grainy aerial photos. The effect was reminiscent of the abstract expressionist paintings of Robert Motherwell. Brilliant!
I stepped into Space Space Space Space Space, a rogue new showroom in the shantytown at the base of the T-K Building, where Knife O’Daniel was displaying his latest work, an aerosolized nano-mist that imparts a sense of what it was like to play checkers with O’Daniel’s Nana Sue on a rainy Sunday afternoon in Issaquah in 2015. There were hints of childlike restlessness and melancholy, interrupted by brief flashes of deep familial affection. I found the piece maudlin and derivative.
The Seattle Art Museum is still closed for repairs after its recent PR disaster, when the cars hanging from the foyer ceiling (“Inopportune: Stage One” by Cai-Guo Qiang, 2004) came crashing to the floor, eliciting a round of “I-told-you-so’s” from paranoid docents. Initially believed to be the result of seismic activity, the sabotage was later revealed to be a new work by Steven GoldenPalaceCasinoDotCom, a protest against the Seattle Art Museum’s lack of representation for cyborg, post-corporeal, commercially rebranded artists. No one was injured and GoldenPalaceCasinoDotCom was quickly signed by Greg Kucera.
Photo by Joe Garvin.