• Friday, October 05, 2012 4:56 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)
    In tandem with Seattle Art Museum's "Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou" exhibit, Greg Kucera Gallery is featuring "Ladies' Choice," a show wherein every female gallery artist has chosen a female artist from outside the gallery to exhibit alongside them. 

    Ross Palmer Beecher chose Marita Dingus, Loretta Bennett chose Qunnie Peltway, Claudia Fitch chose Sheila Klein, Victoria Haven chose Dawn Cerny, Susan Skilling chose Claire Cowie, Katy Stone chose Leona Christie while Lynne Woods Turner chose work by Leonie Guyer, Deborah Butterfield chose Mary Ann Kelly.

    There seems to be a spirit of patronage and admiration between women artists that didn't exist even a few decades ago when there were still such few slots for females in the art world.

    "I remember not even that long ago," says photographer Alice Wheeler who is represented by Kucera, "Guerrilla Girls came to Seattle and there were less than 10% women artists being represented by major art galleries. Greg Kucera has always been very forward, he has almost always had like about a fifty-fifty ratio between men and women artists in his galley. When I first started hanging art almost all of the people I showed with were guys. Previous to Greg Kucera people often said that they were including me because they needed a woman in their show. So at least now I’m known for my work instead of my gender."

    Wheeler, recognized for her images of what she calls "street stuff," is submitting a large photograph of an all-pink woman she saw and shot in Pioneer Square named Princess Bubble Gum. Her artist of choice is photographer Kelly O., who The Stranger newspaper describes as their "staff photographer, music writer, Drunk of the Week columnist, and more!" 

    Kucera artist Deborah Butterfield enthused about her choice of Montana artist Mary Ann Kelly via telephone after driving 10 hours from Bozeman, Montana to the Walla Walla Foundry where she is preparing for a show at LA Louver Gallery. 

    "We've known Mary Ann for 37 years and have been together through lives and deaths and births and forest fires," says Butterfield; "I think what draws me to her work. . . you know, we live in Montana in the mountains and so for us nature really is what we deal with every day. . .things like shoveling snow and dealing with large predators. . .we really do address that every day and I think the gestural quality in both of our works kind of addresses the human scale within that huge context. The gesture for me is what I can pick up and stuff into a horse (laughs) and the gesture for Mary Ann is really more within her arms reach. I feel that we're struggling, excited, and responsive to both the structure of nature and then the gesture within that structure. I think her use of color is so strong; the works are lyrical and they’re sensual. She hasn’t had much exposure out of Montana."

    Gallery artist Sherry Markovitz chose one of Allison Manch's embroidered works on cloth. 

    "I like Allison's attitude and use of materials," writes Markovitz; "I like her choice of subject matter and how she weaves her history into her work. . .her imagery has evolved. She has been embroidering images of the Southwest and text from songs."

    Markovitz is represented by "Warm Up," a large gouache on cotton. She uses images of both traditional western dolls, dolls that represent folk traditions, and dolls with profound expressions which she animates. Her most recent paintings are of traditional Mexican paper mache dolls in various acrobatic postures. 

    "I feel," writes Markovitz, "that as long as women are oppressed in some way around the world there is a need to highlight women's work. It can only be empowering." 

    Kucera Gallery artist Margie Livingston chose work by Seattle's witty Debra Baxter. 

    "Debra's work hits me with a sense of longing that feels fresh," says Livingston; "I also like the way she works with an extensive range of materials without feeling gimmicky. From paint to powder puffs and everything in between including quartz, alabaster, words, video, mirrors, and cypress knees." 

    Debra has described her use of crystals as "a way to transform vulnerability into power and also to embrace vulnerability as a type of power."

    When did Livingston first see Baxter’s work?

    "In 2003, Debra was sewing powder puffs together to make clouds. I don't remember where it was, but at over three feet long they were stunning, memorable, funny, sad, and feminine," says Livingston.

