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While curator Robin Held has been pushing the limits of the Frye's mission for several years now, perhaps no exhibit will compel dialogue around the parameters of representational art more than Patricia Piccinini's upcoming show of recent work, "Hug." This first U.S. survey will include around 20 of Piccinini's hyperrealistic sculptures of mutant beings. In any environment, these pieces poignantly ask us to consider the ways in which humans and animals will change as a result of biotechnological intervention. But with the works brilliantly juxtaposed against the Frye's collection of traditional portraiture, Piccinini's message will be even more flagrant. Looking back and forth between the old canvases and the remarkably realistic-looking silicone sculptures, it should be hard, if not impossible, not to think about what will happen if we keep messing with creation. Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., 622-9250, www.fryemuseum.org. Sat., Sept. 22–Sun., Jan. 6.
When Greg Kucera announced in 2004 that the unknown, fresh-out-of-graduate-school sculptor Drew Daly would join the ranks of the artists he represents, many an eyebrow was raised. Now, a little more than three years later, no one can so much as bat an eye. Daly's new exhibit of sculptures and photographs is, in fact, among the more anticipated shows at the gallery. And for good reason: Deconstructing and then reconstructing objects, Daly's patient practice yields magical results. A single chair is broken into tiny little pieces and then put back together as two. A chest of drawers is splayed open like a fan. In Daly's hand, utterly familiar but entirely lifeless inanimate objects become haunting and mesmerizing ghosts of themselves. Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Ave. S., 624-0770, www.gregkucera.com. Thurs., Oct. 4–Sat., Nov. 10.
OKOK's part-owner Charlie Kitchings has been looking forward to this show more than any other this year. And once he explained what's been proposed for the space, it makes perfect sense why he's so pumped. For Exact Change, Grant Barnhart is tracing the length of the gallery with something like 50 metal rockets and, at the end of this assemblylike line, will install a mechanized vertical conveyor belt. Hand-screened with images of Barnhart relatives and designed by the artist's father, who is a railroad engineer, the industrial sculpture will literally be spinning Barnhart's history into the exhibition. Pair all that with an enormous two-paneled painting covering the entire back wall of the gallery, and the fact that all of Barnhart's work is based on templates the artist formed from deconstructing Robert Rauschenberg's combines, and you've got quite a show on your hands. OKOK Gallery, 5107 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-6242, www.weareokok.com. Opens Sat., Nov. 10.
A few weeks ago I contacted the new (and thoroughly engaging) associate curator at SAM, Marisa Sanchez, in the hopes that she'd tip me off to one really exciting exhibition coming up this fall. Instead, she handed me a lengthy list of shows that are all worthy of attention: November's "Real and Imagined Landscapes," an exhibit of photographs from the museum's collection and others'; Su-Mei Tse's video installation in December at SAAM; a New Year's exhibit that will show off all the museum's new acquisitions (tentatively titled "Truly, Madly, Deeply"). In other words, I'd be remiss not to suggest you simply keep your eyes on SAM. Just as all the opening hype might be wearing thin, our museum's proving just how stimulating its new space and its new curators really are. Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., 654-3100, www.seattleartmuseum.org.