Angle of Repose - Press

Sculpture magazine of Ruffle

Ruffle

Suyama Space Ruffle



Gail Grinnell | Bellevue Arts Museum

Gail Grinnell | The Spokesman Review

Gail Grinnell | Larson Gallery Catalog

Gail Grinnell | Bitter Love


Gail Grinnell | Izabella

Gail Grinnell | Bitter Love

Gail Grinnell | Arlene and Angel

Gail Grinnell | Tussie-Mussie

Gail Grinnell | Scrap

Gail Grinnell | Roots

Gail Grinnell | Drawing 237

Gail Grinnell | Piecework

Gail Grinnell

Gail Grinnell | Onions

Gail Grinnell | Crossing

Gail Grinnell | Borders

Gail Grinnell | Whole Cloth

Gail Grinnell | Fabrication

Gail Grinnell | Crochet

Gail Grinnell | Caulderon

Gail Grinnell | Installation

Gail Grinnell | Remainder

Gail Grinnell | Cowgirl

Gail Grinnell | Splice

Gail Grinnell | Doily

Gail Grinnell | Shelf Paper

Gail Grinnell | Fluer de Lis

Gail Grinnell | Wood Block
We Are a Crowd of Others
www.crowdofothers.com

facebook, instagram, twitter twitter icon facebook icon for We Are a Crowd of Others

We Are a Crowd of Others is a forum for people to engage with this reality: a person’s identity often exceeds the limitations of their body, manifesting in words and actions. The performances, installations, readings and other events that make up this exhibition are disparate but the lens we use to view them is singular. We are examining a synchronous vibration: how does something resonate within a culture? How does it extend beyond a source, moving through rather than between people? How does it amplify or fade away?... to read more click here



Three's a Crowd at MadArt Studio
The Seattle Times
October 29, 2016


Read article here.



Vanguard Seattle
T.S. Flock
December 2016


Read article here.



Arts and Culture: Fall Arts Preview 2016
Jim Demetre
September 2016


Read article here.



Out of Sight
Suyama Space


Read article here.





Review: Gail Grinnell
Boise Art Museum, Boise, Idaho
Sculpture Magazine, March 2015
Vol. 34 No. 2 Page 73


Seattle artist Gail Grinnell has gained her share of attention over the past several years with thoughtful fabricbased installations and striking wall hangings at prominent venues throughout the Northwest. angle of repose, a site-specific project for the Boise Art Museum’s high-ceilinged, expansive Sculpture Court, enabled her to create her largest work to date, spanning the entire 80-foot-long space. With assistance from her artist son, Sam Wildman, Grinnell fabricated an expansive, lightweight, yet imposing structure made from 600 yards of translucent seamstress interfacing held together by crochet pins... to read more click here.

Gail Grinnell: “Angle of Repose”
at Boise Art Museum
Art Ltd. Magazine, 2014


Gail Grinnell’s site-specific installation currently on view at Boise Art Museum continues a BAM curatorial focus on presenting innovative sculptural works enabled by the length, breadth, and height of its impressive, sun-bathed Sculpture Court. This Seattle-based artist has fabricated a lightweight, seemingly fragile, yet imposing structure made from 600 yards of translucent seamstress interfacing, held together by long crocheting pins. Her resilient ribbons of treated, spun-bound fabric are dyed with tea, coffee, or India ink to provide a palette of browns, grays, and black, along with acrylic pastels and white. With these, she has woven an elaborate design in the shape of a cornucopian horn which occupies the length of the 80-foot space. In presenting this traditional symbol of harvest and plenty, the artist employs the physics of balance and gravity to achieve a large-scale, biomorphic cocoon at rest, ergo the title... to read more click here.

At Suyama Space: Sophisticated 'Ruffle'
Suyama Space, Seattle
through Dec. 7, 2012
By Robert Ayers
Special to The Seattle Times


Sculptors have talked about "drawing in space" for at least a century now, but rarely has the phrase been so appropriate, or so beautifully embodied, as in "Ruffle," Gail Grinnell's splendid installation at Suyama Space. Grinnell does her drawing on dressmakers' interfacing, a lightweight, translucent fabric used to stiffen fabric, and in "Ruffle," the biggest work she has ever made, she has used 500 yards of it. It comes in a neutral off-white, but Grinnell lends it more interest by dyeing some of it with tea or coffee in pale tints of gray, brown or pink… to read more click here.

Sewing for Ghosts
Gail Grinnell"s Perfect Mess
by Jen Graves
the Stranger, September 2012
Click here to read the article.

Consumed, Cocooned:
Gail Grinnell's Ruffle
by Amanda Manitach
City Arts, September, 2012
Click here to read the article.

Gail Grinnell, Ruffle
Suyama Space, Seattle
Sculpture Magazine, November 2012


Grinnell’s densely constructed, gossamer installations conjoin earthly corporeality and ethereal spirit. Using dressmaking patterns inherited form her mother, she structures spatial bodies out of stiffened, translucent fabric that accepts color, stain (from coffee and tea), and sumi ink lines. Fragile and transitory, her web-like environments spin remnants of ordinary human activity onto otherworldly landscapes imprinted with the inner workings of the body (intestinal coils, bones, tendons, blood vessels) and the structural elements of clothing (necklines, zippers, pleats). Metaphors for the mismatched, continually altered plans and desires that make up life, these works grow from design subject to contingency. RUFFLE continues her investigation into the creative body, combining theatrical experience with absorbing meditation on the archaeology of human nature.

Time Lines by Janet Koplos
essay for "Ruffle" an installation by Gail Grinnell
Suyama Space, Seattle, WA


An installation is a spatial experience, and it’s also defined by time. Gail Grinnell’s installation for Suyama Space—an assembly of lengths of Sharpie-marked papery fabric—is at least triply engaged with time. First there’s the standard implication that an installation is temporary; after its exhibition dates it is disassembled and no longer exists as an entity. But this is also an installation that immediately makes you think of its sequential process of creation, so you get a sense of the artist’s investment of time in the work, both in making the many elements and in arranging them. And in addition, Grinnell evokes an image, an aura, of time past or passing, which seems to be part of her subject. ... read more here

Gail Grinnell Ruffle
Septemeber 10 - December 07, 2012
Suyama Space, Seattle, WA
www.suyamaspace.org
www.suyamaspace.org/news


RUFFLE is a three-dimensional massing of contour line drawings inscribed and cut to shape on stiff, translucent fabric that spans the gallery walls, ceiling and floor. The delicate structure of transient materials opportunistically borrows strength and structure from the architecture. The sculptural material holds a deep-rooted significance for Grinnell, taking its genesis from dressmaking patterns lovingly shaped by her mother in the creation of Grinnell’s adolescent dresses during the mid-1900s. At her mother’s death Grinnell inherited hundreds of her mother’s frugally saved patterns. Motivated to make art that revealed her generational connections, Grinnell initially used the actual tissue-paper patterns for her sculptural work. She later switched to the more durable polyester interfacing fabric, but her work remains a constant acknowledgment of her familial memory.

