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Elles : Platform    
November 29 to December 15, 2012

The Seattle Art Museum hosted an unprecedented set of exhibitions and programs showcasing women artists. At the heart of this event was the landmark exhibition Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris, at SAM Downtown through January 13, 2013. SAM was the only U.S. venue for this daring survey of painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, video and installation by forward-thinking women artists. Platform Gallery joined SAM in this celebration of great art by women with Elles : Platform, an exhibition which focused on the work of artists Debra Baxter (sculpture), Jaq Chartier (painting), Lauren Grossman (sculpture), Patte Loper (painting), Kelly Mark (drawing), Melissa Pokorny (sculpture), and Ariana Page Russell (photography).

Michael Schall Hinder    
October 18 to November 24, 2012

REVIEW Seattle Met

This exhibition illustrates a slow shift in Michael Schall’s work since his last show at Platform in 2010. Hinder includes three bodies of work. The first body of work is represented by two large graphite drawings, titled Lava Tube and Wheel, which come from the artist’s exploration into how much depth and atmosphere can be achieved by pushing the limits of graphite’s darks and lights while presenting nature as spectacle through the human-made world’s attempt to dominate and control the natural world. These attempts usually fail with the sublime prevailing.

The second body of work was done in collaboration with Dieu Donne, a New York-based nonprofit artist workspace dedicated to the creation, promotion, and preservation of contemporary art in the hand paper-making process. As part of a residency, Michael worked with a master papermaker to create work that incorporates the process of making paper into the artworkitself. In all of these works, the soft cloud-like forms were made by dropping graphite tinted pulp onto freshly pressed sheets of rag paper and then hitting the graphite pulp with an air gun. The resulting forms were extremely hard to control, a departure from the artist’s very controlled, meticulous way of making drawings. Because the paper was still wet when the graphite pulp was applied, the pulp seeped in and became part of the paper itself. Drawn elements, such as cage-like structures, were then made after the paper was dry. These drawn elements are an attempt by the artist to gain back some control that he did not have in the initial creation of the work. In a way, this attempt to bring control to the drawings mirrors Michael’s illustrations of the struggle between the human-made world and the natural world. In fact, it is a direct act of that struggle.

The third body of work is a new series of smaller pieces that move beyond drawings of humans versus nature. Instead inspiration comes from a variety of different places and different thoughts. Giving himself permission to draw whatever came to mind, the artist has made representational drawings of things that look “right” but in the end aren’t right at all. A set of pencils remain in a refracted state after sitting in a glass of water. A coiled computer cord becomes a Gordian knot. A headless duck floats in a pond. 

Everything is slightly off.

This was Michael’s second solo show at Platform. His work was also included in two group shows at Platform: a spectral glimpse (Jim O'Donnell, curator) in 2007, and Eden’s on Fire in 2008. His work has regularly been exhibited at Pierogi in Brooklyn and has been included in group shows in New York, The Netherlands, Berlin, Leipzig, Manchester, and Portland, OR.

Eric Eley drogue    
September 6 to October 13, 2012

“A drogue is an apparatus employed to slow and stabilize descent, whether through the atmosphere or down the face of a wave.  It is simple in structure and small in relative scale, but its effect can represent the difference between success and failure.

“Fear limits me more often than I’m comfortable admitting.  In response, I’m attracted to stories of grand feats and utterly unfamiliar situations that seem to contain a window to the sublime.  The group of work in this exhibition grew from research into the act of falling, both intentional and otherwise, with a focus on the purposeful. I’m interested in the tension between control and release, the intersection of fear and progression, and what is physically simple, but psychologically daunting.  What structure is necessary to fall spectacularly and have a reasonable expectation of being intact when you land?”

On a day in August 52 years ago, Captain Joseph Kittinger (USAF) made the last of series of three extreme altitude parachute jumps in a rocking chair position from an open gondola carried aloft by large helium balloons. Towing a small drogue parachute for initial stabilization, he fell for four minutes and 36 seconds, reaching a maximum speed of 614 miles per hour before opening his parachute at 18,000 feet. He set historical numbers for highest balloon ascent, highest parachute jump, longest drogue-fall (four minutes), and fastest speed by a human being through the atmosphere. That record, while being challenged, still holds today.

Eric Eley has been balancing a fear of falling, which may lead to failure or may lead to death, with a desire to allow himself to fall: to be open to letting go and letting the moment take him, whether in his artwork or in his day-to-day life. The works in this exhibition draw on this predicament as he hand-makes minimal structures designed to fall while providing a modicum of stabilization.

The series of paintings titled Ever upward, refer to the name of Kittinger’s mission: Project Excelsior (Excelsior is Latin for “ever upward”). The paintings are based on photos shot by Kittinger during his descent back to Earth.

