The Fussy Eye: Keep the Change

Take my money! Why won’t you take my money? In case you haven’t noticed, our economy is moving to a frictionless, cashless system. We pay by debit card, smartphone, or Bitcoin. So while the old paper-and-penny iconography is rich in Love Me Tender, this group show of some two dozen artists is disappointingly dated. It was way back in ’95 that costumer Lizzy Gardiner wore her gold AmEx dress to the Oscars, but you won’t find anything so contemporary here. The pyramid and Masonic eye, the dead presidents and serene monarchs, the obsolete weights-and-measures—all that has been replaced by 1’s and 0’s now. Money no longer has an image or heft. Even the elusive, trend-setting Banksy feels left behind with his Di Faced Tenners, which allude to Princess Di’s marriage and death (now decades behind us). The problem may be that money is a metaphor for everything, at any time. And currency’s time is past.

While you can admire Mark Wagner’s Push Broom, its bristles made of old, rolled U.S. paper bills, what is it supposed to clean? Wall Street? Collateralized debt obligations? Subprime mortgages? As if. Greenbacks are now seen as a nuisance, dirty to the touch, obsolete. Wagner’s Broom might sweep all that monetary filth away, but the ink remains on our fingers, even as we punch in our ATM codes. Bellevue Arts Museum, 510 Bellevue Way N.E., 425-519-0770, bellevuearts.org. $7–$10. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sun. (open to 8 p.m. Fridays). Ends May 26.

 
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