Review: Eye-catching ‘Here’s to the Future’ takes skeptical look ahead

Artists in G. Gibson Gallery group show toast future with a double-edged slant.

Certain seemingly anodyne phrases in the English language — “Be my guest” comes to mind — can take a turn for the sardonic when given just a little twist.

“Here’s to the Future” is another of them. Its seemingly upbeat drift can, in the right hands, feel double-edged — perhaps as an invitation to hit the dance floor while Rome burns.

Curators Gail Gibson and K.C. Potter de Haan clearly had the gallows-humor potential of the phrase in mind when assembling “Here’s to the Future,” their new group show at G. Gibson Gallery. Its offerings are eye-catching — but they don’t exactly set your mind at ease.

Exhibition review

‘Here’s to the Future’

11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays, through Aug. 18, G. Gibson Gallery, 104 W. Roy St., Seattle (206-587-4033 or ggibsongallery.com).

Julie Blackmon’s playfully staged photograph, “Fake Weather,” is a case in point. In it, two warmly dressed and highly skeptical young girls stand in drifts of artificial snow with a wintertime scene behind them. This scene, however, is contained to a photo backdrop entirely surrounded by a snowless autumnal landscape.

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A few frantic, anonymous hands behind the backdrop do their best to create blizzard-like conditions from soap flakes. But the effort is laughable. This cold snap will never be convincing.

Blackmon, a Missouri artist, may be making a comment on climate change (are winters in Missouri less snowy than they used to be?) or she may just be tapping into children’s’ love of make-believe.

Other pieces in the show are less ambiguous. Matt Sellars’ peekaboo video installation alternates slow sylvan scenes with frenetic found footage of man-made catastrophes and showboating demagogues from around the world, while a loop of anxious bass-guitar noodlings serves as an aural backdrop. The piece’s awkwardly lengthy title, “Put your ear to rails and listen for the hum, but for the chaos of man,” discloses Sellars’ misgivings about the last century or so of human achievement.

Samantha Scherer’s small graphite-on-paper drawings, “Tumbled Houses (3)” and “Huddled Cars and Planes,” depict catastrophe on a smaller scale with their squished dwellings and vehicles floating insignificantly in a void.

Mary Iverson’s paired…

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