art galleries

Wa Na Wari: a Seattle version of 'Hotel California'

When I reluctantly ended my first visit to Wa Na Wari, I told one of the co-founders if I didn’t get out now, I’d never leave this home-turned-gallery space. Apparently that was plan all along: get people in the door with the art, then lull them into staying. Kinda like Hotel California, but homey instead of sinister.

Wa Na Wari co-founder Rachel Kessler and visitors

Wa Na Wari co-founder Rachel Kessler and visitors

Creative reminders of home are woven throughout the house, like the hanging sculptures by Henry Jackson-Spieker. They literally mark “places that were points of gatherings or comfort” when the Greene family lived there.

Henry Jackson-Spieker glass & wood sculpture above family table

Henry Jackson-Spieker glass & wood sculpture above family table

Wa Na Wari continues the revived trend of home-based art exhibit spaces. Not pop-ups — permanent galleries. No surprise that New York artists have done this in apartments — or just in one apartment room — considering New York rents. The phenomenon seems to be solidifying in Seattle and nearby communities too, as real estate gets pricier by the minute.

Still from “Remembering Her Homecoming,” a film by Natassja E. Swift

Still from “Remembering Her Homecoming,” a film by Natassja E. Swift

The thing I love the most about Wa Na Wari, though, is it still feels welcoming like a home — not merely a house-shaped gallery. In fact, the view into the backyard shook me for a moment: it’s strongly reminiscent of my grandparents’ home in Kentucky, which no longer exists.

Contemplating art & community with Wa Na Wari co-founder Inye Wokoma

Contemplating art & community with Wa Na Wari co-founder Inye Wokoma

This weekend is an especially good time to visit: environmental artist and icon Marita Dingus is teaching a doll-making class on August 11th. Plus, her own doll sculptures are on display upstairs.

Selected works by Marita Dingus

Selected works by Marita Dingus

If you have so much fun you can’t bear to leave, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

"... Mother" returns next week

It’s like Homecoming Week up in here: “Like Mother” opens its doors in North Seattle next Wednesday, this time at the North Seattle College art gallery.

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Notice there are two opportunities for you to see our work that day! If your schedule allows, you can join us that afternoon. If not, then join us in the early evening and wait out rush hour looking at art instead of sitting in traffic. I promise, it’s far more pleasant to breathe in the sweet smell of beeswax from Deborah Kapoor’s encaustic art installation.

Deborah Kapoor, “My Body, My Home”

Deborah Kapoor, “My Body, My Home”

Maybe you have to head home right away, though; I understand. Rest up on Friday, then join me Saturday evening in Shoreline for the opening of “Living the Dream.”

Lisa Myers Bulmash, “Relatively Progressive” (detail)

Lisa Myers Bulmash, “Relatively Progressive” (detail)

Photo of Edwin T. Pratt. Credit: Black Heritage Society of WA state

Photo of Edwin T. Pratt. Credit: Black Heritage Society of WA state

Hope to see you soon — maybe at both events!

New work: but is it "safe"?

I don't remember any water towers near the place where I grew up.

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There was a river sort of nearby, but we lived in a desert. The riverbed was usually so dry it was used mostly to shoot videos and movies.

Movie still from "Grease." Credit: William Anthony/ Wikipedia

Movie still from "Grease." Credit: William Anthony/ Wikipedia

So when I finally saw a water tower in real life, it looked almost like a cinematic prop. It would make a great dramatic refuge for the hero to escape from bullies and other bad guys.

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Now I live in what used to be a temperate rainforest, so I see water towers all the time.  And I realize the bad guys could climb the same ladder you used to get away from them. They could attack one of the tower legs; the reservoir (and you) could come crashing down. It looks like a safe space... but it wouldn't be for long. How defensible is any "safe" space, really?

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This weekend, you can see and decide for yourself. My collage series of five water towers debuts at the Centennial Center Gallery, along with other new and existing artworks. And hey -- let me know if you stop by to visit the gallery; take a photo and tag me on Facebook or Instagram.