• Wednesday, September 04, 2019 4:38 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    this girl

    from a vermeer painting

    sits on a bus 

    engrossed in words

    everything around her moves

    but she sits still

    in time

    the silence

    will tell 

    its own story

    Alan Chong Lau

    Alan Chong Lau is a poet and painter exhibiting his art locally at ArtXChange Gallery in Seattle, Washington. 

    Alan Chong Lau and John Levy have just published their third volume of poetry and photograph collaboration with the online literary magazine, otata. To view more of their work, visit  

  • Wednesday, September 04, 2019 4:31 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    this crow

    taking flight

    its shadow

    a paper cut


    on this wall

    Alan Chong Lau

    Alan Chong Lau is a poet and painter exhibiting his art locally at ArtXChange Gallery in Seattle, Washington. 

    Alan Chong Lau and John Levy have just published their third volume of poetry and photograph collaboration with the online literary magazine, otata. To view more of their work, visit  

  • Wednesday, September 04, 2019 4:29 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

  • Wednesday, September 04, 2019 4:14 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    From three galleries away the huge self portrait photograph of Zanele Muholi dominates the view. The mesmerizing image called “Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness,” gazes at us in a side wise glance. The giant mane of hair, a headdress of sheepskin, cascades and almost buries the small face. Keeping in mind that it is the male lion that has a mane, this lioness identifies as they. Their expression is hard to decipher. While the scale of the work suggests domination, the face is self contained and private. 

    This title image by South African artist Zanele Muholi prepares us for what is to come. Every single photograph is a self portrait, with the artist gazing fixedly and inescapably, sometimes directly at us. Opposite the “Lioness,” a mural sized reclining Muholi clutches plastic pillows against a background of stacks of newspapers. They are unavailable, gazing beyond us. Reclining Venus they are not. At the end of the adjacent hall, a “Statue of Liberty” Muholi, wearing a crown of foam loops, gazes skyward.  

    As we enter the Jacob Lawrence and Gwen Knight Gallery at the Seattle Art Museum, the full force of the gazes of the self portraits strikes us from all four walls. The first wall refers to colonialism, with a huge portrait sporting a (paper) ruff (from the packing for children’s toys) as in the era of Rembrandt and the occupation of Africa. On one long wall we start with plastic pollution, then move to enslavement, and service and exploitation. A few images turn away, some are personal, as in the self portrait honoring her sister, a gentle and proud Muholi wears a crown and necklace of rubber inner tubes that confer majesty. They are defiantly inverting the violent history of rubber in Africa, where the Belgian King Leopold ruthlessly killed thousands to satisfy his thirst for that “natural” product. Rubber appears repeatedly here as a garment, necklace, or headdress. 

    The props gathered in the street, and thrift stores, drastically alter the effect, transforming the same face from royal to ironic, but never oppressed. Defiance is the common theme. In one work, the artist dons a milk stool on their head, and tangled straw around their neck as a reference to farming. In others they blend into a rocky landscape or deep forest commenting on making visible the invisible black body. As a mask in the midst of African market kitsch the artist gives us the absurdity of tourist capitalism.

    Two videos provide background, speaking of the ten year project of documenting the victims of hate crimes against LGBTQIA South Africans,as well as photographing the dignity and beauty of Trans and Lesbians in over 500 portraits. They wanted to celebrate community and create respect.

    In 2012, their studio was ransacked and the perpetrator deliberately destroyed the hard drive of current work that had not yet been published or even printed. 

    It was then that Muholi turned to self portraiture, a painful act of exposure. These portraits are identified by and subtly connected to the location where they were taken, a wide ranging geography. But the artist stood in humble hotel rooms to stage the images. 

    Each work has a title in isiZulu, and English. Muholi (that word actually means Leader) confronts us with their occupation of our white space on their own terms. We come away with a feeling of uplift, humility, and awe, for their photographic prowess as well as their courage.

