Sights Set: Kate Protage

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New Players, Old Stories #4 Kate Protage – India Ink, Graphite on Mylar

SIGHTS SET:

Kate Protage on changing gears
and facing the intimidating head-on.

by Sarra Scherb

Volume 1, March 2014 – WEAVE Magazine

If you’re out and about in Seattle, there’s a chance that Kate Protage has seen you—but you may not have seen her. Driving in her stick-shift—camera in one hand, wheel in the other—she could have snapped a shot of a rain-slicked Pike Street as she whisked by, or a quick photo of I-5 under soggy sunset. If her camera caught you, you’d never know: by the time this classically-trained oil painter was finished translating her reference photos to her “Urban Slice” paintings, figures and other details are brushed away in favor of rain-haloed streetlights, sparkling puddles, and snatches of evening sky between skyscrapers.

Protage has captured the rushing traffic and rain-blurred lights of streets from around the world in her popular “Urban Slice” paintings over the course of the last decade. She has shown them in a wide range of Seattle venues, and nationally. But the last two years have heralded a shift. She has also begun another body of work that focuses on the one aspect she banished from her snapshots: people.

Up until recently I had perfect vision, but I like to simplify and blur. I want to know what happens when I abstract things.

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Mini #97 – 5″ x 5″ –  oil on canvas   |   Mini #62 – 5″ x 5″ – oil on canvas

“A few years ago I was challenged to do figurative work by the guest curator of the Seattle Erotic Art Festival,” Protage recently explained at an artist talk to celebrate a new body of work. “As I’m surrounded by people who do amazing figurative work, it was intimidating.”

The first series that resulted from that challenge was the “What I See” body of work, which showed tightly cropped sections of the body rendered in monochromatic washes of ink on mylar. Like her “Urban Slice” works, they resided in the liminal space between figurative and abstract; connoting an image, but blurring it, as if seen through wavy glass. Oft-overlooked angles and sections of the body—the crook of an elbow, the back of a knee—were rendered as sensual, impressionistic landscapes.

“We’re bombarded with idealized, unrealistic images of how we should look that are meant to inspire, but can overwhelm and even anger us instead,” Protage wrote of this first series.

“Despite all of the hoopla, the fact is that the everyday things we see…basic parts, like the crook of an arm or the curve of a leg…can be beautiful.”

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New Players, Old Stories #5  – Ink, Graphite on Mylar

Since the original series made its debut, Protage has continued to explore its possibilities. “I just kept coming back to that first series. Eventually, I thought, ‘ok, I can do a little more figurative stuff, I guess…’”

Her most recent series—“New Players, Old Stories”—is the result of a two-person exhibit at Bherd Studios Gallery that paired the artist with classical oil painter Crystal Barbre. Inspired by Renaissance sculptures in Florence and Rome, the two painters mounted a seven hour photo shoot with local models who were asked to approximate the poses of classic sculptures such as Giambologna’s “Rape of the Sabine Women” and “Hercules Killing the Centaur.” While Barbre worked on the large scale with her paintings, Protage zoomed in on compelling interplays between muscles and skin, and intertwined arms and legs.

The title of the series speaks to the “old stories” that these poses reference, which in turn were referenced by Renaissance sculptors retelling Roman and Greek stories. The new players are her models, and Protage and Barbre themselves.

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New Players, Old Stories #3 – Ink, Graphite on Mylar

Protage has not only shifted the focus of her imagery, but her media as well. After sketching the image with graphite onto the mylar, she washes extra black india ink on top, diluting the ink with water to create gradations. To control the flow and direction of the ink she pushes and dries it with a hairdryer.

“It’s like playing with crayons,’ she laughed, making pulling and pushing motions with her fingers. She came up with the innovative technique after working with tusche, a greasy black liquid used for lithographic printing. Though she found the brand of tusche she bought inadequate for its intended purpose, its possibilities intrigued her. However, by the time she started this series, she had run out and it was no longer being made. “I tried so many different things to approximate it, and extra black india ink was the closest.”

The result is tactile, elegant and textured, with a luminosity that comes from working on a transparent ground. Crisp edges—in some cases actually crispy from the blow dryer’s heat—and fine lines give way to subtle gray washes and white space.

It’s a process that is completely different from the traditional method of starting with midtones: here, she starts with the lightest areas and goes darker, working midtones last.

“Once the ink is down, it’s down, you can’t go back. You have to let the ink be the ink. It’ll go a different way, make a different shape than you wanted or expected, but you have to let it go.” It’s been a challenge for Protage, who is happy to own up to her need to keep creative control. “I truly learned the meaning of ‘happy accident!’”

