Bootsy Holler

“Ruby and Willie” are photographer Bootsy Holler’s late grandparents and, indirectly, the main subjects of her current exhibit at Gallery63Eleven in Ballard. In 2001, Holler began documenting her grandparents’ Richland, Wash., house, which hadn’t changed in 25 years. She took hundreds of color photos, 55 of which are included here. (Holler, who has taken photos for Seattle Weekly, has compiled this work into a book.) They are by turn fascinating in their suspension of time and poignant in their banality. Holler elevates the most mundane objects—a pair of shoe trees, matching cheap mugs, a plastic laundry basket—to art objects, albeit cinematically (the house is well lit and curiously devoid of clutter). And her intentions are noble: After her grandmother died in 1978, her grandpa lived alone, retreating to the basement and kitchen, leaving the rest of the house a mausoleum of midcentury Americana. A turquoise wash basin, a stuffed pheasant mounted on a paneled wall, a china angel on a shelf—Holler had the prescience to capture all of this on camera before, as she feared, it was dismantled when her grandfather passed away (in 2002). Her project is both a documentary and a still-life montage of two people’s lives, in all their ordinariness and intimate detail, hinting at who they were through their possessions. Missing, and arguably unnecessary, are photos of Ruby and Willie themselves. Though the handheld photos have the feel of film stills, and the objects at times seem like mere props, the subject matter and the personal narrative involved save them from being a clinical plundering of someone else’s private life. Instead, they’re a quiet commentary on what people leave behind when they die, and the talismans we cling to, to remember those who have gone. Says Holler, “I feel like this is my own history, and to everyone else, the history they also may have lost.” Gallery63Eleven, 6311 24th Ave. N.W., 206-478-2238, <a href=

“”> 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sat. Ends March 8.

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