Torridly Sensual Acrylics at Winston Wachter

Visual Arts

Michael Schultheis

“Toroids of Ganymede” is the name of Schultheis’ latest collection of paintings for his debut solo show at his new gallery, Winston Wächter. OK, clearly he’s not going for catchy titles. But they are strangely evocative works: mythical, romantic, mysterious, and—mathematical. A toroid is a type of rotated closed curve; Ganymede is both the largest of Jupiter’s moons and, in Greek mythology, one of Zeus’ young male lovers—kind of a provocative combination. A former economist and mathematician, the Ballard-based, fortysomething painter’s original passions bleed through his torridly sensual acrylics, coyly disguising themselves as abstractions. Which, in a sense, they are. The squiggles and marks in these beautifully lush paintings are genuine mathematical equations—abstract thought beneath the swirling colors, barely discernible but elegantly scripted with a calligraphy brush. Schultheis continues to work in two basic palettes: smoldering burnt oranges and golds or cooler blue-grays, with clouds of white and black lines etched across both planes. His paintings are becoming near ubiquitous, found in the lobbies of downtown office buildings and a favorite choice among home stagers for decorating houses for sale. He has also displayed work at the National Academy of Science. Last year he left Capitol Hill’s Ballard Fetherston Gallery for the more international Winston Wächter in South Lake Union, which also brings him greater exposure via its second location in New York. Though his departure was bitter-sweet, Schultheis should do well at his new home, and Ballard Fetherston continues to nurture artists making some of the most beautiful paintings around. The math may be encrypted, but the richness of his art is clear as day. Winston Wächter, 203 Dexter Ave. N., 652-5855, 10 a.m.– 5 p.m. Mon.–Sat. Ends Feb. 9. SUE PETERS