    Not far away on the same floor is the Betty Bowen award winner Natalie Ball (Modoc, Klamath). Ball is descended from the famous leader of the late nineteenth century Modoc resistance, Captain Jack. That heritage of warrior defiance is obvious here. Ball’s two pieces “You Mist, again (Rattle)” and “Re Run” make up the installation “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Snake.” The title tells you a lot, interrupting the familiar nursery rhyme about the stars with a snake that can be both threatening and magical. The installation is ironically (intentionally?) juxtaposed to a well-known work by Marsden Hartley in the adjacent American Art Gallery which borrows native American designs, a widespread practice in the early twentieth century (and still). In every detail of these complex collaged sculptures, Ball explores the collision of indigenous and white cultures as well as African American, also part of her heritage (note the bullet shells embedded in one of the works). But she is also celebrating indigenous vitality and incorporating trickster humor. 

    Rattlesnake skin appears as part of both works (although significantly identified simply as rattlesnake), a skin that a snake has shed, after it regrows another, a clear reference to the survival abilities of indigenous peoples, in spite of white man’s best efforts to obliterate them. The diamond patterned quilt suggests joy, but everything is off kilter. The cut up sports jerseys, letters, and logo disrupt any possible cliché of Native or African American culture, giving us instead a proud declaration of survival in the face of extreme pressure.

    Susan Noyes Platt

    Susan Noyes Platt writes a blog and for local, national, and international publications.

    “Zanele Muholi: Somnayama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness” is on view through November 3 and “Natalie Ball: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Snake” is on view through November 17. Both exhibits are at the Seattle Art Museum, located at 1300 First Avenue in Seattle, Washington. Museum hours are Friday through Monday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. and Thursday from 10 A.M. to 9 P.M. For information, visit

  • Wednesday, September 04, 2019 3:24 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    It’s common to hear Skagitonians refer to their home as “Magic Skagit.” For decades, well-known Northwest artists have been visiting or moving to the area in order to capture its light and landscape. Morris Graves, Guy Anderson, Philip McCracken, Richard Gilkey, and the infamous Fishtown group are just a few significant artists who chose to live in Skagit Valley. But another town in the valley is now making its mark on the Pacific Northwest art scene. You may have heard of the amazing food in Edison, Washington, but have you heard anything about the thriving art scene in this tiny town? As a lifelong Skagitonian myself, I have many fond memories of traveling to this small town to get cookies at the Breadfarm, but over the last few years I have been mostly drawn to the amazing art community. In order to get an insight to this unique place, I spoke to Margy Lavelle and Andrew Vallee, the directors and founders of i.e. gallery and Smith & Vallee Gallery respectively. 

    Margy Lavelle isn’t new to the Northwest art scene. She managed Mia Gallery in Seattle for five years in the 1980s and 1990s. As an artist herself, Margy often came up to Skagit Valley for inspiration. In our interview, she said:  “I used to drive up here with my kids on the weekend. I love the light, and I love the space. After the kids finished college and got settled…I moved up here to paint.” We also talked about Dana and Toni Ann Rust, who ran the Edison Eye Gallery in Edison and were significant patrons of the arts in Skagit Valley. The Edison Eye building had been sitting empty, and Margy started asking Toni Ann if she could curate art shows in the space. Eventually, Toni Ann gave in and Margy started the gallery with David Kane, another artist, in 2015. Now, Margy is the sole proprietor and the beautifully curated shows clearly exhibit her vision. 

    Margy has a clear vision for her gallery, and that is evident in the September and October shows. In September, i.e. gallery welcomes Drie Chapek. Chapek is an abstract painter who uses broad brushstrokes, thick paint, and a natural, yet colorful, palette. Margy reported that Chapek’s new work is more angular, contrary to her usually billowy paintings, and the colors more subdued. Juliana Heyne will fill the gallery in October with landscape paintings from her travels. Her pieces often include an element of collage, making them also textured in their own way. Both artists certainly contain “the hand” that Margy mentioned that she looks for when selecting artists for the gallery. 

    Right down the street, visitors can stop by another art gallery. Interestingly, Dana Rust and the Edison Eye also brought Andrew Vallee to Edison. After showing his artwork at the gallery, Rust kept inviting Valley back. One evening in 2006, he was walking down the street with his future wife and they saw that a historic schoolhouse was for sale. They put an offer on it the next day and Smith & Vallee Gallery was born. But the Smith & Vallee brand consists of more than an art gallery. Andrew Vallee and Wesley Smith also make furniture and cabinetry and have been in business since 1997.  Regardless of whether they are making cabinetry or selling artworks, the result is consistent. When asked about his vision for the gallery, Vallee responded that “Smith & Vallee has the highest standards with the artists we represent and the way we show their artwork, while fostering a friendly environment where everyone is welcome to enjoy the experience.” And that is clear the moment you walk in the door. 

