Sunday, April 1, 2012

Thrift Is The New Luxury

Materiality, in this case, that of wisteria vines and rhododendron branches combined with fluourescent bulbs, begins a reading of the work of Iole Alessandrini temporarily at the Storefronts Seattle/Soil Satellite space at 601 South King Street in Chinatown.

Ms. Alessandrini, a much-awarded locally-based artist (Betty Bowen 2000), is plumbing the below-grade temporary exhibit space with nests of organic material literally illuminated by a manufactured aesthetic, that of Donald Judd-esque fluourescent lamps. The eerie, chalky, blue-white vibrations of fluourescent light seem to make the most of the dessicated branches, revive them, animate them. The branches, for their part, imbue an organic pacification, lit or dim. The two aspects of manufactured light and organic mass seem to bring out the best of the other. Judd's lamps are clunky boxes compared to the trim, petite lamps Ms. Alessandrini chose, if that is the right word. Repurposed perhaps would be more accurate to describe the organizing process: she previously had used the lamps for another of her many creative expressions.

Organizing principles of rapid-deployment and low cost informed this exhibit. Power cords and a multiple outlet strip are left where they were hastily added to the exhibit; and add a nest-of-wires feeling to the nest of branches. Ms. Alessandrini explained she made no effort to improve the finish of the exhibit as other SOIL members might add content to the space at any time. The global premise of frugality is thoroughly a value-added component of this exhibit.

And, lest we try to oversimplify Ms. Alessandrini's seriality, she has brought along a tangle (following the theme) of christmas lights that piqued her interest, while gathering the raw materials for this artwork. Sequestered in a separate vestibule for discrete display, the chriss-mess lights are the period on the end of Ms. Alessandrini's sonnet, irreverent, playful, disobedient. Only a mature artist can pull off such a gesture of simplicity with conviction, Ms. Alessandrini has a long and distinguished career as an artist with which to make sense of her light touches seen here.

The upshot from below the sidewalk is an artist's studio sensibility, narrating the residency Ms. Alessandrini is undertaking at 601 South King for SOIL Gallery. Ultimately, one is persuaded to feel Ms. Alessandrini can effortlessly whip up a brilliant work of art at the drop of a hat, should the mood or inspiration move her, with the simplest materials that might be at hand, or found growing between the paving stones of Hing Hay Park, located just across the street from this exhibit/residency.

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