It’s dark in back of the gallery, and at first you think Scott Kolbo, in his first solo show, is simply displaying dense pencil drawings mounted on glowing light boxes. Look more closely, and you detect movement behind the lines, like actors behind a stage scrim, creating depth to his tableaux. Watch a while, and you detect the source videos—slowed down, digitally altered, animation added—on a flat video screen. (Three larger works are also projected on the walls for Our Alley, accompanied by a few drawn character studies.)
At the opening, Kolbo told me his alley scenes of children running wild “were all inspired by the alley behind my own house in Spokane,” where he grew up. Recently transplanted to Seattle, teaching at SPU, he recruited his own kids and their pals to play games in the alley. “I asked them, ‘If there were no adults around, what would you do?’ They made up their own characters, and I recorded it—and offered some suggestions. It was like herding cats.” With various props and one slightly menacing adult (dubbed “The Tweaker”), the scenes lasted 30 seconds to a few minutes. Then, over the next few years, Kolbo gradually traced over the videos, creating a busy lattice of pencil outlines and gestures into which the videotaped characters settle. “I just pause and capture movements that I think are poignant,” he says. Each time the video slows or halts, you see a new composition in the same frame. The kids shift from innocent to threatening postures, then the mood lightens again—as if a parental voice is calling them inside for milk and cookies.
Gallery4Culture, 101 Prefontaine Place S. (Tashiro Kaplan Building), 296-7580, 4culture.org. Free. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri. Ends July 31.