Cast in reds and purples, a woman in a lace bra and underpants looks as if she's putting her hair up. Her arms are raised, her spine is slightly bent. This work of feminine beauty—long hair, arched brows, full lips—reads like any number of magazine ads, an image offered for easy consumption. And yet, the more painterly aspects are what pull me in: the spill of pigment outside the line of the thigh, the delicately rendered lacery of the bra, and the gesture of the arms—all pointed elbows and lovely shading. The paint, as well as the pose, bids me come-hither. The medium seems to mitigate some of that airbrushed beauty. While the rest of the works in the show, "Unexpected Watercolors," are hung salon-style by curator (and Seattle Weekly contributor) Carrie E.A. Scott, this small piece is displayed all by itself on the wall farthest from the gallery entrance. Between the loose, wet pool of color outside the margins of the portrait, the monochrome palette, and the gestural, almost sketchlike nature of the brushwork, Red Tish offers more than visual titillation—though it offers that, too. Staring out from the frame, the subject seems to know she's being looked at, and her direct gaze seems to implicate us in the looking. And perhaps that's what Francisco Guerrero, a professor at Seattle University, is getting at. Maybe this work is more about the gaze (ours as well as the model's) than about the fact of her as a near nude.
Hedreen Gallery at the Lee Center for the Arts, 901 12th Ave., 296-2244. Ends Jan. 12.