The Slutty Eye: Grade Point

Immediate visual appeal in a UW stairwell.

As you climb to the second floor of Kane Hall on the UW campus, Jeffrey Simmons' Echo, a circular painting 11 feet in diameter, rises like a moon over the stairway railing and dramatically takes command of the hallway by the Walker-Ames Room. A common (and reasonable) complaint about abstract painting is "I don't understand it," but in this case there isn't really anything to understand. Native Ohioan and current Seattleite Simmons—taking his cues from the high-minded fabulousness of '60s-era pop, op, and color-field painting—specializes in immediate visual appeal. Thin bands of color starting at either pole of the painting become darker the closer they get to the center, where the buildup abruptly ends in a wide blank space. Distinct from one another when seen up close, from a distance the bands of color blend into a series of shimmering green-to-orange and orange-to-blue gradients. Echo (painted in 2000 and donated to the university by Greg Kucera and Larry Yocum) has a coolly precise look, but Simmons slyly leaves in some lumpiness as evidence of his accumulative process. A drip pattern visible under the acrylic paint "is basically a stain on raw canvas," he says, "which becomes progressively more obscure as the layers of paint get denser and darker." 

 
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