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Art exhibits to focus on feminine sexuality

By Breanna Lai, UW News Lab
Sorry guys, this month’s art walk is all about the ladies.
Bherd Studios and Tasty Gallery, two local art galleries, have teamed up once again to promote two all-female artist exhibits that will open during Phinney-Greenwood’s monthly Art Up Artwalk this Friday, from 6-9 p.m.
“This is our fourth annual all-female art show,” said Michele Osgood, co-owner of Bherd (pronounced “be heard”) Studios. “It is the second year we have co-promoted an all-female show with Tasty Gallery. Each year we theme the art around feminine issues and things that deal with women artists in this field.”
Bherd Studios’ show, “Pretty, Sexy, Dirty Girly,” is the brainchild of Seattle artist Siolo Thompson. It is a multimedia exhibit featuring a dozen female artists exploring the topic of feminine sexuality.

Up the street at Tasty Gallery, owner and curator Sheri Hauser said they will introduce “Girls Gone Wild,” a figure-driven show featuring 11 female artists’ work.
“When we cross-promoted our events we realized that we generated more interest and attention, so we did it again this year,” Hauser said. “We are even looking to extend to other gallery owners in the neighborhood and make it even bigger in the future.”
Hauser played with show titles and settled on “Girls Gone Wild,” named after the infamous videos that show girls exposing themselves on camera, because she wanted to give the phrase a new, more positive, meaning.
A lot of the artists have different interpretations of what is “wild,” but Hauser said the group of women who are exhibiting are all strong, independent, talented, tenacious artists from various cities in the Northwest. She is particularly excited to include three artists from Vancouver, British Columbia, the city where she first started working in art promotion.
“I am excited about this shift being Canadian; Vancouver is only two and a half hours from Seattle so it would be crazy not to expose more artists to the market here,” Hauser explained.

Thompson, the curator of “Pretty, Sexy, Dirty Girly,” chose these four words when thinking about the different ways women are sexual or are sexualized by others. Thompson’s artists are local residents and represent a broad range of ages and backgrounds. (Check out her blog on the project.)
“We have a woman who is in her 50s, and our youngest exhibitor is 16. We’re bringing all these people together who have completely different backgrounds and ages and different politics,” Thompson explained. “There are lesbians, straight people, a transgendered woman, a woman who comes from a Midwestern background, and a photographer that works within the drag community.”
Along with the medley of women is their variation in mediums. There are photographers, painters, resin artists, burlesque dancers and a poet.
Because of the sexually charged nature of the content, some pieces may be considered controversial and adult content. Bherd Studios will be posting signage on their door as a warning.
“This might not be a show that a lot of venues would want to put on because maybe they’re not able to because of their audience,” Osgood said. “It’s a good chance to have an area for people to voice something that might be controversial. Some venues can’t just shut off families from coming in, but we have the ability to put a sign up and give a warning.”
Thompson hopes these shows will change the way people participate in art walks. She wants to spark dialogue.
“Generally what happens is you go to art walks and everyone is walking around with a little plastic cup of wine and they are nodding their heads and saying, ‘Oh I like that,’ but there is never really any discussion of things in the community,” she said.
Bherd’s curator said she purposefully included controversial pieces because she wants people to walk away thinking about the content artwork, not just if it would match nicely with their couch.
“What I wanted to do was use the gallery space to do more than entertain,” Thompson said. “I want it to be an engaging experience rather than just a display of craft.”
Because many of the artists are sexually empowered women, their work is a reflection and exploration of how they reached empowerment.
“This is not just girl power. It’s all about trying to get as many voices as possible to talk about the idea of what is feminine sexuality,” said Thompson. “It’s very difficult for us to look at art where the woman is in charge, or is the sexual subject and has agency over her sexuality. So the work of the women is all about that.”
(Breanna Lai is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.)
“Girls Gone Wild,” at Tasty Gallery, 7513 Greenwood Ave. N., opens on Friday and runs through March 6.
“Pretty, Sexy, Dirty Girly,” at Bherd Studios, 8537 Greenwood Ave. N., opens Friday with an artists’ reception from 6-10 p.m.; the show runs through March 2. On Friday night, Bherd is holding a raffle to raise money for the Urban Rest Stop in downtown Seattle, a free service that provides needy individuals and families with clean laundry and bathing facilities. Bherd is encouraging people to bring laundry soap, toothbrushes and other hygiene items to donate.