Bell Jar II: Art Under Glass Shelter Opens at Ghost Gallery, Seattle

Brandon Vosika, "Haunted Room I." Mixed media, glass bell jar, 7.5in. x 7in., 2016.

Brandon Vosika, “Haunted Room I.” Mixed media, glass bell jar, 7.5in. x 7in., 2016.

Ghost Gallery in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of downtown Seattle opened its 2nd Annual Bell Jar Group Exhibition last Thursday evening, March 10th to an excited group of art-opening attendees. This group show features twenty-eight local and national artists who display interior worlds of their own creation, but all placed under the sheltering environment of a glass bell jar. Gallery Founder and Independent Curator Laurie Kearney created and debuted this exhibit concept last March and promises to offer a yearly version with a mix of new and re-appearing artists from prior years.

Seattle-based illustrator/painter Brandon Vosika’s two pieces on display, Haunted Room I and Haunted Room II offer up the perfect mood of dark yet humorous interplay among the forty or so pieces in this exhibition. Seattle artist and Visual Arts Editor at City Arts Magazine, Amanda Manitach, describes Vosika’s genre of creativity as “deadpan memento mori.” Certainly one can view these two interior bell jar scenes of Vosika’s with a sense of curiosity; why is there a white sheet (most likely) made of cotton jersey fabric floating above this vintage red miniature chair? And how exactly is it suspended? One cannot help but notice how detailed the artist has incorporated an antique-period style wood floor through his astute use of graphite and pattern on the bell jar’s base – a nod to the inner-illustrator here. It seems natural to associate the tiny photo portrait resting on the chair as the 2-D photo representation “ghost” or spirit of the 3-D white ghostly sheet stereotype we see, floating adjacent.

Patricia Sullivan, "Ocean Widget Bell Jar." Chased sterling silver, patina, digital photos on archival paper, Plexiglas, glass bell jar 4.5" x 6" tall (overall), necklace 10.25in. L x .75in. W x .125in. D, sterling chain: 18in. L, 2016.

Patricia Sullivan, “Ocean Widget Bell Jar.” Chased sterling silver, patina, digital photos on archival paper, Plexiglas, glass bell jar 4.5″ x 6″ tall (overall), necklace 10.25in. L x .75in. W x .125in. D, sterling chain: 18in. L, 2016.

My piece, “Ocean Widget Bell Jar” lends a nod to the historic Victorian matching set of jewelry known as a demi-parure. This particular scene depicts a dark, more “gothic” evening sunset on a beach at the shores of the ocean during one of my visits. The entire piece was inspired by Victorian poet, W.B. Yeats. His poem, “To an Isle in the Water” foretells a romantic encounter between the speaker and his paramour. In this short poem, the speaker desires and dreams of “escaping” what appears to be mundane, daily life to an isle or shoreline with his love. In its most Victorian innocence, it describes a moment in time that the speaker desires to encapsulate. By utilizing a bell jar shell, it reinforces my desire to “freeze” that moment in time. The glass shelter of the bell keeps these objects intact and precious, even when the two matching jewelry items are placed away presumably by its wearer on the top of a bureau or bedroom dresser. In this new era of contemporary jewelry that asserts a powerful ideal of placing the jewelry works onto the body, my Ocean Widget pieces are the complete opposite. It desires protective shelter and asserts an opposing ideal to the latest “interactive” craze that is consuming all current curatorial jewelry practices.

Ocean Widget - Earrings (detail). Chased sterling silver, patina, digital photos on archival paper, Plexiglas, each ear: 1.75in. L x .75in. W x .1875in. D, 2016.

P.Sullivan, “Ocean Widget – Earrings” (detail). Chased sterling silver, patina, digital photos on archival paper, Plexiglas, each ear: 1.75in. L x .75in. W x .1875in. D, 2016.

The photos I captured digitally and then further manipulated and re-scaled to specifically meet the desired forms of the teardrop shapes. The Plexiglas is polished and hand-carved to snugly and precisely fit into the oxidized silver containers that I fabricate through chasing and repousse.

A temporary link is available to view and purchase any of the various Bell Jar exhibit works, located at ghostgalleryshop.com. The exhibit is open daily and continues both in-person and online through April 10, 2016.

If you are local to the Seattle area, Ghost Gallery will be holding a sixth anniversary celebration to commemorate the gallery’s opening in Capitol Hill on Sunday, April 17th from 11AM to 6PM. Ghost Gallery is located at 504 E. Denny Way (entrance on Summit side) in downtown Seattle, Washington.

