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Artists Reflect On Clearcuts, Nuclear Echoes And Weather

A photograph by Steve Davis, 'Near Rochester,' part of the city of Seattle's 'Atmospheric Weather' exhibit on view through the end of the month.

A photograph by Steve Davis, ‘Near Rochester,’ part of the city of Seattle’s ‘Atmospheric Weather’ exhibit on view through the end of the month.

Steve Davis


There are a few art exhibits showing this month that could be thought-provoking to those interested in environmental issues.

‘The Question of Hope’

I had a chance to check out Portland Art Museum’s ‘The Question of Hope,’ a photo exhibit featuring the work of the venerable Robert Adams. Most of the 70 black and white photographs in the show have never been exhibited or published (the photos are also featured in a special exhibition book). Adams, who resides on the Oregon coast, has spent his career capturing images of the American West.

This show features two bodies of prints — one side of the room depicting clearcuts in Oregon’s coast range, the other showing ocean views. The intimate space of the lower level gallery allows viewers to get up close to the prints. Which is helpful given the meticulous detail of the photographs, especially those of the deforestation.


Julia Dolan, the museum’s Minor White Curator of Photography, wrote this about the works:

Some describe Adam’s imagery as distant, his approach stoic. Perhaps more accurately his vision is austere, but far from dispassionate. He believe that the natural world is hallowed, so deforestation is recorded with anguish, and the transcendental implications of seascapes are celebrated with reverence.

The exhibit is on view at Portland Art Museum through January 5. If you want to dive deeper into Adams work, The Oregonian reviewed the Portland show and NPR did a feature last year on Adams and curator Joshua Chuang who has studied Adams’ work extensively.

Robert Adams (American, born 1937). South from Ecola. Clatsop County Oregon, 1990, gelatin silver print © Robert Adams, courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.

‘Echo at Satsop’

An exhibit at Davidson Galleries by Seattle-based, Japanese native artist Etsuko Ichikawa reflects on the Japanese tsunami and nuclear tragedies. ‘Echo at Satsop’ includes works in a range of media from ‘pyrograph’ drawings to glass audio installation to short film. (The gallery’s website notes that she developed her “unique pyrograph technique – drawing with molten glass on paper” while working alongside Dale Chihuly.)


Etsuko Ichikawa. Echo 0813, 0913, 1013, 2013. Triptych Aquagraph, soot, embossed paper. 15 x 34 inches. Courtesy of Davidson Galleries.

A review in the Seattle Times describes the relationship between Satsop and Fukushima:

Ichikawa found an “echo” of the Fukushima catastrophe in Washington state’s Satsop nuclear facility, which was abandoned in mid-construction in 1983. Satsop’s colossal Cooling Tower #3 provides the set for a short film, also titled “Echo at Satsop,” that’s part of the exhibit.

Here’s the short (which is decidedly more arty a video than we normally post on EarthFix):

With all the recent news of more radiation leaks at the troubled Fukushima nuclear facility, Echo is certainly timely. The exhibit will continue at Davidson Galleries in Seattle through September 28.

‘Atmospheric Weather’

The City of Seattle has a Portable Works Collection a rotating collection of works that appears in many public buildings. Purchasing works for the collection, Seattle Public Utilities put a call out for works depicting “weather-related or atmospheric phenomena.” They’ve been exhibiting this recent purchase in a two-part exhibit called ‘Atmospheric Weather.’ The final part of the series features 16 different artists’ work spanning a variety of media. The show is on view at Seattle Municipal Tower Gallery through September 30.

— Toni Tabora-Roberts

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