• Wednesday, June 30, 2021 3:32 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Back by popular demand, the Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair returns this summer! In August, come celebrate the resilience of visual arts in Seattle with over 40 galleries, non-profit organizations and art institutions participating in this month-long event. 

    Through the collaborative efforts of the gallery community, the Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair aims to raise awareness of the existing vibrant arts and culture available in the area, celebrate the re-opening and recovery of our neighborhoods, and invigorate the cultural capital of our city in this important time. Participants include members of the Seattle Art Dealers Association: Davidson Galleries, Foster/White Gallery, Patricia Rovzar Gallery, Greg Kucera Gallery, Traver Gallery, Harris/Harvey Gallery,  Gallery IMA, and Linda Hodges Gallery, along with J. Rinehart Gallery, Zinc Contemporary, Gray Sky Gallery, Columbia City Gallery,  Wa Na Wari, Method Gallery, Roq La Rue, i.e. gallery, Smith & Vallee Gallery, and many more. 

    Art enthusiasts and collectors are invited to view all Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair exhibitions online at and in person at individual gallery locations. Check out the consolidated calendar of activities—featuring in person exhibition openings, artist meet & greets, and other events throughout the whole month.

    Viewers are invited to use the website portal to see the online map of participating galleries, explore venue websites, plan visits, and learn more about this vibrant arts community.

    Though COVID restrictions may be lifted, individual art venues might still have requirements for wearing masks and may still have other protocols in place. Visitors are asked to respect these requirements as we all work to get our community fully vaccinated.

    The Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair is made possible through the support of the Seattle Art Dealers Association. 

  • Tuesday, May 04, 2021 12:30 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    We are so fortunate in Seattle to have the only West Coast showing of Jacob Lawrence’s “The American Struggle,” a series of 30 panels created in the mid 1950s that re-think American history and American struggle. What could be more timely as we face so many struggles today. 

    Although Lawrence includes some familiar figures, such as Paul Revere, or well-known events, such as the Boston Tea Party, his interpretation is so original, that we understand these events entirely differently. In the case of Paul Revere he is shown almost in the dark, with a black cloak, suggesting the secret nature of his ride, a stark contrast to the famous moonlight aerial view by Grant Wood. The insurgents at the Boston Tea Party are dressed as Mohawk Indians, factually true, but not much emphasized. In other words, if they are caught the Indians get blamed. We see Sacajawea, the famous Native who was the only woman on the Lewis and Clark expedition, reuniting with her brother in a stunning juxtaposition of the drab explorers and the colorful robes of the Natives.

    Throughout we see the meaninglessness of conflict, the sacrifice of those who fight, and the huge efforts of ordinary workers, as in the building of the Erie Canal. The movement West is seen with two oxen weighted down almost to the ground, as a metaphor for the struggle.

    The dynamic compositions express struggle in every line. Most of us are familiar with Lawrence’s more realistic “Migration of the Negro,” 1940-41. “The American Struggle” still has the same small format, but the thrusting diagonals and dramatic spaces convey the meaning of each event. The color also creates rhythms and relationships. Clearly Lawrence absorbed the principles of the then-dominant Abstract Expressionists, but wedded abstraction to the realities of the bloody struggle for democracy.

    As Lawrence worked on “Struggle,“ the 1954 Civil Rights Act banning segregation in public institutions passed in May, Emmett Till was lynched in August 1955 and Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in December 1955. In the same years, government persecution was rampant as McCarthy saw communists everywhere. The FBI described Lawrence himself as “subversive” because he “propagandized alleged acts of racial discrimination of Negroes.”

    Lawrence planned to continue through the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution up to 1908 when, as he specifies, “the American fleet sailed around the world.” But he created only half of the planned sixty works, stopping with the beginning of the movement West in 1817. He suspended work on the historical study of struggle in 1956, immersed in contemporary events, as well as his own financial and professional disruptions. He never completed the second thirty works, instead moving to the contemporary Civil Rights movement and other topics.

