Ghost Gallery in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of downtown Seattle opened its 2nd Annual Bell Jar Group Exhibition last Thursday evening, March 10th to an excited group of art-opening attendees. This group show features twenty-eight local and national artists who display interior worlds of their own creation, but all placed under the sheltering environment of a glass bell jar. Gallery Founder and Independent Curator Laurie Kearney created and debuted this exhibit concept last March and promises to offer a yearly version with a mix of new and re-appearing artists from prior years.
Seattle-based illustrator/painter Brandon Vosika’s two pieces on display, Haunted Room I and Haunted Room II offer up the perfect mood of dark yet humorous interplay among the forty or so pieces in this exhibition. Seattle artist and Visual Arts Editor at City Arts Magazine, Amanda Manitach, describes Vosika’s genre of creativity as “deadpan memento mori.” Certainly one can view these two interior bell jar scenes of Vosika’s with a sense of curiosity; why is there a white sheet (most likely) made of cotton jersey fabric floating above this vintage red miniature chair? And how exactly is it suspended? One cannot help but notice how detailed the artist has incorporated an antique-period style wood floor through his astute use of graphite and pattern on the bell jar’s base – a nod to the inner-illustrator here. It seems natural to associate the tiny photo portrait resting on the chair as the 2-D photo representation “ghost” or spirit of the 3-D white ghostly sheet stereotype we see, floating adjacent.
My piece, “Ocean Widget Bell Jar” lends a nod to the historic Victorian matching set of jewelry known as a demi-parure. This particular scene depicts a dark, more “gothic” evening sunset on a beach at the shores of the ocean during one of my visits. The entire piece was inspired by Victorian poet, W.B. Yeats. His poem, “To an Isle in the Water” foretells a romantic encounter between the speaker and his paramour. In this short poem, the speaker desires and dreams of “escaping” what appears to be mundane, daily life to an isle or shoreline with his love. In its most Victorian innocence, it describes a moment in time that the speaker desires to encapsulate. By utilizing a bell jar shell, it reinforces my desire to “freeze” that moment in time. The glass shelter of the bell keeps these objects intact and precious, even when the two matching jewelry items are placed away presumably by its wearer on the top of a bureau or bedroom dresser. In this new era of contemporary jewelry that asserts a powerful ideal of placing the jewelry works onto the body, my Ocean Widget pieces are the complete opposite. It desires protective shelter and asserts an opposing ideal to the latest “interactive” craze that is consuming all current curatorial jewelry practices.
The photos I captured digitally and then further manipulated and re-scaled to specifically meet the desired forms of the teardrop shapes. The Plexiglas is polished and hand-carved to snugly and precisely fit into the oxidized silver containers that I fabricate through chasing and repousse.
A temporary link is available to view and purchase any of the various Bell Jar exhibit works, located at ghostgalleryshop.com. The exhibit is open daily and continues both in-person and online through April 10, 2016.
If you are local to the Seattle area, Ghost Gallery will be holding a sixth anniversary celebration to commemorate the gallery’s opening in Capitol Hill on Sunday, April 17th from 11AM to 6PM. Ghost Gallery is located at 504 E. Denny Way (entrance on Summit side) in downtown Seattle, Washington.
All images appear courtesy of the artists and Ghost Gallery, Seattle.