The three Target Drift drawings are imaginings of maps: hand-made documents of terrain and topography, a kind of diagramatic bird’s eye view in preparation for a jump into the void.

This was Eric’s third solo show at Platform and it included new drawings and sculptures. His most recent solo exhibition in Seattle was in 2011 at Suyama Space and his work has been included in group shows in Dallas, TX, Cologne, Germany, Mesquite, TX, and Chula Vista, CA. He holds an MFA from the University of Washington, Seattle, WA, and is currently teaching at Richland College, Dallas, TX.


Marie Koetje and Mark Schoening
Louder than Bombs    

June 21 to July 28, 2012

The paintings by Marie Koetje and Mark Schoening share similarities in more than paint. Both artists make work that visualize the sometimes overwhelming nature of living in a media-saturated, information-overloaded, hyper-explosive time in history. When reading what these two artists write about their work, one encounters the word “information” in both: “information overload” and “information explosions.” Both artists pack so much depth into the two-dimensions of their surfaces with layers of oil, acrylic, and spray paint that the chaos of the worlds they each create pulls us in while at the same time pushing back out at us. The intense renderings of time/space/objects/noise/communication make the work truly louder than bombs.

Marie’s work has been exhibited in Portland, Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Edinburgh. She received a BFA with honors from the School of Visual Arts in 2008 and was the recipient of a fellowship to the Yale-Norfolk program at Yale University in 2006. 

Mark’s work has been exhibited in Boston, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Dallas, Portland, and Copenhagen, including the Decordova Museum’s 2008 Annual. He has been a featured artist in New American Paintings, and his work has appeared in Beautiful Decay, Flaunt, and the Huffington Post. He received his BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston in 2006.

Robert Yoder DILF!    
May 3 to June 16, 2012

REVIEW Culture Catch

“When I distill my thoughts about painting, it ultimately comes down to communication. Throughout the process, I ask myself questions about hopes, fears and fantasies.  As the work develops, I turn my questions toward the eventual audience. What will they see? What will I hide?  I am in a continuous first date—the flirting, the divulging, the evasiveness. This is how I chose to interact with the community—a community that I expect to be able to look and take the time to answer their own questions.  

“My current studio work is an investigation of my emotional and physical fantasies. The resulting confusion from blending a fantasy with a reality creates a bastard belief system that sums up my indifference and lack of concern. The way these private and vulnerable moments occur are what directs my making.  Whether these moments are created during acts of intimacy or acts of shame are of equal non-importance. The ability to connect with another person, either physically or emotionally or through a fantasy is interesting to me. Showing this euphoria as it is surrounded in confusion has been my challenge in the studio.

“I paint small oils on panel, many of which have collage elements. The paintings begin with pictorial realism but they quickly deteriorate into abstraction only to struggle themselves back towards semi-realness. I use minimal imagery to highlight the uneasiness between hesitation and determination. To expose myself is vital in my work. Conceit, betrayal and guilt combine with romance and devotion to form an uneasy tenderness.  This fragility is best shown without extraneous information. Although fully invested in the final imagery, I experience a detachment from the work and feel emotionally evasive throughout the creation process. As if emerging from a fog, the painted imagery begins to form, only to fall back. This back and forth area, this being and not quite being, is the address for my indifference--a position that is confident, yet not sure of its place in the world.  It is vulnerable while it breaks the surface and self-assured as it steps back. To me, this area is fully charged and is a new and exciting direction for my work.  

“An additional exciting breakthrough for my paintings is the addition of low relief sculptural objects. It is a far stretch to consider the work sculpture yet I consider many aspects of the work as such.  Even as I paint, I am aware of the small brushstrokes and consider them as a sculptural element. In this way I feel I am advancing my aesthetics and blurring the distinctions between disciplines. I believe this transforms the present concepts of the limitations of painting and sculpture.

“I have recently introduced large amounts of black into the paintings. The density of these works creates a roughness and adds a punk/SM aesthetic to the overall collection. I began drawing again, they are graphic, hard and unapologetic with their subject matter and intention. They are coming from a untapped place within me, a place that struggles with addiction and shame and socially un-accepted fantasies.” 

Robert’s work is in many collections including Amgen Corporation, Boeing Corporation, The City of Seattle Public Art Collection, Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Hallmark Corporation, Henry Art Gallery, Hewlett Packard Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Portland Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Swedish Health Services, Tacoma Art Museum, and Vulcan Incorporated. 


Lauren Grossman Sphincter    
March 22 to April 28, 2012

REVIEW Seattle Times

“The work in Sphincter is part of my ongoing investigation into the imagery of Judeo/Christian culture and how these old sources can translate into contemporary objects. I have continued working from the Book of Isaiah and most recently looked into the Book of Job for its juicy bits on human frailty.

