The inaugural Seattle Art Fair this past weekend garnered an enthusiastic international response along with solid representation from the Pacific Northwest, including 13 Seattle based galleries.

Trying to get the flavor of the fair, I stopped by four booths of Seattle galleries to get an idea of their experience, what they chose to bring to the four-day event, and why.

Roq La Rue

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Sharon Arnold and Kirsten Anderson from Roq La Rue Gallery.

Sharon Arnold and Kirsten Anderson from Roq La Rue Gallery.

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Kirsten Anderson and Sharon Arnold of Roq La Rue Gallery in Pioneer Square have been scoping out international and local artists for almost 17 years. The gallery, inspired by the pop Surrealism art movement, opened in 1998 and now seeks a range of contemporary pieces while still keeping an eye on the fantastical and whimsical.

For Roq La Rue, the fair went beyond their expectations. “We weren’t really sure how Seattle would respond to it, but it’s been a proper art fair - not lacking in any way,” Anderson said. “We have Gagosian here, and Pace, so we had some heavy hitters, which is different from a lot of fairs.”

Chris Berens/Roq La Rue

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"Diaspora" by Chris Berens. 2014. Ink, bistre on layered transparent paper 44 x 59 inches.

"Diaspora" by Chris Berens. 2014. Ink, bistre on layered transparent paper 44 x 59 inches.

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Speaking about Chris Berens, one of the artists with work in the Roq La Rue booth, Anderson said, “He’s a Dutch artist we’ve been working with for several years. He’s very popular in Europe, and he has a very interesting technique, which is that he paints with ink on plastic and layers it.”

“This creates these very dreamlike, mysterious, enigmatic and just really beautiful environments that are the closest thing I've ever seen to someone being able to capture the feel of a dream.”

Amanda Manitach /Roq La Rue

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“FUCK YOU ME THEM THIS” by Amanda Manitach, 2015. Graphite and watercolor on paper, 54 x 29 inches.

“FUCK YOU ME THEM THIS” by Amanda Manitach, 2015. Graphite and watercolor on paper, 54 x 29 inches.

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“And then there’s a local artist that we’re excited about named Amanda Manitach who we just picked up,” she continued. “We’ve had our eye on her work for a while and she is just taking off: we’ve just sold all her works here so far. She does oil paintings and a lot of graphite and ink drawings. But I'm particularly attracted to the graphites, because they are so well rendered, and tend to have a lot more detail than her other works do.”

“I think her strength lies in this combination of these sort of vague, almost vapid women but with the super ornate Victorian backgrounds,” Anderson said. “And they’re edgy, and cute, and funny, and dreamy and they evoke this sort of Renaissance feel even though they are super contemporary at the same time, and people have been really responding to them.”

Roq La Rue Gallery is located at 532 1st Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98104. www.roqlarue.com.

PDX Contemporary

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Owner Jane Beebe displays a Jeffry Mitchell sculpture.

Owner Jane Beebe displays a Jeffry Mitchell sculpture.

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“As an art dealer, I describe PDX Contemporary as being a gallery of individuals,” said owner and gallery director Jane Beebe. “Each artist is very distinct from the other, so you can see I’m displaying a variety of works here. And taking a lot of checks home,” she added. “That’s my favorite thing … not just a couple of artists from the gallery, but many of my artists, will have good checks.”

James Lavadour, /PDX Contemporary

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"Country of Origin" by James Lavadour, 2015. Oil on panel, 38 x 76 inches.

"Country of Origin" by James Lavadour, 2015. Oil on panel, 38 x 76 inches.

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“Running Up” by James Lavadour. Oil on panel.

“Running Up” by James Lavadour. Oil on panel.

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James Lavadour is Native American, he lives on the Umatilla Reservation in Pendleton, Oregon,” Beebe said. “He considers himself an abstract expressionist, and he’s a painter’s painter. He lives in a quite isolated situation: he’s self-taught, but not the least bit naïve. He works every day.”

“His connection to the land is what comes out,” she continued. “It’s all studio work and not specific places, but when he makes a mark in the studio it’s like the physical memory of walking over the land. And he calls it an event of nature; he works on an individual panel for two to 10 years, and scrapes and adds to it, and it’s very much the way nature works as well, and so he feels like there are discoveries every day in his studio with just the natural alchemy of paint.”

Susie Lee/PDX Contemporary

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"The Fracking Fields: Johnny" by Susie Lee, 2013. High-definition video (image still), 47 1/2 x 29 inches.

"The Fracking Fields: Johnny" by Susie Lee, 2013. High-definition video (image still), 47 1/2 x 29 inches.

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Another artist in the PDX Contemporary booth was Susie J. Lee. Using high definition video equipment for stills, the artist went to the fracking fields, Beebe said, and “did portraits of the people who work there, mostly white males. It’s like the gold rush, so they get huge paychecks.”

