Erin Langner

April 05, 2016, 9:10am

Gallery on the Edges: Q and A with Sharon Arnold of Bridge Productions

The last time I spoke with Sharon Arnold in her first gallery in Georgetown, I found myself surprised at my own sadness. Her modest space LxWxH, hovering over a pizza restaurant, was closing. Arnold wasn’t going far—she was moving on to collaborate with another well-respected gallerist, in downtown Seattle. LxWxH was small in scale and remote by comparison, two miles south of the city center, in Seattle’s historic, industrial neighborhood of Georgetown. But its presence had bored deep into the landscape of the community’s visual art, through not only the gallery that balanced the homegrown with the sophisticated so well, but also through the accessible boxed sets of small works that she sold to foster collecting in the city. I knew I would miss this gallery’s ideas when it was gone. - Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor


Tectonic, Installation View. Image courtesy of Bridge Productions.

Listed under: Interview

January 04, 2016, 9:06am

Unveiling the Resonant Context: Art AIDS America at the Tacoma Art Museum

When you are in a gallery with Izhar Patkin’s Unveiling of a Modern Chastity, it is hard to look at the painting, but it’s also hard to look anything else. Its thick, purple wounds bore through the canvas so viscerally, they exhume the pain of a person standing beside you that you want to help, except all you can do is look. This, in some sense, is the point of the 1981 painting—the earliest work in the exhibition Art AIDS America, at the Tacoma Art Museum. Rejecting the idea of pure abstraction, the urgency of life or death circumstances floods through its sickly, yellow surface and raw, fleshy texture, moving us to find a way to respond.— Erin Langner, Seattle contributor


Izhar Patkin | Unveiling of a Modern Chastity, 1981, rubber, latex, and ink on canvas. 
Courtesy the Artist.

Listed under: Review

August 31, 2015, 9:59am

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


Slow Enhancers installation view, including Seth David Friedman, FORTHELIVEDEVIL, 2011, Carrara marble, and Dawn Cerny, Anaheim, 2015, Gouache on Silkscreen. Image courtesy of SEASON.

Listed under: Review

August 01, 2015, 9:14am

Painting Highlights from the Seattle Art Fair and Out of Sight

No one knew what to expect from the Seattle Art Fair. We barely knew to expect it at all. This may have been due, in part, to the absence of any significant art fair in the region since the 1990s. Most us in the Seattle arts community were still holding our collective breath just several months before now, when none of the local galleries that applied for a booth knew of their acceptance status. — Erin Langner, Seattle contributor


Seattle Art Fair entrance, including Negar Farajiani’s “Made-in-China”, presented by Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

Listed under: Art World

July 13, 2015, 3:50pm

Grounding the City of Angels: Erin Morrison and Tomory Dodge at James Harris Gallery

One Foot on the Ground is not a themed exhibition.” When I read this on the wall of Seattle’s James Harris Gallery, my impulse was to immediately look for a theme. After scouring the works of the six painters featured in the group show guest-curated by Los Angeles artist Alexander Kroll, I conceded that the claim held true. However, as I stood among Erin Morrison’s (NAP #97) palm tree leaves and the graffiti-like palettes of Tomory Dodge, I was drawn to their ties to the City of Angels. I might have been breaking the rules by clinging to the concrete in a show that insisted it was about abstraction. Or, maybe the show was designed so I would unearth my own themes. Maybe I had fallen into a trap that had been there all along.—Erin Langner, Seattle contributor


Erin Morrison, Black Palm (no. 1), 2015, Ink and wax on hydrocal in maple frame, 35.5” x 37.5” 

Listed under: Review

June 05, 2015, 8:45am

The Labyrinth of Abstraction: Victoria Haven’s They all stopped walking

The hedge maze is one of the most memorable images of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. In the Northwest, most of us know this labyrinth isn’t real (it was part of a constructed set) because we are familiar with Oregon’s Timberline Lodge, whose building served as the hotel’s exterior in the film and has no maze. Seattle artist Victoria Haven’s (NAP #6, #49) show at Greg Kucera Gallery, They all stopped walking, references a scene that takes place inside The Shining’s maze. At first, it was hard to see a connection between this new work and the artist’s earlier paintings and sculptures of abstracted, geometric forms that I knew so well.  The older forms even make a few appearances, as does an entire wall of words extracted from text messages that had been turned into woodblock prints and separated into pairs that only make sense together sometimes.  I found myself intrigued but unsure of how everything came together. I was on the brink of lost.

