Hi All,

 School is out (old news), campus is pretty quiet, and as of ten minutes ago, the rains are back.  Despite the generally slower pace of the University in the summer months, things here at the gallery are speeding up as we get ready to install our next big show, The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl opening on July 13th.  The MFA show came down last week and once again, our gallery walls are white.  A few days ago 32 giant art crates arrived, and the anticipation of unscrewing those lids is nearly killing me!

Keep an eye out for some excellent public programming coming out of the Henry’s Test Site in conjunction with The Record, including performances by the likes of Slashed Tires and The Hive Dwellers, listening parties, workshops and diligent online coverage from our best and brightest guest blogger/coordinator/go-to-brainiac Olivia McCausland (see her work here).

As for now, take a peek at these naked walls…

Always an exciting sight…
Check back soon to see what’s inside!

Talk soon,


Gold, Flowers, Shrines, Celebrations, Dead Animals, Glitter and Vibrators: Tony Sonnenberg

Have I ever told you how much I LOVE the Ceramic and Metal Arts building?  Well, I really do.  I biked down there on a beautiful afternoon last week to drop in on Tony in his studio.  The CMA is a magical place where all the best parts of it seem to always stay the same: a volleyball net and thirty bikes locked up out front, all the doors wide open, thick dust and clay residue EVERY WHERE, and some guy walking around without his shirt on.  It’s sort of like being at your best friend’s house where people are always coming and going, there are always snacks and music and someone’s always super stoned.  Let the good times roll.  Whatever, it’s a beautiful place and I immediately remembered that special place in my heart for the CMA.

 I’ve been trying to track Tony down now for about three weeks.  This guy is a super lovebug who you can’t help but feel at ease with whenever you’re around him.  “I had a piece blow up in the kiln the other day…” That was the first thing he said to me once in his studio.  He seemed pretty bummed out, or maybe just exhausted.  But in true Tony fashion, he followed it up with a beautiful up-beat aside: “But maybe it was just god editing my work for me!” HA/DUH.  Whatta guy!

Tony’s Studio. GOLD!

As with all of the MFAs, Tony is preparing for his departmental thesis show (Tuesday at the CMA, 6pm) as well as the Henry show that opens Friday, so it makes sense that it’s taken so long to get some face time.  His work is great because his sculptural pieces are always perfectly finished and over the top decadent (he cites baroque and rococo as huge influences) and come out of layers and layers of stories and jokes, source materials, and imagined scenarios (as my #1 top favorite professor always says: “IT’S ALLEGORICAL!”).  Of his own work Tony has this to say: “My work is about facades and what’s behind facades, superficial narratives over more mysterious ones…I have a lot of interest in surfaces and modes of pulling the viewer in.  There is always a top layer of humor and beauty and materialism and decadence…you’re never quite sure what you’re looking at- you’re always second guessing what you’re seeing.  On the one hand, I employ all these tactics and then underneath all that there’s this darkness and kind of emptiness and isolation. It’s like you set up an expectation and then you thwart the expectation.”

Installation shot, Tony Sonnenberg. 2012, CMA.

Continue reading

I Give You: Steve Sewell.

Steve is a weird dude who makes great work.  This guy has a killer collection of found mix-tapes and old art history slides, plays a mean accordion, rules at karaoke and once when he was my TA, nearly failed me.  He is one of those people who is an infuriating mix of smarts, vision, tireless self-motivation and hustle.  We met up over some bazooka bubblegum and talked about the show and what he’s been working on lately.  Walking into his studio I immediately noticed ten bottles of black face paint and knew this would be a good visit.

Steve's studio.
Steve’s studio.

Chewing Bubblegum, 2011
Chewing Bubblegum, 2011

Continue reading

Do you know Rodrigo Valenzuela yet?

Hey Folks,

Time is ticking and here at the Henry we’re getting ready for the annual University of Washington Master of Fine Arts exhibition.  I’ll be providing you with studio visits and other such posts of the candidates hard at work as they prepare to finish their masters work and instal their pieces in the gallery.

First up, I give you Rodrigo Valenzuela- photomedia candidate, videographer, uber talented man-about-town and all around smooth operator.

