10 Works to Collect at Seattle Art Fair
Back for its second year, the Seattle Art Fair features over 80 exhibitors of local, regional, and international artists, from emerging painters in the Pacific Northwest to art world veterans and high-tech design studios. Aptly located in the industrial SoDo district—home to sports stadiums, corporate headquarters, and art galleries alike—the fair, with its diverse selection and accessible price points, promises to appeal to both new and seasoned collectors. Below, we’ve parsed through the fair’s offerings and selected the 10 most collectible works.
Ellen Lesperance, We Are the Gentle Angry Women and We Are Singing For Our Lives, 2015
Adams and Ollman, Booth C1
Portland-based artist Lesperance pays homage to the history of women and activism through her paintings, which are based on sweaters worn by female protesters in archival photographs. In her works on paper, such as this one, she translates the sweaters into knitting patterns that resolve as intricate grids. Lesperance affirms that her practice is “inherently Feminist: because women knit, because the history of handiwork is a woman’s history.” This piece takes its title from a songbook used at the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, where women gathered to protest nuclear weapons in the 1980s.
William Henry Johnson, Homesteaders, ca. 1942
Alexandre Gallery, Booth A29
Born in South Carolina, the 20th-century artist Johnson is now recognized for his paintings of African American communities in Harlem and the rural South. His folk-inspired art developed over the course of his lifelong travels, first in Paris, where he was exposed to the techniques of Modernism, and then Denmark, where he made woodcuts in the style of German Expressionism. In the 1940s, Johnson captured the jazzy spirit of Harlem society in paintings and prints of cafes, dancers, and street musicians. Nevertheless, his attachment to the South is evident in works like Homesteaders, which depict black families and farm workers in vibrant colors and graphic forms.
Toyin Ojih Odutola, Birmingham (left, middle, right), 2014
Tamarind Institute, Booth C29
Born in Nigeria and now based in New York, Odutola explores race and identity through densely layered ballpoint pen drawings. Across her body of work, she uses black ink to depict people of all ethnicities, in turn challenging notions of blackness in historical portraiture. This triptych of color lithographs with gold leaf, like her ink drawings, reveals highly textured surfaces inspired by African textiles.
Karla Wozniak, Night Garden, 2016
Gregory Lind Gallery, Booth C3
Painter and self-proclaimed “maximalist” Wozniak is inspired by the flora and fauna of unfamiliar landscapes. A Bay-area native, she began painting her surroundings while living and working in Knoxville, Tennessee, where the landscape intensified her interest in color and abstraction. In works like Night Garden, Wozniak transforms her overpowering impressions of the natural environment into densely patterned and highly tactile surfaces.
Alex Katz, Eric, 2008
Richard Gray Gallery, Booth A13
With his slick, stylized portraits of figures against stark backgrounds, Katz has secured his place as the 21st-century painter of modern life. Katz once said, “I like to make an image that is so simple you can’t avoid it, and so complicated you can’t figure it out.” This profile view of a turtleneck-clad silver fox in reflective shades is just that: a man in an urban uniform true to our times, posed against a turqouise and black pattern beyond recognition.
NASA, First Photo of Earth as Seen from Lunar Orbit, 1966
Jason Jacques Gallery, Booth D4
Art and science meet head-on in a stunning array of historic black-and-white photos of the moon by Lunar Orbiter I on view at Jason Jacques Gallery. Taken on August 23, 1966, this wide-format image features a glimpse of the Earth—captured from 345,700 kilometers away—peeking over the cratered rim of the moon. Scientists used this photograph to show that the surface of the moon is at an oblique, rather than vertical, angle.
John Divola, Zuma #27, 1977
Gallery Luisotti, Booth C11
Conceptual photographer and L.A. native Divola’s images of deserted buildings, which he began taking in the 1970s, have become timeless emblems of ephemerality and decay. This image comes from his acclaimed 1977 “Zuma” series, in which the scorched, spray-painted walls of an abandoned lifeguard hut, also used periodically for fire-fighting practice, frame serene views of Zuma Beach along the Pacific coast. The body of work reveals Divola’s signature interventions—the markings on the surfaces of the structure were made by the artist himself.
Random International, Blur Mirror, 2016
Pace Gallery, Booth A7
The emerging London-based design studio Random International applies artificial intelligence algorithms to build interactive installation art, like this work featured at Pace’s design- and tech-focused booth. At first glance, Blur Mirror is like any other mirror—but when you step into its frame, individual tiles vibrate to immediately obscure your reflection. This process of blurring challenges our trust in everyday objects, and cheekily disrupts the common practice of snapping “mirror selfies.”
Janna Watson, Desires As Round As Grapes, 2016
Foster/White Gallery, Booth C33
Based in Toronto, emerging abstract artist Watson is making her mark on the Canadian arts scene with her vibrant, painterly compositions. Watson works intuitively, stating that “line is used as a metaphor in my work, for the lifespan of a thought caught on canvas.” In this mixed-media painting, the variety of line results in an elegantly balanced composition, with straight verticals disrupting clouds of color and rainbow-like arches.
John Baldessari, National City (1), 1996
Richard Levy Gallery, Booth A17
Humor and surprise are central to Baldessari’s seminal practice. Here, a big white circle obscures a parking lot scene, as if a hole has been cut out of the image. Part of a portfolio of color photographs, all partially concealed, this work harkens back to the artist’s placement of colored dots on faces in black-and-white photographs in the 1980s. When asked why he left viewers with the seemingly inconsequential details of a photograph, he replied: “I think you really sort of dig beneath the surface and you can see what that photograph is really about, what’s going on.”