STREETLIGHTS & TORCHES, PRIUSES & CENTAURS: Crystal Barbre & Kate Protage

Streetlights_digital card_v2
Bherd Gallery: 312 N 85th Street, Suite 101 | Seattle WA 98103
In this two-person exhibition, Crystal Barbre and Kate Protage use paintings and drawings to explore our relationships to mythic themes, and the connections between our modern world and our cultural lineage.
It started with a trip to Italy.
After Kate visited Rome and Florence last summer, she and Crystal began discussing how art integrates with life in different places throughout the world. The US is a relatively young country, but there are many places on the map where human history is several hundred, even thousands of years old. In those places, cultural artifacts are part of everyday life: important sculptures and paintings can be found in random public plazas, off-the-beaten-path places of worship…sometimes on the side of the road, part of someone’s daily commute. Myth and culture exist side-by-side with the mundane.

by Kate Protage
by Kate Protage

The ancients knew that we as humans are in a constant battle against our barbarian and civilized natures, against the animal and the human in us. They painted allegories on the walls of churches, and left sculptures in the streets and on buildings for people to consider every day…not just for a few hours in a museum. Myth and allegory give us a way to visualize our struggles as a community, a culture and as individuals.

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by Crystal Barbre

The modern world, in some ways, seems to have become a myth illiterate culture. We create allegory in the movies and television shows that we watch, but our cultural myths are a bit anemic: in a world where we have the struggle of the Kardashians instead of the battle of the Centaurs against their cousins the Lapiths, our stories are less than ideal tools to help us explore the deeper struggles within ourselves. We’re missing the kind of exposure to allegorical art that each individual deserves to own. The struggles of the ancients are the same struggles we go through today. We are not more civilized then the ancient Greeks or Romans—their stories are our stories, and we still need them.

In this exhibition, Barbre and Protage use contemporary models to tell ancient stories, and surround them with elements that are both old and new, just like the art that they’ve chosen to reference. They’ve taken that art that appears on the side of the road and offered their own take on it, right down to depictions of the local traffic that flows around it. Their paintings and drawings pay homage to the work of ancient times, and reframe that work in today’s world.

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