Offering a slice of the vast world of art to its visitors, M.I.A. is committed to exhibiting surprising and fresh work by contemporary artists from around the globe. By playing around with accepted representations of the status quo, each exhibition presents alternative ways of thinking and perceiving. Through this dedication to buoyant, unexpected aesthetics, M.I.A.’s exhibitions illustrate the world as a vibrant kaleidoscope. To mention but a few, Badouin Mouanda’s Sapeurs brought in a touch of flamboyancy when it showed photographs of the Congo’s extravagantly dressed sartorial devotees, while photographer Justin Dingwall and model Thando Hopa’s collaborative effort Albus traversed beauty and race with touching portraits of the South African albino model.
There is a reason why James Harris Gallery is unafraid of taking risks: though they launch the careers of many emerging artists, their exhibitions are characterized by meticulous curation and long-standing, international experience. The art space, which recently moved to a new location just around the corner from Pioneer Square, is also home to a number of established artists: Noah Davis, Matthais Merkel Hess and Roy Dowell to name but a few. In 2013, James Harris Gallery was Seattle’s only exhibitor at Pulse Miami, presenting an impressive range of challenging artworks, which included Adam Sorensen’s lush, utopian landscapes and Alexander Kroll’s mixed-media, multilayered collages.
James Harris Gallery, 604 Second Avenue, Seattle, WA, USA +1 206 903 6220
Situated in the Tashiro Kaplan arts center, Platform has been in operation since 2004, making it a new – but confident and stimulating – addition to Seattle’s art scene. The main focus here is art with a profound conceptual edge: they have hosted shows with themes as diverse as gender identity as a framework for art and information overload in contemporary society. Platform’s rotating program of exhibitions mainly presents solo shows, and hence offers its undivided attention to these thought-provoking projects. Steve Lyons, the gallery’s owner, is widely appreciated for his open mind and the active support he gives to his artists – both regional and international.
In operation since 1983, Greg Kucera has developed a solid reputation as one of the most authoritative voices on Seattle’s art scene. The exhibition space opens with a large, airy hall and extends further back into a tangle of smaller rooms, each filled with artworks worthy of contemplation. But the most astonishing thing about Greg Kucera Gallery is perhaps the sculpture deck, an outdoor balcony featuring a number of wrought-iron sculptures. From Deborah Butterfield’s haunting bronze horses to Claude Zervas’ hypnotizing geometric ink paintings, Greg Kucera’s curation is at once careful and creative.
Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Avenue South, Seattle, WA, USA +1 206 624 0770
The mind behind Urban Art Concept, an art consulting company, is Bryan Ohno, who reopened his gallery in 2013 in Seattle’s artsy International District after an eight-year-long hiatus. Equipped with a new energy, the space is small but eager to impress with a solid line-up of artists and multifaceted exhibitions. Though Ohno assures that much of the art he represents addresses the relationship between art and science, visitors will also find works with a distinctly organic feel: themes of sexuality, language and death have dominated recent exhibitions. In addition to shows by nationally recognized creatives, Bryan Ohno Gallery also opens its doors to promising young artists working across a wide variety of media and content.
Bryan Ohno, 519 S Main Street, Seattle, WA, USA +1 206 459 6857
A staunch believer in accessible and affordable art, Sharon Arnold launched LxWxH in 2011 as an art subscription project. A year later, the project evolved into a fresh, lively gallery promoting emerging artists and following Arnold’s philosophy that upon entering a gallery, people should ‘get excited about the way art shapes our lives’. LxWxH’s monthly exhibitions show just that, combining aspects of daily life such as technology or fashion with unexpected angles – the crossover of a video game and reality, or impossible fashion accessories, for example. One to watch, this Georgetown gallery has a spirit that’s at once highly individualistic and community-building. Every second Saturday, LxWxH hosts Georgetown Art Attack, a collective exhibition by and for the public.
Roq La Rue has always been fascinated by underground art and pop culture – and claims to have been one of the world’s first galleries with this focus when it first opened in 1998. Currently finding itself in a new, airy location in Pioneer Square, Roq La Rue still proposes the same funky, cheerful programme it has always prided itself on. Though the exhibitions here sometimes verge on kitsch with a distinctive pop feel, this is really the point: underrepresented, highly creative artists take centre stage, and retain their freedom to produce works of art that are often fantastically complex and always refreshing.
Roq La Rue, 532 First Avenue South, Seattle, WA, USA +1 206 374 8977