September 7, 2010 The Unbiased Writer

While the 40th annual Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival brought attention to main stage headliners such as Bob Dylan, Mary J. Blige, and Drake, every corner of Seattle Center featured every type of art, by known and unknown artists from all over the world.  Of course, Bumbershoot wouldn’t belong to Seattle if it didn’t shed a special spotlight upon the work of local artists. Three exhibits tucked away in Seattle Center’s Northwest Rooms demonstrated a particular versatility and artistic influence that the city has:

“The Bumbershoot Piece” is a “site-specific and site-responsive” installation.  Jonathan Brilliant, the mastermind of this piece, has taken after the quintessential British artist who finds inspiration and materials in the surrounding environment.  For Brilliant, his “natural” environment is the contemporary coffee shop.  So using disposable coffee cups and their accessories, he’s working on a series entitled “Have Sticks Will Travel World Tour”.  The Bumbershoot installation is a part of the series, which will travel to international cities thereafter.  Brilliant created the work only on location using coffee stir sticks that are interwoven and held together with tension. The theme of the coffee shop as modern environment strikes a chord with Seattleites.


Curated by Larry Reid and Fantagraphics Books, the exhibit “Counterculture Comix: A 30-Year Survey of Seattle Alternative Cartoonists” was just that. Beginning around 1980, the exhibit took us on a journey through the history of alternative comics (or comix), citing the Pacific Northwest as the origin of the genre and the place ultimately responsible for the graphic novel and the global phenomenon that it created.  Original artwork, demonstrations, and screenings brought the exhibit together.  The artists featured include Lynda Barry, Charles Burns, Peter Bagge, Jim Woodring, Ellen Forney, Patrick Moriarity, Mark Zingarelli, Roberta Gregory, Megan Kelso, Jim Blanchard, David Lasky, Justin Hampton, Ted Jouflas, and others.


Just as Seattle’s alternative youth culture has influenced the world of comics, it has also affected the genre of street art.  “Seattle Street Biennale 2010” focused on artists with the most street credibility in the city.  Massive site-specific works by Katsu, Ego, Aerub, Joey Nix, and Baldman Watching were the centerpieces of the exhibit.  A collection of other artists contributed smaller pieces on a variety of backgrounds from canvas to trash cans made from a variety of materials from the traditional spray paint to wheat paste. Marshal Reid and Jetpack’s videos of street art throughout the city made the exhibit specific to Seattle.

What do you think?

Written by Ashley Ellis



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