Upended Roof Speaks to, and About, Its Condo-Filled Neighborhood

Inside a green-windowed high-rise in downtown Bellevue sits a mossy, tar-paper-shingled roof, supported by enormous cans of beans. Using scavenged building supplies from Bellevue construction sites, L.A. artist Olga Koumoundouros built Upended Roof. It's the first exhibit at this swank, minimalist space designed by Lead Pencil Studio (aka Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo). Built from two-by-fours stamped with quality assurances and patched with dirty corrugated plastic, Koumoundouros' life-size roof is tipped on one side, a fringe of metallic plastic fluttering in a fan-generated breeze. The gold plastic curtain is printed with cheerful, red, bubble-letter "Thank you"s, in a font from convenience-store plastic bags. Another part of the exhibit can only be seen from the street: Propped up in the window of the gallery are wooden boards of a kind that surround construction sites, complete with cutout rectangular peepholes. Displayed on them are images of this same plastic bag, accompanied by pie charts depicting Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs—from food, clothing, shelter, and sex to morality, creativity, and respect. Also on view: pointedly political phrases such as the Edward Abbey quote, "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." The art speaks not only about the surrounding city of Bellevue, but also to it. Get lost on the way to the gallery, like I did, and you'll get a tour of many shiny, new condos, office parks, and McMansions. Inside, the installation's raw materials comment on the Eastside's exponential growth, while the cans of frijoles negros remind us that many of those who build these new homes are Spanish-speaking laborers. One of the most beautiful aspects of the exhibit is the moss on the shingles, which makes me think of what was razed for all this growth. What of all the beautiful old homes?

 
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