1. Peep Shows at W3
    January 12, 2013 by Walden3


    W3 is lining the pockets of regional artists, one dollar at a time…

    Walden Three occupies a building with a lot of Seattle history. Built in the 1880’s, The Seven Seas Building has housed a mercantile, a gun range, a hotel, a cinema, a cigar shop and a tavern. But none of its occupants are more infamous and celebrated as the near 30 years it stood as the address of The Lusty Lady. Known for their clever marquee word plays (We’re Open Not Clothed!) it was the seedy peep show everyone loved, even if they weren’t feeding dollar bills into the mechanically operated windows that revealed young women dancing inside a mirror and velvet-lined room.

    The Lusty Lady closed in June of 2010, citing lack of patronage (and yes you can blame the internet for that) and the city mourned it’s loss. When we started developing a working model of how Walden Three would operate, we knew that we wanted to preserve some of The Lusty Lady’s spirit and legacy. Part of that was accomplished by restoring the marquee and continuing to play and tease pedestrians and our neighbor to the east – The Seattle Art Museum. Part of that was our weekly ‘Live Nude Models’ drawing class. But personally, I wanted to bring back those dollar bill acceptors and the little portals that opened up a minute at a time to reveal some private magic on the opposing side. It took us a few days to track down the hardware (thanks videotex-inc.com) but we finally found some used equipment from an old peep show in San Francisco and a few weeks later a box full of crusty, dusty and tangled windows, wires and bill acceptors arrived at our doorstep.

    What you know now is the thoroughly disinfected, untangled and sleek Peep Show at W3. The five booths we have against the west wall of the first floor rarely showcase nude dancers, but the 18″ x 12″ windows do reveal some of the coolest miniature installations, short films and performances you could imagine. And for a dollar a minute viewing (before the steel door conceals your view), we’ve been amazed by how much money these little things make! Artists have been transforming these 3′ x 8′ x 8′ “private galleries” into modern dance performance spaces, kinetic installations, miniature worlds and visions of grand beauty. Take Casey Curran’s recent collaboration with Macklemore, entitled “The Garden.” Curran’s mechanical world of wire and brass fauna winds and unfolds before your eyes, spinning and engulfing the space to the soundtrack of Macklemore’s new hit single of the same name. It’s a beautiful collaboration of kinetic sculpture and hip hop and a project that birthed the Haley Young directed video employing the talents of both artists. In it’s first month at W3, The Garden grossed over $9,000.00 – all in crumpled one dollar bills! Sure things have calmed down a bit from it’s debut month, but The Garden is still pulling in over $5,000.00 a month, and expected to clear over $20,000.00 in it’s three month run (and to be entirely transparent, W3 does take a 25% commission on Peep Show sales).

    While the Macklemore/Curran installation might be an exceptional case (and this is all still relatively new) regarding sales, there are some really fascinating Peep Show booths you should check out. Eve Cohen designed and Curtis Taylor directed Little Monsters is an incredible short film mixed with installation that, at a running time of 3 minutes and 46 seconds is very worthy of your 4 bucks. Crispin Spaeth’s new dance piece White Box/Red Cube is an explosion of movement – so much so that the dancers must wipe the steam off their windows so the viewer can properly see it. Flatchestedmama’s Kissing Booth is an oddly intimate, prison visiting center-like, charged piece where the performer attempts to kiss the visitors through the plate glass (sterilizing wipes are left on the viewing side for those drawn to slobber back on the transparent surface). Phil Roach has a great new miniature, with more than one surprise, and you are a fool if you don’t pay to see the conclusion. Portland installation artist Herman Kund has transformed the 3′ x 8′ room into an exploration into deep space and Troy Gua makes you feel like a rather shameful voyeur (but not so shameful that you stop feeding the bill dispenser money).

    The Peep Shows at Walden Three are fueled by curiosity and a certain novelty of what they once were. They seduce W3 visitors one dollar at a time and no one would ever guess this slow hustle would deliver such healthy profits. It is just one more way to showcase the talents of our regions artists, put some serious money in their pockets and help pay for the programming at W3. Don’t be embarrassed, this isn’t your father’s peep show.