    The series of 30 paintings have not been shown together since 1958: they were scattered for decades among private collectors. But as the finally re-assembled series went on exhibit last year, two more missing panels were discovered, Panel 16 “There are combustibles in every state that a spark might set fire to – Washington 26 December 1786” and Panel 28 “Immigrants Admitted from All Countries: 1820-1840,” both incredibly timely topics today.

    The “American Struggle” also includes provocative work by three contemporary artists, Bethany Collins, Hank Willis Thomas, and Derrick Adams, each exploring aspects of struggle through contemporary media and perspectives.

    At the Seattle Art Museum we have the unique opportunity to go from Lawrence’s “Struggle” to Barbara Earl Thomas’s “The Geography of Innocence.” It offers a perfect partner and contrast to the bloody confrontations of “Struggle.” Thomas gives us instead an homage to the innocence of black children, who stand threatened and accused by their very existence. The shimmering installation with images of black children in shrine-like niches invokes a spiritual environment that encourages awareness of the fragility of black lives. The children are people whom Barbara Earl Thomas knows personally, based on photographs, subtly elaborated with cultural references. As she says “the face of the dark child…is often misread as older and wiser than his years or misinterpreted as hostile, angry, and cunning. With this work I offer an alternative view, one that brings the dark child into a definition of the every-child. I put my children in stances where each face might be considered an unwritten slate.” 

    Barbara Earl Thomas was Jacob Lawrence’s student when he taught at the University of Washington. The connection between these two artists is thrilling.

    Susan Noyes Platt

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

    “Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle” and “Barbara Earl Thomas: The Geography of Innocence” are on view at the Seattle Art Museum located at 1300 First Avenue in Seattle, Washington. For more information, visit

  • Tuesday, May 04, 2021 12:10 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    “When we enter the Garden 

    the boundaries of the self are blurred.

    When we enter the Garden 

    we enter an erotics of perception.”

    — Kimberly Trowbridge

    What does it mean to lose oneself in a landscape? Maybe it’s your shadow joining the others in the forest, or your fingers brushing the fronds of a fern, or even your reflection in the water. How do you experience time, space, light, or darkness in such a situation? Would you feel out of space and time, perhaps on the threshold from one moment or plane to the next? Kimberly Trowbridge’s time at Bloedel Reserve and the resulting paintings are a visual manifestation of her experiences and observations about light and dark, time and moments, and space and observations. The paintings are an exploration of perception and self; each captured from either a specific moment, series of moments, or reality.

    From 2018 to 2020, Kimberly Trowbridge was a Creative Fellow at the Bloedel Reserve, a public garden and preserve located on Bainbridge Island. The Bloedel Reserve residency program seeks to provide artists with the opportunity to connect with the environment and nurture creative thinking through experiences with nature. Trowbridge’s paintings focus on four areas of the reserve: Camellia Trail, Meadow Trail, Moss Garden, and the Reflection Pond. Each area provides the artist with an opportunity to develop a new way of seeing the world and method for translating that into paint on canvas.

    Immediately upon entering the exhibition, the viewer is connected to Trowbridge through physical objects. Her easel, table, paints, and brushes are all on display for guests. Even her apron is draped over a stool as if to signify she just left the scene. From this vantage point the sightlines from the entrance of the gallery place a strong emphasis on tone, time, and light. Trowbridge writes that how she perceived light and shapes in the twilight hours deeply impacted her work. The three large paintings to the left of the entrance are an example of that heightened perception. First, “Light in the Forest (Annunciation)” illustrates the changing light beaming through the branches onto the forest floor below. Next, “Camellia Walk (IV)” portrays the tones that Trowbridge writes about in her wall text. But is also begs the question: is this one moment in time or one figure throughout time? Lastly, “Theater of Destruction” completes the informal triptych. Is the light coming or leaving the forest? It is hard to tell, but the leaves, meandering branches, and fallen tree remain either stuck in time or timeless.

