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Five Hot Seattle Art Shows to Catch This Year End

Ross Palmer Beecher, Hershey's Chocolate Quilt (1986), stitched tin with wire, bike tire tubing, auto tail-lights. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Time is running out for 2011, as it is for a number of top-notch Seattle-area exhibitions. If you’re yearning for a little culture fix to fill your holiday leisure hours, here are five shows to catch in the next few weeks:

“Word Play,” a free exhibition at the Seattle Municipal Tower Gallery, features 31 evocative works in media ranging from photography and drawing to sculpture and collage, all drawn from the City of Seattle’s Portable Works Collection. The artists play on words, weaving text into their pieces in surprising or even challenging ways. Local mixed media artist Ross Palmer Beecher even does so literally, reinterpreting the all-American quilt with cunningly interwoven Hershey’s chocolate syrup cans. Through Dec. 30.

“Luminous: The Art of Asia” at the Seattle Art Museum showcases the crème de la crème of SAM’s Asian Art collection, itself one of the finest in North America. This exquisite assembly of bronzes, ceramics, lacquers, sculptures and paintings from throughout Asia was exhibited in Japan to accolades, and marks its return home with a major downtown exhibition, including a special video installation by contemporary Korean artist Do Ho Suh.  The show runs through Jan. 8, when SAM has to clear the space for its much-anticipated “Gauguin and Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise” exhibition, starting Feb. 9.

“Travelers: Objects of Dream and Revelation” at the Bellevue Arts Museum upholds the museum’s reputation for innovative shows, this time exploring themes of travel and discovery. With artworks such as Timothy Horn’s “Mother-Load,” an ornate stagecoach built of rock sugar, ply-wood and steel, or Margarita Cabrera’s droopy vinyl bicycle, “Bicicleta Azul Platino,”  the featured artists contrast the fantastical anticipation of journeys with their often harsh realities. Through Dec. 31.

“Tête-à-Tête” at the Frye Art Museum recaptures the feel of founders Charles and Emma Frye’s salon with a stunning display of 150 paintings from the Founding Collection, all hanging closely, impressively, together  on the museum’s soaring walls. For masterpieces from the Munich Künstlergenossenschaft  and Secession in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Frye can’t be beat. Through Jan. 8.

“Lush Life 3,” the annual invitational group show at the Roq La Rue gallery in Belltown, shows off masterpieces by a slate of around 20 cutting-edge contemporary artists known for their technical prowess and striking, even disturbing, imagery. From artfully framed acrylic works by Femke Hiemstra to paintings by Madeline Von Foerster and Corine Perier, as well as mixed media (with deer) by Peter Gronquist, these artworks do not fail to fascinate. Through Jan. 6.


Tête-à-Tête exhibition at the Frye Art Museum. Photo credit: Jill Hardy.