But, when Haven spoke of her desire to question abstraction in the new pieces, the pathway became clearer. The disjointedness that had felt so rigid and real—between words, between mediums, between what I had seen before and what I was seeing now—dissolved, as if it had been in my imagination all along.  In its place, I found a show that continues an artist’s longstanding pursuit by starting from a new, unexpected place.—Erin Langner, Seattle contributor


Victoria Haven | Black Frames, 2014, acrylic on panel, 20 x 16 inches. Image courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery.

Listed under: Interview

March 20, 2015, 9:15am

Wrestling Between Dimensions: Q and A with Gala Bent

An unusual element of Gala Bent’s new show makes it striking from a distance. A particularly standout press image or an intriguing promise of newness are often an opening’s easiest selling points. In the case of the Seattle artist’s show at G. Gibson Gallery that opened earlier this month, it was a single work’s title that latched onto my mind and stayed there until I made my way to the painting: Wrestler (The impossibility of a single dimension in the mind of someone who lives in several). While enough of Wrestler’s forward boldness came through the thumbnail image I had seen to make me want to meet it, the idea of someone living in several dimensions was what turned the work of art into something I had to see. When I spoke with the artist about the work, the show and her practice, it quickly became clear that Bent herself is immersed in a similarly multi-dimensional existence—with a mind constantly in flux between observing and making tangible the theoretical ideas she encounters, her art living similarly between open-ended abstractions and a fixed set of controls.—Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor


Gala Bent | Wrestler (The impossibility of a single dimension in the mind of someone who lives in several), 2015, mixed media on paper, 45 x 52 in. Image courtesy of the artist and G. Gibson Gallery.

Listed under: Interview

January 05, 2015, 1:25pm

NAP Contributor Top 5: Erin Langner

On the occasion of the Museum of Modern Art’s show, The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl recently wrote of painting being in a state of crisis. In response to the show comprised of painters whose “approach characterizes our cultural moment at the beginning of the new millennium,” according to MOMA’s website, Schjeldahl rejects the medium’s outright death. Still unoptimistic, he concludes, “Painting can bleed now, but it cannot heal.”

As someone who has spent a lot of time with paintings over the last few years, I had to stop to consider whether I agreed: are the paintings I have encountered bleeding? In trying to answer, I found myself making my list of the five shows that made me think the most about the state of painting this year—its physicality, its lasting presence, and its bloodshed. — Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor


Sterling Ruby | SUNRISE SUNSET installation view, image courtesy of Hauser & Wirth.

Listed under: Art World, Noteworthy

December 17, 2014, 10:51am

Rothkos in Space and Paintings of Dumpsters: The Absurd Worlds of Ralph Pugay

Out-loud laughter is not usually something you hear at a paintings show, particularly one inside of a museum. However, this is the reaction I saw over and over again, as I stood among Portland artist Ralph Pugay’s (NAP #97, #115) paintings, at the Seattle Art Museum. Filling a small but highly trafficked gallery that was wedged between exhibits of glass and of traditional nineteenth and twentieth century American art, the artist’s small canvases excelled at catching people off guard. The flattened, cartoonish scenes captured the eyes of people en route to another space, who would wander towards them with looks of befuddlement. The point at which the artist’s frank titles, absurdities and language games began to sink in was the moment the laughter began.— Erin Langner, Seattle contributor


Ralph Pugay | Rothkos in Space, acrylic on canvas, 24"x24", 2013. Image courtesy of the artist.

Listed under: Museum Admission, Review

December 09, 2014, 8:39am

The Intimate Humanness of Rocks and Walls: Q and A with Emily Gherard

I never expected to fall for a painting hung inside an alt-weekly newspaper box. Not even terribly visible through the residual scratches that coated the aging plastic, Emily Gherard’s painting of a stout, yellow mass caught my eye like the passing visage of someone I used to know. Printed on the cover of Seattle’s newspaper, The Stranger, on the occasion of her nomination for the publication’s annual Genius Awards, I had seen the artist’s work before, in galleries, where all of their subtleties of texture and layering could be rightfully appreciated. However, the unlikely humanness the artist imbues into her distinctly non-human subjects of walls and rocks played particularly well with this banged-up, human-sized metal box, living out in the world. Enshrouding Gherard’s jagged, gentle jewel, the box’s own human qualities became similarly more pronounced—its stalwart, weatherproof air of permanence that stands against its quiet shame of rusting irrelevance.  Not surprisingly, transforming banal entities into breathing beings is an intricate, intuitive process, as I found out when I recently caught up with the artist to talk about her current and upcoming projects. — Erin Langner, Seattle contributor


Emily Gherard | Untitled, 2011, Oil on canvas on panel, 12" x 9". Photo by Art and Soul Photography. Image courtesy of the artist.

Listed under: Interview

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