    The paintings mentioned previously are all observations from the Camellia and Meadow Trails, but Trowbridge also places emphasis on both the Reflection Pond and Moss Garden. In fact, the first painting in the large gallery focuses on the Reflection Pond. “Reflection Pond Persephone I,” is almost divided evenly between physical objects and their reflection in the water below. Gestural strokes of blue and green paint activate the canvas. The painting is laid out in a grid, but the paint often spills from one cell to another as if to show the viewer that the planes are overlapping and not as structured as once thought. The primary character in Trowbridge’s paintings of the pond is Persephone. In Greek mythology, Persephone was abducted by Hades and forced to spend part of the year (the winter) in the Underworld. However, as a goddess of nature she could leave for most of the year and is often associated with the spring season. It makes sense that Trowbridge uses this character to demonstrate this place as one of rebirth, transformation, and passage.

    It would be easy to continue writing about Trowbridge’s use of composition, narrative, and the conceptual depth of this new body of work. However, it would be an error not to comment on the use of color in the paintings, especially the vibrant earth tones. When asked about what they appreciated most about the exhibition, the gallery attendant commented, “The greens.” Spend time admiring and getting lost in the colors of “Nymph and Skunk Cabbage,” for example, from the Moss Garden. Each curve of the leaf generates a new color, either highlighted by the sun or hidden in shadow.

    “In the Garden” has been extended through June 27, and there are several other exhibitions on display at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art as well. Enjoy Kimberly Trowbridge’s exploration of the consciousness through her direct observations of nature. And maybe, the viewer will notice something new on their next visit environmental exploration.

    Chloé Dye Sherpe

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

    “Kimberly Trowbridge: In the Garden” is on view through June 27, at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, located at 550 Winslow Way East on Bainbridge Island, Washington and open daily from  10 A.M. to 5 P.M. Visit for more information. 

  • Tuesday, May 04, 2021 11:59 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Bob Lucas’ latest show presents his solo works as well as collaborations with artists Tim Beckstrom and Gary Nicholson.

    Once again Lucas presents us with an oeuvre that carries us through and beyond the personal into a paradigm of universal expression that is both archetypal and dreamlike. If one could ask for anything more from an artist, I don’t know what that would be.

    Lucas’ works are multi-media creations as befits an expression that seeks to engage us on a multitude of levels. They stand like holograms of the human spirit, captured by one who dives deep within the psyche to document the rich yet dark foundational substrata upon whose surface our day to day cares seem to float like the random sparkles on a wind swept sea.

    Lucas’ opening work is called “Show Statement Portrait” which is reminiscent of the first line of the Tao Te Ching, “The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao.” A glass enameled and fused image of Lucas enigmatically pointing to, or maybe holding up, an ear surrounded by some sort of wavelike pattern, (sound waves or the Higgs field), that itself occludes a hand written “show statement” from the past. This piece is indicative of his trust in his own intuitive process. For Bob Lucas every foray into the morass of art making results in a self portrait. But Lucas’ self portraits, and thus his work, occlude the rationalizations required by the ego so that he may reveal a deeper, hidden self.

    Lucas’ “Family Portrait” from the collection of Jeffrey Moose, is a waking portal into the realm of dream. To try and interpret this piece is to miss its impact completely. An army of psychologists, philosophers, clergy, and scientists could wax poetical ad nauseam yet still miss the heart of this art.

    It is a dream experience made manifest in space and time. In this, and other of his works, Lucas shows us that our dream world and our waking world aren’t just intricately connected, they are one.

    In his piece “Lights Over Vicksburg,” Lucas’ internal compass steers him to combine historical “events” with “dreamlike” power. The incongruity of the brutality of actual war making (the Civil War) and the imaginary power of space aliens being involved in that war could not portray the polarity of the human psyche in a form that reveals more chiaroscuro than this.

    Lucas’ piece, “3D Cube,” is a masterwork of the integration of the material and the ethereal. The profundity of its simplicity leaves us wondering whether we can ever really see the truth behind the appearances.