Gail Grinnell: tinker, tailor....2011
Catalog essay by Patricia Watkinson,
published by Jean Behnke
www.anchorartspace.org


An imposing column—a pale monolith—dominates the Anacortes Anchor Art Space. Seemingly organic in nature it wells up from the floor layer upon layer and begins to creep across the ceiling. Or does it fall from the ceiling and, gathering force, tumble foaming to the ground? A waterfall in spate? Or the endless train of a cascading wedding dress, the work of a thousand seamstresses, each with her own exquisite virtuosity?

This is Gail Grinnell’s installation, “tinker, tailor, mender, maker.” A closer viewing reveals that the first impression of flowing cloth holds true. Swirls, pleats, and curlicues of translucent fabric drop and twist as if caught by an unfelt breeze. Tendrils of fabric create lace‐like patterns and between them there are glimpses of an interior world where diaphanous forms hint at creeping roots, intertwining boughs, and ghost blossoms. Ribbon shapes morph into intricate knots or coiled intestines, braids give way to vertebrae, and a few pale skeletons float close to the ceiling.

Here and there the layers of white, cream, or ivory are tinged almost imperceptibly with the palest pink, the lightest blue, set next to shadowy grey. Translucent forms catch the light and allow glimpses of luminous, pale shapes deep in the heart of the structure. What at first glimpse had seemed an overwhelmingly powerful presence reveals itself, up close, on the molecular level so to speak, to be composed of individual pieces that are surprisingly insubstantial and delicate. White, luminous, ethereal: all is as weightless and as airy as a moth’s wing. ... read more here.

Bellevue Arts Museum
Fall News, 2009
Conversations


Stefano Catalani (curator) talks to Seattle artist Gail Grinnell about her new BAM installation, “Lightly Here”….

Currently on view in the Museum’s Forum is the installation “Lightly Here” by the Seattle artist Gail Grinnell. It continues Grinnell’s evolving exploration of the relationship between the earthly reality of the body and the lightly tethered spirit. The work uses imagery and materials from the art of clothing construction in combination with the drawn line to create figures that suggest an entwined sense of gravity and buoyancy… to read more click here.

The Spokesman Review
May 14, 2009 in Features
On the Wall Jennifer Zurlini
'Body of Work' for the clothes minded


If you’ve been to Europe, you've likely seen laundry hanging out to dry, pinned onto clotheslines suspended from overhead balconies of apartment buildings – one atop another, zigzagging modern and historic architecture alike – or billowing gracefully across pastoral country landscapes.

Skirts, dresses, trousers, shirts and undergarments flap openly in the wind, revealing much about their inhabitants.

Contemporary artist Gail Grinnell's "Body of Work" exhibition at Lorinda Knight Gallery captures the flitting human spirit that is "tethered lightly" to the body, referencing the clothing that the spirit dons on this earth, from its layers and folds of human anatomy to its clothbound extremities.

The work was inspired by Richard Wilbur's 1956 poem, "Love Calls Us to the Things of This World," in which the poet likens fresh morning laundry billowing on a line to awakening human spirits, floating off, yet pinned to the pulleys.

"As long as you’re on this earth, you’re tethered," said Grinnell. "You love and hate the world you inhabit. It’s part of one’s waking consciousness. It's uncomfortable being in your own body sometimes, and sometimes it's a complete joy."

The poem started resonating with Grinnell in 2006, when she hung her "Bitter Love" series at the Francine Seders Gallery in Seattle, where she now lives.

Grinnell creates the many layers of her artwork in a production line, first making large-scale line drawings of sewn sections of clothing, like the ruffle of a neckline, a dress zipper, or the pleats of an inverted skirt.

In another sweep, the studio will be awash with the inner workings of the human body, the coils of the intestines entwined with bones, tendons and blood vessels.

Like a seamstress, Grinnell layers the transparent drawings, made from black or white ink on spun polyester and silk fabrics, with constructive interfacing to stiffen them up.

She adds translucent layers of vintage clothing patterns she inherited from her late mother, hanging the sheer, clear-acrylic-coated skins to dry on clotheslines in her studio between stages of development. She later cuts out the shapes like pattern pieces to fit into her free-flowing contours.

"She's always been interested in the body and also in sewing and in clothing the body," said Spokane gallery owner Lorinda Knight, who has represented Grinnell since 2000.

"Because she’s not working in the inner frame (of a canvas) anymore, it frees them up," she said of Grinnell's latest pieces. "They pulse with life."

The clothing patterns in Grinnell's work might suggest the plans we make for our lives, the patterns we make and leave behind, and our desires.

After choosing a pattern, there are infinite ways an article of clothing can be designed, by varying fabrics, textures, notions, the placement of the bias, colors of thread, and adornments.

Repetition and misplaced anatomy suggest the way that best laid plans go astray, becoming entangled with the bones and blisters of our reality.

The enormous size of some of the pieces – up to 10 feet tall – reflects the boundless spirit that is released, yet tethered in Grinnell's vision.

Selected works from Grinnell's "Bitter Love" series are included in "Body of Work," as well as pieces created during her coastal artist residencies in Mojacar, Spain, in 2007, and Ballycastle, Ireland in 2008.

"In Spain, I was literally sitting on an archeological Moorish/Roman site," said Grinnell. "There was an old dig there," where bones and fossils were unearthed.

"Flutter" depicts a walking human figure with adjoining ruffles for wings –a butterfly embarking on a journey, yet zipped to the spine. A rib cage is placed in the leg, literally holding the man's breath and anchoring him to the ground.

The image is pinned to the wall with straight pins, creating a pleasing sense of lightness, translucency and movement.

During last year's residency at The Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ireland, Grinnell was inspired by a very old bogland excavation.

"Ireland was very moody and full of ancestors," said Grinnell. "It was all around me. Both sites were like that."

Pieces titled "Eddy," "Rise," "Angel" and "Bog" are among those she composed in her temporary Irish studio. Bones are incorporated into the layers, mysteriously giving rise to a feeling of buoyancy rather than sinking.

"Arlene," at 9 feet tall, is a jellyfish surging upward, composed of ruffles stitched together with vertebrae, dragging tendrils of Celtic knots that twist into skeletons. Softly pleated fabric sections double as ligaments.

Movement and transparency, replete with vintage patterning, create a haunting, resilient beauty, knotted and tied to this world in otherworldly ways.

Jennifer Zurlini can be reached at jenniferz@spokesman.com or (509) 459-5479.


Larson Gallery Catalog
Layered Histories
Lynda K. Rockwood and Gail Grinnell
2008


(Excerpted)
Grinnell has been producing work that layers not only materials like fabric, paint, cloth, collage and paper, but also ideas and evocations of her family history and the layered dependencies that mark life. Several works from her “Bitter Love” series appear in this exhibition and challenge the viewer to think of them as plant, body, pattern, muscle, tendon, garment, ruffle, or ghostly spirit … to read more click here.


