Things That Kill- Joe Crookes


Things That Kill curated by Norman Lundin

“Consider, for example, such varied assassins as leaded water, pills, red meat, too much sun…. Consider, for a moment more, that of the many things that kill, countless are appealingly beautiful as well as lethal, seducing artist and viewer. How to handle these “killers” in such a way that the intended expressive implications are conveyed, is as formidable an artistic challenge as engaging the more overt content implied by the show’s title.” -Norman Lundin

Including work by: Fred Birchman, Brian Blackham, Marsha Burns, Joe Crookes, John Fadeff, Ellen Garvens, Jim Holl, Michael Howard, Amy Huddleston, Caroline Kapp, Dianne Kornberg, Riva Lehrer, Brian Murphy, Elizabeth Ockwell, Anne Petty, Glenn Rudolph, Graham Shutt, Kathy Vargas and Evelyn Woods

September 1 – October 29, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, September 1, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #27 part 2: Joe Crookes


1. In what way is your work a reflection of the theme “Things That Kill”? Is your work for this show in line with or an exception to your usual way of working?
Ironworkers do occasionally take calculated risks. Crane operators depend on men with walkie-talkies to guide their blind loads to out of sight “connectors”. It is a little bit
like glass blowers in a hot shop intuitively communicating their precise intentions.

2. How did you approach the subject matter? Prographica4

I often gave the ironworkers heroic pictures of themselves. I let them know that I admired their skill and agility. I kept returning to the rigorous beauty in the large-scale structural ironwork. The strict function of the the design carries with it a strict aesthetic beauty. Even a bolt or nut, a beat up carpenter’s canvas bag have integrated beauty and function.


3. Are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight to a new viewer about your work  in “Things that Kill”?
Since I was given a hard hat and permission to access all parts of the stadium during the build, I was the ironworkers’ mascot so to speak. I became part of the crew.

“Observing Observing (a white cup): Joe Crookes”


With each exhibition, we will post interviews with the participating artists along with a photo of said artists in their studios and images of their work. In the future, we will post videos of artist interviews.

“Observing Observing (a white cup)” opens September 12th and continues through October 31, 2015

Curated by Eric Elliott, Michael Howard & Norman Lundin. More than twenty artists (both gallery artists and not) accepted the invitation to submit work.

Reception for the artists, Sept. 12, 2 – 4 pm

Artist Interview #27: Joe Crookes


1. How did you respond to the idea of the white cup?

A good lesson. My first attempt involved a lot of photoshop doodadding. And believe me there is a whole lot of doodads to be had there. But then this was about a white cup not psychedelic concave flying through space… So I went toward cupness until I got an image that felt more interesting and realistic.

2. Are you a full time artist, if not how do you support your art?

I started working on houses just to temporarily support my art habit; thirty years ago. The art mags spread delusions about big money in the field but even those fortunate enough to have a gallery RARELY make it on their work alone. Chihuly is the only one that comes to mind.

3. When did you consider yourself an artist?

It’s a loaded word. One can work as a artist without ever producing art. To say; “I am an artist,” sounds presumptuous. But I guess I first got an inkling at The University while taking graduate level creative writing classes. Certain published teachers recognized a talent in me.

4. What are your influences?

I traded carpentry to Greg Kucera for his commission on a Frank Okada painting hanging in my living room that informs my abstract work. I draw inspiration from different artists for different projects. When I photographed the ironwork erection for both stadiums in Seattle I THOUGHT OF Lewis Hine. When I shot architecture details I might harken to Paul Strand.

5. How big is your studio, what kind of lighting?

I have a printer set up overlooking my back yard in Wallingford. Lately I’ve been shooting in South Lake Union because of all the expensive construction and nice building details. I do wish that they used more imagination in their overall designs, but so be it. So outside is my main studio.

6. What is a typical day in the studio like for you? Do you listen to music, radio or tv in your studio?

I labor without nerd finesse at my photo printer and computer. I am convinced that they make the process more difficult then need be. I personally know a code writer at a start up that did not participate in a revolt against the boss that the other nerds launched by further obfuscating the work so he could not micro manage them. It really does not need to be so difficult to print a good image.

7. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?

Photography. I am now printing inkjet enlargements of a my long body of fine art work.

8. Do you have any special or unique tools, devices or process that you use in your art making?

Did you know that photo papers are created in a dazzling array? There are dozens of companies that create different papers with unique high quality papers and all they cost is money.

9. What do you do outside the studio, aside from a job?

I like hanging out with my wife and cat in our little house. We listen to music all day. We particularly enjoy John Galbraith in the morning on KBCS. We have also traveled so far to 25 countries. I’ve been going to art galleries for decades. Anybody remember The Don Scott Gallery or when Gordon Woodside was on Capital Hill? Or The Seattle Art Museum Pavillion that I managed in The Seattle Center. Thinking about memory, remember the perpetual drinking bird popular in the late Fifties? A gimmick bird that would dip his beak up and down into a tiny wet cup until the water dried. Everyone marveled: how does that work! That’s us folks.

"White Cup", 2015, archival inkjet print, ed. 1/8, 10.5 x 8”

“White Cup”, 2015, archival inkjet print, ed. 1/8, 10.5 x 8”