  2. 3 on the left – 3 on the right
    January 8, 2013 by Walden3


    Some things come into the world in strange ways. For about two weeks I’d pass strangers on the street and they would in discreet, or more obvious ways, flash three fingers on their right hand, three fingers on their left. There was no real uniformed style, some would cross their arms, others would push their arms straight out or down at their sides, but it was unmistakable – people were flashing me. Was it a gang sign? Was it friendly? Should I smile or return their signal with some made up sign of my own? And then a friend did it to me. And I stared at it. And I smiled the smile of an idiot who is the last to get the joke, the last to connect the dots. W on one hand, 3 on the other. God knows I didn’t invent it. But I like it. I think it’s kinda cool.

    Now I look out for it, and I see it all the time. I was in Vancouver BC last weekend and at least a dozen people flashed the W3 sign my way. And I nodded and gave it right back. Sometimes it lead to a conversation, sometimes it was just a smile and an acknowledgement – I’ve been there – I’m an artist – I like what you guys are doing.

    Some things come into the world in strange ways. I don’t know who started this, or how it caught on so fast, but it has become part of our regions identity, a way for people to communicate on the street – I saw your show – I talked to you at an opening – you were at that lecture – I dressed you up in the stylist station – you are the girl that played the ukelele on a Barking Spot that one day – we are going to change things. I have no idea where all of this is going, but I sure like the direction.


  3. Spit Milk and Barking Spots – Christmas at W3
    December 26, 2012 by Walden3


    Aaron Pessl and company perform The Breakfast Club on the W3 Barking Spots.


    I ate 47 Frango mints last night. For those of you not familiar with Frango mints, they are this really rich plug of chocolate about the size of a Jolly Roger that were made by the old Fredrick & Nelson’s department store. The store is long gone, eclipsed by Nordstroms years ago and eventually replaced by Macy’s, but this one single thread of Fredrick & Nelson’s life still pulses in this town and it is their octagonal boxes of chocolates. And last night, after eating a huge meal, 2 artichokes and 9 Satsuma oranges, I sat down and ate 47 pieces of chocolate. And that is the reason I was drinking bourbon at 4:00 pm today in the Dial. It seemed to be the only logical solution.

    That, and I was meeting with Sierra Stinson, Sara Edwards, NKO, Greg Kucera and Jack Daws about January programming, as everyone (myself included) seems to be escaping Seattle for the holiday. Sierra is the floor manager/meta-curator for the Dearborn Gallery where Jack’s show is opening, and Kucera is his dealer. It was one last chance for us all to touch base and go over last minute details before his January 12th opening. Alex Berry was discreetly filming the meeting – from the gallery to the production offices to the Dial – a common arc of dialog – it seemed like we usually ended things over a drink.

    About ten minutes into our  second drink, Lanny DeVuono walks by with a friend and stops to chat. Lanny has been writing about and making art long before I got started, and is generally just a really smart, doing it for all the right reasons kind of artist. We all hug and make introductions and she says, “This is my friend Jenny Holzer.” And my eyes go wide, really wide. I remember seeing Jenny’s work in Los Angeles in the early 1990s and her text-based work was funny and different and totally changed my understanding of what contemporary art could be. I was a fan. And now she was sitting down with us. Things were getting interesting.

    “I really love your work,” I blurted out. “I forget everything, but the one thing I remember is one of your pieces – one of your slogans – I’ve remember it for years. ‘Spit all over someone with a mouthful of milk if you want to find out something about their personality really fast.’ I’ve said it a thousand times probably.”

    Jenny smiles, looks over at Lanny with a curious grin, and asks, “Have you ever done that?” I tell her no, and she immediately flags down a cocktail server. “Can we please have 8 shots of milk? Yes, shot glasses filled with milk.” And our table goes awkwardly silent. We shrug and give each other uncertain glances, no one wanting to interrupt the orchestration of Jenny’s recent proposal. Greg and Lanny smirked at each other, and I thought that maybe this is something Jenny does all the time – as a dare, as a party trick, as a way to make people uncomfortable, and I admit, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. But sure enough 8 shot glasses filled to the rim with milk show up on a servers platter and are passed around the table. And without a word, Jenny Holzer drains her shot of milk and spit it directly into my face. I close my eyes and feel it run down my chin, into my shirt, up my nose, and run right down the side of my left arm. I sat still and giggled. Yes, giggled. Like a girl. The cold milk tickled. Meanwhile Jack spit his milk at Greg and Sierra spit hers on Sara and the whole table was a mess of spurting, flying milk. No one got angry, and only one person remained undrenched. Jack Daws had opened his mouth and drank all the milk headed in his direction. Everyone else in the room stopped and stared, and though the music was still playing it felt like it had been turned off.  There was a moment of total silence. And then, for the first time in my life, I heard Greg Kucera laugh an uncontrollable laugh. And then Lanny joined in, the two of them laughing so hard that Greg started to choke and Lanny held her hand over her heart like she might just have a heart attack. And as funny and weird as the whole thing was – something was off. Something was not quite right. Jenny looks over at Lanny and says what’s so funny? And between gasps for air, Lanny states, “This is Jenny Holezers, this is Jenny Holezers!” and Kucera’s bright red face bursts out again in complete hysteria. It takes about five minutes for them to calm down enough for me to understand that the woman seated across from me is not Jenny Holzer, the Los Angeles based media artist, but Jenny Holezers, an encaustic artist from Bothell. Eventually we wipe the milk off our faces, throw back our whiskeys and regain our composure. NKO  says, “Well that was interesting,” and Alex Berry shakes his head “That was fucking priceless!” camcorder still in hand, the whole moment captured. “Wait till you see that clip!”

    Dabbing milk from her blazer, Sierra reminds us of the performance happening outside on the Barking Spots, and we pay up and go top side.

    The Barking Spots are 7 raised concrete platforms outside of Walden Three, on the sidewalk in front of the First Avenue entrance. They are various sizes, all about two feet tall, and designed to host performances, musicians, poets, temporary sculptures or anything else people could think of. W3 doesn’t curate them – people just show up and make things happen on them. And with all the pedestrian traffic coming and going from W3, it’s prime real estate to find an arts minded audience. During openings and other big events, the Barking Spots are all occupied with Butoh dancers and trumpet players and live models holding poses for whomever is inclined to draw them. Tonight there were five actors occupying five chairs, and it became quite clear that they were performing the entirety of The Breakfast Club to a group of about 40 – sitting in folding lawn chairs and on blankets. There was a street cart making fresh pizzas and a kid was handing out bags of popcorn, which was a nice touch. Ryan Mitchell and Rachael Jensen waved us over to their patchwork quilt and we all sat Indian style and ate popcorn and mushroom pizza. I partly watched the play unfold in front of me and partly just looked around at the crowd that gathered – all different kinds of people – some settling in and some just stopping for a bit. I got a bit sentimental and thought how cool it was to have Walden Three in our city. Then an actor repeatedly yelled, “CLAIRE! CLAIRE! CLAIRE!” and I snapped back into reality.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I’ll be out of town for the week, but the new year promises great surprises and unbelievable talent. Stay tuned.


  4. Walden Three – Holiday Shopping Edition!
    December 21, 2012 by Walden3

    Rachel Maxi’s tiny tornado – what a score!


    Holiday shopping can be a real drag. There is just so much useless junk out there – mass produced, uninspired and just plain old boring. I used to try and hit all the flea markets and pop up craft fairs, but I’ll be damned if they didn’t run me all over town, or I missed the date, or they just didn’t hit the mark. I think a lot of people want to support local arts and crafts, especially on more digestible levels. Sure I love Mary Iverson and Vic Haven and Harry S. Smith’s work, but I’d have to sell my car to even come close to affording it.

    Rebecca Raven’s brilliant little oil paintings (this one painted on the head of a quarter!)


    This year, I did 80% of my shopping in the artist bazaar at W3. with only 100 booths, they were able to really cherry pick a great collection of wood workers, painters, jewelers, print makers, upstart designers and record labels, photographers, indie zines, fashion makers and one guy who makes boomboxes and Air Jordans out of cardboard (Michael Leavitt). Some people thought early on, that $200.00 a month for a booth was too much, but the half dozen vendors I talked to today said they easily make that back on a good Saturday afternoon. With the Pike Place Market to the north and SAM across the street, this bazaar is a bustling marketplace, and the quality is so high. Kind of astonishing that this much talent lives within a few miles of here.

    They always keep ten booths available for daily rental ($20) which is great for artists in Portland or Vancouver or any points in between, who are either passing through or just have an idea that can pop up and break down in a given day. It also insures a constant new crop of things to look at and purchase.