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Urban Geometry – Ink, Graphite on Mylar

Protage’s work inhabits the gray area between abstract and figurative.  From city-scapes to the landscape of the body, she continues to bring our attention to vistas that we might otherwise ignore. The next time you see her sweep by in her car, camera at the ready, give her a wave; you might see yourself reflected in her blurred, impressionistic world.

Kate Protage is represented by SAM Gallery.

Contact her at protagestudio.com

The Shift is On – Robert Hardgrave

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THE SHIFT IS ON

by Sarra Scherb

Volume 1, March 2014 – WEAVE Magazine

It’s futile to try and sum up Robert Hardgrave’s body of work in one sentence.

Go ahead, give it a shot. Peruse twenty years of past series, current experiments, and his Flickr feed. Where do you begin? The sumi-e-esqe ink monochromes? The dense, Piranesi-like conglomerates? The trompe-l’oil offspring of 1990s-era computer art and Dalí?

Each time you seem to have a sense of Hardgrave’s methods and materials (acrylic and watercolor on canvas? Yes. Ink on paper? Check. Needlepoint on fabric? Oui. Cloth on metal armature? Uh huh.) another series emerges from his bag of tricks that blows your theory to bits. The soft-focus, candy-colored, abstract pastels. Toner transfers on Tyvek polyethelene. The dizzying compositions that are most closely related to a page out of Where’s Waldo?

I was once told that we only come up with one or two great ideas and the rest is filler.

After I heard that, my goal was to go beyond these expectations. I hope to work through as many ‘styles’ as possible throughout my career, as they develop through the needs of the work.

– RH

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Dear ol’ Dad | 79″ x 110″ | Acrylic on canvas | 2011

A chameleonic virtuoso, the Seattle-based Hardgrave makes these 180-degree shifts in tone look easy. A self-described improvisational artist, he says that there is never an overall plan or process for his works.

“Improvisation, for me, is setting up my workflow so anything can happen.”

Don’t mistake “improvisation” for randomness, or lack of technique: even if it appears that he might flit from style to style, and technique to technique, he is executing each one masterfully. Hardgrave is admired by many fellow artists (and surely envied) for his constant flow of ideas for new techniques and styles.

Hardgrave_Robert 03_4Black Olive – 24″ x 18″ – Collage on paper

But lest we think that it’s all fun and games in the studio, Hardgrave has a word of warning. “It’s not an easy road to take, requiring many years of practice to even be a decent artist…Strong support—along with a healthy community—is key.”

Improvisation and a willingness to trust his instincts are also outlooks that have helped him get past roadblocks. His early style used illustrative, soft-bodied forms that combined a graffiti aesthetic with the swirls and coils of Chinese scroll paintings. The style proved popular, landing him commissions, exhibits, and glowing magazine profiles. “At the time it seemed I needed to stay with a technique to keep money in my pocket,” Hardgrave remembers. “But when that money dried up with the economy, it enabled me to not care what came out.” Since then, a strong sense of the experimental has allowed him to broaden his stylistic horizon, and increase his output.

Everything evolves in its own way. I just don’t know until I get into the work.
Everything requires a solution that fits the circumstance.
I just try to find it naturally without forcing my will too much.

These days, the staccato clamor of a sewing machine issues from Hardgrave’s studio, having recently replaced the quieter sound of brush on canvas. The artist’s father maintained a sporadic sewing practice during his life, and Hardgrave sees his recent focus on fiber arts as a way of connecting to his father’s memory. Textiles creep into his works everywhere; manifesting as three dimensional quilted sculptures, and empty suit forms that swing from hangers. Collages on paper have stitched thread standing in for drawn outlines.

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Oblique | 14″ x 11″ | Ink, collage and thread on paper

But, like a searchlight moving across the ground, Hardgrave’s interests are constantly evolving, shifting and refocusing. Weeks ago, his Flickr feed was filled with sewn creations like Amish quilts gone mutated and amok. Today, it’s dominated with scratchy, minimalist, monochromes achieved by Xerox transfer. Hardgrave’s enthusiasm for creation is palpable, radiating through his experiments and process photos.

“I am still early in my career. Who knows what I will become interested in later on? I can see how many ways I can push it and it’s exciting. Every day in the studio is a thrill.”

Robert Hardgrave is represented by Cullom Gallery: cullomgallery.com
Contact the artist at roberthardgrave.com

Image at top: “Pele” – About 4′ x 3′ – Acrylic and thread on burlap – 2013

Article written exclusively for and published by WEAVE Magazine, Volume 1, March 2014.

