Wendy Red Star and the Coffee Cup Controversy : Drama at the Bumbershoot Gallery  

Bumbershoot was originally started as an arts festival and has since expanded to a music and art festival. There are a number of galleries open on the festival grounds during the weekend as well as the Flatstock poster shop and gallery. This year, a very exciting all Native/First Nations exhibit was put together, comprised of contemporary art by Native artist curated by Wendy Red Star. The exhibit was beautiful and compelling, but tarnished slightly by some controversy (only noticed by people of the arts community) going on before the exhibit even opened.

Nicolas Galanin, who, in addition to being my favorite person, is an artist now featured in the Frye Art Museum’s exhibit Your Feast Has Ended, and his brother, Jerrod Galanin, both of the Tlingit tribe, were supposed be a part of the Bumbershoot exhibit working together under the name Leonard Getinthecar. They put together a piece addressing the violence now happening in Ferguson. The piece was comprised of hundreds of coffee cups with the names of POC who had been murdered by police. The coffee cups were suspended from the ceiling descending on top of a dummy dressed in police riot gear. From the top red paint was then dripped down the entire piece where it would pool up at the bottom on the floor.  Image

And that’s where we hit a roadblock. Facilities at the Seattle Center didn’t want to red paint staining the floor. They requested that the paint be cleaned up and if the piece was to continue to be installed some sort of covering needed to be put down. Okay, this doesn’t seem like too big of a deal but somewhere in-between the information reaching curator Wendy Red Star and being passed on to the Galanin brothers confusion happened. Red Star ended up taking down the piece before the brothers could clean it up or modify the piece themselves and because of bruised egos on behalf of everyone the piece was never re-installed.

It’s unfortunate that because of miscommunication and something as simple as a possibly stained floor this important piece was not a part of the Bumbershoot fest. But the piece will be put up at the Frye museum along side Nicolas’ other amazing work including another a piece that addresses the police brutality and murder of Native woodcarver John T. Williams.

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Photo courtesy of the artist via the Stranger

Megan Castillo / Anti-Street Harassment Advocate / KSUB Reporter

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