Thursday, August 20, 2009

Definitions of Space

Tooting my own horn in the Volcano
Aug 20, 2009

I used my column in the Weekly Volcano to invite readers to my own show. Thanks to editor Matt Driscoll I can do that. Thanks, Matt.
Pictured, top: a selection of paintings by David N. Goldberg
next: paintings by CJ Swanson
next: Gabi and I in front of my painting "Bird of Prey"
bottom: Me with "X-plosion" and "Johna and the Whale No. 2"

Dear reader: If you’re going to be in Seattle anytime in the next six weeks, please stop by the Convention Center downtown to see my show Definitions of Space.

I’m showing with three other artists, two from Tacoma and one from Port Orchard.

From Port Orchard comes Patrice Tullai. The Tacoma artists are CJ Swanson and David N. Goldberg, the husband-and-wife team who founded the former Art on Center and AOC Galleries. You should remember Swanson from her recent show at Pierce College, which I reviewed in this column. Swanson and Goldberg wrote the description of the show that appears on the exhibition Web site at In it they explain that the four artists each use color, shape and form to define space within the two-dimensional picture plane.

Tullai, who is also an entertainer and recording artist, deals with space by emphasizing the flat surface. She juxtaposed rough-edged blobs of brilliant color in a fairly even distribution across the surface so that areas of bright yellow, red and blue compete with one another to see which can jump off the surface.

Swanson and Goldberg also employ a kind of all-over composition reminiscent of Robert and Sonya Delaunay, and Mark Toby. They each distribute small shapes — squares, circles, ellipses — in balanced patterns across the surface. Their paintings have more depth than Tullai’s, not the depth of linear or atmospheric perspective but the peek-a-boo depth of layered, torn and pasted-over images on an old billboard. Despite many similarities, Goldberg’s paintings are more energetic and painterly, and Swanson’s more decorative and more controlled. Her shapes evoke images of flowers, lollypops and urban skylines; his evoke gears and wheels and the gritty underbelly of the prettier cities seen in Swanson’s paintings. Her paintings, though abstract, have always contained shapes taken from common items seen around the house, such as a hang mirror or a flower pot. His paintings have, over the few years I’ve been aware of them, always been more purely abstract; but objects from the real world have begun to pop up in his latest work.

It is a pleasure to be showing with these fine artists. Please come to our show and tell your friends about it. The space is wonderful. If you haven't seen the exhibition spaces there, they are like big, broad promenades on the second and third floors where you can see vistas from one gallery to the next like some of the great views in the Seattle Art Museum. It's fabulous, and they did a great job of hanging the show. Plus, Geeze, on the third floor there are works by Jacob Lawrence, Alden Mason, Kenneth Callahan and Chihuly -- that's great company to keep.

[Washington State Convention and Trade Center, Definitions of Space, through Sept. 24, 800 Convention Place, downtown Seattle,]

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