Memento Mori/Momento Vida – Adream de Valdivia 

Lucky Luciano - Adream de Valdivia

“Lucky” Luciano  –  Acrylic on Canvas

Volume 1, March 2014 – WEAVE Magazine

by Sarra Scherb

Smoke curls up past the jawline, encircles the head, and traces the delicate halo of dots at the margins of the portrait. It flows over creamy skin and satin-sheened hair, slips over the delicate lines of sugar-skull Dia de los Muertos make-up. The make-up is precise and ornate as icing: curlicues that flow down the throat, fleur-de-lis tucked behind an ear, tears cascading from eyes.

But, look closer: not all of it is make-up. Here and there, bone and muscle leer through the skin, gaping holes that lead straight into the skull cavity. With these new paintings, Seattle painter Adream de Valdivia is daring us to fall head over heels in love with the beauty, the elegance and the coolness of Death.

Adream is no stranger to thinking about mortality. The artist’s father was murdered when Adream was a child. More recently, a cousin of his was killed, and he lost a close friend to leukemia. These events prompted the artist to refine and clarify his ideas about life and death. As he said in our interview, “I began aiming to express what I felt inside.” In early 2013, Adream decided to look those ideas square in the eyes. The result are these elegant memento mori, the “Dulce Vida” series. The series’ title speaks to the fleeting sweetness of life, and our limited opportunities to enjoy it.

A lot of people see it as smoke.
But when I paint smoke, I’m highlighting the last breath…
the breath of life.

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“Bad Boy Frank” Adream de Valdivia – Acrylic on Canvas

I knew I wanted to create something iconic.
I wanted to create something that would never get old…

To achieve his goal, Adream conjures the spirits of young, fearless icons such as James Dean, 1920s mobster Charles “Lucky” Luciano, and Frank Sinatra, rendering them in velvety sepia tones. Captured in the liminal place between innocent youth and knowing bad-boy cool, his subjects are caught mid-transformation between skeleton and flesh. They are personas with lasting power, who weave tragedy and intrigue together; they are the carriers of “endless cool.”

A near-constant in the series is a circle of tiny dots that outline or halo his subjects’ heads. These halos slyly pose questions about who can become a saint, and how good our saints from the past really were. If “Lucky” Luciano could be a saint, who else could murder their way into canon?

“My great grandmother survived the Catholic War in Mexico around 1910,’ Adream recalls. “I was raised by her and heard a lot of survival stories. I always thought it was interesting hearing how people became saints, these same people before becoming saints stole, gambled, and partied non-stop. The contradiction is strong, I saw this as sinners becoming saints, regular people divine. That’s why the halo is important to me, we are divine people and miracles happen all the time.”

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Dulce Vida – Adream de Valdivia – Acrylic on Canvas

In my studio I have a sentence that reads, “We are the flowers”. It took me years to understand what it meant. To me it means, ‘All the women who raised me, they are all flowers!’ Like all beautiful flowers cut and put in vases they inevitably fade away…

These monochromes are a departure from Adream’s earlier colorful, kaleidoscopic works. These paintings—reminiscent of traditional Mexican icons—cast Jimi Hendrix, Einstein or Cobain as modern-day saints. They were sometimes executed on burlap bags or as enormous murals where teenagers from his hometown could see and help work on them. Other works were hyper-bright recollections of his youth.

“The first five years of my art career I painted things I saw growing up,’ Adream explains, “the garden I tended, religious themes and the super bright patterns the women in my household wore.”

Growing up in the small town of Pasco, WA, the artist was raised by his great-grandmother. He credits both her efforts and the opportunity of making art in high school with saving his life. After the violent death of his father, school largely fell by the wayside and trouble seemed imminent—until he was assigned to an art class and it gave him the outlet he needed. Since then, Adream has reached out to students in turn, teaching art to kids at the Latino Youth Summit in Washington and spearheading mural projects in schools around Pasco.

Community is a thread running through his life, first in Pasco, and now online. A full-time artist and master of social media, there isn’t a day (or an hour) that goes by without an update, announcement or new promotion on his many platforms. Adream revels in the opportunity to share his work; after he finished one of the early “Dulce Vida” canvases, he uploaded it on Instagram, and it went viral.

“People began using it as screen savers, some people were asking who made it, tattoo shops wanted to use it, and I sold out my “Bad Boy Frank” prints in 48 hours. It made me realize that if you create something beautiful, beauty begins to speak for you.”

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“Linda” – Adream de Valdivia – Acrylic on Canvas

Adream transplanted to Seattle seven years ago. He sees the city as a blank canvas waiting to be painted, and he wants to paint loud and large.

