The truth is people approach the new year in all kinds of different ways — from excitement to trepidation to “no big whoop.” So to kick off the first ArtSEA newsletter of 2023, I’m sharing options for all sorts of new year moods.
Let it all out
For those of us already feeling overwhelmed by 2023, a primal scream may be the most cathartic new year’s commemoration. At Photographic Center Northwest, the new show Outcry (Jan. 12 - Mar. 16) feels your pain — and invites you to share it. Chicago artist Whitney Bradshaw says she began this ongoing series of portrait photos in 2018, in conjunction with the global Women’s March, to reflect women from all walks of life engaged in a “monumental act of collective resistance.”
Some 400 portraits later (199 of which are on view), the project has expanded beyond the politics of that moment to a wider goal of feminist solidarity and celebration of women’s voices, captured in full-throated screams. The faces of these women make for a fascinating sociological study — many close their eyes, some look as if they’re laughing, others betray a shyness underneath this act of boldness.
ArtSEA: Notes on Northwest Culture is Crosscut’s weekly arts & culture newsletter.
And for the first time, Bradshaw is bringing her in-person “scream sessions” to the Pacific Northwest. On Friday, Jan. 13 from 2 - 4 p.m. (registration required), she’ll lead a group of women — most of whom won’t know each other — through some screaming practice before taking photo portraits. BYO anger, frustration, grief and stress! But judging by the smiles flitting across the faces of the previous portrait subjects, laughter, joy and astonishment are welcome too.
Look ahead to beauty
Maybe all you need to get a grip on the new year is a sense of what’s coming — by way of an artful calendar. (No, it is not too late to pick up a 2023 calendar, we’re only five days in!)
In 2022, Tacoma artist Paige Pettibon was inspired to create a calendar. “Last year I bought a desk calendar from French illustrator Sibylline Meynet,” she told Crosscut. “It brought me so much joy looking at her art in my workspace.” Pettibon kept working on her own design, and posted it on her Instagram page just after New Year’s Day. After several commenters said they’d like to buy one, she made a downloadable version ($20; message her on Instagram with your digital payment info).
“Being Salish from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes from Montana, I wanted to have something that grounded me with my people, culture, nature, language,” Pettibone wrote in an email. “So adding Nseliscn (my tribal language) led to the theme for the designs.”
Saturated in sky blue with pops of orange-red, the graphic elements reflect traditional Salish words for each month. Of course Indigenous peoples were marking time long before Gregorian calendars came into play, but these seasonal connections feel spot-on: January is “shaking hands month,” February is “the coldest month,” and March is “the month of geese.”
One more locally made late-calendar-grab recommendation: Kirkland-born, Olympia-based artist Nikki McClure has been creating papercut art for cards and calendars for 25 years. And her latest theme embraces an achievable-goals approach I can appreciate: “Into 2023: As Best You Can” ($20, on sale at Buy Olympia).
Lose yourself in art
The best art experiences are those that pull you out of your current time and space and transport you elsewhere — to a different place, feeling, memory or connection. In those instances, numbers like 2023 can seem somewhat arbitrary. And that’s a good thing.
Try it out at Linda Hodges Gallery, where local artist Fred Holcomb’s large-scale paintings sweep the viewer up into landscapes showcasing the lonesome drama of the Pacific Northwest. In Beachscapes (through Jan. 28), we see “haystack” rock formations, driftwood logs rolled up onto sand, dark evergreen forests marching down to expansive seas, clouds, mist, and water bodies that blur into sky. The paintings encourage you to pause, pull in your paddles and drift for a spell.
Also in Pioneer Square, where the first First Thursday Artwalk of 2023 kicks off this evening, you’ll find more encouragement to release yourself from the shoulds — from the shape you feel pressured to take in 2023 — and instead sink into immediate experiences. At J. Rinehart Gallery, As If (Jan. 5 - 28) is a collection of very large grayscale works by Seattle artist Lakshmi Muihead. Made with graphite, acrylic and plaster, these pieces sometimes resemble slashing rain, sometimes geologic rock formations, but always something too large to fit within our customary human boundaries.
At 4Culture Gallery, Erin Elyse Burns asks us to Obliterate the Subject (Jan. 5 - 26) with a photo and video exploration of “internal struggles with selfhood,” “pandemic purgatory” and the color black. While over at Greg Kucera Gallery, Anthony White’s Extended Warranty (Jan. 5 - Feb. 11) presents a collection of new works made with the artist’s polymer-pen technique, in which each image is crowded with pop-culture clutter — including Wheaties boxes, “coexist” bumper stickers and Energizer battery packs. White also obliterates the subject, but with a maximalist approach.
One more way to welcome the new year: a curious installation called Mel’s Hole (Jan. 5 - 28) at SOIL Gallery in Pioneer Square (Jan. 5 - 28). Created by the Punch Projects artistic collective, based in Thorp, the piece is inspired by the urban (er, rural) legend of Mel’s Hole, allegedly located just outside Ellensburg.
In 1997, area resident Mel Waters claimed he’d found a hole in the earth that was “bottomless,” not to mention paranormal and capable of reanimating dead animals. The simulated dark and mysterious hole at the back of the SOIL space may or may not be bottomless, but you can certainly use it as a metaphor for the new year — whether throwing out the old or finding endless, unexpected possibilities in the new.
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