    Every piece in this show is a tour de force, though easily passed over by the worshipers of superficiality, their power is fed by nature itself. And so lastly, but not in the least, I want to mention Lucas’ piece “Dis Coagulation,” a piece of art where the dream world meets the devil. Nightmares are real and events like Dachau and Dresden, Stalingrad and slavery meet. Lucas is willing to suffer in order to bring these images to consciousness, not as propaganda but as art. Small, easily ignored yet powerfully manifest in space and time. Many are called to witness but few will leave a trace. Bob Lucas is one of the few.

    Robert Carlson

    Robert Carlson is an artist, glass workshop teacher, and arts writer who lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington. To view his glass sculpture visit

    “Non Local” is on view through the end of May from Tuesday through Friday from 10 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. and Saturday from 11 A.M. to 6 P.M. at Jeffrey Moose Gallery, located at 181 Winslow Way East, Suite F on Bainbridge Island, Washington. The gallery hosts a Zoom session with Lucas on Friday, May 7, from 6:30-7:30 P.M. For more information, visit

  • Monday, March 01, 2021 2:18 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    How are museums using this challenging time to analyze and review their collections? With many museums closed to the public and traveling exhibitions on pause, some museums are using this time to look at their collection with renewed vision. Are key artists missing from the collection? How can the museum’s collection represent more diverse voices and perspectives? What is working in the collection, and what is not? Museum collections are constantly being reviewed and this is precisely the exercise that many museums are undertaking during this time. Whatcom Museum’s exhibition, “Anatomy of a Collection: Recent Acquisitions and Promised Gifts,” is both a celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the opening of the Lightcatcher building and a testament to the many long-standing relationships between the museum, artists, and art patrons. 

    The exhibition includes both artworks that are recent acquisitions to the museum but also pieces that are promised gifts by art collectors and museum supporters. The exhibit text also seeks to explain the “how?” and “why?” behind artwork acquisitions and the various collecting goals of the institution. Visitors will notice that the exhibition includes a multitude of different mediums, sizes, and spans nearly 100 years. A sculpture of a bird by beloved Northwest artist Philip McCracken greets visitors up on entry and to the viewer’s left is an impressive triptych by Gregory Amenoff. The burst of color exemplified in the artworks by Amenoff, Mary Henry, and Cris Bruch are a delightful re-entry into a physical art exhibition after months of viewing shows online.  

    The exhibition is organized in several categories, including medium, geography, style, and time period. However, the artwork placement feels intuitive and the groupings of artworks bring many questions to mind. The inclusion of Clayton James was an unexpected, but delightful, surprise; almost like seeing a long-time friend. James studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and was later relocated to a camp for conscientious objectors in Oregon during World War II. Both James and his wife Barbara Straker James were friends with Morris Graves and they spent many years in La Conner, Washington. Three of Clayton’s landscape paintings are on display. James stopped making sculpture and turned to painting, but thankfully the museum also chose to exhibit two of his ceramics as well. Neither are titled or dated, but the work truly speaks for itself. Both are in James’ iconic style: white finish and smooth, organic forms. 

    Around the corner from James’ sculptures is another area dedicated to other Northwest artists. A suspended painting by Mark Tobey shows off both sides of the canvas. The paintings are a wonderful example of Tobey’s white writing. Nearby are three photographs by Mary Randlett, including a portrait of Jacob Lawrence in his studio. One of Lawrence’s hand rests on his hip while the other grasps an artwork that is resting on the ground. The viewer can imagine that Randlett and Lawrence are conversing as friends and this photograph captures a moment during their conversation. The other two photographs demonstrate Randlett’s mastery of capturing movement and light. “Palouse Falls Gorge” is a look into a gorge and the light beautifully reflects off the rocks. The other, “Falling Waters (after a Neil Meitzler Painting)” is a moment in time as a waterfall careens down the cliff onto the rocks below. A guest familiar with Neil Meitzler will immediately recognize the similarities. One artist capturing the falling water with a camera and the other painting the rush of movement with a brush. 

