Limited as it is to just two tall buildings, the great beyond of downtown Seattle apparent through the gate central to “Transport” is a superannuated image. Indeed, this canvas picked up its first layer of paint sometime before that area sprouted its present crop of skyscrapers.
An expert spinner of Tales, the painter’s brother has been known to step over a few fictional lines. Eyes are rolled; coughs stifled. “Well,” he’ll say, “at least part of it’s true anyway.” His sister here on Seattle’s 16th Ave. has certainly stretched a few verities in this painting with its hyperbolic Hydra of a backhoe and its transport of the iconic Jimi Hendrix statue from Broadway to her own Seattle street. She hopes this performance will not affect her standing in the Webmaster’s list of “realist painters!”
This canvas lingered about the studio unfinished for eight years. Evidence for its outdated reality can be seen in the brick house (memorialized earlier in “Red Couch,” 2013) on the NW corner of East Marion Street and 14th Ave. now a fictional dwelling. A second clue, a date (April 2011) scribbled on the back of the photographic model for the innocent consumer of the “fruit of that forbidden tree,” supports this history. Meanwhile, the painter noticed only yesterday that the house on the southwest corner of that intersection is now boarded up, apparently awaiting its “development.”
This painting “appeared” to the painter a year ago as she walked along Seattle’s Marion Street in the direction of 18th Ave., where the Immaculate Conception Church stood behind a screen created by the branches of an embracing cherry tree. The image brought to mind Camille Pissarro’s painting Les Toits Rouges, which can be seen in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. It is a painting made near Pontoise, France; a group of houses with brightly tiled roofs behind what the d’Orsay curator calls “densely intrusive vegetation.” Your local painter wanted to see if she could bring home some of the liveliness of Pissarro’s work. At the same time, she found herself intrigued by the Cezanne-like geometry of the neighborhood scene with its intricate web of diagonals and verticals.
October 2018: Nothing stands now on the empty space at 14th Ave and Spring Street in the Central District. One hundred and nine years prior to February 2017, that corner was occupied by the impressive brick, steepled building which became the Progressive Missionary Baptist Church after the United Presbyterians left in 1952. These changes reflect the many demographic shifts which have characterized the CD from its beginnings (Jewish) to Asian (until World War II uprooted its Japanese population) to its isolated condition (African American), the result of red-lined areas south of Madison Street as well as the intrusion of Interstate 5, to its present gentrifying condition in what has become a hot real estate market for Microsoft and Amazon employees (until what next? in the shifting sands of late stage capitalism . . .). "Demolition Man” documents a chapter in this evolution. Soon the inevitable high-priced condominiums will rise.
This is a second attempt to portray a pair of maples growing (for now at least) on 19th Ave in Seattle’s Central District. The first (Power Struggle, 2014) used a tunnel-like one point perspective to include City Light poles, trees reduced to wooden verticals recruited from our forests to support the energy needed to keep humans comfortable and informed. Implicitly, these de-nuded trees witness the impact of harvesting timber to meet human needs. By their side, living maples display the development of trees recruited to satisfy our taste for shade and décor and contorted as a result of conditions determined by human convenience. Their ability to survive in competition with both their defunct cousins and our demands for energy produced the remarkable shapes the painter studied as “plastic values.”
The guy in the psychedelic shirt seems at home in this version of the Central District’s Spring Street, where the double stairs, the empty garage and the nearby houses are “folded over, turned round.” Like the poet’s blue guitar, “things as they are /Are changed” when art happens: tourists will look in vain for this version in any real world. The painter hopes that her audience will enjoy these fictional spaces, explore them with “clandestine steps upon imagined stairs.”
Mid-20th c., Jean DuBuffet declared that only artists uncompromised by the dominant culture were free of its nefarious influence. “Art brut” or “raw art” by painters expressing themselves without formal training was “authentic.” Later in the 1970s, “outsider art,” work produced without the blessing of “high culture,” was thought to be part of a “modern” movement challenging traditional values.