Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Head East For an Eye Feast

Sometimes the best cure for the Christmas crazies is a long road trip. Once you get past Issaquah, Interstate 90 can be a peaceful drive any time of year, but especially during the winter. Currently on exhibition at the Jundt Museum of Art on the Gonzaga campus in downtown Spokane, is

Magic of the Objects:The Art Work of Leslie W. LePere.

Les LePere is an artist who wears many hats. Half of the year he works the family wheat farm near Ritzville, Washington and the other half of the year he is a full-time artist. Leslie has an MFA from WSU and is probably best known for designing all of author Tom Robbin's book covers.

However, book covers are just a wheat kernel in the grain elevator of close to fifty years of disciplined investigation.  The Jundt survey exhibition includes his student work, commercial art, watercolors, drawings, prints and enamel collaborations he did with his friend and art partner, the late Ken Cory, known together as the Pencil Brothers.

Robert E. Lee Disliked Cabooses 1971

Lepere's work combines the ordinary with the surreal, vast landscapes with intimate domestic interiors, silliness and humor with formal art principals. It is American, it is Western and it is archetypal. You don't have to be an arts connoisseur to see that this man can draw.

Broken Dreams, Fulfilled Promises 2001

So hit the road for a delectable eye feast. You can find good food along the way at The Valley Cafe in Ellensburg, Micheal's on the Lake in Moss Lake and the Starbucks's in Ritzville. Spokane has many fine eateries and restored historic buildings downtown. Treat yourself. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Antidote to the Christmas Crazies

For those of us lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, there are four fantastic museum shows currently up to give us an antidote to the insanity of the Christmas season. Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and Moon, is a knockout blockbuster at the Seattle Art Museum. This is the quality of show you can usually only see in places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. People, this show is better than King Tut. Besides the amazing horde of ancient gold jewelry, masks, regalia, and liturgical objects,

Lambayeque gloves decorated with standing figures and geometric motifs
750-1375 A.D.
there are fabulous ceramics, textiles, paintings and photographs. Hiram Bingham, the archeologist who "discovered" Machu Picchu, took an enormous black and white photograph sometime between 1911-1913, recording what the place looked like before tourists showed up and some of his original field notes are also on view. The exhibit is only up through January 5, so hustle over there soon. Best times to avoid crowds are 10:00 a.m. when the museum opens, or later in the day before it closes. Go on a full stomach and plan for plenty of time; this is a large exhibit. The stunning catalogue would make an excellent holiday gift.

Downstairs from the Peru exhibit on the 2nd floor is a long over-due retrospective of Haida master artist, Robert Davidson, entitled  Robert Davidson / Abstract Impulse. This man is the best contemporary interpreter of the Haida aesthetic and one of my personal heroes. He is also an accomplished jeweler and a selection of his silver bracelets are on display in the exhibit.  His work will be up through February 16 at SAM. Don't miss it or the gorgeous catalogue. 

Across the pond in Bellevue at the Bellevue Arts Museum, A World of Paper, A World of Fashion:
Isabella de Borchgrave Meets Mariano Fortuny, is a shimmering, visual delight. Isabella Borchgrave is a Belgian artist who creates paper homage to historic costume and couture. This exhibit celebrates the work of the early 20th century fashion designer, Mariano Fortuny and especially his famous delphos dress, a clingy, pleated gown wore by famous women of the time ( Isadora Duncan, Sara Bernhardt, Mrs Conde Nast, etc.) The exhibit is up through February 16th.

Sir Henry Raeburn, portrait of Lady Annie Moir

Last but not least, a short drive away in Tacoma at Tacoma Arts Museum, will bring you to an oasis of serenity at Sitting For History: Exploring Identity Trough Portraiture, on display through January 12. Curated by Margaret Bullock, "This exhibition challenges people to take a minute and contemplate the hows and whys of portraits both past and present to help us better understand the images that others share of themselves and how we choose to depict ourselves.” Tacoma has less traffic, convenient parking and nice places to eat. Go there. Happy Holidays!