7 art shows to see in Seattle in June 2023

Staff Picks

Solo shows offer the opportunity to immerse yourself entirely in the universe of one artist. Here are seven art shows by seven women artists from across the country, bringing reflections on the passing of time, our shared ties and the power of dreaming up new worlds. 

“Kelly Akashi: Formations” 

The Japanese idiom “Mono no aware” can be difficult to translate into an equally succinct English phrase. In essence, it refers to a melancholy awareness of the impermanence of all things. As the Los Angeles-based contemporary artist Kelly Akashi explained in an interview with Artforum, it is central to hanami, the Japanese custom of enjoying the fleeting beauty of the cherry blossoms in springtime — and Akashi’s art practice. “I want everything to somehow contain both a single instant, a moment, and an eternity,” she said. 

Akashi’s artworks — which include carved stone, photographs, bronze casts, handblown glass, wax candles, crystal and found objects — often fuse a sense of durability with a brittle tenderness, like a bronze hand (cast from her own) gently holding a set of pink glass cherry blossoms. This retrospective, the largest exhibition of the artist’s work to date, indicates that Akashi’s career will be anything but fleeting. 

June 17-Sept. 10; Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., Seattle; free; 206-622-9250, fryemuseum.org

“Megan Prince: Red Ratchet Strap Remnant Relationship (RRSRR)” 

What would you do with about 12,000 feet of reclaimed, decade-old red ratchet straps, those “tie-down” straps used to move and secure cargo? Seattle artist Megan Prince, who inherited the material from the local art collective SuttonBeresCuller, decided to hand-crochet them into a gigantic, soft wall sculpture. 

At METHOD Gallery, Prince’s wall weaving will be swooping up and down through the space, like an impenetrable net and soft cradle. With it, Prince invites us to think about what we consider garbage in today’s fast-paced consumerist world, what reuse looks like, how we, as humans and as a species, are tied together — and how all those things are interwoven.

June 1-July 22; METHOD Gallery, 106 Third Ave. S., Seattle; free; methodgallery.com

“Nancy Clark: Blackfeet Paintings and Archival Prints” 

In a new series of paintings and archival prints on view at Daybreak Star, Washington-based artist Nancy Clark, an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation who was raised in Spokane, honors her family history and Blackfeet heritage. 

Avatars of buffaloes and bears, plus the shapes of buffalo hides and traditional star-quilt designs appear in large-scale, intricately patterned gouache paintings and drawings made in permanent ink. Clark also honors various other pictorial traditions, including the orcas of the Northwest, to imbue a sense of respect for the interconnectedness of various Indigenous nations, as well as humans and the natural world more broadly. “Everything is connected,” she said, “the sky, the earth and the mountains.” 

Through June 30; Sacred Circle Gallery, 5011 Bernie Whitebear Way, Seattle (Discovery Park); free; 206-285-4425, unitedindians.org

“Elisheba Johnson: Department of Imagination”

Elisheba Johnson was around 9 when her aunt handed Johnson her first lottery ticket. Since then, the Seattle-based poet/artist/curator has loved the lotto. As an adult, she became fascinated with the “numbers games,” which, before state-run lotteries took over in the 1970s, were an important cultural and economic tenet of urban life for many working-class Americans, including in African American communities. As one of the few ways to invest and create wealth for themselves due to banks’ racist and exclusionary practices, the numbers (often chosen with the help of “dream books”) offered Black Americans a different kind of American dream.

In this new series, which includes mosaics, zines, poems and custom scratch tickets, Johnson takes the history of the numbers game, dreams and the lottery — which she calls “a source of hope and a mechanism of exploitation” — and asks: “What possibilities could you create if you weren’t focused on survival?” 

June 1-29; Gallery 4Culture, 101 Prefontaine Place S., Seattle; free; 206-296-7580, 4culture.org

“Anne Hirondelle: In the Layers” 

While longtime Port Townsend-based artist Anne Hirondelle is renowned for her colorfully coiled and organically abstract ceramics, drawing has also become an integral part of her practice. Hirondelle’s geometric drawings feel like a departure from, and complement to, her ceramics. She makes these drawings using graphite, paint and colored pencils to draw on various layers of softly folded, semi-translucent tracing paper. 

The result are abstract, almost suprematist compositions of repeating shapes and lines, a see-through peekaboo of paper layers. Like ethereal origami made two-dimensional, they are tricky in their simplicity. 

June 17-July 15; J. Rinehart Gallery, 319 Third Ave. S., Seattle; free; 206-467-4508, jrinehartgallery.com 

“Marybeth Rothman: Recent observations, and conjectures near Madaket Road” 

Years ago, Marybeth Rothman started collecting vintage photographs. Adopting these discarded — or, as she puts it, “orphaned” — photos became an obsession, and now she regularly uses them as collage elements in mysterious encaustic and multimedia paintings. Rothman digitizes the images, which she then alters by adding colors, patterns or text to re-home her “orphans” in entirely fictional milieus hinted at in titles like “The String Section of the Mill Creek Community Orchestra.” 

“I am always searching among my photographs for the man with averted eyes or the woman whose empty stare appears indifferent to communication beyond the lens,” Rothman said in a blog interview. “These un-self-conscious portraits are the inspiration for my work; a wish to reclaim these lost and forgotten souls by re-imagining their biographies.” 

7:30 p.m. June 1-July 1; Frederick Holmes and Company, 309 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle; free; 206-682-0166, frederickholmesandcompany.com

“Emily Counts: Sea of Vapors”

Emily Counts’ ceramic women are both real and imagined. They are sculpted from clay and Counts’ memories of her great-grandmother, grandmother and best friend who have died, as well as notions of herself and her mother. But in Counts’ universe, they are also magical, imaginary beings on their way to visit the Grandmother Wizard Queen by wading through the “Sea of Vapors” (named after a mare on the moon and, perhaps, a reference to the “vapors” of female hysteria.) 

In this brand-new immersive installation enhanced with music, velveteen, satin, metallic lamé and plexiglass, these female figures expose and cover their bodies as they see fit, free to look beautiful and odd, vulnerable and strong as they emit light from within. 

June 2-Dec. 31; Museum of Museums, 900 Boylston Ave., Seattle; $5-$20; museumofmuseums.com