“Here in Seattle, we tend not to show off as much as other cities do. I’d love to see Seattle advertised as the ‘Best Place for Art,’ just like NYC is the Big Apple or Detroit is the Motor City.”

Since his move to Seattle, his momentum hasn’t stopped: stints in London and Puerto Rico have made him new connections, and summers at an arts collective in Berkeley, CA run by Tom Franco (big brother of actor James Franco) had him running art showings in the street, meeting makers, and renting spaces in unlikely places.

Ultimately, though, Washington is still home: “I really love Washington. The green growing everywhere is energizing. Something about the Seattle rain that creates a dreamy atmosphere mixed with a coffee buzz propels me to bubble with new ideas.”

See the artist’s work at AdreamStudios.com
Find him at:
Twitter: @HelloAdream
Facebook: AdreamStudios
Instagram: @AdreamArt
Pinterest: AdreamStudios
Contact him at adream3000.com

Article written exclusively for WEAVE Magazine. All artwork by Adream de Valdivia

 

“Sur | Real” featuring Mihalyo & Talbot + WEAVE Vol. 3 Release: Thurs, May 7th

Thursday, May 7th from 6-9pm
AXIS | Pioneer Square
308 1st Ave S Seattle, WA 98104
axispioneersquare.com

Surrealist Jeff Mihalyo and photorealist Kellie Talbot are here to mess with your reality. One plumbs the depths of his imagination, dredging up dreamscapes and exotic scenes where every floating fish is a symbol, and every color is a crescendo. The other sticks strictly to reality, where she plunks us down onto the tarmac of some quiet American highway in paintings that make us focus on the tools, signs, buildings and materials that are wrought and forgot. And Bherd Studios has brought these two classical painters together—in the same room—this May at AXIS Gallery. (Your head may never be the same.)

Kellie Talbot brings the smell of gas and the tang of rust to the room in her large oils on canvas that depict the peeling paint, neon tubes and flickering bulbs of the American dream. Staking out old signs, derelict factories, and rust belt beauty, she lovingly recreates their every detail, honoring and preserving them in paintings that are both portraits and memento mori. For this exhibit, Talbot focuses on signs and scenes from her recent New Orleans artist residency, and debuts a brand new series of still lifes. The new series is a personal challenge to limit her palette to only four primary colors. Humble tools and everyday detritus from the back of the garage are set against the elegant black drapery of classic still life paintings, becoming objects of veneration.

Jeff Mihalyo invites us to dive into his subconscious with a dizzying array of sculpture and paintings, in candy colors so sweet they’ll make your teeth hurt. Mihalyo’s large-scale oils on canvas are doors into drowned cities and jeweled forests, places where buildings can be killed or lofted into the sky on a kite string. His luminous colors are achieved by the old-school technique of building the thinnest and more translucent of layers, allowing light to travel all the way down to the canvas and reflect back, making each work seem almost crystalline in its intensity. Mihalyo also presents his ongoing cast-egg paintings: little conical bullseyes made of layers of paint, made by carefully filling egg-shells with everything from discarded acrylic or Latex™ house paint. Mihalyo will also be presenting a video that he and his collaborator, Marcus Donner created by taking old home-movies and animations Mihalyo created as a kid, projecting them onto his beard and setting it to music.

WEAVE Magazine Vol. 3 Release
Weave-Cover_April2015

Plus pick-up the most recent edition of WEAVE Magazine featuring articles with Jeff Mihalyo, Kellie Talbot, Ego by writer, Sarra Miriam and “Collaboratively Speaking” article featuring Joe Vollan by John Osgood.

Face Off @Seattle Erotic Art Festival Opening Night: April 23rd

Artist will be battling artist in the first edition of “Face Off” presented by Bherd Studios! Artists will have 15 minutes to create work in each battle. Winner of each match will be determined by who generated the most for their piece in the live auction which happens after each match.

Get your tickets: http://www.seattleerotic.org/

Nude Model Round

Alan Fulle
: I am a Maximalist and materials oriented abstract artist. I am excited by the alchemical, physical, and emotive nature of paint itself as a subject, and its interplay with other materials I use in my work – resin, glass, wood, metals and concrete.  My work documents and expresses emotional states through forms within structures or zones of abstraction. Since narrative exists within the material context, it is the exploration of physical interplay of materials that allows me to express emotion, spirituality, impermanence, and other human conditions.

I consider maximalism a product of minimalism and abstract expressionism, with a focus on architecture, materials, process of transformation, decay and change, influenced by the depth of a human experience.  Working with paint as a sculptural tool, I enjoy experiencing its viscosity and gravity.  Each type of paint and artistic material is an alchemical ingredient that transforms when brought into concert with another.

