Endless Summer: Prolonged Moments Among SEASON Gallery’s Paintings
A few weeks ago, I was lying out with a friend, beside a massive swimming pool, in the 108-degree heat of Las Vegas. The unrelenting desert sun splayed its dense rays over our skin with more thickness than the sunscreen we had put on in vain. Sweat came without the slightest movement. Our phones had gone black and refused to function. Yet, we stayed there for hours. Sometimes we slept, sometimes we swam, but mostly we just lay there, watching the stillness of the palm trees and of the people standing in the pool, lingering in a prolonged state of thought. I thought of that heat-induced slowness and its heightened state of perception when I was back in Seattle a week later, walking through two shows by SEASON. – Erin Langner, Seattle contributor
The first time it happed was at Slow Enhancers, SEASON’s group pop-up show at Platform Gallery. Curator Robert Yoder told me the show’s title was put together with the intent of gathering together works that slowed people down. This was the effect—and a perfect one for a summer show. Time spent with Boston artist Anthony Palocci Jr.’s modestly scaled, monochromatic grids revealed life-sized portraits of window fans behind screens. That longer, second look brought out the symmetrical visages and freckles of color that complicate the paintings into objects more anthropomorphic than abstract.
Portland artist Calvin Ross Carl’s billboard-like slogans spouted from acrylic applied to their canvases in thick, buttercream dollops and beachwear hues. But, pausing to consider the paintings in the context of their titles’ parentheticals brought out their darker subtexts. At first, “Give Up” sounded like an inner monologue from someone sitting on a barstool, tired of getting hit on, until the real title, Big Town Small Dreamer (Give Up), lent it the resonant disappointment of unrealized ambitions. Was it Good As (Your Last Time) looked like the nostalgia of growing up. But, the idea of “the last time” brought out the way growing up is, in the most literal sense, about the more sinister truth of growing closer to death.
I found time suspended again when I made my way to Yoder’s in-home gallery, for SEASON’s onsite show. The sun was on its way down, and smoke had been in the air for weeks because of the fires overtaking Washington and Canada. Those of us in Seattle are reminded of this nightly, when hazy sunsets hang for a noticeably long period, like the one descending the night I went to SEASON. The golden cloud filtered through the gallery’s picture windows, warming the canvases of the three painters featured in The Ocean is Double Sided.
Brooklyn artists Caris Reid’s Water Warriors and Matthew F. Fisher’s waves were at home in this natural light that felt so unnatural. Their mutual undulations—between flatness and dimensions, between stillness and motion, between realism and illustration—played back and forth among the evening’s encroaching shadows. Fisher’s tongue-in-cheek, paintbrush-swipe waves lightened the rigid expressions of the Water Warriors. And, Reid’s mandala-like forms amplified the similarly meditative details that grounded Fisher’s backdrops.
Down a narrow hallway already swallowed by the night’s darkness, California artist Ryan Schneider’s paintings pulsated with vibrancy. Flooded with eyes and lines that wrapped around the sides of the canvas and coated shards of bone the artist integrated into its surface, I found myself drawn back to Owl Omen twice and then a third time before leaving the gallery. There was always more to see, more things that I had missed. Like the last, warm breaths of summer itself, I wanted to indulge in all of its details and stories for as long as I could.
Slow Enhancers was curated by SEASON at Platform Gallery in Seattle, WA from August 5 through 29. The Ocean is Double Sided is on view at SEASON gallery through September 27.
Erin Langner a writer and a program associate at Seattle Arts & Lectures.