    Smith & Vallee Gallery shows often consist of two artists. The September show features Andree Vallee and Patty Haller. It is interesting to note that both Vallee and Haller live in Skagit Valley. Vallee is showing his sculptures and Haller paints large-scale oil paintings of nature scenes. Texture is again a theme for the gallery’s October exhibition which includes Julia “Joules” Martin and Brian O’Neill. Martin paints landscapes in acrylic and is a newer artist to Smith & Vallee Gallery. O’Neill is a ceramicist, and both artists live in Whatcom County. 

    When I asked Vallee and Lavelle why they think people are drawn to Edison, their answers were relatively simple and consistent. Vallee believes it is because Edison is authentic. Everything is made locally, whether that food, wool sweaters, or art. Lavelle told me that the people in the area naturally live a “creative life.”  I encourage everyone reading to visit this town and stop in the restaurants, shops, and especially the art galleries. Beyond the two described in this article, a new gallery, Hadrian Art Gallery, opened recently and focuses on nature-inspired objects for everyday life. Come see for yourself what makes this place unique and why Skagitonians, myself included, refer to our valley as Magic Skagit.

    Chloé Dye Sherpe

    Chloé Dye Sherpe is a curator and art professional based in Washington State.

    These galleries are in Edison, Washington. i.e. gallery, located at 5800 Cains Court, is open Friday through Monday from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. For information, visit Smith & Vallee Gallery, located at 5742 Gilkey Avenue, is open daily 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. For information, visit  Hadrian Gallery, located at 5717 Gilkey Avenue, is open daily 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. 

  • Wednesday, September 04, 2019 3:23 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Mostly in the open Charlie’s work

    went on rain and shine along hillsides

    the lay of the land back and forth

    only headed in for maintenance repairs

    where Evaleen would likely visit him


    in the barn bring her sewing sandwiches

    sit by him chat if he felt like or be still

    mend socks half a day while he figured

    how to adjust the chain drive then

    time the whirling combine head


    where the manual was none too clear

    and on the phone the dealer only said

    bring it in if Bud’s not too jammed

    at a hundred an hour he’ll maybe have a look

    but remember we close right at six


    so clearly stuck with fixing it himself

    Charlie would open up to her eventually

    explain how he thought the stupid thing

    was meant to work and what he thought

    should be adjusted round and round


    till something in them both would yawn

    at the lateness of the hour share a laugh

    that finally let in light enough

    to fix the cranky thing or blow a fuse

    and let the sudden darkness rescue them

    Paul Hunter

    This and twenty-some others grew out of a long poem about shy country people finding love, a piece called “Luminaries” that first appeared in his third farming book called “Come the Harvest” (Silverfish Review Press, 2008). 


  • Thursday, August 01, 2019 5:27 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

  • Thursday, August 01, 2019 5:20 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    In January 2019, Cascadia Art Museum opened “Portraits and Self-Portraits by Northwest Artists,” an exhibition that includes paintings, prints, drawings, and photographs by both modern and contemporary Northwest artists. Curated by David Martin, the exhibition seeks to demonstrate the variety of approaches to portraiture by Northwest artists over the past one hundred years. While many exhibitions at Cascadia Art Museum primarily contain artworks created in the first half of the twentieth century, Martin decided to include artwork by three contemporary artists in this exhibition: Gary Faigin, William Elston, and Aleah Chapin in order to facilitate a visual dialogue between the past and the present. 

    Viewers are sure to be delighted to see well-known artists represented in the exhibition. Artists such as Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952), Thomas T. Wilson (1931-2015), Andrew Hofmeister (1913-2007), and Walter Isaacs (1886-1964) all have artworks in the exhibition. There is even a charcoal drawing of Mark Tobey by Dorothy Dolph Jensen (1895-1977) titled “Caricature of Mark Tobey” included in the show. Jensen was a student of Tobey at Cornish in the 1920s. Text by Jensen is posted next to her drawing in which she recounts some of her interactions with Tobey. According to Jensen, Tobey was hard on his female students and would often storm out of class after declaring, “There’s no such thing as perspective!” In one instance, after he left class Jensen quickly drew his face. Tobey returned quickly, looked at her drawing and declared: “I like it.” Her drawing is an intimate one of the famed Northwest artist. His hair is wildly sticking up in every direction, brow furrowed, and every piece of stubble on his chin is distinct. Jensen drew him quickly and emotionally, though it is difficult to determine which emotion won over in the end: anger or admiration. 