    Around the corner from the Tobey paintings are several prints. All are excellent examples of a variety of printmaking methods, but guests may be surprised to encounter a print by Käthe Kollwitz. The artwork is from 1899 and titled “Uprising (Aufruhr)”. The print features a group of people marching in unison with a floating figure above them, appearing to encourage them to keep moving forward. The viewer can assume that they are member of the working class, a group that was often a subject for Kollwitz. The print demonstrates the artist’s ability to express the impact of poverty and war on the working class. 

    Chloé Dye Sherpe

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

    “Anatomy of a Collection” is one of three exhibitions currently on view at the Lightcatcher building. “Conversations Between Collections: The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Whatcom Museum” and “People of the Sea and Cedar: A Journey Through the Tribal Cultures and History of the Northwest Coast” are also on display. While the museum is not open to the public, they are allowing individuals to make private gallery tours. Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher Building, located at 250 Flora Street in Bellingham, Washington. Visit the museum’s website to learn more about their COVID updates and to sign up for a private appointment. 

  • Thursday, December 31, 2020 7:32 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Several things struck me deeply while producing this January/February issue of Art Access. Remembering all the challenges faced these past nine months, filled me with deep gratitude to be able to continue to do what I love—make this publication. For nearly three decades, it has been wonderful to work with artists, poets, writers, gallery owners, curators, museum staff, businesses, and publishing houses. All the encouragement, participation, and financial support have made this publication possible. Thank you dearly.   

    Kirkland Arts Center’s listing from Lauren Lyddon reflects this moment in time perfectly:

    “Art is many things to many people: an emotional outlet, an intellectual exercise, a political statement, a meditation, a cry for help, or an inquiry into the nature of being. This year we have been witnesses to history; we have had to adapt to survive. Artists have seen exhibitions and classes canceled, but still art abides.”

    Finally, the image of beloveds, jeweler Steph Farber of LeRoy Jewelers and The Art Stop Gallery owner Phyllis Harrison, warms my heart. How wonderful that this husband and wife team continues to work together in their shared jewelery showroom and art storefront in Tacoma, Washington.

    Blessed are we that art and love abides. Wishing you health, creativity, and happiness.

    Debbi Lester

    Art Access Publisher

  • Thursday, December 31, 2020 7:17 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Artists have lauded and sought out the beauty of Skagit Valley for generations. There is something about the color that is transformed by the sun shining through fog and in-between the hills that provides a stunning palette for artists and viewers alike. As I sit in Edison it is currently dark, but I can still see the outline of the hills as they are wrapped in the evening fog. Since I have just come from the studios of Andrew Vallee and Kris Ekstrand, my eyes and ears are drawn to the landscape. I can hear a snow goose landing in the slough nearby and the shapes of the landscape have a painterly quality. It is likely that I am looking at the same scene that Kris can see from her studio window, or that I am sitting near where Andrew may have salvaged a Douglas Fir for his sculptures.

    Andrew Vallee and Kris Ekstrand’s studios are a stone throw away from each other, so it is only fitting that they are featured in an exhibition together in January at Smith & Vallee Gallery in Edison, Washington. Andrew creates beautiful wood sculptures that are inspired by objects from the natural environment—sea urchins, feathers, owls, and more. Each object is carefully examined and then its image is transformed into a salvaged wood carving. A favorite is “On the Edison Slough” which includes a small bird carved out of maple that is resting on a base, or cradle as Andrew says, made out of 2,300-year-old Douglas Fir. The veins of the wood are easily discernable, but they are juxtaposed with the ripples carved into the surface. The resulting effect is the appearance of the small animal hovering over moving water, which is somehow appropriate since the Douglas Fir itself was salvaged from mud and brackish water where it rested for thousands of years.

