SPU Portable Works Collection

Rather like the WPA program during the Great Depression, our Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) acquisition of 32 recent works by emerging local artists is something to appreciate as the economy worsens. On view through March 31 (8 a.m.-6 p.m.), these photos and paintings are on display in a back gallery surrounding an open stairwell—push past the gift shop after entering from the corner of Fifth and Cherry. Later, they’ll be dispersed to various city offices as part of the SPU Portable Works Collection. At tonight’s reception, you may be able to meet some of the up-and-coming artists, including Scott Foldesi. In a new series of photo-based paintings (recently seen at James Harris Gallery), he strips away the background detail and texture of banal strip malls, gas stations, and—in Check Out—supermarket scenes. The floor or footing often seems erased. There’s no place for people, if there were any, to stand. Everything feels filtered down to the underlying color and geometry. It’s painting as a process of reduction. Also notable are Isaac Layman’s giant Extension Cords photo collage (like David Hockney’s old Polaroid constructions), the large-scale photo realism of Chris Engman, and Diem Chau’s hair-braided plates. (Closed Sat. and Sun.)BRIAN MILLER

Feb. 10-March 31, 8 a.m., 2009

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