All images appear courtesy of the artists and Ghost Gallery, Seattle.

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16 thoughts on “Bell Jar II: Art Under Glass Shelter Opens at Ghost Gallery, Seattle

  1. Such a pleasure to read a post by an artist that writes as well as you do! I love the bell jar format for creating a small area of concentration in a world of infinite contexts. The way you referenced the Yeats’ poem is well considered too. Out of curiosity, is the aesthetic you imbue in your jewelry something that you also like to wear?

    Liked by 1 person

    • While I do hope that my jewelry will be ultimately worn and valued by others – I do have pieces I’ve “secretly” made for myself. I’m particularly drawn to the patterning that’s on this necklace, and the reverse side of the earrings. I love patterns in metalwork – all kinds – and am immediately drawn to it even in ceramics/textiles, anything really.

      Al, I’m flattered by your generous comments re: my arts writing! I think you do a pretty amazing job when you write about your work and creative process. I’m eternally thankful for the blogosphere where I can interact freely w/ intelligent makers and writers (such as you!)

      Liked by 1 person

    • I do feel strongly re: this piece. While both the necklace and earrings contain the blue ocean photos on one side (w/ metalwork on the reverse) the earrings do show that “frozen moment in time” best. Happy you stopped by my blog today! Thanks, Neil.

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  2. What a lovely piece and I love the idea of a moment in time to keep. The whole exhibition seems to playfully look at the notion of time (or lack there of) we humans have but your contribution plays around the rules of time. Which is fun. It is also about the yearning for being alone with a particular person which is an amusing way of wanting to be alone! All that aside, the Ocean widget earrings and necklace really do conjure up feelings of the ocean. From someone who spends a lot of time there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sharon, what stellar feedback you’ve shared here! I do agree re: all the show’s bell jars offering artists’ visions that shows “time” or the lack thereof. However, I’m so pleased that you see the importance of the ocean/sea references in my piece. Personally, I’ve never lived as close to an expansive beach/ocean like I do now – it’s only about 40-45 minutes’ drive away. But I still do not get to spend as much time there as I’d love, so this piece hopefully can encapsulate all of this and for others who see my piece, too. Thanks so much for “dropping by” today – I so appreciate your visit!

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  3. Patricia, I really am just astounded as always by your pure simplicity and strength of design. It really is so refreshing… just like being at the seashore. I feel a bit of mystery always which I love about your work. I also feel an extra affinity for this piece as I, too, am influenced by my beautiful nearby Lake Michigan. Love your work and how you describe it so beautifully…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anita, your generous comments have completely made my morning! I listen to my husband frequently tell me about how much I would love the beauty (and grandeur!) of Lake Michigan, as he experienced it during his time living in Chicago. I’m so glad that this “Bell Jar” piece can speak to another person, like you, who has found a sense of calm or even just joy, living near or visiting a favorite body of water. There is no duplicate to how positive an experience being near a sea, lake, ocean, river or sound can provide. Thank you so much, Anita!

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  4. Congratulations, Patricia! Sadly, I wasn’t aware of this gallery. What a cool place! I hope I can visit soon. As usual, it’s great too see your work. I really enjoyed reading your statement about your use of the bell jar as a separation/protection device, a testimony to how much you value the preciousness and permanence of jewelry. Your piece is both poetic and poignant, and also very relevant, especially in today’s world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dominique, perhaps it’s because of your home-base in Vancouver – or maybe it’s due to your outstanding sensibilities within both the metals and art history fields – but you picked up right away on my statement re: my use of the bell jar as a “protection” device. I’ve been quite spoiled as a jeweler and metalsmith to have my Widget pieces displayed by very-accommodating curators or gallerists who’ve “indulged” me in allowing my work to be displayed in-the-round on pedestals, or in this case, under glass. I do understand how size of a gallery (say in NYC or another urban area) where sq. footage / available space is a concern; but I’ve never been a fan of jewelry being hung on the wall. It’s done all the time nowadays, and to me, it denies the 3-dimensionality of the object. Why turn something that’s made to be dimensional, and then turn it ‘into a painting’ by hanging it on a wall? I could elaborate so much more – but even the accessory of this bell jar adds so much definition into my jewelry pieces.

      I hope sometime when you’re visiting Seattle you can pop by the gallery and see indeed what a cool place this gallery is. Thank you, Dominique for all your inspiring commentary w/ me tonight!!

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