Fiber Arts Magazine
April/May 2007

Gail Grinnell: Bitter Love


For a decade Northwest native Gail Grinnell has constructed her work from layers of fabric and paper, using collage, drawing, pattern, and light as metaphors for personal history, memories, and the repetition of everyday activities. Her works may be transparent, but they are far from simple. In Bitter Love, on view at Francine Seders Gallery in Seattle (November 17- December 24, 2006), Grinnells large-scale organic forms are made up of vintage dressmaking patterns layered with silk and polyester interfacings and overlaid with intricate black and white drawings of human anatomy illustrations of sinew, ligament, tendon, muscle, and bone are likened to tailors tools, conflating the connectivity of the body with thc craft of the clothing that covers it. The winding in and out of manmade and organic forms visually joins different pieces and results in a literal and metaphorical body of work.

Bitter Love was born of two motivating forces. The first, a child's fancy dress, offers a visual basis for the feminine ruffles and shrilling forms that dominate Grinnnell's show. The second, a poem by Richard Wilbur titled "Love Calls Us to the Things of This World," describes a man, precariously balanced between wakefulness and sleep, who imagines that pieces of clothing blowing on the line are soaring spirits. The poem offers a meditation on corporeality—literally, the reality of the body—and provides the symbolic underpinning for Grinnell's paper and fabric creations.

Grinnell, as a mother and a daughter, has spent much of her life caring for those too young or too old to fend for themselves. By salvaging her mothers old sewing patterns and painting them with a child's dress turned-model, Grinnell forges connections to both worlds. In Arlene, Rosie, and Angel, the patterns' seam and dart notations intermingle with roiling ruffles, ruching, and a landscape of surging pleats that threaten to lift the works right off the walls to which they are delicately pinned. The slightly larger Izabella—its title honorific of a new granddaughter—is a sea of pink dotted organza, vaguely embryonic, appearing to float weightlessly like the soul in Wilbur's poem that is "bodiless and simple as false dawn"

In the Grimm brothers' fairy tale "The Brave Little Tailor," a tailor employs his belt as a billboard to announce the supernatural feat of having slain seven with one blow. Grinnell, on the contrary, uses visual metaphors borrowed from the seamstress to support the living with work that waltzes effortlessly between past, present, and future

http://www.fiberarts.com/back_issues/04_07/contents_apr07.asp

– Suzanne Beal


Seattle Post-Intelligencer
December 15, 2006


Grinnell's collages embody life's ephemeral essences

Global-positioning systems guide us across land, sea and air. No such pilot exists to navigate human beings through birth, death and the mysteries in between

Instead, we make our way by stockpiling experiences and crafting personal maps. Like the GPS, humans depend upon relationships. However, instead of resulting from scientific way points, our paths evolve from a raft of tenuous and tenacious bonds.

"Bitter Love," Gail Grinnell's exhibit at Francine Seders Gallery, encapsulates this individual and collective history. In two-dimensional multilayered collages, Grinnell embeds ephemeral essences; silence and clamor, power and fragility, triumph and loss. Each piece reflects a frame of mind, echoing the artist's contemplation of two inspirational elements.

The first, a child's intricately detailed pink dress, spawns a jauntily upbeat mood. On the bubble-gum pink fabric of "Izabella," Grinnell's undulating black-and-white ink lines and deftly cut openings result in a lacey cornucopia of ruffles and flounces. Its 60-by-94-inch contour freeze-frames square dancing's rollicking petticoats.

The second inspiration, Richard Wilbur's 1956 poem, "Love Calls Us to the Things of This World," focuses on life's "difficult balance." Grinnell reinterprets Wilbur's motif, transforming words into visual halcyon joy, disappointment, deflation, defiance, acceptance and resolution. Nestling ashen bones, footprints, centipedes and sea creatures within "Marrow's" icy blue webs of swirling ribbons and ropey curlicues, she alludes to the connective tissues and emotional glue that hold us together and compel us to persevere.

Grinnell accomplishes her ties-that-bind motif by drawing lines that do not stop. They ebb and flow, swell and dive, intersect and beckon. They pulse like veins carrying life's sustenance. Though not representational, the pieces portray personas. "Angel" (120 by 54 inches) struts with the freedom of laundry billowing on a clothesline, of angels and kites floating on air. "Rosie" twists and bulges; curtains catching a breeze or a cheeky girl turning on her heel and dancing off. Grinnell's lines impart the wisdom of an aged creased face, the beauty of a flower's delicate petals and the tranquility of a Japanese woodcut. They speak of entrapment, time, absence, roots and togetherness.

And beneath the surface, they address women's crafts and work. Salvaged fabric, maple-hued clothing patterns, ruffles and thread reference mending, sewing, washing and ironing; hands-on household activities. Metaphorically, the patterns' directional statements and arrows recall decision making, repetition of tasks and strands linking generations. Grinnell's cut, layered and acrylic glued fabric remnants harbor memories that might slumber in an attic trunk. Bursting with bittersweet nuances, they imply the ties that bind and form the fabric of our lives. It is gratifying work that urges us to pay heed to our inner compasses.

— Judy Wagonfeld


Bitter Love Catalog
Francine Seders Gallery
Seattle, WA
2006


In “Bitter Love,” Gail Grinnell continues a decade-old process in which a multi-layered, translucent surface is fabricated from materials and images which draw on a language of memory and the body. Dressmaking patterns – salvaged from boxes and saved by her aging mother – are layered with silk and polyester interfacing; overlaid line drawings in white and black ink describe the intricate ruffles and rouches of a child’s painstakingly constructed party dress. Grinnell references a world of intergenerational caretaking … to read more click here.


Artdish
Dec. 8, 2006
Forum: DECEMBER


I made my way over to Francine Seders Gallery today for a long-delayed rendezvous with Bitter Love, and exhibit of new work by Gail Grinnell. For some years now, Grinnell has been producing works of art which are as layered with meaning as they are with fabric, paint, and gauzy translucence.

Throughout her career, Grinnell has incorporated the traditions of women's domestic craft into a richly suggestive body of contemporary work. Her uses of both the materials and techniques of sewing have highlighted a history of house-bound personal expression, manifesting itself as a powerful yet subtle brand of figurative abstraction.

Given this history, Bitter Love is something of a departure. The soft, billowing forms that have long been contained within rectangular shapes have swelled and broken free, floating before us, spectre-like, upon the walls.

In the P-I on thursday, Regina hackett declared this the best show of Grinnell's career. I couldn't agree more. The exhibit runs through December 24th at Francine Seders Gallery.

—Jim Demetre

Seattle Post Intelligencer
Dec. 7, 2006


In the Galleries: DECEMBER

…Outside the Square, Gail Grinnell has delivered the best show of her career, titled "Bitter Love," an organic collage-on-paper response to her live's entangling alliances.