    Currently, Livingston is "finishing up several objects made out of paint that blur the line between painting and sculpture. These include a block of paint that weighs over 50 pounds, a grid of 90 color tests, a log of paint that was cut into an 8-foot post, and a folded painting. You’ll be able to see some of them at Greg Kucera in October, in the Bellevue Arts Museum Biennial, and in Miami Beach for the December art fairs." 

    Deborah Butterfield sums up the sentimentof the show: "There's strength, you know, in being female. I mean, having babies and stuff - it's scary. It's life and death and I think that comes through in our work." 

    Saylor Jones

    Saylor Jones is a Seattle writer and illustrator. Her floral watercolors are exhibited at Mioposto Restaurant from October 3 to December 3. To view her work, visit

    "Ladies' Choice" is on view November 15 through December 29 at the Greg Kucera Gallery, located at 212 Third Avenue South in Seattle, Washington. The opening reception is on November 15, from 6 to 8 P.M. and the First Thursday reception is on December 6, from 6 to 8 P.M. For more information visit

    "Ladies' Choice," is shown in conjunction with "Elles: SAM" exhibit at Seattle Art Museum. Visit Seattle Art Museum's website for list of all the exhibits and events.
  • Monday, April 09, 2012 12:07 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    "The way I see it," Keith says, "if you have a wedding to plan, you shouldn't have to do any other work for months!"

    I've seen Keith in action. He's a professional choreographer. I'm pretty sure he'll compose his wedding much like he would a dance. He's not going to measure the stage, he's not going spend big on costuming, he's not going to mark the lines of sight with stage tape. He's going to choose the most amazing music and believe!

    "And you know how Mike is." (Mike is Keith's partner of twenty years.) I nod.

    Mike is a lot like my husband. Can't remember a thing. My three ways of asking him to do something are voice, triple emails, followed by threats.

    "I can't leave any of the details up to Mike other than he better find a pair of acceptable earrings. Preferably, two 14 karet balls." Keith winks.

    Again I nod, a little more eagerly this time because I, too, married a fourth-generation WASP. Always the writer, I think of our coupling like so: I am the exclamation point, Larry is the comma. Unless a tragedy occurs, then, for whatever reason, we switch. But normally, you should not expect too much emotion from a comma. (Oh, the words I've used over the years to distinguish between us. Does the whole world, gay or straight, fall in love with their opposite?)

    Keith and Mike are off to their home state of New York to wed.

    Keith and Mike, two men that are part of something much larger than themselves, making history through acceptance, moving on, refusing to conceal their love. Maybe it's because I've watched them work it out for so many years that their marriage feels more like the great BIG check mark for our country that it is.

    "Why does it even feel so important to say the two silly words: I do?" Keith asks. "Because if you've been together long as we have, everyone knows it’s more like I do NOT. Especially when it comes to yard work." We clink glasses.

    When Keith is finished telling me all about the wedding, I hold his two hands safely in my own and kiss him on the cheek. He kisses me back and gives me another wink. "Bella." Every time he calls me this, I fill with the most satisfying sense of well-being and I'm grateful this kind of intimacy is easy between us, part of our whole splendid package.

    After two decades together, Keith and Mike still hold hands.

    Even at the grocery.

    Keith and Mike. They don't have a lot of money. Love is the thing they have, and they have plenty.

    Everyone else, in fact, should be so lucky.

    Mary Lou Sanelli

    Mary Lou Sanelli’s latest book is Among Friends. Check out Sanelli's website for upcoming spring appearances by the author.

  • Thursday, October 06, 2011 2:50 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

  • Thursday, October 06, 2011 1:25 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    “A lot of the work in this show is very loosely a reaction to the whole BP oil spill. It brought up feelings of helplessness and ‘what’s going to happen’? So many ambivalent feelings undefined not necessarily stuff I haven’t thought about before, but it just kind of brought those feelings and concerns to the surface,” says John Feodorov.

    We laugh at his unintentional pun.

