by Matthew Kangas
Fountainhead Gallery, Seattle. Dec 3 – 26
The veteran comic-narrative painter Michael Ferguson has long charmed regional audiences with his tiny people in overwhelming natural settings such as forests, glens and lakes. Diminutive and elegant, his vision of nature is calibrated to appeal, not warn; his representations of wild animals and hunting-and-fishing enthusiasts are warm and understanding. Besides winning awards in numerous exhibitions, Ferguson has been featured at the US embassy in Djakarta as well as in group shows in New York, Florida and Wyoming, among others.
Foster/White Gallery, Seattle. Jan 7 – 30
Now 93, James Martin remains the odd man out of the Northwest School: eccentric, idiosyncratic, non-“mystic,” colorful and strictly anecdotal. The salient takeaway from this survey of 80-plus works on paper covering fi ve decades is that Martin’s cultural purview is much wider than has been understood. While earlier work revealed wacky scenes with Proust, Stravinsky and Picasso, more recent work takes on no less than Charles Lindbergh, the Lone Ranger, Andy Warhol and Wagner.
KIMBERLY TROWBRIDGE: INTO THE GARDEN
Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Bainbridge Island. Jan 7 – May 9, 2021
The University of Washington graduate Kimberly Trowbridge (MFA, 2006) also spent time at the University of Kent in Canterbury, UK. Her solo art museum debut grows out of a two-year fellowship at nearby Bloedel Reserve, the expansive series of formal gardens surrounding the weekend house of late collector Virginia Bloedel Wright. The new works extend Trowbridge’s advances in painting the garden, which she describes as “the stage for the cultivated growth of human consciousness.”
MICHAEL NICOLL YAHGULANAAS: CARPE FIN
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle. To Mar 7, 2021
Measuring six by 19 feet, this extraordinary watercolor mural by artist, activist and storyteller Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas employs his distinctive “Haida manga” style to tell a powerful story. Blending visual elements from Haida art, Japanese manga, Pop Art and graphic novels with Indigenous oral history traditions, Yahgulanaas recounts a tale of a sea-mammal hunter whose community has been beset by a series of disasters and who is taken to the underwater realm of a powerful spirit. Commissioned for the SAM collection and complemented by Carpe Fin: A Haida Manga, a hardcover book from Douglas & McIntyre, the mural alerts us to ongoing environmental destruction and human alienation from the natural world.