At Francine Seders Gallery

—Regina Hackett


Seattle Times
March 17, 2006


Artists take on religion and don't look back (Excerpted)

"Altared"

At the Kirkland arts Center, the upward slant of the ladder in Jon Gierlich's "Falling Away" and the incline of the plank in Gail Grinnell's "Scrap" make all the difference in a show about transformation.

The pieces are part of "Altared," a group exhibit curated by Donna Lindeman Porter and Lois Harbaugh. Inspired by proliferation of roadside altars they saw on a trip to India, the curators invited artists to create their own interpretations of the altar theme.

It must have been cathartic, compelling many of the artists to created work that deviates from their usual styles to dig into old and new griefs, respond to events in the world and explore mythical realms. An abundance of symbols and effects are put to use: statues, bones, found objects, clippings, photographs, detritus, mementos.

Few of the pieces are religious in the conventional sense. Instead of encouraging worship, these altars mourn, poke fun, contemplate.

Fewer still look into the question of the philosophy behind altars as thresholds and portals between this world and the next. Pieces such as Don Myhre's "Devotion or Denial," an altar shape composed of crosscut pieces of wood whose grains are aligned to resemble a vagina, close in on themselves.

In contrast, Grinnell's plank has been worked—dug into, sanded, drawn on—but after all that, the incline suggests a final rest, and moving on.

—Lucia Enriquez


Boise Weekly
March 2, 2005


Northwest Art Yesterday and Today: BAM exhibit revisits regional art history

...Beth Sellars is a longtime student and enthusiast of Northwest art, having curated for a number of regional art institutions since 1975. Since 1998 she has organized exhibitions at the Suyama Space in Seattle, recognized as one of the leading venues of installation art on the West Coast, and until recently managed the City of Seattle's Art Collection. Sellars confirms that the mood, impressions and atmospherics that Guenther spoke of has continued to characterize Northwest art in more recent years.

"There is a Northwest sensibility that subtly underlies much of what was and is done here-it can't help it because the environment is so dominant," Sellars said of Seattle artists working today like Gayle Bard and Jennifer Beedon Snow whose work investigates the quality of light on the north Pacific coast. Then there are those artists she is particularly keen on who focus on indigenous materials and earth tones in their work, such as Jaq Chartier, Gail Grinnell and Peter Millet. Sellars contends these qualities that are so tied to the surrounding environment are once again prominent in Pacific Northwest art. Reviewing her comments, my mind goes back to the first gallery in BAM's Artists of the Northwest show with its evocations of humus, loam and lichen. It's no wonder that the rest of America views Seattle and Portland as the (in Sellar's words) "dark, mysterious corner" of the country that both the arts and mainstream media in sunnier climes seem hesitant to penetrate.

http://www.boiseweekly.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A355

— Christopher Schnoor


Seattle Weekly, 2004
Best of Seattle


"Gail Grinnell's mixed media collage paintings steal your hearts this year. the native Washingtonian uses a blend of cutouts, acrylic paint, and oil-stick crayons to create works that reflect the universal human experience, including many issues facing women."


Inlander
May 6, 2004
Lorinda Knight Gallery, Spokane, WA


Under the Rug

From the tribal cultures of western Mongolia to mid-1970s suburbia, rugs have always had a place as inanimate but nevertheless significant members of the family. Whether as silent, orange shag witnesses to squabbles over the TV, or as handy places to stash that which one is too lazy to vacuum or pick up, rugs quietly keep our secrets and observe the unfoldings of our lives.

Although there is nothing in Gail Grinnell's new show at thc Lorinda Knight Gallery to suggest deep acrylic pile or fancy Oriental patternwork, the exhibit is entitled "Rug Drawings" and is inspired by thc artist's exploration of her own family history. Using graphite on translucent paper and hard plywood, Grinnell evokes the enduring tenacity of knots, the hard work inherent in such household tasks as hanging laundry. Seen through the coolly dispassionate lens of contemporary art, Grinnell's curiosity about her own past emerges as both gentle and uncompromising, domestic yet quietly distanced.

— Sheri Boggs


Seattle Post-Intelligencer
June 21, 2002
Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle


What’s Showing

Gail Grinnell’s drawings on connective-tissue layers of sheer paper are emblems of private desire, at the Francine Seders Gallery, 6701 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle.


Seattle Print Arts, Vol. 4, #1
Fall, 2003
Seattle Art Museum Rental Sales Gallery


North-South, Recent Printmaking in Seattle and Oaxaca (Excerpted)

In October of 2002 and February of 2003, printmakers from Seattle, Washington and Oaxaca, Mexico held two exhibitions, first in Seattle and then in Oaxaca. Their collaboration developed over a three-year period, forging strong ties between artists and curators in both cities…

The Seattle prints are remarkably different as a group. The heritage of the Northwest School, with its abstract forms and Iyrical spirituality, is evident in poetic images reminiscent of the work of Mark Tobey and Morris Graves. Mark Callen's The Mooring, and Pat Decaro's Hidden-Wonder, both etchings, share a muted, mostly black and white palette and evocative forms. Mixed media images, Water Study by Claudia Fitch, Black Daisy by Gail Grinnell,Untitled Blue, by Barbara Robertson, Seeds with Peach, by Eva Isaksen, and Shoreline, by Shirley Scheier, are explorations in harmonic, rhythmic form, as are Rachel Illingworth's collagraph Home/Hive, Kamia Kakaria's monoprint Osmotic #2 and Deborah Mersky's clay print Snakes and Ladders. Scott Frish's lithograph Nocturnal has a distinctly Northwestern feel, with its brown, beige and black rendering of a crow perched against a mysterious, map-like background. Human traces appear in five of the Seattle prints, some with implied social messages. Dionne Haroutunian's mixed media monoprint Lune Tombante refers to her Armenian heritage and the burden of genocide she carries. Sally Schuh's Untitled (blue scratch/double speak), a photoetching and aquatint, implies the dilemmas of human communication in image and words. The inclusion of an enigmatic uniformed man in Gene Gentry MacMahon's Empire Wanes, hints at political satire and the current world situation. Layne Kleinart's Delusion 2, oil monotype and acrylic, communicates an impression of humorous human folly, while Elizabeth Sandvig's Tum, etching and aquatint, and Akio Takamori's Swimmers, etching and chine colle, are playful images that demonstrate the highly advanced technique common to all the prints in both exhibitions…

— Deborah Caplow


Seattle Weekly
June 27, 2002
Francine Seders Gallery
Gail Grinnell


Seattle artist Gail Grinnell absorbs elements of nature and human history, blending them together and rendering their detailed, yet hard to discern, forms in wax and sumi ink on a series of irregularly joined panels. The resulting collection of boldly stylized images is at once decorative and narrative: Her large piece, "Imbue," appears to be an ancient and familiar story, one presumably without beginning or end. Along with the 35 or so smaller acrylic-soaked drawings with which it shares the gallery space, this is her best work to date. Francine Seders Gallery

— Jim Demetre


Seattle Weekly
June 29, 2000
Seattle Arts Museum Rental Sales Gallery


Grinnell & Isaksen

In "Abstraction From Nature" at SAM's Rental/Sales Gallery, nine local artists use natural forms as the foundation for abstraction. It's a nice collection of work, worth your while at least to swing by the First Avenue display window (between Union and University). There hangs "Natural Materials/Manufactured Nature," a site-specific installation by Gail Grinnell and Eva Isaksen, consisting of onions suspended in pantyhose. It sounds fairly elementary, but the effect is quite stunning. The work underscores the paradox of organic environments existing within the built structures of the city.

