Autumn has arrived in Seattle. Its blustery weather and approaching holiday season means one thing for sure—you will be spending more time cooped up with your family. For better or worse, you are about to get some quality time with the ones you love. So, now is a good time to get out of the house and head to the G. Gibson Gallery in Pioneer Square to view Homegrown and Lost and Found, two unique explorations of family, relationships and loved ones by photographers Julie Blackmon and Heidi Kirkpatrick.
If sly whimsy and a hint of irreverence is your thing, then you will enjoy Julie Blackmon’s latest series Homegrown. The work is an extension of her earlier series, Domestic Vacations, and continues the theme of modern family life in her signature cinematic style. Each image is a highly stylized moment in time. Carefully composed, they evoke feelings of chaos and potential dangers that are anything but careful. “The Hamster Handbook” is set during a lazy summer afternoon in a screened porch. Five preschool-aged kids look calm and content, each in their own little worlds. Meanwhile, a group of hamsters run amok, largely unnoticed, with the porch door slightly ajar. The feeling of anxiety is high, as if at any minute the hamsters will make a beeline for the door and the cacophony of a chase will soon begin. I had hamsters as kid and my daughter had hamsters too. It’s a rite of passage for children as well as their parents. This photograph, and others in the exhibition, timelessly illustrate these little moments of real life; like the highly anticipated FedEx delivery, or a wagon full of girl scout cookies. These small moments, when combined, tell the kind of honest family stories that are so often unrecorded in an era of perfectly polished Facebook posts.
The exhibition celebrates the release of Blackmon’s new book of the same name, and is relatively small with just ten prints. Two of the prints on view (“The Hamster Handbook” and “New Chair”) are so fresh that you won’t find them among the book’s 40 photographs from 2009-2014.
Also on view is the more intimate, fragile, and mysterious series Lost and Found by Heidi Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick meticulously crafts photographic objects d'art that lure you in with their ethereal beauty and diminutive size. She infuses ordinary found objects with life by pairing them with photolith film photographs that touch on themes of love, loss, family, pain and the female form.
Krikpatrick’s new series deals with her father’s recent passing. I also lost my father in recent years, and these works have really resonated with me. A beautiful piece titled Withered Wish stands out in particular. It is a vintage black tray with an image of a clear glass of water that could be half full or half empty. The glass holds a wilted dandelion seed waiting to be blown with a wish. Other objects she has transformed include rectangular tins, vintage trays, dominoes and ma jong tiles as well as a ring, a pocket watch and a small book. Some are unique pieces while others are in small editions of five. The pieces on view are a small subset of the Lost and Found catalog that Kirkpatrick has previously shown in larger solo shows, but if you are new to her work, this is nice introductory selection.
Homegrown and Lost and Found are on view at the G. Gibson Gallery in Seattle through November 29, 2014.
Dan Shepherd was raised in the Pacific Northwest, enjoyed many creative years in New York City and Los Angeles now finds himself based in Seattle. He currently splits his time between the visual arts and working for conservation organizations.