Folklorists like to romanticize blues music as being a pure expression of culture, but recorded blues music was carefully marketed to its intended audience from its very beginning. As early as the 1920s, music aimed at African-Americans was labeled as "race music", and the best way to advertise it was in the pages of African-American newspapers. These newspapers had a wide circulation among urban African-Americans and even in parts of the South, where they were treated as contraband and discretely shared. While living in Arkansas, the singer Big Bill Broonzy recalled furtively reading the most famous of these newspapers, The Chicago Defender, and he made the move to Chicago in part because of what he had learned in the newspaper. Broonzy said that Black readers of the Defender were seen as brave, as it was a newspaper that promoted Black migration to the North, criticized racism in the South, and pushed for social change.1

Roq La Rue Gallery has spent more than the last decade bringing fine artists from Seattle and abroad into their modest space in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood. But come April 28th, 2013, their Belltown location will be closed forever -- sadly dampening the appeal of the neighborhood's last favorable drag -- and will be joining Pioneer Square's First Thursday art gallery circuit with their new space at 532 1st Ave S (near King St). Kicking off their new space will be a folkloric and symbolism-laden show of the variety we've come to expect from REDEFINE favorite and watercolor master Stacey Rozich. According to Roq La Rue, this new show, entitled Within Without Me, "is a notable jump up from previous shows containing larger, more complex works rendered in her trademark mediums of watercolor and gouache, as well as a deeper, more profound exploration of contemporary global social political themes." The show opens Thursday, May 2nd, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm at Roq La Rue's new location. See full post for a complete preview, or read our in-depth interview with Rozich where she talks about her roots, thematic inspirations, and emphasis on visual storytelling. 6 IMAGES TOTAL

 

Seattle's Flatcolor Gallery is taking a hiatus for the summer! But before then, they will be moving out of their long-standing Pioneer Square location (528 1st Ave. S, Seattle), and are inviting you to join them for a folkloric show of Stacey Rozich's new works. The opening is tomorrow, April 5th, from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. Select pieces are displayed below, and more can be see here.

 

See our interview with Stacey Rozich, Patterns Of Renewal

 

Like many other Seattle residents, I was first introduced to the work of fabric and mixed media artist Mandy Greer at the central branch of the Seattle Public Library. I remember liking her permanent installation, Library Unbound, and making a mental note to check out more of her stuff (which, of course, I completely forgot to do because I didn't write it down), but it wasn't until Greer's 2011 solo show, Honey And Lightening, at Roq La Rue Gallery, that I was moved from appreciation to awe.


mandy greer Honey And Lightening, 2011. Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle
Artists often describe their ideas as beginning with a seed, but with Greer the analogy is more literal: her work gives the impression of growth, and her compositions wind sinuously across both body and landscape as fractalized coral reefs that gracefully devour everything they come in contact with. Her painstaking craftsmanship involves the weaving and layering of such diverse materials as buttons, pom poms, sequins, beads, plastic trinkets, glitter, mirrors, and family members' hair. She uses "cheap materials" in such absurdly detailed, utterly chaotic excess that they they take on an aura of luminous richness. Her latest subjects involve strong, folkloric figures festooned in elaborate headdresses. They move gracefully through kaleidoscope forests and fields of trailing grass. One gets the sense of being enveloped by an epic fairy tale, but it's one that lacks a definitive plot. Greer draws from a wide spectrum of folk tales, finding inspiration in stories from Greek, Roman and Chinese cultures. "I stumble upon mythology that speaks to the struggle," she explains. There is an inherent delicacy in textile work – one that Greer both embraces and contradicts. In her works, haunting vignettes of half-told stories are littered with crocheted entrails and vines of thick, cloying mud that evoke a sense of elegant foreboding. They deal with a sense of vague narrative that, through abstraction, finds archetype; her installations whisper of timelessness – of a buried, invisible power that runs below the surface of the world that we cavalierly inhabit. At the time of our interview, Greer was still in the process of settling into her home studio, and walking into her workspace was like entering the magical dress up box every child dreams of having. Her studio is filled with giant, color-sorted plastic bins of fascinatingly patterned and textured scraps of fabric. Half of her studio is devoted to an exposed beamed staging ground for installations, and there are so many odds and ends lying around that, for someone with an attention span as short as mine, it's difficult to find a place for the eye to rest. INTERVIEW CONTINUES BELOW mandy greermandy greerHoney And Lightening, 2011. Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle

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