Cross-Pollination at Shift through Jan. 31st.
Unknowingly, Craig van den Bosch came up with the title for the well-received and current Shift show of members paired with invited artists.
In his recent application to join Shift, Craig wrote that he wanted to be in an environment of cross-pollination. “It’s a great way of explaining what Shift is and can be and I think it is so true of what the gallery is like,” said Shift curator Liz Patterson. Accordingly, she used Cross Pollination to title the works of 16 Shift artists reverberating with their 16 invited guests.
The collaboration zigzags enticingly from glass, wood, metal, cloth, ceramic, wax/wire and stone sculpture to a full range of paintings, drawings and prints. Several pieces work in tandem or mirrored themes and mediums while others co-exist in varied states of companionship or tension.
Response to the show has been enthusiastic and a consensus is building that a repeat collaborative effort might be in order next year. “One thing that I really like about the show is how each pair was so thoughtful,” Liz said. “I really loved reading the descriptions that gave so much life to the work.”
Like everyone who participated, Craig found a syncopated rhythm with fellow collage artist Marty Gordon after at first being uncomfortable with his work. “Pulled into Marty’s world of ‘What Would Jesus Glue,’ I found myself laughing, sometimes guiltily and gleefully, at the word bubbles dotting his work, containing religious puns from this former minister-turned artist,” he said.
Kamla Kakaria has for years taught with and also showed with mixed-media artist Larry Calkins. So inviting him to pair with her again was a no-brainer. “We are inspired when we are together to sit quietly for hours working on our artwork or to talk endlessly about artmaking, art history and artists,” she said.
“I asked Pam Hobart to exhibit with me because she has so influenced how I make art, and we have a lot of fun wandering through each other’s work,” said fellow printmaker Colleen Leahy. “Although we approach our work with a similar mindset, the results couldn’t be more different.”
Glass, ceramic and metal artist Crista Matteson met Carol Milne when they exhibited together and she continues to be inspired by her technically difficult work. “Her results are beautifully delicate and unlike any other cast glass I’ve seen,” she said. “Carol’s work inspires me to push out of the conventional ways of working with glass.”
Karen Klee-Atlin, new to Seattle two years ago, formed an informal salon with guest printer Vicki Platt-Brown and the two continue to meet almost weekly to talk about their work. “We both enjoy exploring bold palettes and compositions.” Karen said.
Pam Galvani is fascinated by the large and very personal collagraphs in her guest Jan Branham’s series of prints based on a box of unidentified family photos discovered after her mother’s death. “Her images remind me of the ghostly but very real people who inhabit my own past,” Pam said.
Mutually drawn to all things quirky and off-beat, Jodi Waltier chose to exhibit with fellow traveller Tony Vujovich. “Let’s just say, even though looking through separate lenses, the odd, macabre world just beyond reach is really what makes us tick,” Jodi said.
Guest artist Eric Chamberlain’s playful but never precious approach to paintings and prints of tabletop still lives in a flattened perspective moved Dawn Endean to invite him to Shift. First aware of Eric’s monoprints, Dawn said she as “drawn to the vigorous, expressive line—a line as much about the nature of the materials as it is about describing the form depicted.”
Painter Lee Withington chose to pair with a ceramic artist who she also featured in her last Shift show. “What intrigues me about Melissa Balch’s work is the sense of humor and the moments of openness and the timelessness that I experience during my contemplation of it,” Lee said.
Sculptor Ken Barnes is so in tune with his guest artist Steven Sandry that it’s hard to differentiate between their co-displayed work. Sandry’s forms “inspire a sense of calmness in me,” Ken said. “I’ll admit to a social component as well, in that I enjoy Steve and thought this was a good excuse to spend more time together.”
This writer selected to show with her old friend Susan Tureck, newly retired and finally back to making art, because she has long been inspired by the sophisticated draftsmanship, lightness of touch and satirical humor in her work.
Of other synchronous pairs, Liz found that the artists’ voices always strongly registered. “Even with the unpacking, each pair spoke to each other in a certain way,” she said.
Of Patrice Donohue’s stark, framed charcoal field next to Susan Mask’s elegantly spare charcoal figurative, Liz said that “it was clear they belonged together.”
Of Carmi Weingrod’s handsome and similarly shaped woodblock print collage with Suze Woolf’s masterful, varnished watercolor on torn paper, Liz said that she appreciated how they “mirrored each other so nicely in shape and in an aesthetic way. Automatically, they just seemed to be together.”
In a nod to the most collaborative of works in the show, Liz noted that fellow printmakers and graphic design artists Carolyn Gracz and her guest Christine Lee actually worked back and forth on both of their two harmonious pieces—to the point that their making seamlessly merged.
Liz made special mention that wry-witted sculptor Ed McCarthy’s commentary on guest Kelda Martensen’s three-dimension monotype was “really sweet and personable and totally accurate.” He said, “Kelda’s dreamlike images send me to a place of comfort. They remind me of a place that I’ve not not been to but need to go.”
Finally, Liz thought that Daya Bonnie Astor’s photographic paring with Anthony Newton’s painting was “really great” in the contrast between her abstract, cityscape imagery and his vibrantly colored abstract portraiture. Daya met Anthony at New York’s Fountain Gallery, the premier place representing persons with mental illnesses. “That was a really great connection and I’m so glad she worked on that,” Liz said.