Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

New Art on the Menu at SAM’s Taste Gallery

    If you are hungry for a bit more art in your life, then head down to the Seattle Art Museum’s restaurant TASTE.

    The restaurant is currently exhibiting the work of local artists Junko Yamamoto and Olivia Britt. Both women have won a number of awards around the country and the smaller venue gives viewers a chance to take in some local art from the comfort of a restaurant booth.

    In total, there are six pieces placed between TASTE’S two rooms—five by Yamamoto and one by Britt. Most of the work is in the back, placed around an intimate dining area tucked into one of the corners of the restaurant.

    Yamamoto’s art is already carried at the SAM gallery, and, according to SAM gallery manager Jody Bento, it is popular among the museum’s clients and staff. Cornish College of the Arts alumna Yamamoto recommended fellow artist Britt, who obtained an MFA from University of Washington in 2004, for the exhibit. After seeing some of Britt’s work herself, Bento included one of her paintings in the show.

    The gallery manager sees TASTE and the work exhibited there as part of the larger SAM community.

    “We have regular shows that rotate quarterly, showing Northwest artists,” Bento said. “It is a natural for us to show artwork at TASTE restaurant because we are all part of the Seattle Art Museum family—TASTE, SAM gallery, SAM shop and next week we [will be] unveiling SAM books.”

    The two artists’ works are close enough stylistically to warrant them being exhibited together, but distinct enough to present viewers with an interesting contrast of style.

    Yamamoto’s work plays with bubbly, colorful patterns on top of layered paint that has been scraped away. Many of her pieces have a feel like that of German visual artist Gerhard Richter, as the viewer is offered glimpses of the canvas’ different layers of paint beneath the surface.

    Yet, Yamamoto’s use of stylized patterns make her paintings entirely their own. The colorful, sometimes comic-inspired patterns accumulated on the canvas and the names of the pieces—“Searching for Ladybug,” for example—lend a lighthearted feel to the work. It’s an intriguing blend of colorful chaos and pop culture reference.

    In her artist’s statement for an exhibit in the E|C Gallery in Chicago, Yamamoto explained the phenomenon behind her work: “The circular forms that (re)appear and disappear in all of the pieces signal for me both the thresholds of consciousness and interconnectedness my creations attempt to inhabit, as well as my indebtedness to the forms of Japanese popular culture—particularly comic books—with which I grew up.”

    Britt’s piece in the exhibit is markedly different. While similarly abstract, it puts more of an emphasis on space and texture. The work consists of two triangles, one large and gray, and the other small and red, that meet in the lower quadrant of the canvas, where colored strips of paper ripple on the surface and add texture to the otherwise flat surface of the painting.

    This distinctiveness of style adds some interesting dynamics to the exhibit and is perhaps best understood by both artists’ different perspectives on space. For Yamamoto, she invites us to inhabit a dreamscape where memory and emptiness tug at one another, while Britt’s work attempts to create images that represent her relationship to place.

    “I am not interested in representing what is seen; rather, I am interested in revealing my relationship to these places, and giving form to what does not already have form,” Britt states in her artist’s statement for Gage Academy. “The place I am addressing is a place that exists only in the painting itself.”

    In our interview, Yamamoto said that much of her inspiration comes from her childhood and her attempts to recreate some of the emotions she felt as a young girl in Japan.

    “I love textiles—I’m from Japan, and I grew up with that kind of traditional Japanese kimono textile. Especially when I was growing up, stuff that I was wearing was very inspirational,” she said. “When I think back, I tend to remember how I felt, and I try to recreate that kind of excitement when I was looking at that piece of fabric.”

    The art will be on display at TASTE until Feb. 9.

    Sheldon may be reached at [email protected]

    Leave a Comment
    More to Discover
    About the Contributor
    Sheldon Costa, Author

    Comments (0)

    All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *