Bumbershoot Visual Arts Preview, Part III

The Bumbershoot Piece (Orcas Room)

I stumble upon visiting artist Jonathan Brilliant as he's photographing his woven wood installation and noshing on his lunch (gorp) from a plastic bag. He moves his tripod to one side of the room and I shift to the other with my crappy iPhone camera, each trying to stay out of the other's shot. He explains how he's been working frantically for the past five days to reweave some preexisting sections--shipped from South Carolina, where he's based--into what resembles a gigantic bird's nest suspended from the ceiling. The whole hanging edifice is made of wooden coffee stirring sticks, exactly the same kind you'll find at Starbucks. And, amazingly, there's no adhesive holding the undulating drapery together. "It's structural," Brilliant explains.

Once upon a time, he continues, he created smaller sculptures from the stir sticks he swiped from coffee shops. But for larger pieces on his "Have Sticks Will Travel World Tour," he explains, "I buy them from the manufacturer. I can no longer steal what I need..."

The Bumbershoot Piece basically fills the Orcas Room, but you can circle it and walk inside it, where you feel caught in a delicate wooden net. Brilliant starts to draw the form from above, like a stalagmite. The whole curtain is held together by the tension of slightly flexed sticks--like a fabric or carbon-fiber.

"It's also related to drawing and etching," says Brilliant (yes, that's his birth name). "The gallery is, in my mind, the sheet of paper."

Unfortunately, he notes, he has to leave Seattle ("This is my first time here") before Bumbershoot starts, to go home and work on another large piece in his tour. (See jonathanbrilliant.com for more info.) But he'd like to come back, he says, to weave together another large coffee-shop creation in a large space like Western Bridge or Suyama Space. Or, he muses, perhaps he could pitch Starbucks on a temporary installation in some vacant space before the shop goes in. There might even be some stir sticks left over for us to use later.

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