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Crosscut Arts Salon: Tech and the Democratization of Art


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

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Crosscut’s third curated Arts Salon series will examine the intersection of art and technology with an emphasis on the democratization of art. How does technology impact what art is made? How do social media websites (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) affect art, its representation and popularity? What about online art sites? What’s their role in shaping not only how art is sold, but the type sold as well?

The evening will feature displays, performances, and presentations by multiple artists who work within art and technology, including:

Brent Watanabe is an artist combining a background in traditional materials and practices (drawing, sculpture) with emerging technologies (computer programming, electronics), exploring an artistic field still being defined and discovered. His recent work “San Andreas Streaming Deer Cam” went viral, and will be showcased at the Arts Salon. Watanabe is a three-time MacDowell Colony fellow (2011, 2013, 2016), and among his awards and residencies has received an Artist Fellowship from Artist Trust Foundation (2011), the Catherine Boettcher fellowship from MacDowell Colony (2012), and a “Visions of the U.S.” award from American Film Institute (1997). He was also one of six finalists for the Arts Innovator Award from Artist Trust Foundation (2012), an unrestricted award of $25,000 given annually to two Washington State generative artists of all disciplines who are originating new work, experimenting with new ideas, taking risks and pushing the boundaries in their respective fields.


Iskra Johnson, a graduate of the University of Washington, is the entrepreneur behind two businesses that cross the spectrum between art and design. As the principal of Iskra Design she creates custom hand lettering for advertising and editorial clients world-wide. At Iskra Fine Art her practice incorporates photography, printmaking, collage, painting and digital imaging. Her limited-edition prints and mixed-media works are shown at SAM Gallery and Drizl in Seattle. As an artist, Iskra cites the Northwest Mystic school and the concept of wabi-sabi as primary influences. Yet she embraces technology and its “paths to magic” both in image-making and the way it connects artists to unexpected opportunities around the world. In the fine art realm, a comprehensive website and representation by a tech-savvy gallery have encouraged sales to collectors all over the United States. The ability for collectors to follow an artist’s work and creative process online (and even purchase online) broadens an artist’s audience and can obliterate the geographic boundaries that previously limited the marketplace for their work. Iskra is active on Instagram, Facebook, Behance and other social media platforms and finds the community there integral to pushing her creativity. She has also been involved in the political movements to protect artist copyright and maintain the integrity of the cultural marketplace. Her work on display at Galvanize will show her unique approach to high-tech/high-touch digital printmaking.


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