For February, 3 shows at Seattle galleries worth your time

Get a history lesson at Woodside/Braseth with works by Morris Graves and Jacob Lawrence, and view the new with Jacob Foran at Abmeyer + Wood and Michael Knutson at Greg Kucera.

February brings something old and something new in Pacific Northwest art to Seattle galleries.

‘Important Paintings & Drawings by Northwest Master Morris Graves’ and ‘Images of Hope: Selected Prints by Jacob Lawrence’

Two stellar shows by artists with deep local ties, Morris Graves (1910-2001) and Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000), include magnificent touchstone works by the artists, while also revealing unexpected sides of them, at Woodside/Braseth Gallery this month.

The Graves pieces, spanning 50 years, vary in medium from charcoal, ink and watercolor drawings to large tempera or mixed-media paintings on paper. The giant among them is “Vessel in a Drift of Diamond Light in the Sky of the Mind” from 1944, when Graves was pushing closest to abstraction. The “vessel” of the title is a bright, soft-edged aura afloat in a vaguely diamond-shaped cage of ghostly lines bending and dissolving against a gauzy, pale violet backdrop. This is the “Northwest Mystic” at his most transcendent, with an uncanny ability to lift you right out of the workaday world. “Rainbow Trout Yogi” (1979) is in a similar meditative vein, with the fish of the title oddly “coinciding” with the head of a heron. The whole business is executed in lighthearted candy-stripe camouflage.

A few pieces take a more sinister turn (“Wounded Gull,” a serigraph from 1947), but most of them are playful. “Animal” (sumi ink on paper from 1954) conjures a creature as much from an absence of lines as any actual brush strokes. “Bird in Motion,” a drawing from the same year, sets avian wings and beaked head into blurry twitching motion.

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