    Perhaps one of the most nationally celebrated artists in the exhibition is Imogene Cunningham (1883-1976). She is represented in almost every major museum in the United States and is considered an important pioneer in the field of photography. She was a member of Group f/64, a California-based group of photographers interested in meticulously composed and focused images Cunningham worked with or knew every major photographer working during this time,including Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Edward S. Curtis, and Dorothea Lange. This exhibition includes two of her photographs and they are portraits of Curt Ducasse and John Butler. Interestingly, another portrait of John Butler is included in the exhibition by artist Roi Partridge (1888-1984), who was Cunningham’s husband from 1915 to 1934. This situation allows the visitor the unique opportunity to compare how Partridge and Cunningham differ in their representation of the sitter.

    A delightful inclusion in this exhibition is Anne Kutka McCosh (1902-1994). The painting, “Rainy Evening, Bus Corner, Self-Portrait,” is an oil on canvas created in 1931. At the time, McCosh was living in New York. The painting depicts McCosh in the center of the picture plane dressed in a blue work suit with a cream shawl over her head to protect her from the rain. The scene is dark and muted, but McCosh stands out as the largest and brightest figure in the composition. She holds an umbrella but doesn’t use it. Two people are huddled under an awning to protect themselves from the rain and warm up on a damp evening. McCosh looks up at the sky, maybe to try to determine if the rain will continue. McCosh has painted herself as a confident and professional New Yorker who is unaccompanied on her way home from work. This surely gives the viewer insight into how McCosh viewed herself, and it is an inspiring point of view.

    This exhibition is packed full of portraits and self-portraits in a variety of styles and media. The museum also offers several programs to accompany the exhibition, including Coffee with the Curator which allows visitors to hear a lecture from David Martin. Cascadia Art Museum also offers music in the Museum and participates in the Blue Star Museum Program. Another wonderful opportunity to view the exhibition is during the Edmonds Art Walk on the third Thursday of every month from 5-8 P.M. when the museum is free. You can always count on this museum to include artworks by well-known Northwest artists in addition to several you may not recognize. “Portraits and Self-Portraits by Northwest Artists” does just that, and hopefully the viewer enjoys seeing both old favorites and discovering new ones.

    Chloé Dye Sherpe

    Chloé Dye Sherpe is a curator and art professional based in Washington State.


    “Portraits and Self-Portraits by Northwest Artists; 1910-2018” is on view Wednesday through Sunday from 11 A.M. to 6P.M. through September 29 at the Cascadia Art Museum, located at 1990 Sunset Avenue South in Edmonds, Washington. For more information, visit

  • Thursday, August 01, 2019 4:42 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    A dazzling exhibition of contemporary Indigenous art awaits you at the newest art space in town, ARTS at King Street Station. The Seattle Office of Arts and Culture launched their new 7500 square foot exhibition space with an exhibition of 200 indigenous artists from 100 tribes. This exhibition curated by Asia Tail (Cherokee), Tracy Rector (Choctaw/Seminole), and Sapreet Kahlon, accepted all indigenous submissions: children and elders, professional artists and beginners, all media from traditional cedar, bead work and dolls to digital and audio. We see sculpture, painting, photography, printmaking, text, cartoons, games, performance, skateboard, drums, maps. There are iPads with music, poetry and stories recited from speakers, and both hilarious and serious videos.

    Installing such a diverse show challenged the curators and staff of ARTS as they organized hundreds of art works succeeded in creating a spectacular result. To enjoy the exhibit simply embrace its mind-expanding diversity, then immerse yourself in one wall at a time, each a compact exhibit. Gaps between the walls allow a view through to another part of the exhibition. The entire space is activated by sculpture and installations, many encourage interaction.

    At the opening Timothy White Eagle (White Mountain Apache) performed “Songs for the Standing Still People” within a space hung with jingles and chains. He called us to action against the “vast forces” that “will ravage us if we do not act” though a story of rocks that came together and changed the world. We can create our own music in the space and thus join his call to action.

