Portraits in Africa, Nexus Architecture + Connector IV

PORTRAITS IN AFRICA

New-York-born Colombian photographer Hector Acebe's black and white photographs, taken on expeditions to Africa in the late 1940s and early '50s, capture the traditional dress and ornamentation of African culture at the cusp of independence: A woman from Mali is arrayed in a mountain of white lace, while another from Guinea sports an elaborate braid reminiscent of insects' wings. More than mere anthropological studies, Acebes' images draw out the essential character of his subjects, as in the layers of pain and grace carved into the face of the Nigerian woman pictured above. Acebes' little-known work has been rediscovered by several figures in the Seattle art community, including Ed Marquand, art book designer for New York publishing houses who has agreed to manage Acebes' archive, and Gail Gibson, who is staging this solo show entitled "Hector Acebes: Portraits in Africa 1948-53." G. Gibson Gallery, 514 E. Pike St., 206-587-4033. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wed.-Fri.; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. Ends Sat. Nov. 1.

NEXUS ARCHITECTURE + CONNECTOR IV

A Brit who spends most of her time in Paris, Lucy Orta began her art training in fashion and textile design, and now works in the tradition of artists like German sculptor Joseph Beuys, whose desire for social change led him to flee the gallery scene in favor of "actions" in the real world (including a famous effort, begun in 1982, to plant 7,000 trees in the city of Kassel). For ten years, Orta has created hybrid wearable architecture and then put it to use on the street to generate attention for issues like homelessness and hunger. Her designs, variously called "Refuge Wear," "Body Architecture," and "Nexus Architecture," include strange clothing-like tents fitted with slots for arms and legs, linked waterproof suits that connect a chain of wearers, and self-contained bivouac sacks. She's used these designs as instigators for more elaborate "catalyst art"staging sleep-ins in subway stations, serving large public meals, and creating mobile units to help the homeless. Many of the suits are shared, which makes literal the metaphor of connection. Seeing her work in a museum setting is probably worthwhile, but it may be a little like eating your beetsgood for you and society at large, but a little short on sensual pleasure. Opens Sat. Sept. 27. Bellevue Art Museum, 510 Bellevue Way N.E., 425-519-0770. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sat. (until 8 p.m. Thurs), noon-5 p.m. Sun.

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