Bumbershoot Visual Arts Preview: The Magic Show

Bumbershoot's visual arts displays have moved from their traditional location in the Northwest Rooms to the Seattle Center Pavilion (south of the Key, next to the skateboard park). Two of the exhibits are interactive and won't get underway until the crowds arrive on Saturday to start helping. The Magic Show, which features eight artists, is already up and running. Step inside the pavilion, and you immediately hear this grinding, rumbling sound like an old washer/dryer being run through an amp. That would be Doug Young's (seemingly) levitating tire, which spins within a large white housing that does indeed resemble an old GE appliance. Kids, I predict, will love it, while parents may be stuffing tissue in their ears. Even as you wander about the other stations in The Magic Show, the tire never leaves your head.

Wall placards announce the themes to the exhibit ("Levitation," "Penetration," and so forth), which was curated by Kathy Lindenmayer. One of the more pleasing pieces is an orange basketball inflated within a fishbowl, by Seattle's Jack Daws. Where's the magic? It's not exactly a ship-in-a-bottle, but the confinement and fragility of the thing--not to be used for a game of half-court--make it bright and appealing. It would be magic to stick a needle through the orb and not have it deflate. But, on the other hand, it was inflated with a needle (attached to a bike pump). The piece suggests both collapse and resiliency.

The ominous eyes you see in the background, peepholes into a plywood octagon, Portrait of Jherek Bischoff, by Seattle artist Jason Paccinelli. As you circle the structure, peeing within, glowing orbs slowly rotate inside, like light bulbs set on a lazy Susan. If you hit the right peephole at the right moment, their painted features coalesce into a face. This, too, should prove popular with kids, since the apertures are set fairly low to the ground. Here's a sample view:


In general, the sculptural pieces work better than the videos (there are two) and photos (a nice portrait of musician Vic Chestnutt, apparently levitating in his wheelchair). Though there is a funny conceptual piece by the local trio of SuttonBeresCuller: essentially a Craigslist ad for unwanted old magic gear from some seller in Puyallup, the printout stapled to the wall. There's a non-lethal guillotine for $250, trunks full of other tricks, and $600 buys you the entire package. I just wish SuttonBeresCuller had bought the contents and left them at The Magic Show, so visitors could try their own tricks.

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