    A painting 72 by 72 inch entitled “Emergence #3” depicts three heads rising from pipes and fish that in turn emerge from a black slick of oil. The heads have their mouths open much like that guy in Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” These folks could well be BP executives making up excuses as to why their Deepwater Horizon off shore drilling rig failed. 

    When I ask about his wide use of mediums he replies, “It just depends on the best media for the idea. Sometimes I do video. I also do music so it really kind of depends on the best format. Right now what I’m thinking and doing seems to come out better as paintings.”

    In a large acrylic and photo collage on unstretched canvas entitled “The Way Things Are,” getting ideas across appears more important than getting all fussy with paint. This honest quality adds urgency, as if a consciousness is trying to warn us about ourselves pronto. The painting could be saying with images that every living thing across this land is only a target for ego-driven, greedy brains undefined a truth many of us keep our selves too ‘busy’ to do much about. 

    Part Native American, Feodorov grew up in a California suburb and spent summers at his grandparent’s homestead in the Navajo Nation of New Mexico. What a mind-bender to have traveled between two such disparate worlds that our country, even after a few hundred years, has yet to mingle. 

    Feodorov was featured in the famous “Art21: Art for the Twenty-First Century” series on PBS in the Spirituality episode. Although his art in the documentary comments directly on Native traditions, the artist resists being pigeonholed.

    “I don’t really think of it as Native American work. . .it’s certainly part of me and part of who I am and my experience and my world view. I am coming to that world view not so much as an adherent of those traditional values because the cat’s kind of out of the bag in terms of assimilation and all that. I was raised in the suburbs of California not on the reservation so my sense of the world is pretty much shaped by Gilligan’s Island.”

    We compare our favorite Gilligan’s Island episodes. Mine is the one where radiated vegetable seeds wash up in the lagoon and are planted and eaten to extreme effect, whereas Feodorov’s favorite is when Gilligan as Hamlet sings “To be or not to be” to Carmen’s Habenera. 

    Feodorov would dig a television show that deals with Shakespeare, an artist who created his own mythology. 

    “A lot of my work for so many years,” says Feodorov, “has been about what sort of mythology the contemporary world requires if there is going to be any mythology at all? I mean do we just count on the same old nostalgic kind of classical examples? And in many ways I am not proposing a mythology so much as showing how trying to do that just kind of fails. I don’t know the answer to my own question and so everything I do is sort of pre-determined to fail (laughs).”

    Speaking of the new paintings and lithographs in the exhibit, curator Jean Benhke says, “I respond to [John’s] inventive process, using what is at hand, both in terms of material and iconography, finding origins in his own personal history. John’s work makes no apologies and in a refreshing way gets in the face of the viewer and asks real questions about ‘the way things are’.”

    With so many people out of work, doesn’t right now seem like the ideal time for a multi-medium revolution?

    Saylor Jones

    Saylor Jones is an illustrator and writer living in the Northwest. 

    “The Way Things Are” is on view October 7 through November 19 at Anchor Art Space which is located at 216 Commerical Avenue in Anacortes, Washington. A Reception for the Artist is being held on Friday, October 7, from 6 to 9 P.M. Feodorov is presenting an an Artist’s Talk on Saturday, November 5, call for details. The gallery is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. and by appointment. For more information please call (206) 919-3893, email, or visit the website

    View Feodorov’s artwork at his website:

    Listen to his music:!/johnfeodorov

    Watch the Art21 episode he is in:

  • Thursday, October 06, 2011 1:21 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Late August came with wet skin, rain, and heavy sun.

    This being the last times of many firsts for us,

    We plucked the glossy berry from the stem.

    You told me not to eat the first one, savor it for later’s pie.

    We envied the berries color, like the thickness of wine,

    Leaving stains on our own skin, tongues: the lust of picking.

    Our mother’s good bowls ran with juice and using our skirts as baskets,

    We searched and gathered even when the tins were full.


    While picking we talked about boys.

    The rain ran down our skin, August showers forgave us.

    The thorns of lovers, past, present, or distance, peppered

    Our skin as we plucked the darkest of the fruit.

