Seattle Weekly’s First Thursday Picks

Black velvet deep-sea creatures, a chemist-turned-photographer, and unconventional Latin American art.

Nate Steigenga

The Underwater HooHa Show

Although the ocean covers 70 percent of the planet, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says we have explored less than five percent of it. As anyone who has watched “The Deep” episode of Blue Planet knows, there’s some freaky-ass stuff down in the inky depths—glow-in-the-dark, fang-toothed, eat-your-face-off alien fish. The demonic ocean-deep and the hell creatures within are the subject of local painter Nate Steigenga’s next show at Punch Gallery, and he’s the perfect man for the job. The intricately-rendered cartoon-like worlds Steigenga depicts in his work are full of tentacled, battling, muscle-bound lizard people and sci-fi mutant freaks, so the unnerving deep-ocean dwellers of planet Earth aren’t a far leap from his fantasias. The show will consist of that classiest of fine art mediums—black velvet paintings—in addition to supporting sculptural elements. Punch Gallery, 119 Prefontaine Pl. S., Opening 5-8 p.m. Runs through July 2. KELTON SEARS

Mustapha Azeroual

Recording Structures

Parisian artist Mustapha Azeroual was first trained as a chemist, and as a photographer he’s still experimenting, testing the boundaries between representation and abstraction and learning to subvert the development process and the limits of the medium. As a result, his show Recording Structures at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery is quite diverse, and extremely elegant. From Azeroual’s daguerreotype of a photography flashlight to his mystifying innovations—e.g. a faceted ceramic sculpture on which he directly developed images of bare tree branches—the show is suffused with ambiguity and a sophisticated play with light and perception. Without a doubt, the most exquisite object is his first lenticular image, which combines five photos of sunrise and sunset into luminous bands that shimmer as one moves around it. It expands the range of colors available to Azeroual and hopefully is the first of many such works to come. Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, 608 2nd Ave., Runs through June 25. T.S. FLOCK

New Measures

The three Latin American artists presented in New Measures all use commonplace materials in unconventional ways with a mastery of line and proportion. Tyler Espejo Izquierdo bends metal measuring tapes and rulers into honeycombs, swirls and precise braids. Mariano Dal Verme’s graphite on paper works blur sculpture and drawing, while Thomas Glassford’s wall sculptures in lucite, paper and metal seem to meld living tissue and industrial design. Formal similarities in the show give it coherence, but each works frame one’s view in a unique way, and as one moves around the room, these varied framings interact with each other, revealing more subtle relations and effects within the pieces and in the show as a whole. In short, the curation is exceptional. The network of lines created by the three artists form a bounded field for the mind, where it wanders and plays but does not stray. James Harris Gallery, 604 2nd Ave., Runs through July 2nd. T.S. FLOCK