“They’re all going to work in the fracking fields,” she said, “and the people who sat down were not given instructions other than ‘we are going to film you.’ There’s this one, Johnny, who is kind of challenging the camera, and it’s interesting to see the reaction to him: some people think he would be a buddy, some say he is scary, some want to get a date with him.”

Jeffry Mitchell/PDX Contemporary

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“White Salt Fired Elefants” by Jeffry Mitchell, 2015. Salt fired ceramic, 13 x 13 x 21 inches each (sold as a pair).

“White Salt Fired Elefants” by Jeffry Mitchell, 2015. Salt fired ceramic, 13 x 13 x 21 inches each (sold as a pair).

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"Salt Fired Elefant with Cobalt Decoration #2" by Jeffry Mitchell, 2015. Salt fired ceramic with cobalt glaze, 13 x 13 x 21 inches.

"Salt Fired Elefant with Cobalt Decoration #2" by Jeffry Mitchell, 2015. Salt fired ceramic with cobalt glaze, 13 x 13 x 21 inches.

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PDX Contemporary was also showing ceramic elephants made by Jeffry Mitchell.  “He is known for his ceramics,” Beebe said, “and he had a big solo show a couple years ago at the Henry [Seattle’s Henry Art Gallery museum; www.henryart.org]. I’ve collected his work personally for years, but now I represent him. So we’ve considered this fair our coming out party for our gallery and Jeffry Mitchell, and all the elephants have sold. They’re just so charming and they are based in art history, but they are also so delightful even just to enjoy without the context.”

Storm Tharp/PDX Contemporary

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"Not from Here (detail)" by Storm Tharp, 2014. Oil on panel, 53 x 42 inches.

"Not from Here (detail)" by Storm Tharp, 2014. Oil on panel, 53 x 42 inches.

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Referencing Not from Here by Storm Tharp, Beebe noted that “this artist works with whatever medium can best tell the story he wants to tell. He has done ceramics, sewn things, worked with a lot of ink, and he’s best known for his portraits with a spread of ink at the Whitney Biennial in 2010. But this is a painting.”

“So in this area here,” she said, “he’s done color field paintings, and that looks like straight abstraction, just the way he handles paint: the way he does the hair, just this very assured handling of paint, and it’s very intentional. It’s kind of hard to take your eyes off it.”

PDX Contemporary is located at 925 NW Flanders St, Portland, OR 97209. www.pdxcontemporaryart.com.

Winston Wacther Gallery (New York/Seattle)

The Winston Wachter Fine Art booth at the fair was devoted to Brooklyn based artist Dustin Yellin. His works have been garnering attention based on a recent installation with the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center and a TED talk in Vancouver, British Columbia in March 2015.

Jessica Shea, Development Director at Winston Wachter, gleefully acknowledged that the gallery had sold almost all of Yellin’s works at the fair. Proceeds from sales help Pioneer Works, Yellin’s non-profit, which sponsors collaborative residencies for musician, scientists and artists at a warehouse studio space in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn.

Dustin Yellin/Winston Wachter

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"Psychogeographies (various)" by Dustin Yellin, 2014. Glass, collage, acrylic paint, 72 x 27 x 15 inches.

"Psychogeographies (various)" by Dustin Yellin, 2014. Glass, collage, acrylic paint, 72 x 27 x 15 inches.

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"Psychogeographies (various)" by Dustin Yellin, 2014. Glass, collage, acrylic paint, 72 x 27 x 15 inches.

"Psychogeographies (various)" by Dustin Yellin, 2014. Glass, collage, acrylic paint, 72 x 27 x 15 inches.

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"Psychogeographies (various)" by Dustin Yellin, 2014. Glass, collage, acrylic paint, 72 x 27 x 15 inches.

"Psychogeographies (various)" by Dustin Yellin, 2014. Glass, collage, acrylic paint, 72 x 27 x 15 inches.

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"Psychogeographies (various)" by Dustin Yellin, 2014. Glass, collage, acrylic paint, 72 x 27 x 15 inches.

"Psychogeographies (various)" by Dustin Yellin, 2014. Glass, collage, acrylic paint, 72 x 27 x 15 inches.

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Dustin Yellin dropped out of high school at 17 and traveled through Europe and Asia,” Shea said. “He ended up back in Colorado with a physicist and they did some LSD, and that’s how the ‘psychogeographies’ were born; that’s what he calls them. They are made with layers of glass and he constructs on each pane using paint and cut paper from Life magazine and National Geographic.”

“They are all commentaries on our culture,” Shea said. “Is Coca-Cola and MasterCard and Exxon progress compared to raw nature and what we consider to be more simple civilizations? And that’s kind of the theme running through all of them.”

