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Group Exhibition
NEPO House
1723 S Lander Street, Seattle, WA 98144
February 5, 2011 - February 28, 2011

Close Quarters and Simple Chance
by Jessica Powers

NEPO House is a house-based project space and experimental art location. These types of spaces have become more popular recently in Seattle as a confluence of a few factors: the lack of a strong orthodox institutional structure in Seattle, the conviviality felt between many local artists, the desire to fill in where large formations leave gaps. NEPO House is intriguing because it is also a family home. Czech-born Klara Glosova started with conceptualization of an “open house.” This spatio-temporal and architectural basis bred an integration of art into her domestic sphere that maintains both art and domesticity as symbiotic.

NEPO House truly is open – an opening, and their new series NEPO LITTLE TREATS, which focuses on small scale projects and shows based entirely in the front entryway of the home. While one could wax about the house itself architecturally, it strikes me that the location isn't so much an afterthought as beside the point. The conceptual “open house” that Glosova is interested in maintaining isn't bound to the location, it's a maxim or an idea to get behind. Where it manifests seems wholly beside the point. Nonetheless, it is shocking how gallery-like (in a good way) this entryway has become.

“Little Treats 1 – The Pajama Game,” a modest group show curated by artist Jason Hirata, takes the conceits of “little treats” and “game” very seriously. His goal was to create a show that brings out the underlying gamesmanship between objects and bodies or bodies and bodies. The works, by Matthew Offenbacher, Gretchen Bennett, Sol Hashemi, Ian Toms, and Daphne Stergides can't help but have an interplay, a tactile relation created perhaps by the close quarters or the placement or simple chance. Bennett's two small pieces, one an homage to John Ruskin, reference the corner and sill of a window. Two paintings, by Toms and Offenbacher, occupy a wooden staircase. Toms is a multi-materialist, but his best pieces are his doodle-esque oil canvasses. This painting is a magnification of a page of his sketchbook, ink blots and all. On the other hand, Offenbacher supplies the name of the show with a dirty-pink hued “The Pajama Game,” inspired by childhood memories of his father's theater involvement.

They aren't viewable at the same time, but spatially they remain linked, and the use of both text and color serves as a common thread among both paintings. Sol Hashemi compliments the disciplines of both portraiture and photography with his eye for objects, exhibited in this show by a crystal-crusted hunk of rock. It's a specimen and a devotional object. Stergides has done bronze relief work in the past, but here she exhibits only the molds. It's a subtle gesture, pointing at where work originates and how it comes to be and work. Hashemi's stunning rock photo and Stergidis' relief molds (both ancient seeming and geologic) also seem paired by proximity and affect. Each of these dyads connects to the whole, and though the show is small, it remains cohesive, linked, and well-considered. Both NEPO House operator Klara Glosova and the curator, Jason Hirata, have shown us that this type of project space is capable of producing quality and deep shows, even within the constraints of finance, space, and co-habitation.
It's an intricate game, balancing a home, an art space, a mix of materials, a viewership, the part and the whole. Presence and relation can seem infinite, but its more that they tend to be unknown. NEPO House is a gambit, a continuation of the game of revealing—where we learn what a body (or object, or image) can do and how it works. The strength of independent operations in backyards, sheds, basements, and other unused or under-used spaces shouldn't be underestimated. The genius is that the community produces for itself what it wants—shows, performances, and collaborations.

(Images:Sol Hashemi, Daphne Stergides, Gretchen Bennett. Courtesy of the artists and NEPO House)

Posted by Jessica Powers on 2/21/11

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