Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Alisha Baker

detail from self-portrait, Alisha Baker

If you live in Seattle, and you happen to be free on Friday between 5:00 pm and 9:00 pm, drop by the opening reception for Alisha Baker's stint as featured artist as part of the U-District artwalk. Kelley and I hope to be there at some point. If you see us, please introduce yourself. Here's all the info from Alisha:

Come enjoy an evening of free music, art & wine!

The Artist's and Craftsman Supply store is joining the U-District Artwalk, and has invited me to be their first featured artist for the month. This should be a fun opening, and a little different from what I've done before... I'm calling it "The B-sides and Rarities." I'll be featuring the often-unseen drawings and paintings that form the process of exploration through artistic academia. On view will be those pieces that stood out to me from the piles of work that line my path through classrooms and studios over the last ten years of study.

The instrumental rock & roll band "Rabbit Skin Glue" will be performing, members of which are familiar faces behind the counter of A&C. Hope to see your smiling faces there!

Opening Reception:
Friday, Dec. 19, 5-9pm
4350 8th Ave NE, Seattle, 98105
(located just off 45th near the freeway, behind Petco. Look for the parking lot marked with the sign for A&C.)

Here's a sample of the kind of thing that will be on show:

Dude, Alisha Baker

I've been following Alisha's work for five years, when I started doing yoga at a place called Whole Life Yoga, which hosted a class designed for people with MS. Afterward the class, many of us would walk next door to Tully's for coffee. Often the barista who served me (single short latte, whole milk, none of that 2% crap) was a young woman called Alisha. We'd chat, as people do, passing the time of day while the espresso hissed and the milk frothed. I told her I was a novelist. She told me she was a painter. One day she showed me a postcard of one of her paintings: the flyer for a show at a coffee shop in the U-District called Perkengruven. It was an astonishing picture, a young girl doing archery. I was immediately taken with it. I'll go, I said. Cool, she said, clearly not really believing I would. But I did. And I bought one of her paintings. (Take a look at her old stuff here; if you pay attention, you'll see which one I bought. We kept it over the--never-used--fireplace in our old house; now it hangs in the family room.) It was very cool going back to Tully's the next week and saying, So, I bought one of the pictures. When can I have it? The look on Alisha's face--I felt like Santa. I imagine that's how editors feel when they buy a new writer's novel. Mutual delight.

Since then Kelley and I have bought two more paintings. (And Alisha designed the logo for Humans at Work.) There's a painting she's been working on that's now finished which I really want but since the stock market's, ah, caperings and publishing's implosion I am sadly puzzled as to how to afford it. (You can see a detail of the work-in-progress here.)

Alisha describes herself an "archaeologist of lost moments." Her work is often inspired by old photographs. She is not afraid to show those snapshot instances of unhidden emotion; she captures them beautifully. When I look at her portraits, I feel glad. She also writes honestly about her process here on her blog.

I think her work is changing--getting more confident and more colourful, developing a fascination for the sea and beach. This may be the last chance to see the early stuff. She has another show coming in January, and perhaps before then I'll be able to persuade her to write a guest blog. Meanwhile, if you're around on Friday, do yourself a favour, come and look at something that will make you feel happy to be alive. (And, y'know, score some free music and wine and conversation.)

See you there.

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