Two artists take grapes as a still-life subject, with very different results. Above: "Uvas," by Christian van Minnen, and below: "Figs and Grapes, Thistles and Matches," by Natalie St. Martin.
In the history of art, still-life painting was often considered frivolous, because it took humble inanimate objects like fruits and flowers as its subject instead of tales from the Bible or the human form.
But still life can teach us important lessons — especially in our age of virtual realities and ageless celebrities airbrushed on magazines or sculpted in operating rooms. More than any other genre, still life has focused on the facts of organic life: birth, growth, decay, and death. In a world that denies both age and pain, these ordinary fruits and flowers can remind us that we are physical beings with weaknesses and a mortal destiny.
Ripe: Juicy Contemporary Still Life features artworks that bear witness to organic life. Some works focus on ripening or rotting fruit, helping us contemplate the cycles of nature. Others explore the human body or the organic nature of the art-making process. Artists featured include Zack Bent, Eric Elliott, Linda Hutchins, Gregory Jacobsen, Steve Levin, Christian van Minnen, and Natalie St. Martin.
The exhibition runs from October 11 to December 3. The Seattle Pacific Art Center Gallery is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.