3 x 3: Meet the Artists of RELISH Seattle
Seattle’s culture, art, and creative scene is what draws countless people to the area. For years, it has become a defining character of the city, and of those who’ve chosen to call this unique place their home — Wayward included.
To celebrate this vibrant community of makers, Victor Gonzalez, founder of GROSS Magazine kicked off an event called RELISH, that gives artists of all kinds a platform to be empowered, connected, and to showcase their work. Now in its third year, RELISH continues to put on a showstopping collection of curated contemporary art in tribute to the creative vibe of Seattle and its people.
As one of RELISH Seattle’s event sponsors, we wanted to join in on the fun, and, in celebration of their third year, decided to ask three artists, three questions to inspire your creative juices — and let’s be honest, ours too.
Read on for three questions, with three artists, for three years of RELISH Seattle.
Victor Gonzalez, Event Host
Can you give us some background on RELISH, how it all got started, and where you hope to see it go?
V: RELISH comes from the need to connect with amazing creative talents that are right here in our neighborhoods; a stone’s throw away; right under our noses! We launched the first edition in San Francisco, where I was living at the time, as a test to see how a community would respond and it blew us all away with the talent and overall attendance turnout. Los Angeles followed and the momentum continues to build with this recent Seattle edition.
My team and I hope to see this expand to major cities around the world and the future looks promising — venues in NYC, Tokyo and Mexico City have been offered with generous enthusiasm and we’re thrilled to bring these to fruition.
RELISH Seattle is comprised of a “meticulously selected group of 36 natives and locals”, what was it that set the final artists apart from the rest?
V: A major characteristic that we look for is when an artist has a cohesive series that is well presented. Just like anything else, good presentation makes a strong impression.
In what ways does the city of Seattle inspire or evoke your creativity?
V: Seattle has an incredibly tight-knit energy within it’s creative community which is special; inspiring me to keep my friends close and always support them as I know they support me.
Cleo Barnett, Artist
We love that your art has such a strong social justice message. Can you give us some insight on the thought and creative process behind your body of work?
C: Every artist’s work is political. My art practice (until now) has been an extremely private and personal journey of slowing down, honoring, sharing an experience, exploring the subtleties of the senses. Photography has always been a tool for me to get out of my head and into my body. The physicality of analog image making mediums is something I still gravitate towards and get excited by. Creating a physical manifestation of a memory that can be reexamined for as long as it’s viewed is something I intend to do for as long as I can see.
Tell us a little bit about your exhibition for RELISH Seattle and how you see yourself as a part of the creative community here?
C: The creative community is my forever family no matter where in the world I am – to the free thinkers who share stories and leave their mark, can’t imagine my life without you.
I’m interested in the space between my memory creating these images, what the viewer observes and how that shifts over time. There is always much more than what meets the eye. These three images were captured when I was studying the intersections of cultural equity, cultural arts & public policy in Puerto Rico with Dr. Marta Morena Verga. The heart, soul, and diversity of the Puerto Rican people gave me faith in humanity, but the political reality of Puerto Rico, rooted in hundreds of years of colonization, first by the Spanish and then by the United States, reflects the extremist versions of the violence men are capable of. Did you know that Puerto Ricans who are United States citizens still can’t vote? That’s our democracy. It’s the investigating, turning things over and learning diverse perspectives that add so much richness to the human experience and ultimately is the key to our survival.
In what ways does the city of Seattle inspire or evoke your creativity?
C: I grew up mobbing around the streets of Seattle and since then nothing and everything has changed. In Seattle, I’m inspired by the foggy mornings, perfect summers, chill vibes, authentic people and rainy lush freshness.
Drie Chapek, Artist
Your artwork has so much visceral emotion and story embedded into it. Can you share a little bit more about your artist statement with us?
D: Yes, I love that the story is coming through. My work is an attention to the human experience in the body, mind and connection to something wondrous. My work began with a need to accept the mess in myself. With a vigilant eye the difficulties life has provided for me are observed, accepted and then released as a moment of experience that provided rich life experience. This process erases the need to judge a situation or control it. A flow of allowing what is to be and trust in what has occurred, and will occur, provides great opportunity to see the good that is present in the current and next step.
I am intrigued by the soulful work of mandalas, visionary work and iconic religious work and their ability to hold intention for a conscious, aware life. In 2001 I began searching for a visual language that could convey the emotional, transformable human condition with as much inclusion as possible, as we are all connected. The natural world is a space we all inhabit as we are made of it, live in it and rely on it. The comfort of familiar elements appears (fruits, intestines, bone) as well as an opening to the unknown abstracted space. Thick, raw and intentionally composed marks build upon thin layers of wash to provide depth of texture and application of paint as a sensual experience. This visual field creates a conscious space for the viewer to travel within the architectural construct of the image. I create a visual field that invites people from all paths to partake in an intimate journey of transforming pain into acceptance. Through this acceptance, compassion for the self can be found and with this comes compassion for others. I embrace this practice in my own work as well as fail in it often. Human.
Tell us a bit about your exhibition with RELISH Seattle and how you see yourself as a part of the creative community here.
D: The opening was full of fun! I am so grateful to Relish for providing music and art in an inviting space. I had an opportunity to talk more with Josh R. McDonald whose work captivates me as it is still and transforming at the same time. His paint application is so lovely as its full of humility that he then applies structure and a practice of digging a grid into.
Mmmmm…. I also met Blake Blanco who is deep in the dark space of creating a world of imagery in the late hours of the night. Days after the show opening Blake came by my studio with his work and we had wonderful conversations around how to allow the playful imaginative mind to have its space to develop ideas. There is an entire world in art of all kinds of different artists. I find myself to be the sage kind, which requires quite a bit of reflective, quiet and pleasure of the solitude. With the raising of four children, one has passed, I have been focusing on my sage life, motherhood and friendships.
This year has been a year of coming into the art community and meeting the remarkable people that are making in the city of Seattle. Thank you RELISH for this opportunity to connect to the creative.
In what ways does the city of Seattle Inspire or evoke your creativity?
D: Oh Seattle, how you have grown!! I moved to Seattle in 2002 via the colorful Midwest and a tour of backpacking 26 National Parks. There are a vast amount of remarkably wondrous lands in the United Sates and I’m so grateful to live in the diverse state of Washington. My family of five can head in any direction for epic mountain views, islands that look like creatures coming out of the sea, misty ocean beaches, rainforests with decay and life, mountain desert pinks and oranges and sweet little towns with people who create, read and enjoy. The city itself is a great provider of intelligent thought and people looking to grow upon our human ideas. I find a balance between participating and enjoying the solitude of connecting to quiet and the wondrous space of mind and land.
When I first moved to the city, so my husband could study Naturopathic Medicine, I showed wherever I could, to the number of 47 coffee shops, boutiques and restaurants until 2017. I was using that time to develop the skills that I wanted to be able to paint the way I had envisioned as a college student. Reaching this space in my making has been so fun, I get trust in my experience and lean into the paint in an ease full way. Two years ago I contacted IE Gallery located in Edison, WA in our remarkable Skagit Valley, which is preserved farmland just an hour outside of Seattle. Margy Lavell saw what the work was doing and began representing it in 2018, with great passion for intuitive work! I have a solo show at IE Gallery in September of this year. The Greg Kucera Gallery, a cornerstone of the Seattle Art world, is currently showing the work in their expansive space.