Gorgeous Collision

A thorny installation flies high.

The skeleton of an inverted airplane is caught in a stand of thorny vines, held high above an undulating wooden platform. Possessing the bulbous shape of an old aircraft (as opposed to, say, a sleek commuter plane), it's perhaps a crashed pleasure flight. Or, as curator Beth Sellars suggests, maybe just a near miss, swooping up out of the water. Whatever narrative you adopt, the sculpture is in fact supported by the vines, a highly skilled trick of design, careful planning, and a lot of manual labor. The work, made of raw pine, took five months to construct, then—after it was disassembled—another three weeks to rebuild on location. Artist Mike Rathbun and three dedicated friends camped out in Suyama Space, working overnight so as not to disturb the Suyama Peterson Deguchi architects. Proximity to his piece (especially if you get the chance to stand on the swelling platform) is startlingly emotional. Perhaps this is the epiphany the artist is going for in his statement: "I then feel an emotional swell that is so profound it feels physical." And the work does it. You'll be dwarfed by the craft above, which reaches to the rafters of the high-ceilinged former auto-body shop. Caught at a high angle, the plane makes a tight fit, close to the skylights, and yet somehow opens out the room. Named for Suyama's latitude and longitude, N47° 36.878' W 122°20.788', the piece locates you in a fabricated reality, beautifully rendered and a bit dangerous. The aircraft is both protected and supported by foot-long sharp thorns, which, if visitors are allowed access to the uneven platform, will make for some very careful negotiations. Suyama Space, 2324 Second Ave., 256-0809. Ends Dec. 14.

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