    The nectar was sticky sweet, our conversation never turned sour.

    Unturned berries in the bowls; red, green, hard ones, left behind.

    The lust in these berries is jealous of you. The fullness of your hips.

    Purple blooms across our hands and lips as we gather.

    Beautiful, rich fruit, with August’s sun divided between you too.

    Summer’s blood. Soaked into our flesh.

    Roseanne McAleese

    Roseanne McAleese is a celebrated poet, spoken-word artist, actress and filmmaker whose first and upcoming book is called, Strong. Female. Character.

  • Sunday, March 27, 2011 8:47 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)
    Some time around the turn of the 20th century, Art and Physics began having a race to see which one was more bizarre. Up until then, those two never ran in the same neighborhood, much less on the same track. Weirder still is the fact that for the past few decades, they have been running neck and neck. Lucy Pullen, happily, is playing for both teams.

    As any Weird Science and Art Project should do, Pullen’s show at the Henry Art Gallery takes place in two places at once, like a pair of parallel universes singing to each other across separate floors of the museum. The first one, "Spark Chamber," is just inside the front entrance in the small space on the right of the front desk. The other, "Cloud Chamber and Related Works," lives two floors below.

    Cosmic rays are not simply Pullen's primary subject matter, they’re her collaborators as well. Just like ideas, cosmic rays are invisible. And they also have a tendency to go off in their own random directions, wherever they please, refusing to acknowledge what we consider impassable boundaries. But just as ideas reveal themselves in the works of art they inspire, the cosmic rays that visit Pullen’s cloud chamber reveal themselves in spectacular little contrails that appear out of nowhere and spiral off out of control, like tiny spaceships, unpiloted and perhaps disabled after an epic star battle. Or maybe they're just joyriding.

    I vividly remember the first time I saw a cloud chamber, in a scratchy black and white movie in my fifth-grade science class. After first learning that the subatomic world was infinitely tiny and invisible I was delighted to discover that their movements could be detected in the contrails they made in the enclosed and frozen mists of a cloud chamber. That delight and euphoria returned in a great rush as I gazed down into her beautiful but slightly forbidding aluminum, steel, and glass polyhedron chamber, past the six-sided rings of eerily blue UFO-style lights into the bottomless and infinite darkness where the cosmic rays came to play. Wow. Like all consciousness-altering experiences, this one is really hard to quit. I’m not sure how long I stayed there lost in space, but in relative terms, it was a kind of eon.

    When I finally did tear myself away, I spent some time in the so-called real world, looking at "Architecture of the Atmosphere," a series of prints done with non-reprographic blue pigment, that encircles the "Cloud Chamber." These many versions of the view outside Pullen's apartment are no less mysterious and strange than "Cloud Chamber," especially in the way they break down trees, sea, sky, clouds, rain, and the distant landscape into their component parts, revealing what was once invisible. I even spotted the Loch Ness monster, an invisible object that's exists somewhat more on the macro side of things. Go look yourself if you don’t believe me, but go look at it all in any case. Pullen's work is revealing and breathtaking on every level.

    Kathleen Cain

    Kathleen Cain is a Seattle-based writer and bibliophile who follows art and routinely defies gravity.

    "The Cloud Chamber and Related Works" by Lucy Pullen is on view through June 26 at the Henry Art Gallery, located at 15th Avenue NE & NE 41st Street in Seattle, Washington. For more information, please visit the website or call (206) 543-2280.

  • Sunday, March 27, 2011 8:39 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

  • Sunday, March 27, 2011 8:00 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)
    Thanks to Nick Cave, from now until June 5th, you can stroll into the Seattle Art Museum and ask the people at the front desk "How do I get to the Center of the Earth," and they will smile and tell direct you to the fourth floor. Who knew it was so easy? Really, you should try it.