— Anna Fahey


Spokane Review
July 6, 2000
Lorinda Knight Gallery Spokane, WA


VISUAL ARTS: Artist's 'Dependence' on display

Much of Gail Grinnell's mixed media collage work, opening Friday at the Lorinda Knight Gallery, is heavily influenced by her "domesticity," says the Richland native.

With her studio in her home and an 18-year age span between her oldest and youngest children, Grinnell finds her artistic rhythms mimic domestic work. She combines how she lives with what she knows about painting and printmaking to create delicate fabric and paper hangings.

"For me, the motions of making art are the same as the motions of everyday living," says Grinnell. "Buttering a piece of bread is the same as gluing paper onto a square of silk."

She frequently hangs freshly painted collage pieces on clotheslines—just "like doing laundry."‘

The "laundry" hanging this month is a body of work called ‘Dependence’—more than a dozen pieces of transparent silk organza, layered with woodblock imprints, collages and paints. The work features strong vertical and horizontal lines of varying widths, imaginative shapes and a riot of color.

To add another dimension, Grinnell suspends her work a short distance from the wall so that a shift in air currents can play with the delicate constructions.

Grinnell lives in Seattle and is a featured artist this month in the Distinguished Alumni Art Exhibit at the University of Washington's Jacob Lawrence Gallery. Last year her installation "Out of Whole Cloth" was exhibited at the Spokane Art School.


University of Washington Summer
Arts Festival Catalogue
July 2000
Jacob Lawrence Gallery
University of Washington Seattle, WA


4x4: Four Artists x Four Decades

Exhibition Statement

The Jacob Lawrence Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of alumni/artists selected from the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's. The exhibition is a co-production with the first annual University of Washington Summer Arts Festival.

Artists were selected by the School of Art to create an exhibition that embraced our fields of study and to highlight the variety of subjects and approaches that alumni have voiced and explored over the past years. The artists stand, vital and dissonant, affirming the significant act of artistic creation in our world today.


Seattle Times
February 8, 1999 Francine Seders Gallery
Seattle, WA
Hot Ticket


These silk tissue paper and cellophane collages are part of Gail Grinnell's installation called "Out of Whole Cloth" at the Francine Seders Gallery.


Willamette Week, Portland, Oregon
Vol. 24, Issue 23
April 8, 1998
Archer Gallery, Clark College Vancouver, WA
The Fabrication of History


Artist Gail Grinnell comments on women's history in an installation of block-printed and painted fabric panels.

Fabrication, Gail Grinnell's site-specific installation at the Archer Gallery, consists of 60 panels composed of cut and stitched silk organza fabnc. They vary in width from about 4 inches to 60 inches and hang by clothespins from seven clothes lines suspended parallel to one another about 8 feet above the floor. The fabric is woodblock-printed and painted with images culled primarily from the antique art of heraldry, which Grinnell describes as "a set of symbolic devices developed as distinguishing marks in war that evolved into symbols for hereditary differences that determine social class and status." Because the panels are assemblages of fragments of transparent fabrics, all of them are visible from any given point in the gallery, giving the installation an ethereal quality. But the best way to view the panels is to walk among them, an expedience reminiscent of navigating clotheslines hung with drying laundry during a time prior to the widespread use of electric dryers. Hanging laundry to dry was one of the many household chores that housewives repeated time and time again. But the circumstances no doubt varied: At times the women were hurried, at other times meditative, and at other times they were swapping stories with neighbors engaged in the same task. In this sense, the chore exemplified women's general existence.

This connection to women's work and history is instrumental to the understanding of Grinnell's art. The Seattle artist can be thought of as carrying the torch of the 60s feminist movement, exploring what makes women's experience different from that of men. An alternate reading is that Grinnell is using sewing patterns and decorative motifs in reference to the importance of domesticity as it relates to home life and, one step further, introspection. Whatever the interpretation, Grinnell isn't the first to use decoration in an attempt to understand women's roles. Miriam Schapiro has been quilting and collaging decorative objects since she and Judy Chicago founded the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia in the 1970s. Seattle artist Deborah Mersky began layering decorative patterns over each other and over figurative and other representational images in the mid-1980s (Mersky's work can be seen at Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, 522 NW 12th Ave.) And Portland artist Whitney Nye has used sewing patterns in her sculpture, which addresses family and inheritance.

Even longer ago, the importance of domestic life formed the philosophical basis of the arts and crafts movement at the turn of the 20th century. Those who championed it considered beauty and creativity to be vital to domestic environments, traditionally the domain of women, where everyday life takes place. This was a response to the Industrial Revolution, to the growth of the cities and factories, and to the resulting negligence of the pursuit or truth through beauty and individual creativity. Is it a coincidence that at the end of this century we are experiencing a similar neglect caused by a technological rather than an industrial revolution? Is artwork such as Grinnell's, which acknowledges the decorative and its connection to home life, a response to this alienation? William Morris, the founder of the Arts and Cratts Movement in England, was interested in resurrecting the lifestyle of medieval homes, which he felt was purer and more rooted in nature than that of the 19th century. He studied medieval church art and decoration. Likewise, Grinnell is using heraldic imagery which dates to the tie of knights and chivalry. Morris also designed textiles and wallpaper, and Grinnell's series of panels incorporate characteristics of both of these. In another nod to history, Grinnell hangs one of her mother's embroideries from the 1930s on the gallery wall.

This interest in home life is not exclusive to the visual arts. It's a theme in Frank McCourt's tremendously popular memoir, Angela's Ashes, and it's at the core—for better or worse—of the "family values" political soundbite. After many years of women fighting to make strides in the workplace, the pendulum is swinging back to a focus on home and on nurturing the personal. The campaign for equality ' should not cease, of course, and one hopes it will translate to more balance at work and at home for both o the sexes.

In the first few sentences of her artist's statement, Grinnell writes, "The inspirations for much of this work are the decorative household arts—embroidery, crochet, sewing etc....these arts represent repressed creativity as the distaff of the dominant culture...[and] are a visual link to the source of my own personal creativity." Grinnell's words reflect her intention to use personal experience and knowledge as a primary source for her visual comment on a broader sociocultural situation. This is the baseline for much good art, and Grinnell is on the right track: She is in the company of accomplished artists who have used similar materials and subject matter.

