10 Seattle art shows to see in January 2024

Staff Picks

Can I interest you in some portraiture, or is your appetite more abstract? Perhaps you’d prefer to start with photography and leave some room for video art? The first month of the year offers a true cornucopia of visual art options, whatever you’re in the mood for — even if it’s a little bit of everything. 

Abstract art

“BEING: Brian Sanchez” 

There’s a calm to the sweeping canvases of local artist Brian Sanchez, but a current runs through all of them: a sliver of neon-green here, a svelte curve of scarlet separating a field of mossy green. With a daring color palette — think safety vest orange leaning into electric blue — Sanchez makes abstraction feel fresh. 

Jan. 10-Feb. 24; Winston Wächter Fine Art, 203 Dexter Ave. N., Seattle; free; 206-652-5855, winstonwachter.online

the calm before the song” 

In the paintings of Seattle’s Jazz Brown, black and white curves fold into each other like waves washing ashore. While this new monochrome work — inspired by the expression of yin and yang  — is more tranquil than Brown’s usual party of polychromy, his paintings still dance with an appealing musicality. 

Jan. 4-24; J. Rinehart Gallery, 319 Third Ave. S., Seattle; free; 206-467-4508, jrinehartgallery.com

Portraits

“Хліб-сіль: Of Bread and Salt” 

How do you remember home? In a new series of large-scale watercolor portraits, Sofya Belinskaya chronicles the experience of Ukrainian refugees who now live in the Puget Sound region after their country’s invasion by Russia — especially poignant as the war will be entering its third year soon. 

Jan. 4-25; Gallery 4Culture, 101 Prefontaine Place S., Seattle; free; 206-296-7580, 4culture.org

“Like Honey Among Thorns”

The Portland-based painter Elizabeth Malaska has an excellent show of large-scale tableaux up at Seattle Art Museum. But in this gallery exhibit, visitors get a more intimate look at smaller works on paper, where horses hobble under the moonlight, trample a person in a dreamy (nightmarish?) cityscape or sit awkwardly tied to a tree. Cramped interiors, wine-red flowers and sickly hued women also mysteriously appear. 

Jan. 4-Feb. 10; Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Ave. S., Seattle; free; 206-624-0770; gregkucera.com

Photography 

“The Light That Gets Lost”

In front of Eirik Johnson’s photo diptychs, you wonder: Does snow — a thick, muffling blanket devoid of color — obscure or reveal? Each duo depicts seasonal hunting cabins built by the Iñupiat inhabitants of Utqiaġvik, Alaska, in different seasons. In the summer, car seats, children’s playhouses, wood and the ocean add a pop of color; in winter (photographed during a brief window of light), shapes become more muted and abstract — a contemplation on the passage of time and the fragility of our ecosystem.  

Through Jan. 20; Koplin Del Rio, 6107 13th Ave. S., Seattle; free; koplindelrio.com

“Captured by the Sea”

A woman perches at the edge of a dock, facing the emerald expanse. Another solo swimmer seems stranded and cold on a small pontoon amid an inhospitable sea. People in plastic swim bands and floaties pack like sardines in the azure water. Through a series of bird’s-eye vignettes (on view at this brand-new local gallery), photographer Jessica Cantlin captures the ritual of a day at the beach and in the sea. 

Jan. 11-Feb. 22; Spectrum Fine Art; 1411 34th Ave., Seattle; free; 206-420-5495; spectrumfineart.com

Video art 

“Rafael Soldi: Soft Boy”

There’s little time left to see Rafael Soldi’s smart and ambitious solo show, but I’d recommend you do. The exhibit’s centerpiece is an immersive three-screen video installation in which uniformed teens play-fight. The reenacted scenes — drawn from Soldi’s memories of his days at an all-boys Catholic school in Peru — explore the subversion of gender expectations within childhood games. 

Through Jan. 7; Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., Seattle; free; 206-622-9250, fryemuseum.org

“Vertical Blank”

Whether it’s TV or TikTok, we’ve become used to being passive viewers — or, as current lingo has it, consumers of “content.” Video artist Jason Biehner flips the script and involves the audience in his new solo show, a series of interactive displays. Viewers can take on a more active and creative role by manipulating what they see in real time. 

Jan. 1-31; Ryan James Fine Art, 425 Urban Plaza, #165, Kirkland; free; 425-814-9500; ryanjamesfinearts.com

A little bit of everything 

“Ardent Mystic: Morris Graves, Mariah Robertson and Letha Wilson” 

Northwest School painter Morris Graves (1910-2001) must be one of our region’s most famous mystics. A new show (curated by the people behind the former Heroes Gallery in New York) pairs his work with that of contemporary artists Mariah Robertson, who makes abstract, luminous photographs without using a camera; and Letha Wilson, who uses landscape photo-collage to create sculptural works that question concepts like Manifest Destiny. 

Jan. 4-Feb. 24; Heroes Gallery in residence at studio e gallery, 609 S. Brandon St., Seattle; free; 206-762-3322, heroesgallery.gallery

“Momentum: New Work in the Collection”

Tacoma Art Museum’s collection has been growing, and TAM is showing these acquisitions — many of which are by local artists — in a brand-new show that will deepen your knowledge of local art. Highlights include a minimalist painting by abstract expressionist Frank Okada titled “Spring Joy” and Humaira Abid’s carved pine wood swing, plus works by other Northwest luminaries like Margie Livingston, George Tsutakawa and Carrie Mae Weems.  

Through May 26; Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; free-$18; 253-272-4258; tacomaartmuseum.org

Maria Lewis

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