    Vallee starts with an object and then creates elements of its image in wood. All appear to have aspects of both hyper-realism and abstraction. In a short walk from Vallee’s studio, guests can also see Kris Ekstrand’s painting and print studio. The artist’s hand is ever present in Ekstrand’s work. The shapes of the landscape outside the studio are echoed in her paintings and prints, but it was her use of color and gesture that caught my attention immediately. One painting in particular, “Berry Fields in Winter”, is an excellent example of color, composition, and texture. The horizon line is in the top third of the painting and a thin line of yellow paint articulates the flat fields of Skagit Valley. The bottom of the painting is a flurry of green, yellow, pink, and orange brushstrokes overlaying a body of water. The title of the painting leads me to think about all the berry bushes, now empty of berries, that fill the fields. During the winter, the rainwater collects on the fields and creates a mirrored effect which only amplifies the natural beauty surrounding it. The viewer can imagine Ekstrand’s hand and brush moving the paint across the surface of the canvas with every visible brushstroke.

    Ekstrand’s landscapes look like a welcome landing field for one of Vallee’s owls, which makes the two artists an excellent duo for an exhibition. The color and life are a welcome view in the often-dreary month of January. Smith & Vallee Gallery continues to celebrate the environment of the Skagit Valley in February with the opening of their annual invitational of artworks featuring birds. Dubbed “The Bird Show” by locals, the idea of hosting events in Edison around the arrive of hundreds of birds to the area is about 10 years old. Vallee recalls talking about hosting a festival for bird watchers with his friend Jim Kowalski. This conversation led to a festival that lasted about 5 years and the infamous “Chicken Parade” that occurs in Edison every year. While the festival no longer takes place, the annual exhibition lives on and is an opportunity for bird enthusiasts to gather at the gallery every February.

    The gallery is excellent about keeping their website up to date with available artworks. They are also very meticulous about COVID safety and social distancing guidelines. If you are able to visit the gallery in person, expect to see expressive paintings and prints that almost appear to vibrate with intensity on the picture plane. Vallee’s sculptures range in size from a few inches to a five-foot tall wooden feather resting on top of a book. I looked up at the feather to admire the smooth, sanded surface and then knelt to marvel at the pages of the book that seem to all be articulated with expert precision. Looking at these artworks certainly lifted my spirits, and I hope the same for you.

    Chloé Dye Sherpe

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

    Smith & Vallee Gallery is located at 5742 Gilkey Avenue in Edison, Washington. It is open Friday through Sunday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. and by appointment Monday through Thursday. For further information, please call (360) 766-6230, email, or visit the gallery website at

  • Wednesday, December 30, 2020 2:46 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

  • Monday, November 02, 2020 1:00 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    We have experienced seven months of COVID-19, wildfires, social unrest, protests. the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, murder wasps, and, most recently, the 2020 election. To overcome these challenges, I turned to writing postcards to voters and letters to friends. Writing calmed me, channeled my anxiousness, helped me feel useful, and gave me hope. The one postcard campaign I participated in had over 375,000 volunteers writing a total of 15 million postcards! Wow—if anything, we definitely helped keep the U.S. Post Office afloat! 

    My major COVID-19 project—preparing the Art Access archives—surprised me as to how many magazines I’d made this past 28 years. You are reading the 250th Art Access magazine! I’m excited to let you know, so far, one set of Art Access archives is to be housed at the Seattle Public Library and another at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. 

    The galleries, studios, and museums have been super resilient and creative. The majority have reopened. And those that have not, have retooled. For example, the Henry Art Gallery expanded its contemporary art programming while its building remains closed. Check out the new slate of virtual and small-scale-in-person programs at and look for its upcoming first city-wide public exhibition, “Set in Motion,” featuring artworks installed on 20 buses from December through February.

    The organization, Skagit Artists, has created Art Supplies for Kids (ASK) program to help out local art educators as they provide art instruction. For information, visit and to donate, visit 100% of donations go to Skagit teachers for art supplies or art instruction.

    I wish you all good physical and mental health. Be safe. Be well. Be Creative!

