The party is almost over. After eight years of pushing the boundaries of Seattle’s contemporary art scene, providing a delicious space for artists to experiment and audiences to respond—and yes, some pretty great parties, too—Western Bridge, the private artspace in SoDo owned by collectors Bill and Ruth True, will end its run October 20.
Director Erik Fredericksen, who has managed the space since it debuted in 2004, said the closure has been under discussion for a couple years. “It’s always been intended as a long-term temporary project.”
Located behind the offices of Gull Industries, the True family business, Western Bridge stands apart from the rest of the museum and gallery scene (on Fourth Avenue S near the West Seattle Bridge) and quickly became a must-see destination for those who eschew over-the-sofa paintings and take their art straight up. With its focus on the new and experiential, Western Bridge has been a laboratory for contemporary art practices, from the courageous, challenging and uplifting to the arcane and exclusive.
A big part of Western Bridge’s appeal has always been the structure itself—a quirky, playful remake of an old warehouse by artist/designer Roy McMakin, whose charming multimedia sculpture Love and Loss with its red ampersand is a highlight of the Olympic Sculpture Park. A friend of the Trues, McMakin turned their 10,000-square-foot building into a piece of functional sculpture, with a spume of trompe l’oeil clouds painted along the exterior roofline and a dramatic doorway carved into the corner of a window.
The elegantly utilitarian galleries within have been a place for the Trues to commission new works and showcase their collection, mostly new media, conceptual and installation works by internationally recognized as well as local artists, much of it promised to the Henry Art Gallery.
The final show, I’m Thinking How Happy I Am, with installations by Lutz Bacher, Walead Beshty and Euan Macdonald, opens up the entire building one last time, including the upstairs apartment, a sophisticated space with orchid bathroom fixtures and embedded artwork; look for the sculptural piece Meet Me in the Herbs, My Sweet carved into the wall by artist/architect Alex Schweder. The apartment was conceived as a place for entertaining, discussions, for visiting artists to stay or, as Ruth told me in 2004, to “put the kids in bed with TV.”
I'm Thinking How Happy I Am
Thru Oct 20, Western Bridge, Thu–Sat noon–6, free