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Saturday, June 23, 2012 - Page updated at 05:30 a.m.
Seattle Erotic Art Festival marks its 10th anniversary
By Michael Upchurch
Seattle Times arts writer
Last Saturday afternoon at Fremont Studios, body-painted works of art (i.e., nude bicyclists from the Fremont Solstice Parade) could be seen at the Seattle Erotic Art Festival perusing art works exploring every aspect of carnal experience. While that pairing of paintings with the merely body-painted isn't likely to be repeated this weekend, the liveliness of the art still holds good.
The Seattle Erotic Art Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with a vast, eclectic, erratic showcase of visual art, films and live performances. The trick to appreciating the festival is to assume that half of it will miss your personal mark in terms of sexual tastes or aesthetic standards.
Still, every year there are pieces that succeed on every level.
One wall sculpture, "Modesty — A Nude Leather Form" from Danny Boulet and Jed Vassallo's Seattle-based Misfit Leather studio, is a perfect example. With their fluid working of the leather, Boulet and Vassallo create the illusion of a female torso loosely and modestly fabric-draped, her raiment floating outward and upward around her. It's a stunner.
Another local artist, Betty Sander, achieves a kindred effect with her acrylic painting "Kouroi." It's a quadruple portrait of the same mustachioed male nude standing at slightly different angles. What's fascinating is the way Sander echoes the color-scheme she uses for his body in the swimming abstract shapes around him. Seattle artist Michelle Salazar takes a different approach to the male nude in "Torso Natural," using a sinuous, sketchlike painting technique that suggests more than it spells out.
There's a recurring vein of punning humor in the show. Maxximages' "Pairs" is a quartet of photographed pears that appear to be engaged in conjugal activity (a droll variation on Edward Weston's classic series of green peppers that uncannily resemble female forms). Seattle photographer Lucien Knuteson's "Circuit Broad" uses digital trickery in aid of some upbeat creepiness, as a kindly-looking inventor smiles fondly at his female-robot-in-progress.
Elegant nude studies can be found here and there. Black-and-white photographer Jeff Palmer's male aerialists couldn't be classier. Dusty Hauck's photograph-on-canvas, "Gnarled Oak," evokes a verdant Arcadia as its faunlike model traipses along a fern-and-moss-covered oak bough.
On the experimental front, Seattle photographer Almandra (there are many single-moniker artists in this show) sounds an unnerving note with her complex "Shame." Its sneering, bearded female model has peculiarly distorted eyes, and her flesh is a maze of photo projections and tattoos.
Bay Area photographer Mariah Carle's "Shorts" is about defiance as much as sensuality. Her body-painted male model (a military veteran?) has one arm amputated and a rippling scar in the middle of his belly. Staring directly into the camera, he's fully owning and transcending his damage.
Some sculpture entries are unusually strong and/or playful this year. Lawrence Feir's "The Stewardess" cleverly constructs a silvery female form entirely from spoons, forks and knives. Robert MacDonald's ash-wood carving, "Seed of Myth," consists of a small rib cage resting on a smoothly curving spine that, at its bottom, flicks up into a hooked tail. While not exactly sexual, it's eerie in the way it makes its skeletal structure seem so menacingly alive.
Special exhibits within exhibits include a showcase of five newly named "Masters of Erotic Art" and a historical survey of male nude photography titled "HomoPhotoArt: A Sixty Year Evolution."
Several film programs rotate during the festival in Fremont Studios' surprisingly comfortable theater. The main live-performance showcase, "Everything in Between" (9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday only), features local burlesque favorites Waxie Moon and Miss Indigo Blue, Canadian musical-comedy duo the Wet Spots and New York boylesque artist Tigger!
"Everything in Between" is preceded by an aerial performance on "Le Petit Piège" ("The Little Trap"), a 40-by-20-foot steel-cable spider web that lights up in response to performers' actions on it. See www.seattleerotic.org for full festival details.
Michael Upchurch: firstname.lastname@example.org
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