One of the greatest strengths of art is its ability to make you think about everyday objects or themes in a new light. As we head into fall, Seattle-area art museums and galleries invite visitors to step away from their busy lives, pause, and reconsider the world around them. Some efforts take a closer look at the region, turning reclaimed local driftwood into stunning swell or showcasing the legacy of native and independent folk artists in the Pacific Northwest. Other exhibitions offer a new way of looking at the world as a whole through existential paintings or the lenses of two of the best living photographers. Here are some of the most stimulating visual arts options to explore this fall.
“Fight Like a Girl”
If you missed Humaira Abid’s work at the Seattle Art Fair, here’s your second chance. Greg Kucera Gallery will host an exhibition of Abid’s work this fall, highlighting his detailed sculptural work that can transform carved pine into a series of protest signs that almost look like they’ve been crafted from cardboard. Abid’s fantastic woodworking also features eyes looking at you through a rearview mirror in his “Tempting Eyes” series, carved and stained pine wood.
Until October 29; Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Ave. S., Seattle; gregkucera.com
In Seattle’s Volunteer Park, you’ll see a series of 14 stone benches spread out – either single benches or groups of up to three, each engraved with text written by the artist. With “Soft Services”, artist Chloë Bass, known for her work in performance, installation, text and social practice, creates spaces that are both meditative and social by connecting to the history of Volunteer Park by as a site for AIDS activism by exploring what real care really is and what care is deemed essential and what care is determined to be optional, or ‘intangible services’. This installation was commissioned and curated by the Henry Art Gallery as part of its Henry OffSite program.
Until August 2023; Volunteer Park, 1247 15th Ave. E., Seattle; henryart.org
“New Arts and Sounds of the Pacific Northwest: Indie Folk”
Featuring an intergenerational group of artists from across the Pacific Northwest, these works in the Bellevue Arts Museum exhibition blur the line between aesthetic and functional. The exhibition highlights works using salvaged materials that are more improvised and improvised in nature, as well as the intricate work of woven baskets. At the heart of these handmade works is a tradition of passed down knowledge and sense of identity that comes from the small towns and rural communities of the region. Along with the exhibition, a playlist curated by Portland’s Mississippi Records will highlight indie folk artists from the region.
Sept. 16-Jan. 29 2023; Bellevue Museum of Arts, 510 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue; bellevuearts.org
It’s hard to encompass the scale of Seattle-based artist Alison Stigora’s upcoming sculptural installation at MadArt Studio in South Lake Union. Stigora’s work will combine reclaimed driftwood from Puget Sound with light and sound compositions. The discarded pieces of driftwood, some the size of whole trees, will be built into a curved wave from floor to ceiling. Beyond this will be a translucent, glowing sculpture that is constructed from the studio’s skylight. Through this work, Stigora asks visitors to contemplate how areas of resistance in their lives can be transformed and how what can be seen as an obstruction can be transformed into something beautiful.
Oct. 4-Nov. 23; MadArt Studio, 325 Westlake Ave. N., #101, Seattle; madartseattle.com
“Same Old Song”
Portland-based artist Srijon Chowdhury is receiving his first solo exhibition at the Frye Art Museum this fall. Six large new sensory-focused paintings with eyes, ears, noses and mouths 30 feet long will be the focus of the exhibit. Chowdhury’s work is both highly stylized and startlingly realistic as it juxtaposes the beauty of everyday life with apocalyptic angst. Alongside smaller images culled from Chowdhury’s earlier work, the exhibition captures Chowdhury’s exploration of existential themes and contemporary twists on genres like biblical scenes and family portraits.
Oct. 8-Jan. 15 2023; Frye Museum of Art, 704 Terry Ave, Seattle; friemuseum.org
“Body Language: Revival of Northwest Cultural Tattooing”
This exhibition at the Burke Museum will combine photography, cultural property and contemporary art to explore the history and art of Indigenous tattooing in the Northwest. The exhibition is co-curated by Dion Kaszas, a Nlaka’pamux tattoo artist and scholar who works in oil, watercolor, graphite, mixed media collage and video. “Body Language” will show how disrupted and forbidden traditions are reawakening through the efforts of Indigenous artists.
6 Nov-16 Apr 2023; Burke Museum, 4300 15th Ave. NE, Seattle; burkemuseum.org
“Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: in dialogue”
The work of two renowned photographers is making its way to the Seattle Art Museum. Dawoud Bey is known for his portraits, which focus on chronicling the history of underrepresented communities. Weems, who became the first black woman to have a retrospective at the Guggenheim in 2014, uses her photographs to explore topics of race, gender and class inequality. This special exhibition featuring selections of work by both artists explores their overlapping efforts to reflect the Black experience and issues around systems of power.
17 Nov-Jan 22 2023; Seattle Museum of Art, 1300 First Ave., Seattle; seattleartmuseum.org