    A giant deck of cards by Roldy Aguero Ablao (CHamoru) greets us at the entrance, along with a seemingly random accumulation of objects hanging over the front desk by Catherine Cross Uehara (Uchinanchu/Hapa/Okinaway American), “between you & me & the Ancestors…” includes photographs of her ancestors, a wedding dress kimono, memorabilia, and much more. 

    On the opposite wall is a film of the famous Vi Hilbert, (Upper Skagit) who singlehandedly saved the Lushootseed language from extinction, encourages a community audience to “lift the sky” together. In her telling: “The Creator has left the sky too low. We are going to have to do something about it, and how can we do that when we do not have a common language?…We can all learn one word, that is all we need. That word is yəhaw̓—that means to proceed, to go forward, to do it.”

    We are invited to go forward into the exhibit in order to create community.  

    We immediately encounter the compelling painting of Itzá by Nico Inzerella (Mexican American, Indigenous) in the complex mixed media of wheat paste on birch panel, gold leaf, copper leaf, oil, latex and acrylic. Pay attention to media in this exhibit, it is almost always unusual.  

    At the same time, traditional photography includes striking results such as Selena Kearney’s (Chehalis) photograph of a young woman proudly dressed for a PowWow, Adam Sings in the Timber’s (Apsáalooke) photographs of women in regalia re-asserting indigenous presence in various locations in Seattle and the eerie images of scanned tintypes by Kali Spitzer (Kaska Dena). 

    Spend the time to explore the various subtle works hanging on walls, but don’t miss the entire corner devoted to stunning cedar hats, baskets, skirts, and capes. 

    Not far away another type of weaving hovers over us. A twelve foot high “Big Foot” hovers over us as it “Lifts the Sky.” HollyAnna “CougarTracks” de Coteau Littlebull (Yakama/Nez Perce/Cayuse/Cree) upcycled 15,190 pieces of plastic to weave this giant. She explained that it represents the wasted past in its orange/red hued back and the future in its green/ blue front.

    Be sure to look in the stairwell for a mixed media homage to weaving by Sara Siestreem (Hanis Coos/Confederated Tribes of Coos/Lower Umpqua/Siuslaw) “Eagle Machine dancing<<<<<the beautiful” combines a cotton wood bark skirt with her photographs and mixed media references to indigenous history.  

    Nearby is Priscilla Dobler’s (Mayan) “El renacimiento de la Sociedad: The rebirth of society,” a traditional Mayan embroidery unravels into a contemporary geometric enclosure; above it hangs Jacob Johns’s (Hopi) “Water is Life” banner that speaks of freeing the Snake River, a reference to our threatened salmon and orcas because of the many dams on the Snake.

    Susan Noyes Platt

    Susan Noyes Platt writes a blog and for local, national, and international publications.

    yəhaw̓is on view through August 4 at ARTS at King Street Station located at 303 S. Jackson Street, Top Floor, in Seattle, Washington from Tuesday through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. and First Thursdays, 10 A.M. to 8 P.M. 

    For information, visit Films and other exhibit all over town check

  • Thursday, August 01, 2019 4:40 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Once Evaleen feeding chickens

    all around her in the yard tossed

    the diamond out of her wedding ring

    so quit wearing the eyeless thing

    even to wash dishes weed the garden

    stuff their Thanksgiving turkey

    which had to bother Charlie

    it wasn’t the money it was

    what-all the shiny thing meant

    as near eternal as they’d likely get

    so for several years killing a hen

    for dinner once or twice a week

    out behind the barn he’d cut

    the craw from the gizzard

    dig the gravel there spread it out

    on a piece of white paper he kept

    folded around his reading specs

    down the front of his overalls

    till one night that sparkler bright as ever

    turned up there it was inside a life

    since the evening she’d lost it where

    once the hens were in for the night

    he’d looked hard with a flashlight

    for hours on his hands and knees

    knew if it was there he’d a found it but

    said you know how quick a hen can be

    once a thing catches her eye

    Paul Hunter

    These and twenty-some others grew out of a long poem about shy country people finding love, a piece called “Luminaries” that first appeared in his third farming book called “Come the Harvest” (Silverfish Review Press, 2008). 

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