ArtSEA: Echoes of Spain in Seattle

Travel always makes you see where you live in a new light, and my trip also brought a fresh perspective to the Seattle art exhibits I explored this past weekend. To Linda Hodges Gallerylongtime Seattle artist Griffith cable show We followed the trail until we were gone (until October 29; artist talk October 22 at noon), a collection of mostly recent paintings in his signature abstract style.

Its grids of colored squares dotted with symbols have often made me think of quilts or wall mosaics. But having recently visited Gaudí’s gobsmacking Sagrada Familia Barcelona Cathedral, I suddenly saw Griffith’s paintings as blueprints for stained glass. (When you embark on your own journeys, you can see a real colored glass installation of his in Concourse C of Sea-Tac Airportand stay tuned for another enter the new Redmond light rail station.)

In Gaudí’s cathedral (begun in 1882 and still under construction), light filters through countless stained glass windows, casting an intense glow throughout the nave. On the east side, the hues are all blue and green; to the west, reds, oranges and yellows suggest the sunset. Griffith also tends to keep his palettes cool or warm, especially in his loosely unstretched canvas paintings, which resemble woven tapestries. The work of both artists reflects a yearning for nature, dappled sunlight through tall dark trees.

Gaudí was reluctant to straight lines, preferring to use organic forms to direct his designs – an approach now known as “biomimetic architecture”. One of the most striking features of the Sagrada Familia (among countless) are the rising columns that branch out from the top and give the impression of ancient forests. A look at Griffith’s titles reflects the same desire for immersion, to elicit a sensory memory of travel through nature: “The bridge was wet with mist and moss”, “The river, the leaves and the fire had a tempo of their own,” “And so I went deeper and deeper into the woods.