The Fussy Eye: Rolling Around

Farewell to Western Bridge.

Since opening in 2004, Bill and Ruth True's Western Bridge has been one of Seattle's favorite galleries, both for its massive size and festive openings. For its last group show before closing this month, I'm thinking how happy I am, the catering was again excellent, and artgoers had a jolly time kicking baseballs around the huge main floor. In Lutz Bacher's Baseballs II, they number in the hundreds, and no two are identical, since all have the unique scuffs and markings of use. Pick one up and it might have a different manufacturer than another, or some smell of grass and dirt; and as at an Easter egg hunt, you find yourself looking for special colors—like a red, white, and blue MLB commemorative ball I noticed. Small children scampered around, clearly enjoying the piece. Adults stepped carefully over the balls, or stooped to snap photos, not sure what to make of them. Conceptual artists often contrast the scale of Western Bridge to their installations, but Baseballs II is particularly underwhelming, and the few other contributions by Walead Beshty, Roy McMakin, and Euan Macdonald make no more of an impression. Macdonald once built a huge mountaintop here with taxidermy goats that I loved, but all these ideas seem exhausted by engaging the big space. The baseballs assume a random pattern, though only in one plane. There are no bats or gloves or even a batting cage to enliven the exhibit, nothing to raise it beyond the floor. There is motility, but no arc. 

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