I sat down with Rodrigo in his basement studio on campus this week to chat about his latest series and the upcoming show.  We talked about made-up places and how to get illegal workers to open up about their lives on camera.  The works we talked about include three huge black and white digitally compiled prints mounted on plexi and one video piece.  The prints are compiled from his images of desert landscapes, beaches, mountain ranges and rolling hills taken everywhere from Chile, Peru and the northwest.  Ramshackle shelters and lean-tos litter these imaginary scenes. Many of the original images come from his latest trip back home to Chile, his first time back in seven years. “Spending time in the desert (of Peru and Chile) I realized how much people want to have this sense of attachment to their land.  They’re in these little remote places, these people don’t care- they have this sense that they belong somewhere.  I never really cared that much about being a part of a place, so I started making these images.  These collages that are six or seven places put together,  made-up places for people without that sense of nostalgia…”

Works from The Builder series, Rodrigo Valenzuela, 2012

Continue reading

Wolfgang Laib- Last Chance

Have you guys seen this time-lapse of the Laib install that our wonderful art handler Webster Crowell made back in February? It is super neat.

Come see the piece before it closes! Sunday will be the last day for it – we’re open 11am-4pm.

I volunteer at the apiary on the UW campus farm and everyone over there is super stoked about this Laib work (of course, Laib’s pollen is collected from plants, not bees.)  No matter- we’re headed over in a little group Sunday afternoon to talk about pollen. See. You. There.


P.S. I like to think that as Laib’s pollen grains go back into their glass jars and away into collections storage, spring is going to turn and the flowers, pollen and pollinators from RL are going to come out in full force.  Good timing? On this rainy afternoon maybe just wishful thinking.

P.P.S. Write this in your planner:

Upcoming Henry event!  Collections in Focus: Installation Art

Join Henry Head Preparator and Exhibition Designer Jim Rittimann, Henry Lead Preparator Dan Gurney, and Eric Fredericksen, Director of Western Bridge, for a discussion about select works in the museum’s collection that have challenged museum staff to rethink how art is stored, cared for, and installed. Artworks highlighted in the discussion will include James Turell’s Skyspace Light Reign and Wolfgang Laib’s Pollen from Hazelnut.

Please RSVP by May 15 to Rachael Faust, Assistant Curator of Collections and Academic Programs, at

Event is Friday May 18

7-8.30pm, Reed Collection Study Center

Exhaustion (AND EXUBERANCE!)

To perform: (transitive verb)

1. To adhere to the terms of: Fulfill (perform a contract)

2. Carry out, Do

3. To do in a formal manner or according to prescribed ritual

(intransitive verb)

1. To carry out an action or pattern of behavior: Act, Function

2. To give a performance

I’ve been thinking about what it means to Perform lately- as in to PRODUCE. Or rather, to work hard for a specific outcome.  Surely, it is tied to my student status, and more specifically the fact that I will be graduating from college in approximately 36 days but man, oh man have I got some grade A performance anxiety these days.  I’m putting off what i should be doing (writing my final research paper) in order to do that which I need not do at the moment (Google image searching, see attached image) -in an attempt to move (trick?) myself in a direction or into a sense of accomplishment for producing something that is not exactly required of me.  We all do it: avoidance, distraction, frustration…

Coaching me through the highs and lows (there are many) is one of the most relevant and helpful pieces of writing that I have had the pleasure of being exposed to during my college years (big ups to Mr. Eric Fredericksen and his now no-longer, yet indispensable Art 361 course at the University of Washington) : Exhaustion and Exuberance, Ways to Defy the Pressure to Perform by Jan Verwoert.  This essay, subtitled Yes/No and Other Options explores the pressures to produce and to perform in a high demand, high performance culture.  What does it mean to produce that which is asked of us in a creative environment and what happens when we renegotiate the terms of said demand, and further how do we talk about that outcome?


The long and short of it: I read and re-read this piece of writing every few months (sometimes as justification, sometimes as a positive channel for my own personal self-flagellation) and perhaps you should too.  For everyone in a creative field, heck for anyone in ANY field, you might find that this resonates with you too.

Share the knowledge and Happy reading.

Exhaustion and Exuberance can be found all over the internet. Like HERE.

In the meantime, go easy on yourself dear reader and remember, sometimes you just need TIME TO MULL THINGS OVER.  As my wonderful co-worker recently reminded me in an email: “Latency is of import.”

For more reading, do do do check out the old ART 361 site chock-full of gems, or this, or this.

An Inner Place That Has No Place

The dancers: Aaron Swartzman, David Wolbrecht, Mary Margaret Moore, Meredith Horiuchi and Rosa Vissers

An Inner Place That Has No Place is the latest collaborative work from Seattle performer Shannon Stewart (tEEth, co-founder of The Vera Project) and videographer Adam Sekuler (program director for the Northwest Film Forum). The work brings movement and video together in an investigation of memory and memory loss, touching on personal mythologies created and re-created and the way that these stories and memories define our experience of time.  They were gracious enough to answer a few questions about identity, memory, rhythm and working collaboratively.

Continue reading