I use oil paints and washes, oil and water based polyurethanes, resins, acrylics and enamels to suggest change and decay.  These organic processes married with architectural forms and subtle pallets of color create a moving, restive balance of forms.

I try to present a global perspective on contemporary abstract art, blending together art and industry, and minimalism with passion as they relate to the emotional perception of color, texture and light. By using varied materials and deep optical juxtapositions, I give the viewer a reason to pause, consider different points of contrast, and bond with the surroundings.

Seb Barnett
: Some say that Seb was not born, but came out of a tree.
Seb grew up on the edge of the Olympic National Forest in the Pacific Northwest, on a farm but spent most of the time in the forest; climbing trees, tracking, building forts. fishing and exploring. Botany, entomology, ecology and the natural world in general was a great source of fascination, and is tightly woven into Seb’s art. As an adult Seb left the forest and went to the “Emerald City” of Seattle and became a student at Cornish College of the arts. After graduating in 2006, Seb crept back out to the valleys and woodlands of the Snoqualmie Valley to reside, and to continue playing in wooded places, foraging, climbing trees and practicing archery.
Close enough to the city to interact with the art community of Seattle and yet out in the country far enough to fuel the love of the wild, Seb continues to forge a connection between the human condition and the natural world through art.

Lady Parts Round

Anderst-VestigeMichelle Anderst
: Anderst’s oil paintings feature biological structures which serve as both works of art as well as aesthetic statements on ecological consciousness in the modern world. Through her vibrant use of color and organic subject matter Anderst continues to symbolize decomposition, and the inter-species, cross-domain symbioses that recycle all of life’s sculpture and ornament back to the palette of organic materials, ready to paint life anew.
Anderst studied classical painting and drawing at Southern Oregon Art Academy and Gage Academy and continues to utilize her Scientific Illustration education from the University of Washington to illustrate the evolution and unseen energy which exists between all organisms.

Zach Bohnenkamp
: Zach was born beside the railroad tracks in Iowa City. He spent most of his childhood in a tunnel beneath the very tracks upon which his first blood spilled. An adventurer by birth rite, he first reached the Gulf of Mexico at age 7 on a raft he fashioned from lilac branches. For the last 14 years he has called Seattle home but the rich black soil of his homeland still remains between his toes, where morel mushrooms grow to this day. He remains committed to putting art in public for everyone to share and is currently making murals with the crew Matamuros in Seattle.

Still Life with Sex Toys Round

Sensei 23
: I am a self taught artist born and raised on Cape Cod Massachusetts. Cartoons, comics, graffiti, movies, music and sports were some of my many inspirations growing up. I received my Associates degree in Fine Art and continued my education at the School of Museum of Fine Arts Boston. I now reside in Seattle, WA with my lovely wife and our beautiful daughter while mastering my mutant artistic abilities in my art dojo.

Adam Valmassoi
: Valmassoi’s work derives from a deep understanding of form and function, and an active interest in the questions of human existence and spiritual evolution.  His pieces are born from the subconscious and are extremely chaotic amalgamations of subjects and stories.  Meant to be ever changing and revealing, these pieces beckon one’s mind to question the world around them, and to look at everything with a new perspective. Professionally trained and currently working in Product Design, Adam’s expansive skill set spans from Digital Imaging and 3d Modeling / Manufacturing to traditional Fine Art with a focus on Illustration.

Fetish Wildcard Round

Osgood-SelfEJohn Osgood
: My current work features multi-faceted interpretations of emotion and perception by utilizing shared lines, forms and color. I worked diligently to create pieces that the viewer can study and be able to see new perspectives each time they go back. I purposefully play with the subconscious mind, attempting to direct the audience both literally and figuratively. A lot of my work features a complex level of layering colors, strokes and drips to create what I like to think of visual sound representing a myriad of atmospheres from that of nature to the noise of city life.

Braden Duncan
: Braden Duncan is an artist and curator by trade, imperfect by choice, and a cog in the machine of human mythology by default. She draws her inspiration from the peculiar cockworkart-The_Missing_Pieceminutiae of the human form, symbolism and mythology, the empty spaces left by missing friends, and the intricate elegance created by the convergence of biological and mechanical elements. She is the co-founder of the Seattle Arts Coalition, writer of Art Scene Seattle, a resident artist at Echo Echo Gallery, and a member of the international Red Siren Artist Collective. She lives and works in Seattle; and regularly assists with curating, art installation, event coordination, and marketing for a number of art spaces around the Northwest.

 

Seattle Urban & Contemporary Art