Winston Wachter Fine Art is located at 530 W 25th St, New York, NY 10001. www.seattle.winstonwachter.com.

Linda Hodges Gallery

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Gallery owner Linda Hodges.

Gallery owner Linda Hodges.

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Linda Hodges, owner of the eponymous gallery at 316 First Ave S in Pioneer Square, said, “We’ve met a whole new group of clients.” In addition to the gallery’s usual customer base, she said, “there is this younger crowd, a few people from out of town, and even some new blood from Seattle. I get a sense that they might not have come into the gallery, but they were attracted to the concept of the art fair.”

Hodges selected five artists for the fair, some of them established and others who are new, emerging artists from Seattle.

Gaylen Hansen/Linda Hodges

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"Kernal Riding Through Ruins" by Gaylen Hansen, 2002. Oil on canvas, 60 x 84 inches.

"Kernal Riding Through Ruins" by Gaylen Hansen, 2002. Oil on canvas, 60 x 84 inches.

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"Moon and Three Riders" by Gaylen Hansen, 2015. Oil on panel, 37 x 43 inches.

"Moon and Three Riders" by Gaylen Hansen, 2015. Oil on panel, 37 x 43 inches.

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Hodges noted that Gaylen Hansen is in his 90s and has shown internationally and in New York and Los Angeles, but his home base is in Washington State.  “I have represented him for more than 25 years and he’s one of our major forces in the whole art scene in the Pacific Northwest. He is a beautiful painter and his imagery tends to be narrative: he loves to tell stories.”

“And this particular character,” she said, indicating a figure in Kernal Riding Through Ruins, “is his alter ego, The Kernal. It’s kind of a Don Quixote kind of character. This was an earlier painting. And he just finished the full moon painting for the fair at age 93.”

Andrea Joyce Heimer/Linda Hodges

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"In Our Neighborhood Hunting Season Was a Big Deal and When the Men Came Back from their First Hunting Trip There Was a Celebration of Sorts" by Andrea Joyce Heimer, 2014. Acrylic/pencil on wood, 24 x 36 inches.

"In Our Neighborhood Hunting Season Was a Big Deal and When the Men Came Back from their First Hunting Trip There Was a Celebration of Sorts" by Andrea Joyce Heimer, 2014. Acrylic/pencil on wood, 24 x 36 inches.

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"Since Age 16 My Lovers Never Knew What They Were Getting Into. I've Wanted to Consume their Thoughts, Climb Inside Them, and Utterly Devour Them” by Andrea Joyce Heimer, 2014. Acrylic/pencil, 16 x 20 inches.

"Since Age 16 My Lovers Never Knew What They Were Getting Into. I've Wanted to Consume their Thoughts, Climb Inside Them, and Utterly Devour Them” by Andrea Joyce Heimer, 2014. Acrylic/pencil, 16 x 20 inches.

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Andrea Joyce Heimer is a Seattle-based artist in her early 30s, Hodges said, who is “actually doing quite well nationally and has had about five other galleries pick her up.”

“Her work is also about storytelling and content,” Hodges said, “but it’s very unfiltered and very ‘of today.’ The stories are about her childhood, and about relationships and parent-children conflicts, and I see it tied into Lena Dunham and ‘Girls,’ being completely unfiltered about relationships, sexuality, and violence.”

Lucinda Parker/Linda Hodges

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“From Owl Point” by Lucinda Parker, 2013. Acrylic on canvas, 90 x 53 inches.

“From Owl Point” by Lucinda Parker, 2013. Acrylic on canvas, 90 x 53 inches.

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The gallery owner described Lucinda Parker of Oregon, another artist in her booth, as “another well-known artist from the Northwest I’ve been representing for 25 years. She does nature-based work. Nature is an important force in our area, so the artists here depict it in different ways.” In a description of From Owl Point, Hodges pointed out, “So this is mountains and clouds with her signature take on them.”

Timea Tihanyi/Linda Hodges

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“Cosmology for a Sceptic, (The Star, the World, the Judgement, the Lovers, and the Moon)" by Timea Tihanyi, 2015. Porcelain, ceramic stain and glaze, rubber, 24 x 32 x 32 inches.

“Cosmology for a Sceptic, (The Star, the World, the Judgement, the Lovers, and the Moon)" by Timea Tihanyi, 2015. Porcelain, ceramic stain and glaze, rubber, 24 x 32 x 32 inches.

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Referring to Tihanyi's Cosmology for a Sceptic, Hodges said, “This image is kind of about intuition and knowledge ... She found those Tarot cards in the street in Brazil and made them into clay.”

Linda Hodges Gallery is located at 316 1st Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98104. www.lindahodgesgallery.com.

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Amber Cortes is a freelance multimedia journalist living in Seattle.

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Copyright 2015 Hamptons Art Hub LLC. All rights reserved.

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