— Kate Bonansinga


LA Weekly
Northwesterners Exhibition Page
November 27, 1998
Fresh Paint Art Advisors Culver City, CA


Northwesterners: "Pick of the Week" in the LA Weekly

"Jaunty almost-non-objective painting would seem to be a prevailing approach in the art of the Pacific Northwest, to judge from the selection of painters, sculptors and draughtspeople brought down I-5 for our delectation. "Northwesterners" provides a rare look a some very impressive talents, capable of bridging the gap between abstraction and representation with wit and dexterity. Mary Ann Peters, for example, loses odd vegetation in vast washes of nondescript yet beautiful pigment, while Drake Deknatel camouflages a figure in an elaborate and gorgeous mesh of lines, painterly gestures and sly hints of other "real" things. Quotidian objects hold greater sway in Gary Nisbet's work, but only as rendered in a similarly complex skein of paint and collage. Gail Grinnell, Susan Dory and the late David Green conflate even further the pictoral image with the immediacy of material, while Alfred Harris, Robin Wassong, and Erinn Kennedy paint stylized and structured imagery whose vivacity is entirely invested in paint. Also showing are Mark Rediske, Tom Anderson and Jonelle Johnson, all dealing less obliquely with the recognizable image, and Julie Speidel, the one sculptor of the Rain Belt Bunch."

— Peter Frank


Art Access
Feature Article
February 1966
Seattle, WA


Material Memory

Gail Gnnnell's studio is attached to the side of her back porch; in size and character, it's reminiscent of a child's play house. An intermittent flow of children, friends, clients' and cats runs in and out the door which opens out onto a play area and a garden (lush in winter, now damply awaiting spring).

Step inside, and you will see: a table with a computer, scanner, printer, and piles of graphics in progress; a clothesline where old Simplicity dress patterns encased in tea-bag paper and acrylic medium are drying; worktables with carving tools, stamps, inks, rollers, brushes, and stacks of fragments-in-progress. There are shelves with books, jars, and an ancient. dysfunctional sewing machine. On the floor are more pieces-in-progress, plastic tubs, and piles of materials; on the walls, large pieces hang for consideration and alterations.

Gail has an easy flow between commercial graphics and artistic pursuit; images stamped on a large collage. pieces become patterns in the background of a brochure; sketches and images from old books (on knots; on medieval heraldry), which were scanned into the computer and xerox-enlarged, find their way back into a large collage.

The integration and flow of Gail's life with her studio is continued in her work. Knots, braids, and roots speak of generations of daily life and the entanglements of families. Doily forms collected from friends and relatives— particularly from her molher— appear and recede in the layers of her work. Stamped icons of naked babies are abstracted from snapshots of her four children. Layers of tea-bag sheets, wrapping paper, shelfpaper, dress patterns :collaged, stamped, painted over, hung out to dry— have the look of repatched and tattered quilts of thc mnemonic layering of wallpaper and paint worn translucent as the skin of an old man's arm.

On the day that I last visited her, Gail was working with the dress patterns: laying out the tea bag paper (a whole sheet of the tough, white, porous material Red Rose© bags might be made from), spreading out the pattern, covering it with a second sheet, brushing on the acrylic gel medium, then carefully hanging it on the clothes line like wet laundry. Some of the patterns were still in their envelopes; all were from the 1950s and 60s. The envelopes showed the pen drawings of wasp-waisted women and girls in flaring skirts; the measurements on the back absurd by today's sizes.

The patterns had been recovered from GaiI's mother, who had patiently sewn and resewn them. "I kept buying the same pattern," Gail says, "I can't believe she just kept sewing them and never said anything to me." Watching her work, l ask her what kind of material she uses to make the stamps. "It's Softoleuum®," she says, "like a linoleum block— but softer. You can find it in the little kid section of the different art stores. It's easy for kids to work with.

"Linoleum blocks are too fussy for me. They're too much in the service of the medium, and not enough in my service. And I have needs. It needs to be fast. The Softoleuum® dulls tools, though. I can't get too intricate with my patterns because the tools aren't sharp. It makes me think the media needs to have some give to it. You need to think about the constraints. It has to match up well with your life limitations, but there has to be some resistance as well. Trying to get those things to match up is difficult."

She takes out the pins, lays out the pattern, covers it with the gossamer sheet, and begins to coat the layers with acrylic. "This part reminds me of making flaky doughs… You do certain things to the board to get it ready for the dough, put the little tissues down....It's going full circle… I absolutely refused to have anything to do with the kitchen for a while. I had an aunt that used to say it relaxed her when she cooked. I couldn't understand it. I'm starting to now. I think it has something to do with age…

"It's son of like l'm entombing these old dresses..." she says. "It's very weird... some kind of strange, emotional, psychological process. There was a time when I would have said. 'This has no significance whatever!' " (We laugh.)

She's finished coating the layers of paper, and begins to peel it off the table. "This is the medical procedure part… and this is the laundry part." She hangs it on the line. "These are like skins… hanging up to dry. They don't take very long, 20 to 25 minutes depending on the humidity. Then they are liberated. You can do anything with them. They become very tough and translucent and waxy; they remind me of the waxy oil paintings I don't do anymore, all those varnishes. I can pretend that it's some old traditional art method, that I'm still doing that."

Lately, she has been cutting "snowflakes" out of the liberated skins—short-hand doilies—which are then layered into a larger work, or given away to friends. That part's next. First she finds the Polaroid™. It's faded so that a light patch pushes into the photo and highlights her sixteen-years-old eyes. They look like Cleopatra's. In the background, awkward, middle-aged aunts and uncle sprawl, gazing in some wonderment at their brand-new girl.

— Elizabeth Bryant


The Missoulan
September 13, 1996
Art Museum of Missoula
Missoula, MT


Gail Grinnell’s art does imitate her life

Gail Grinnell’s studios, house and life are physically and emotionally connected and blessed with a constant flow of energy. Friends, relatives and family pets are regular companions, and her four children have inspired and participated in her work.

That's why the art of collage - pieces of this and that, gathered together into a cohesive piece of art - is so perfect for how she lives and who she is.

Everything and anything that comes into my studio ends up in my work, says Grinnell, who lives and works in Seattle and whose one-woman exhibit, Gail Grinnell: Remainder, will be on display for the next six weeks at the Art Museum of Missoula.

Grinnell was trained as a painter, "but it really didn’t fit into my life," she said. Too many chemicals and smells for a studio-near-house setting with kids underfoot. Too hard to adapt to her need for frequent interruptions for scraped knees, meal preparation and youngsters play.

So she turned to creating art from the papers and fabrics of her life, from pieces of old clothes to clippings from magazines to pages of old books to doilies and wrapping paper. This work can be started and stopped, resumed, reworked, allowed to dry, manipulated again and again.

A box of dress patterns, saved by her mother for these past three to four decades, was a recent inspiration. The patters brought back mother-daughter memories of poring through pattern sketches, then hunting the sale tables where remainder bolts offered the best discounts.

"They were so hopeful," recalls Grinnell, "You could go into a remainder sale and see piles and piles of fabric, all different colors and patterns. You always hoped to find just the perfect piece." Her mother, now in her 80s, would return home to her straight-stitch 1950s Singer and carefully cut, pin and sew the new dress or outfit.

