Crosscut Tout: Michael Stasinos paintings show Seattle from a new angle
Michael Stasinos, an open-air painter who lives in Seattle and teaches at Pacific Lutheran University, sets up his canvas in familiar places (overlooking the city from Capitol Hill or the Market, for example, or along the Ship Canal under the freeway bridge), then uses the city's ribbons of concrete or water as the baseline for exquisitely detailed panoramas that provide an entirely new perspective on familiar surroundings. He is a figurative-narrative painter working in an impressionist-pointillist style, refusing to edit the slightest urban blemish, finding beauty even in telephone wires.
Under Seattle's great arc of gray sky, the buildings have intense color. The foreground gardens are lush, lovingly painted. Then a ribbon of concrete freeway, empty of cars, providing a barrier beyond which lies the painting's real subject: the bewildering complexity of a modern city. No postcard views of Needle or Market, just an ever-so-patient notation of all the landscape's information. (The freeway in a Stasinos painting is like the Grand Canal in Canaletto's Venice, an omnipresent force of nature.)
There's also a remarkable, luminous scene of Volunteer Park in bright sunshine, titled "Sunday," with trees and lawn meticulously rendered, leaf by leaf, blade by blade, an homage to Georges Seurat's "La Grande Jatte." Yet the small figures playing soccer, they're not pointillist "things" but entirely natural, an "event." It's a moment perceived with such intensity that you can almost hear them: "Pass it here! Shoot, shoot! Goal!"
If you go: Paintings by Michael Stasinos, on exhibit through Sept. 4 at the Woodside Braseth Gallery, 2101 9th Ave., 206-622-7243. Free. Open 11 am-6 pm Tuesday-Saturday.