    Somehow we’ll get through this together!

    Debbi Lester

    Art Access Publisher

  • Sunday, November 01, 2020 10:18 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    On August 20, 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified and gave women the right to vote. After a lengthy, nearly seventy year fight, the suffrage movement finally received what the women at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention set out to accomplish. While there has been much progress towards gender equality in the past century there is still a lot of work to be done. Holly Ballard Martz’s exhibition, “Dirty Laundry & Domestic Bliss,” raises important questions about women’s rights, the patriarchy, and the role of women in society. Using mixed media artworks, Martz references or utilizes many common household objects to address these questions and provoke the viewer to think about a particular issue in a different way. 


    Upon entering the gallery it is impossible not to notice the long table with sculptures that appear to be pieces of meat. The artist painstakingly applied over 40,000 sequins to the sculptures to give them a fleshy and shiny surface. As the viewer peruses the sculptures it becomes obvious that while some look like cuts of meat, others do not. There are several sculptures with obvious depictions of the vulva and vagina on the surface. Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” might come to mind as an art historical reference for this imagery. Chicago’s installation evoked religious reverence for the series of tables to inform the viewer that they are about to enter a sacred space. Each plate included the name of a significant woman in world history and was set upon an intricate tablecloth.


    In contrast, Martz’s installation may appear cold, even crude, with all these cuts out in the open on a bare, wooden table. The comparison is an obvious one, but Martz is careful to draw a line between them. In this case, the cuts of meat actually reference a dressmakers ham. These pillows are used as a mold for pieces of a garment that need to better fit the curves of the body, such as a waistline or sleeve. But the pillows that Martz constructed are useless as dressmakers hams because they have sequins and are really more of a decorative object. In a statement on the gallery website that artists asserts that the female body is also often reduced to cuts of meat that are laid out for decoration and the enjoyment of others. The imagery of women reduced to parts as entertainment or objects of the patriarchal gaze set up an even more somber installation directly behind the table.  


    In the exhibition text Martz notes that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is impossible to ignore the bright pink wall at the end of the gallery with the cursive script, “Love Hurts”, written out with 6,000 9mm spent shell casings. The artwork is a series of contradictions. The beautiful script and color pink remind the viewer of a Valentine or sweet note between lovers. But there is obviously a much more sinister message. On the gallery website the artist cites a statistic from a survey by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention which states that almost twenty people are physically abused by their intimate partner every minute in the United States. She states a further study from the American Journal of Public Health that notes the risk of homicide increases by 500% if a gun is present during a domestic violence situation. “Love Hurts” represents the very present danger that many women and men face in their lives. Sometimes this threat is hidden from friends and family, but Martz’s bright pink wall and gold script is impossible to avoid. 


    There are many other objects in the show that connect to work that historically has been done by women. There is a large blue ironing board with a series of gold halos around its “head” in reference to the artwork title: “Lady Madonna.”  Martz’s well-known hangers also appear in this exhibition. They are also beautifully adorned with beaded flowers and reference the traditional work of women in the home. But these hangers aren’t useful as they are installed by the artist. Martz installed them upside down so that they are in the shape of undergarments and the female reproductive system. Every object and material in this exhibition has a purpose and supports the guiding question: Is this really domestic bliss? 


    This exhibition and the questions it raise continue to be extremely relevant. With the election right upon us many people are discussing the points that Martz addresses through her meticulous artworks. But the issue of domestic work and duties that women often perform have also been magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic. The combination of professional work, teaching children who are now learning from home, and housework is causing many women to question their role in society. We are seeing record numbers of women leaving their professional careers as the pressures of home and family weigh down on them. It seems that the issue of dirty laundry and domestic bliss are just as relevant today as they were decades ago.


    Chloé Dye Sherpe

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

    “Dirty Laundry & Domestic Bliss” is on view through November 15 at ZINC Contemporary, located at 119 Prefontaine Place South in Seattle, Washington. The gallery is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. For more information, visit

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