    Nick Cave is an artist, a dancer, a black American, a recycler of abandoned, overlooked and temporarily invisible objects, and an incredibly gifted and exacting craftsman. Working with small army of dedicated cohorts, he has revealed, by creating it, the world that exists at the center of not just the earth but everything that matters, or should matter, to human beings. In spite of the fact that this is a ridiculously ambitious undertaking, he seems to have pulled it off with this impressive body of work. And then put it on again.

    Listening to people's reactions to this exhibit is almost as much fun as looking at it all. And there's a lot to look at. In the space of just ten minutes spent hanging around the entrance to the exhibit, I heard two different people say "Holy cow!" Since one of the things that Cave wants us to think about is the connection between the human and animal worlds, that’s a pretty wonderful comment. But he also wants us to think about the power and freedom that disguise and anonymity offers to people who were born on the wrong side of the color, gender, and identity divides.

    A growing awareness of the ravages of identity politics does inevitably start to sneak up on you the longer you look around. But after a while, the sheer joy you feel with prolonged exposure to the extraordinary depth and breadth of Cave’s inventiveness creates a tidal wave of euphoria that washes over you and tends to overwhelm the more sinister content. And then one more walk around the "Sound Suits" made of twigs or some time spent with the photographs of Cave wearing the pieces that don’t hide his identity or another look at the contrast between the suits made of homemade bits of kitsch where the buttons are attached by those creepy plastic doohickeys that keep the price tags on the clothes at discount stores and the couture-style costumes over in their own private and privileged gallery with their carefully hand-sewn embellishments will bring your feet right back to the ground. And speaking of feet, check out all those fabulous socks. I have a thing about socks and that part of the show took me completely by surprise    

    There’s so much to see that everyone will have a different list of favorites. The big bear upholstered with cast-off sweaters includes a working zipper down the left leg that I really could have used when I had surgery for a broken leg two years ago. There’s a beaded and spangled space-princess suit complete with a fabulous headpiece/shield/carapace that Cave wears in one of the little gallery of photographs. I named one of the pieces that was made of crocheted headgear "The Bad Hat" because it reminded me of the Madeleine book of the same name. But hey, go find your own.    

    The only thing I found disappointing was that I couldn’t actually get into and walk around in one of the "Sound Suits" made of twigs. Cave's description of how surprised he was when he first tried it on and discovered the noises it made was so compelling that I really, really wanted to try it myself. Yes, I understand that allowing anyone - and there would be plenty of us - to climb inside one is impractical but I’m still feeling deprived.

    Still, there is much satisfaction and some kinetic consolation in watching the film loops that are playing on the walls at the very back of the exhibit. One of them is a never-ending parade of Cave-clad dancers striding, floating, flailing, leaping, billowing, and shape-shifting through a white seamless world that seems to have no up, down, or gravity. And the best one shows Cave engaged in a frenzied wrestling match with a suit that looks like a big piece of black-and-white knitted coral. The sped-up action combined with Cave's brilliant choreography is comical and frightening at the same time.   

    If you know any fellow humans, young or old, hip or square, sentient or clueless, who have always thought (sometimes with good reason) that there is nothing in an art museum that might engage, delight, or amaze them, you should invite them to "Meet Me at the Center of the Earth." It's a show for doubters, refuseniks, and outsiders who will recognize themselves looking back out from the center of at least one and probably several of these little worlds that Nick Cave has imagined and built from scratch and inspiration.

    Kathleen Cain

    Kathleen Cain is a Seattle-based writer and bibliophile who follows art, collects buttons, and has a sock fetish.

    "Meet Me at the Center of the Earth" by Nick Cave is on view through June 5 at the Seattle Art Musuem, located at 1300 First Avenue in Seattle, Washington. For more information, please visit the website or call (206) 654-3100.

  • Monday, December 20, 2010 5:16 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)
    If you’d like to treat your hearts and minds to a new body of work by an internationally renowned artist in an almost ideal setting, don’t miss this new show of Ginny Ruffner’s latest work at the Bellevue Art Museum. Artistic Director Stefano Catalani and his staff have done a masterful job of re-staging and designing this exhibit that was originally developed by the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner where it was first shown in 2008.  