"She’d rip out seams that weren’t right, shorten things, lengthen things," recalls Grinnell. "She was so patient."

Grinnell worked the patterns into her work. The art hangs from hand-braided clothes lines, much like laundry in the wind and sun.

Arranged on the wall are more pieces of her art, some very large and others small, formally framed and crowded, resembling the art museums of Europe where paintings span from floor to ceiling.

Grinnell’s collages are embellished with stamped designs from her collection of handmade stamps. She carves them into soft plates and they are part of the exhibit.

Collage-making is a physical process involving large vats of water, glues, lots of clipping, spreading and hanging, movement that women do every day with their laundry, ironing, cleaning, cooking and shopping. “These are movements that my grandmother did and my mother did,” Grinnell said.

But household duties are relentless and quickly undone. “I wanted something left from that motion, a physical and tangible relic of movement in women’s lives,” said the artist.

— Mea Andrews


Missoula Independent
News Feature
September 12, 1996


Making a Virtue of Austerity (Excerpted)

-This week's show illustrates both of these intentions. Gail Grinnell. whose show opens Friday, is a collage artist and working mother whose work incorporates aspects of both her careers.

"It can be quite difficult for a person to integrate both their personal and professional lives." Brady says. "Gail has evolved a process that lets her do that. It's a process that incorporates all the interruptions of day-to-day Iife.”

— Eric Johnson


Artweek
June 1995,
Volume 26, #6
Palo Alto, CA


WASHINGTON - Gail Grinnell at Francine Seders Gallery

Gail Grinnell's "new work" at Francine Seders Gallery embodies that common descriptive terminology both as process and as metaphor. Her acrylic and collage paintings represent a new departure from previous works. They seem "newly worked," that is, an abundance of direct evidence regarding her use of materials and methods is present as surface treatment in every piece. In a sense, the imagery is about work, or a context of working. The artist's use of various common collage techniques and materials, combined with painting and drawing, makes reference to a range of ordinary household tasks generally seen from a female perspective: washing, cutting, wrapping, folding, braiding, and other types of repetitive actions.

There are patterns to these routine activities, of course, and Grinnell makes use of patterns and motif elements as the basis for her compositions, deriving these from domestic sources such as wallpaper, shelf paper, printed cloth, and so on. Pattern imagery and patterned work are partners in a self-evident relationship, which Grinnell strives to break down and redefine; and she frequently succeeds, for the works do not read primarily as simple pattern imagery or patterned work. That, however, was not my initial impression of the work. Only after I began to examine the surfaces more closely did the elements of pattern cutting, blockprint motifs, acrylic-resist washes, and meshes of fabric and embossed paper, as well as other, similar procedures and materials that made up the blended and somewhat uniform texture of the overall piece, establish a link between these artistic conventions and the sources or references within the domestic environment.

From afar the works appear to have stylized contour forms, silhouettes and vaguely heraldic configurations that hover on an overall pattern field. The fields tend to seem more monolithic than atomic, and thus form a suitable ground for the scale increase used for certain overlay elements, for example, the painted linear contours of a braided ball in Cowgirl or the braided cords and rings of globular blossoms in Two. Similarly, the patterns of lacework and paisley are enormously magnified in a sort of cutout-resist and pentimento texture for the background of Seas of Cliche.

Closer examination also reveals the surfaces as choked and clotted, more visceral than one might expect at first. This, on the one hand, accentuates the process and the sense of being "newly worked." Among the larger pieces, simpler iconic or heraldic shapes can override the harsh unevenness of surface, and at a distance suitable to viewing canvases six to seven feet in dimension, the overworking of the surface helps to convey a rich density. Jackson Pollock certainly understood this effect.) Smaller works tend to suffer if the visceral surface element is too dominant. On the other hand, Grinnell employs some materials and methods that are more delicate, such as a parchment-like paper, stain washes and resists, and wavering densities of drawn and painted line, that prompt a more intimate viewing stance. But these matters are in the eve of the beholder. I recognize the strategic necessity for a bolder and harsher surface in relation to scale.

The emphasis in Grinnell's new work on patterns of working, and working with patterns, manages to downplay traditional or stereotypical connotations. Again, there is a certain self-evident aspect here, of breaking and redefining old patternsÑof the patterning process. Rather than craftwork or "women's work," it is simply work as process.

— Ron Glowen


Reflex Magazine
Reviews
May, 1995
Francine Seders Gallery
Seattle, WA


Gail Grinnell at Francine Seders Gallery

The present is like a translucent skin. In these collage-like paintings, the visual touchstone for current affections is stitched and tied through a gossamer fabric of fading scrap-box remnants, material laden with body-memory associations. Seated on a nebulous ground is a stark figure, its meaning still hardedged with current emotions. A bow serves as a Love Knot, floral patterns a garden of affections. Knots that fasten a relationship in a secure way often strangle as well: Black and Blue. How things too familiar, too prominent in the mind turn what one feels into a Sea of Cliches. Broken and frayed strands of affection can be carefully wound back together in a Splice. This black or white or blue icon of current awareness- a braid, a bow, a knitting knot, a floral wallpaper pattern is the kind of shape that turns in on itself and through itself, negating its own presence.

Behind this central figure and veiled by it are other patterns, unclear but emotionally suggestive. Pealings of half-remembered relationships emotionally re-emerge like old layers of skin still alive with sensation. The weak figure is so overwhelmed by these ghost designs that the normal receding of near figure/distant ground is compromised. Present relationships are apprehended only through layers of emotional sedimentation. New and old become one ambiguous but indistinguishable surface. It is palpable, like all the surfaces of all the objects in a solitary room, but everything is more colors, the shapes, the spectral aura of things once concrete. These are the realities that taken in as a fatally wedded, continuous surface-you do not touch with the finger of your thought, but with the caress of an emotional rumination.

— Jay Carlsson


"Endowment: Refittings"
January/February 1995
The Art Gym, Marylhurst College
Marylhurst, Oregon


A Curator's Statement

Several years ago, I visited Ann Gardner in her studio at the time she was beginning to work on pots. These were commercial ceramic pots she was encrusting with fragments of knick-knacks, broken dishes, china statuettes, and other domestic kitch which managed to transcend the definition of kitch She wasn't sure what they were all about, but I was entranced. The pots were both serious and funny; satirical and tender. Each evoked a particular era, and recollected various childhood relatives and neighbors whose worlds comprised objects like these—women who expressed their aesthetics, values and sense of themselves in the world in this undervalued domestic language.