“Isaiah is a complicated and often contradictory collection of predictions of woe, destruction, and redemption. One of the aspects of these writings that interests me is that the same warnings have been ranted for millennia; continuing through generations, translations, and shifts of meaning—a very slow urgency. The thick, blunted glass heads embody this heavy sense of time, allowing an internal reverberation of sound and light. River and Remnant also germinated from Isaiah, particularly the metaphorical landscape imagery in the first half of the book. In my work, the physical manifestations of the texts are held aloft by braces or scaffolding—all things being subject to gravity.

“Job is all about human mortality and its limitations. In Torso of Job for example, I literally poured the text of Job’s affliction as hot iron onto a clay body, shattering the ceramic form. Trouble Came has Job’s protestations beaten over the surface of the head. Toward the end of Job, god expounds on the wonders of his creation, particularly his divine monsters, and thus the incomprehensibility of his own powers. The openings in the Pierced Leviathans are formed by the negative spaces of these descriptive texts.

“The intimate scale of the leviathan pieces and the tea bowl-sized hellmouths stresses the personal nature of monsters—our individual relationships to things described as beyond our control and understanding. Hellmouth reworks the common medieval image of the portal into hell as the jumbo orifice of some sort of animal, making hell into a sort of eternal digestion. Sometimes alluring (complete with sweet breath and feminine attributes) and sometimes repulsive, hellmouths were frequently conflated with the gaping maw of Leviathan. My version is sized for one.”

Lauren Grossman has been exhibiting her work for over thirty years in diverse venues as the Wright Exhibition Space, the Kirkland Art Center, the John Michael Koehler Art Center, Oregon State University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Cornish College of the Arts, University of Puget Sound, as well as galleries in the Northwest and nationally. Her work can be found in the collections of Microsoft, the John Michael Kohler Art Center, the City of Seattle, Special Collections at the University of Washington, the Matthews Collection at the Arizona State University, as well as several private collections.


Jesse Burke Blind  | Ariana Page Russell Blouse    
February 16 to March 17, 2012

“How these two play off each other, the masculinity and isolation intrinsic in Jesse Burke’s Blind and the sensual and intimate in Ariana Page Russell’s Blouse, is incredible. However, they both give the viewer a voyeuristic/creepster vibe. As if we’re privy to a private, possibly dangerous moment.” – The Stranger

Blind is Jesse Burke’s exploration into masculine identity as well as man's obsession with and innate calling to simultaneously dominate and embrace the natural world. “I'm most interested in concepts related to hunting—such as death and power, fragility and vulnerability, identity, mutability and camouflage. I am also interested in the awkward, yet often beautiful and romantic, relationship we share with nature.”

The skin is a porous surface, and challenges with it often have to do with personal boundaries. Ariana Page Russell has dermatographia, a condition in which her immune system exhibits hypersensitivity through the skin, causing painless, temporary welts that emerge when lightly scratched. The symptoms of dermatographia create a drama that plays on the skin, allowing Russell to address the aftermath of bodily contact. The flesh offers evidence of a physical exchange, albeit unaccompanied by narrative or explanation. Her skin, while unable to disguise the inflicted mark, invokes the action that brought it to the surface.

Russell’s depictions of the body allow her images to explore the free and fluid nature of sexuality, adornment and expression. In the photographs Cord and Net, her legs are etched with welts that mimic the back seams and fishnet designs of hosiery. Here, adornment of the body is illusory as Russell creates a veritable screen that both springs from and protects the flesh.

Suzanne Opton Soldier/Many Wars    
January 5 to February 11, 2012

REVIEW The Stranger

In the two series, Soldier/Many Wars, photographer Suzanne Opton photographs American soldiers close up, laying their heads before the camera, and American veterans who are draped. The subjects of the Soldier series are all young, active-duty soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the photographs were presented as billboards in nine American cities from 2008 through 2010. Reviewing them for The New Yorker, photography critic Vince Aletti wrote: “The posture is vulnerable and startling intimate, as if these young men and women were facing someone in bed or on a stretcher ... Opton catches soldiers both on guard and off, looking out and inward simultaneously, and we can only imagine what they’re thinking, what they’ve done, and what they dread.” The project received extensive press coverage and even sparked a heated debate about America’s image of the military. The Many Wars series presents portraits of veterans from American wars over the past 70 years, most of whom are in treatment for combat trauma. Through interviews by the photographer, we learn how war has affected their lives. Both bodies of work were selected by Martin Paar for the Brighton Photo Biennial in 2010. 

Suzanne Opton was the recipient of a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. Her work has been widely exhibited in the U.S. and abroad. Her photographs are included in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum; Cleveland Museum; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Musée de l’Eysée, Lausanne; and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, among others.