Put a bird on it and call it art? Pshaw. Try tentacles instead!
Pop culture maven, author and crafter extraordinaire Bonnie Burton has teamed up with Capitol Hill’s Ltd. Art Gallery (307 E. Pike St.) to curate a fantastic new exhibition running now through June 1 and paying homage to octopi and other many-armed friends: “TENTACLES!”
Burton challenged 40 artists from around the country—some of her personal favorites as well as others suggested by gallery co-owner James Monosmith—to come up with inventive riffs on the theme of tentacles. As a crafter, she further encouraged them to explore different media.
The artists delivered. From dapper Cthulhus and monstrous squid to squee-worthy baby octopi, the pieces in the exhibition explore every species and cephalopod-related mythos imaginable, in myriad art styles. Some contributors produced stunning 2-D art for the show in digital and traditional media, such as Plinio Marcus Pinto’s “Davy Vader” watercolor mash-up between “Star Wars” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Others opted for unusual materials and three dimensions. Graphic designer Tomi Monstre sketched on a wood panel and Candice Ciesla painted on a skate deck, for example, while Jessicka Addams added lace and thread to her gorgeously melancholy mixed-media sculpture, “Neptune’s Wake.” The Pumpkin Geek even contributed an intricately carved craft pumpkin, “Davy Jones.”
Other featured artists include Paul Ainsworth, Kari-Lise Alexander, Greg Aronowitz, Mike Bell, Barry Blankenship, Craig Church, Daisy Church, justJENN designs, Gerald de Dios, Joshua Ellingson, Michael Fleming, James Gilleard, Nathan Hamill, Blain Hefner, Claire Hummel, Aaron Jasinski, Ward Jenkins, Jim Koch, Christina Lank, Nan Lawson, Adam Levermore, Cecy Meade, Eliot Mechanism, Melissa Monosmith, Jen Oaks, Michael O’Driscoll, Damon O’Keefe, Chet Phillips, Reid Psaltis, Mark Sarmel, Clay Sisk, Todd Spence, Meghan Stratman, Super Ugly and Bruce White.
One piece of fiber art unfortunately did not make it to the show, Burton’s own: “I was planning on bringing a giant tentacle body pillow I made for the show, but my dog claimed it as her new sleeping buddy, and I didn’t have the heart to take it from her!”
Following on the heels of the wildly successful “Hey Geek Girl! A Tribute to Women and Pop Culture,” which Burton curated at Ltd. Art Gallery last year, Monosmith invited Burton to pick a theme for another show. It wasn’t a huge leap for Burton to choose tentacles. “I’m a big fan of giant squid, octopi, kraken, Cthulhu and anything with tentacles!” she explains. “When I was a kid and we’d visit the lake, I always liked to pretend the reeds in the water were tentacles grabbing at my ankles. I was a weird kid.”
The exhibition might be a slimy, squiggly dream come true for Burton, but her enthusiasm infects others as well.
After all, Burton managed to drum up real excitement for the H. P. Lovecraft-inspired erotica anthology “Cthulhurotica” on an episode of “Vaginal Fantasy,” the sci-fi/paranormal romance book club and web show that Burton hosts with Felicia Day, Veronica Belmont and Kiala Kazebee on the Geek & Sundry YouTube channel. Scoffing at the idea that supernatural horror and romance don’t mix, she affirms, “I aim to put the love back in Lovecraft!”
Burton, geek girl royalty and author of bestseller “The Star Wars Craft Book,” writes craft books aimed mainly at kids (yet appropriate for playful adults). She uses varied media to express herself artistically, from felt and recycled bottles to glitter and googly eyes. She also hosts “Geek DIY” for Stan Lee’s “World of Heroes” YouTube channel. To learn more about her work, visit her website www.grrl.com.
Located in the heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Ltd. Art Gallery is known for showcasing edgy contemporary and pop art inspired by famous icons of pop culture. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. To browse pieces from “TENTACLES!” or purchase art online, visit the gallery’s current exhibition page.