Ann and I discussed the desire to make these objects, an extension of what we termed 'a pie-making urge,' a simple physical impube which somehow encompassed a world of caretaking. We also talked of how this work related to that of Gail Grinnell, whose work adamantly incorporated the language of domesticity, insisting on the importance—even prima"—of traditional women's work. Gail was collaging and painting with wallpaper patterns, dress-making fabric, images of babies, carnival glass in parlor hutches, and lace doilies. Her work related to the on-going pattern of generations, through her involvement with her own children, her aging mother, and her memories of thermometer whom she was nicknamed. I was struck by this conversation, and by subsequent discussion with Gail and Marita Dingus about the ways in which images, techniques, and values passed down to them by their moth ers and grandmothers were making their way into the artwork. It intrigued me to see this vocabulary on the distaff side of culture: a vocabulary which had been trivialized (and which did have its laughable aspects), but, like Ann's work, was also rich, dignified and complex. It was also intriguing that this distaff cultural language was percolating to the surface as more and more women made their way into the mainstream of the art world.

ENDOWMENT: Refittings is a dream show, a group of artists I wanted to see together. 'Endowment' is intended to convey a sense of inheritance, and (subtly different) a sense of that which has been passed down— as well as the obvious pun, which relates to the second half of the title. Some of the artists extend the idea of inheritance to include the history of a culture and a people, while others search for what should have been handed down and was not, or struggle to separate out destructive legacy from whet was strong end healthy. Most of the work here has some kind of internal tension: both an honoring of the legacy of female culture and the women who passed it on, and a desire to "re-fit" that handed down dress, to re-structure the form of the ideal woman. It is this internal tension, that, I believe, creates the humor, ambivalence, and power in this body of work by some of the most interesting artists currently working in Seattle.

— Elizabeth Bryant


Group Exhibit
March 1992
Galleria Potatohead,
Seattle, WA


"Performed"

{Excerpt from an Essay on Gail Grinnells' work written on the Galleria Potatohead wall on opening night March 6, 1992)

So much of Gail's work exists within the sexual and class structure definitions of our society, made all the more pernicious by our refusal to recognize the stratifications of our "class-less", melting pot culture. Her work plays repeatedly on the justifications of the unjustified; the carry on of physical and familial inheritance; the way with which culture is transmitted through the body and blood of those who will never figure in a political agenda, except as the cynical pandering to knee-jerk emotionalism on the part of some fat-ass politician on the eve of election. In a curious way, Gail's work is about power. Not in terms of political power - there it is more a matter if dis-empowerment, but in terms of the personal, biological power that feeds the generations of life (and provides the fodder for the culture's drive for its own destruction).

Of late, l've watched Gail's work move from her personal expression of her connection to her family (the generational bridge between Depression-era parents, to both college aged and elementary school aged children) to something that speaks to the structure of our society as a whole. One leap happened during the Gulf war, when it all began happening again, the children of the lower classes sent off to possible destinction on the whim of the wealthy, in the hopes that maybe in this way, they would be afforded a placement in this society. Something happened in Gail's work, where the confluence of personal and societal concerns created a kind of synthesis. (Excuse me, l just lost my concentration) The thing is, Gail deals with the most common, hackneyed symbols of society- hearts and babies, holy card angels and roses - old family photos - rescuing (RESCUING) them from the cynicism of political manipulations and machinations in order to restore them to the power that they hold in the lives of the "common people". These are not cynical paintings. They defy the attempt to create kitsch out of genuine emotion. They seek the dignity of the working class, of women, of the body. They attempt to claim as a source of power what is subverted through political and commercial manipulation.

— Elizabeth Bryant


Seattle Weekly
April 21, 1992


Spud

The quinressential Belltown opening might have been the March 1992 "Lux Sit" show of young UW art-program alumni. Paintings by Karen Wilson, Gail Grinnell, Laurie Chambers, and Fotheringham were on display. The saxophone section of the UW Husky Marching Band held a jam session in the back. And from 7:30 until 11 Reflex editorial director Elizabeth Bryant scribbled stream-of-consciousness prose on the walls. "I was dressed as a raven," Bryant recalls. "I got a gallon of Wine and started drinking about 5 o'clock.'- She made it all the way around the gallery."When I went back the next day the writing was surprisingly cohesive," she says.


Reflex Magazine
Reviews
January/February 1992
Seattle, WA


Gail Grinnell at Italia Restaurant

Stenciled, slightly blurred angels alternate with thickly drawn spinal columns. Wallpaper flowers and blackened, disembodied hearts float in checkerboard fields. Grinnell's patchworked painting/collages speak of intimate domestic histories. Her art is rhythmically punctuated with private symbols. At first glance, the collected paintings appear slightly decorative— soothing in their colorful, geometric patterning. On closer inspection, Grinnell's work takes on a certain resonance. Her use of grids is insistent, not self-conscious. Like quilt blocks or linoleum floor tiles, they bear the traces of physical contact. Her repeated images shift with every application: colors change subtly, images appear sequentially and then vanish just when she's established a certain level of expectation. Mininature Gulf, a small piece made in response to the war, aches with loss. Newspaper clippings listing young causalities are overlaid with the printed silhouettes of an over-sized lily—at once the black flower of death and the betrayed hope of resurrection. Hidden in the folds of the piece is the image of an infant, curled tightly into a ball of isolated flesh.

— L.R.A.


Reflex Magazine
Reviews
November/December 1990
Ag47 Studio/Gallery
Seattle, WA


Fragile Nature of Specific Life

The old Jackson Street space has been divided into smaller studio spaces. The resulting combination of a gallery and a jewelry studio serves both parties well, allowing the individual renting the shop to be intent and absorbed in real work (that is, "art making), when not answering the visitor's comments and questions. And Gail Grinnell's "Piece Work"—a show of woodblock prints and mixed media paintings from her Centrum residency earlier this year—provided a graphic contrast to the slender toothlike silver pieces on display. (Maybe this is a common venue nowadays, but I don't often get to look at art in an artmaking environment; studio space beats the hell out of showroom austerity.)

Of this heavy, graphic, black-and white, multi-textured experience, the image of the heart is grueling. The heart, the ribcage, shards of vertebrae—these stark abstract shapes belie the delicacy of the paper Grinnell uses for collaging and printmaking, and the palpable delicacy of the body parts these shapes represent. The "Portraits" series of smaller prints of the heart in their repetition remind me of how fragile and yet vital our bodies are; we are, after all, made up of living tissue, and our hearts, that hollow, muscular organ which pumps blood to our brain and sentience to our being, is encased in a pulsing, paper-thin, membranous tissue. Grinnell's use of materials— highly absorbent fibers, newspaper, and strips of scalloped and filigreed wall paper— fills out the metaphor nicely.

Two much larger pieces, Mermaid and Swimmers, are literally gorgeous, ambitious works. Mermaid hearkens back to the work remember from Seattle Women's Caucus for Art show at the now-defunct Significant Form Gallery in 1987: powerful thick lines define a bent head, sadness or sorrow looming, but comfort present in the very strength of the gestural tail. Swimmers is also expressive of sorrow and a sensual, viscous strength two mermaid shapes curled toward each other, barely touching, both about to whack that powerful tail. These figures are realized by outlines over layers of texture, pattern, and color (checkerboard, scalloped wallpaper, spots of magnesium red). Their presence rises out of the layers of material like rays of blood over a bionic world.

— Laura Lee Bennett