It's late Thursday morning and Joey Veltkamp and I have just walked into the former Empty Space theater (now the Michael Peck Space) in Fremont. The smell and sigh of old wood floors is a comfort, reminding me of school and other spaces full of potential. As I enter the main room to see The Louder the Sun, a group show with Robert Yoder, Ben Waterman, and Noah Grussgott, I'm not disappointed - it's an instantly compelling visual, full of potential. The walls they've built (themselves, in one week) to hang the work don't hide their construction of white walls and bare exposed beams, and the work is lit from below via clip-lamps positioned on the floor. As Joey mentions, the presentation is almost raw, but the polish of the work softens the edge and makes it nearly seamless. I'm glad for the rearrangement of a public space to become a gallery, and I'm glad for the rearrangement of the space changing the way I look at the art. It suits the efforts of the artists who, in their own work, are constantly changing the positions of things. The Louder the Sun is a cohesive show of three incredibly thoughtful people who, upon reflection, are not a surprising trio of collaborators.
I spoke with Robert Yoder about how the show came about, and he mentioned with a smile he had intended to pull together a show for Grussgott and Waterman, but the project evolved to include all three of them. There's a general discussion in the art community right now - and my conversation with Yoder was one of these - regarding the gallery system and what artists must do to survive outside the studio. It's not just a Seattle issue, made evident in a constant stream of complaints and questions on blogs based in New York. So how does one stay afloat in this climate of conservative gallery risks or the lack thereof? It's that favoured catch phrase again - D[o]. I[t]. Y[ourself]. So out of this self-propelled motivation to break outside of the normal way we do things - galleries, collectors, curators, legitimized shows in supposedly reputable venues- these three have shown that it's not the only way.
The work of these individuals is a complimentary gathering. Waterman's videos sit comfortably next to Grussgott's weighty ink and charcoal pieces, which also seem to ground Waterman's more chaotic installations. Meanwhile,Yoder's small impasto paintings and delicate collages have enough presence to not be overcome by either of the other's gravitas. And altogether the show creates a narrative about time, piecing together disparate parts, and process (of work) in a language we can easily understand. The work is intellectual, yes - Grussgott's recollection of his residency in Berlin brought up the story of bringing only himself and a pencil, and deciding where/how to conceptually go from there, pushing his work in a new direction - but there is no shortage of aesthetic beauty to back it up. Do not miss this show!
The Louder the Sun opens this Saturday - that's tomorrow - at 7pm and runs through Saturday 17 April (by appointment only). Michael Peck Space 3509 Fremont Ave North, Seattle WA 91803
Kiki Smith, Untitled (Head of Guanyin)
my sneaky shot of the three surveying their handiwork
Robert Yoder, Untitled (Scar)
installation view, west wall 2010