Visual Arts Picks

CLEANING HOUSE

Spring-cleaning is not about getting rid of dust; it's about rearranging it. Working from this theory, Betsy Best-Spadaro has attempted to purge both mind and studio by consolidating the remnants of her printmaking practice into art. She's hoarded hundreds of scraps of paper printed with linocut images, compiled them in multiple layers and bonded them together with acrylic medium. Waste not, want not. Repetitive patterns in the form of floral vines or wavy Keith Haring-like lines give an impression of imposed order, the finished product suggestive of quilts, game boards or puzzles. Underneath, however, chaos reigns, and occasionally breaks through the military precision of her grid patterns. In Remnants, Godiva chocolate wrappers hint at a life beyond the purity of artistic fervor, where the munchies creep in. In other works, barely distinguished sentence fragments tumble (or is it mumble) haphazardly about. While she hasn't exactly gotten rid of anything, Best-Spadaro has transformed the superfluous products of her overwhelming creativity into something infinitely more attractive than the clutter of yore. One question remains: Betsy Best-Spadaro, do you do windows? Gallery 110, 110 S. Washington St., 206-624-9336, Wed.-Sat. noon–5:00PM. SUZANNE BEAL

PLICATURE

"There is no explosion except a book," Stéphane Mallarmé once cryptically wrote. In Keith Tilford's magnificent debut solo show, "Plicature," explosions, books, and cryptic bits of language abound. At the heart of the installation is a series of intricately scribbled drawings in black ink. On expanses of plain white, a frenetic unraveling of lines results in leatherbound books, letters of the alphabet, comic book explosions, and eviscerated portraits. There's a doodle-like quality here—subconscious and personal—but also painstaking draughtsmanship. Close inspection imparts to Tilford's fizzes and pops a crazy, chemistry-like order, while from a distance, they resolve into images—though you'll have to be careful doing that, since the floor of the gallery is littered with a riot of spider-like sculptures assembled from plastic twisty-ties. Rushing to my dictionary, I found that a "plicature" is a fold; and folded into these studies of chaos are numerous snippets of language: phrases, words and fragments of individual letters. Everything we see is already coded and named, pulsing with information. It takes a skilled surgeon to rip apart those images and show us what lies inside. James Harris Gallery, 309A Third Ave., 206-903-6220. 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tues.-Sat. Exhibit runs through June 12. ANDREW ENGELSON

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