From August 1–4, the CenturyLink Field Event Center will be bombarded with all things art as the fifth annual Seattle Art Fair ramps up to wow with daily talks, performances, special projects, and artwork from more than 100 galleries from around the world. It’s a milestone year, according to Nato Thompson, the fair’s artistic director, which meant re-calibrating programming and talks to cast a wider net.
“Last year, the fair’s programming was very tech-oriented, with mechanical robots and DNA algorithms,” he says. “This year, we’re taking a more curious route by exploring everything from earthquake simulations and 3D photographs of genetically altered creatures, to the calming effects of squished baked goods.”
Explore works from an impressive mix of national and international galleries including Seattle’s Hall Spassov Gallery, Portland’s PDX Contemporary, Gallery Jones in Vancouver, BC, Tokyo’s KOKI Arts, and the Khankhalaev Gallery in Moscow. As for talks, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit’s (MOCAD) senior curator Larry Ossei-Mensah will join Paula Marincola, executive director of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, and Rita Gonzalez, head of contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), for discussion on curatorial practices. For even more on what’s happening during the four-day fair, see below for the exhibitions and installations our editors can’t wait to take in.
“I was inspired by early Wunderkammers, or cabinets of curiosities that housed collections of alluring objects from around the world,” Thompson says. “I’m hoping that the fair sparks wonder and awe that visitors can take with them when they leave, encouraging them to think outside the box and explore the intricacies of everyday life around them.”
“While it’s always exciting to have national and international names showing at the Seattle Art Fair, I always look forward to seeing what the local galleries bring to the table. In October, local gallery veteran Judith Rinehart (who I profile in GRAY’s August/September issue) is launching her own space , and her official stepping-out will happen at the fair with the Fierce Florals exhibition, featuring Daisy Patton, Meggan Joy, and Jennifer Zwick. Martyr Sauce Gallery, the underground Pioneer Square space and brainchild of artist and curator Tariqa Waters, will also have a booth. Waters’s sharp wit, irreverence, and pop culture references are fresh and full of humor, and her work is an unapologetic, in-your-face commentary on race, gender, and contemporary culture. The past couple of years I haven’t had a chance to check out much of the programming (most of my time has been spent bopping from booth to booth trying to take everything in) but I’m really interested in Saturday’s Artificial Intelligence/Artificial Life talk, which highlights two artists (Richard Pell and Stephanie Dinkins) in conversation about our assumptions of what is ‘natural’ and how emerging technologies have/can/will affect our outlooks and experiences in everyday life.” —Rachel Gallaher, senior editor
“At this year’s Seattle Art Fair, I’ll be making a beeline toward the interactive installation, Self Facing by web-based performance artist, Bread Face (@breadfaceblog). Known for posting videos of herself smashing her face into loaves of bread, Self Facing brings her bizzarre online art to life with various baked goods that visitors can touch, tear, and play with. The mutilated loaves will be displayed at the fair to highlight themes of domesticity and voyeurism. Personally, I can’t wait to play with my food and call it art. Another exhibition I’m excited to see is Incubator of Earthquakes, a kinetic dinner table sculpture with a vibrating motor, by Stockholm-based artists, Bigert & Bergström. During the fair, the installation will randomly shake, causing the china on the table to rattle. This piece, along with the duo’s other wacky installations like a solar-powered egg-shaped sauna, sit precariously at the crossroads of technology, art, and nature. Finally, I can’t wait to see illustrations by autistic Seattle artist, Gregory Blackstock. The 72-year-old started his career later in life, but his drawings of categorized parrots, typewriters, and buildings, among others, have quickly scattered the walls of galleries and museums across the globe. With a graphite pencil and permanent marker, Blackstock’s work appreciates the subtle variations in everyday objects that would otherwise go unnoticed.” —Claire Butwinick, assistant editor
“This’ll be my first year attending the Seattle Art Fair, and I’m interested to see what its artistic director, Nato Thompson, came up with. In terms of talks, I had serious FOMO watching this year’s Desert X, a site-specific contemporary art exhibition, unfold in southern California’s Coachella Valley. So I’ll get my fix on August 2, when two artists—Nancy Baker Cahill and Gary Simmons—who participated in it will talk with Seattle’s Henry Art Gallery senior curator Shamim M. Momin about how they approach site-specific projects and what it means for the viewer and its environment. On August 4, I’m looking forward to hearing from a different set of experts in The Kids Panel, where kids ages 9 to 12 will report on their favorite artworks in a conversation led by Frye Art Museum’s director, Joseph Rosa. In terms of what will be on view, my bet is that presentations by New York and Tokyo-based Seizan Gallery, Miami’s Pan American Art Projects, and Paris’ Nil Gallery will be the top.” —Tiffany Jow, editorial director
Seattle Art Fair, August 1–4; CenturyLink Field Event Center, 1000 Occidental Ave S; seattleartfair.com
Image on homepage: Lisa Golightly, Blue Pool, 2019 Acrylic on aluminum, 18 x 24; Image courtesy of the artist and Linda Hodges Gallery