    Like all great art, this show is difficult to describe but it’s an exuberant and wildly imaginative exploration of what would happen if entities that possess neither genes nor the ability to reproduce (at least as far as we know) were able to cross-pollinate, exchange DNA and merge into each other. Among other things, you see “The Gene for the Grace of Falling Leaves,” “Floral Splashing,” “The Force That Shapes Seashells,” and what happens “When Lightning Blooms.” You’ve been warned; be sure to arrive with your mind wide open.

    In case the title of this show doesn’t make it completely clear, you should know that although Ginny Ruffner is an artist, deep down inside, she’s really a geek. It all started in high school when she was president of the Science Club and it has been seeping into her art ever since. Her current circle of friends and regular correspondents includes an impressive assortment of distinguished scientists and mathematicians. She is fascinated by all the cool sciences and she finds them no less mystical, mutable, and mysterious than the so-called arts. In other words, Ginny has never believed in sorting things into separate piles of what does or does not constitute the realm of artistic endeavor; no matter what kind of information her muse sends, she uses it. 

    Although Ruffner’s titles and concepts are fantastical and outrageous, her work is more intellectual than emotional. Inspired by rigorous and challenging ideas -- evolution, the expression of DNA, the origin and nature of consciousness -- she applies her own personal torque and tension to them. The result is a kind of corkscrew logic that merges the solid and the uncanny and makes you suspect that these strange genetic connections have always existed but we never realized that they were there until she showed them to us. When asked where these ideas come from, she shrugs and demurs: “Who knows? I’m just an output device for these messages from the cosmos.”

    Captured in mid-contortion, Ruffner’s creations look like they’re trying to do the Fibonacci, to swing and sway or twist and turn into something entirely new and improbable. Although they are beautiful, warm, and ethereal, they also harbor a shimmering undercurrent of darkness, mystery and secret intentions They sometimes seem as curious about you as you are about them, ready to stretch out a tentative tendril (or is that a tentacle) and pull you closer for a little friendly mind meld.

    My favorite piece, full of magnificence and menace, is the towering double helix called, “Tall Artistic Creativity Gene.” Elegantly suspended from the high ceiling of the BAM lobby and trailing a bower of glass flowers at its feet, this delicate but imposing structure of metal and glass seems as if it might suddenly break free and begin spinning and spiraling toward you, bent on gently rearranging your polypeptide chains. It’s a fitting introduction to an exhibition that gradually unveils the unbridled spookiness and audacity of this artist’s imagination.

    While she was still working on the pieces in this show, Ruffner asked her friend and Nobel laureate, the biochemist Kary Mullis, if he thought it was arrogant of her to create her own model of the DNA molecule. He wrote back: “None of the existing images can even come close to capturing this snapping, glowing, sizzling, writhing, freaking King of Molecules. There are no humanly conceivable images. It’s up to you to look at these things and imagine something yourself.” Which is exactly what she’s done.

    So leave your slide rule at home, forget everything you know about the boundaries between art and science, and go catch a glimpse of what the world might look like if evolution began making stuff just for the fun of it. Or maybe, with a little nudge from Ruffner, it already has.

    And if you’re interested in learning more about the life and work of this remarkable artist, check out the new documentary, “Ginny Ruffner: A Not So Still Life,” directed by Karen Stanton and produced and released this year by the Seattle-based film company, ShadowCatcher Entertainment. It won the Golden Space Needle award at the Seattle International Film Festival this summer and is being screened at several other film features around the country. You can find out more about it online at

    Kathleen Cain

    Kathleen Cain is a Seattle-based freelance writer and bibliophile who follows art and is a big fan of the double helix.

    Ginny Ruffner’s exhibit, “The Aesthetic Engineering: The Imagination Cycle,”  is on view through Febraury 6 at the Bellevue Arts Museum which is located at 510 Bellevue Way NE in Bellevue, Washington. For more information please call (425) 519-0770 or visit the website

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