    Here are a few of the things I bought today. Rachel Maxi makes these incredible little oil paintings, and this little tornado is only 2.5″ x 3″. Rebecca Raven also has some excellent little works (some too risque to post here) but this little nude was only $75.00 and my brother is going to love it. What else – I have 4 young nieces and this little chicken sweater is for Ingrid, the jumper is for Anja (and they make adult sizes) and I got this felt owl pin for my mom. I already had one of Jack Daw’s Disobey tee shirts with Thoreau on it, but picked up another three for friends. I couldn’t help but pick up a cherry pie merkin from some company called Dr. Merkin’s Original Snatch Patch, and I’ll probably have to go back and drop a little more cash before Christmas (there were some sweet things that just sold out, but I was promised they would come back with more).

    The bazaar is such a win-win, as it not only generates a lot of money for the artists and craftspeople showing there, but is an entirely profit generating floor at W3 (it takes in about $23,000.00 a month in rentals). And with a waiting list two pages long, I’m pretty sure the quality and diversity of the goods will remain high throughout the course of the project.

    Come on down and do some shopping! And if you get tired you can drop down to the Dial for a Hot Toddy, sit down on the Denny Steps and catch an hour of art history or a lecture, and the Dearborn and Mercer Galleries are both excellent. Walden Three is a busy beehive of activity this season, and sure beats shopping at the big department stores. Happy Holidays!


  5. Art Role Models Program Takes Shape
    December 20, 2012 by Walden3

    ARM volunteer Jed Dunkerley leads a group of students in a lesson about self-portraits

    Ever since Walden 3 started its Art Role Models program (ARM), Tuesday afternoons at the Denny School of Art have been bustling with activity. A partnership with Arts Corps, ARM’s goal has been manifest with inspiring interaction between Seattle’s artist community and kids from south end neighborhoods. Program director Lucinda Harper explains: “We recognized that a lot of artists in our community didn’t have much exposure to kids, and a lot of local kids didn’t have exposure to artists, so the mission is actually twofold- the kids learn from the artists, and vice versa.”
    Painter/sculptor Whiting Tennis, painter Robert Hardgrave, and conceptual artist AmyEllen Trefsger (aka flatchestedmama) were all in the studio last week with small groups of students from Aki Kurose Middle School, engaged in various assignments and projects. Trefsger had a sassy young man sorting clothing scraps by color for use in upholstering a basketball hoop while Hardgrave was using a projector and guiding a pair of 5th graders as they reassembled shapes to be traced onto a large canvas.
    “It’s kind of a ‘Big Brothers, Big Sisters’ concept, but focused on developing kids’ creative expression,” said Tennis, engaged in a plywood sculpture with Amari Williams, a spunky 13-year-old who couldn’t stop sanding the edges of what appeared to be an orca’s back.
    “This is, like, hella complicated!” she exclaimed, as Tennis slathered on some wood glue. “Let’s get these pieces to line up!” she propositioned the 6’7” sculptor, with the urgency of a feisty art director. “Another genius idea, young structuralist” quipped Tennis, with a wry smile, and aside to me, “She’s working me!”
    At the beginning of the program, some of the artists, none of them parents themselves, were admittedly nervous. Harper, a 10-year veteran of Seattle Public Schools offered them some basic guidance and ran interference, when necessary.
    “The desire is there on both sides,” she posited, “a lot of these kids aren’t shy about their creativity- they just needed some focused outlets outside of their classrooms, many of which were suffering from cuts in their elementary and middle school arts programs. And the artists are generally confident in sharing their crafts, so, minus a little guidance in cultural competency and behavioral psychology, the synergy has been astounding.”
    ARM’s first year will bear fruit with each of the student artists earning a chance at exhibiting their skills in the spring Young Makers Society show in the Dearborn Gallery. So far, 17 artists have volunteered their time to be role models, and over 70 students have signed up for single sessions. Next year, the plan is to expand to 2 days a week and offer apprenticeships between specific artists and students that show interest.
    “ The students choose the artists,” says Harper, “The idea is to have the artists show their portfolios and get the kids inspired.”
    “ I haven’t felt this kind of pressure since I applied for my MFA,” Hardgrave joked , “ I hope I get picked!”