It is fitting that Josh Keyes debuted “Exodus 1” at Roq la Rue in 2011 for the Lush Life 3 show. That painting featured a group of performance animals marching forth in defiance of their former captors. This became a catalyst for Keyes new body of works titled “Circus and the Sea,” which adds to the story, but they are more prequel than sequel. The powerful and moving “The Escape” is the first chapter and depicts an elephant struggling to break free from its shackles. The ground is grooved and displaced as the pachyderm digs in for traction, but thankfully there is a chimpanzee wielding a bull hook that will set it free. Various remnants of human involvement are subtly placed in each piece, from a ringmaster’s clothing, to bones and skulls. Keyes leaves it to the viewer to fill in the gaps, but given the clues, it can’t be good, and is very much deserved.
John Brophy’s works in his “New Songs for the Standard Model” exhibition were inspired by the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle this summer by scientists at CERN. Most of the female subjects wear a halo in the form of a physics equation, borrowed from the complex standard model theories. The exquisitely rendered facial expressions show the girls at a moment of revelation or intense concentration, mirroring a scientist in their moment. The rendition of color is intense and the uses of cadmium paints create their own light source in the form of fireflies in “Beloved” and of the Venus of Willendorf in “Blue Angel 43”. The deeply personal “Somnium” was completed after Brophy’s own cancer treatment and features a nurse appearing as an angel while falling snowflakes bear clues to his hospital visits. The exhibitions can be seen until December 1st at Roq la Rue in Seattle. – Robbie Lowery
John Brophy, Kirsten Anderson, Dave Place and Josh Keyes