The 2018 Seattle Art Fair is more than just a gathering of local artists. This event displays 62 different exhibits from galleries across the world, including Seattle, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, Los Angeles and Tokyo. These galleries not only display paintings but also mixed media, sculptures, and other art mediums. One of these innovative exhibits is Suspect Realities, on loan from the Claire Oliver Gallery in New York.

The Claire Oliver Gallery focuses solely on the work of emerging and mid-career artists to help develop and focus on their career and their craft. In addition to loaning exhibits to fairs and festivals, there are also pieces from Claire Oliver artists on permanent display in prestigious museums including The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The gallery also often works in association with non-profits for public art projects around New York.

The Suspect Realities exhibit features four of Claire Oliver’s artists and some of their most prominent works. Not unlike other forms of arts, it is rare to find an exhibit that does center around a theme or motif. The main theme of Suspect Realities is how, in the increasingly digital world we live in, it is becoming harder and harder to distinguish fact from fiction. Our reality is what becomes suspect in a world where the lines of truth and untruth are blurred.

The creations of Matt Bahen, who works primarily with oil and canvas, draw their complexity from the fact that they appear clear and near photographic from a distance. Up close, however, the heavy paint and the pronounced brushstrokes add an element of rawness. The paintings contributed to this exhibit by Bahen include The Tapestry That Was the World, All Things There Were Older Than Man, and Many Feet Have Crossed This Stream.

Lauren Fensterstock is a mixed media artist whose creations serve to explore the complex relationship between and nature, and the contradictions often found therein. Although there are few mediums with which she has not created, some of her more common choices include shells, obsidian, wood, spray paint, resin, and mouth-blown glass. Fensterstock often uses historical stories or legends as starting points for her pieces, as can be seen in John Dee’s Obsidian Dreams, one of her pieces on display in the Suspect Realities exhibit. Her other works in this exhibit are Scrying #8 and Tiny Tastes of Darkness #2.

The third artist featured in this exhibit is Laetitia Soulier, whose works occupy the space where fantasy and reality intertwine. Soulier applies her background in architecture combined with fractural recurrence, live topiaries, handmade wallpaper, and sculptural dioramas to create breathtaking and thought-provoking pieces. Some of these most impactful pieces are on display with Suspect Realities in the Seattle Art Fair, including The Matryoshka Dolls 1 & 2 and Square Roots 2.

The works of Judith Schaechter examine the many paradoxes and tensions that are present when trying to discern truth from reality. She accomplishes this mainly through the mediums of graphite on paper, light boxes, and stained glass. Suspect Realities features Schaechter’s pieces The Florist, and The Temptation of St. Anthony. Of her work, Schaechter has said, “Beauty is what has always captured the viewer’s attention and allows them to spend time with my work. Once involved, it is easier for them to read the content held just below the surface.”

While art is a very subjective part of modern society and no two people will find the same value or meaning in one piece, it is a crucial part of our human experience. This exhibit, and the works of Schaechter, Soulier, Fensterstock, and Bahen, provide a striking example of our ever-changing reality through the lens of art.

– Amy Suto

Judith Schaechter Suspect Reality @ Seattle Art Fair Exhibition Installation Photograph 2018
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