Open when you forget

Tuan Nguyen

December 6, 2018 - January 26, 2019

Specialist presents Open when you forget, an exhibition of works by Tuan Nguyen titled after a private note written by his 8-year-old daughter to herself. Nguyen describes this recent work as an “abstract time capsule of the fleeting and the inconsequential, yet important in the subconscious that forms our actions".

Here, the unknown is conceptualized in physical form, presented as “objects in physical space as well as pictures and portals in a figurative one”. In these works, Nguyen addresses his personal history parallel to the collective cultural history of war, colonialism, and assimilation, with cyclical and non-linear points in time pinned to the present moment. These dualities of the physical/figurative and the personal/collective paint “the private and the public colliding within the space of the work.”

Nguyen’s work seeks to contort and re-imagine the elemental components of traditional painting. His use of familiar materials with an unorthodox treatment infuses the work with instability and uncertainty, inviting recalibration and a reassessment of expectations regarding the expansion of painting’s formal language. Open when you forget continues Nguyen’s experimentation with play, precariousness, and ambiguity in both physical form and conceptual expectations.


Born in Vietnam and raised in Rockledge, FL, Nguyen currently lives and works in Seattle, WA, where he received his MFA in painting from the University of Washington in 1999. A 2018 Neddy award finalist in painting, Nguyen’s work has been exhibited nationally in Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Seattle, WA and St. Louis, MO.  

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rectangle, rectangle

Jenny Heishman

October 1 - November 17

Specialist presents rectangle, rectangle by Jenny Heishman. In her first solo show since 2015, Heishman showcases the process of “one fiber re-interpreted by another” in her labor-intensive procedure of recreating the intricacies of pulped paper into detailed rugs that mirror paint spatters, aerial landscapes, and confetti.

 Coming out of her 2016 residency at Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, Heishman developed her technique for translating compositions of handmade paper (consisting of an amalgamation of cardboard pulp, abaca pulp, clothing dye, bits of tape, and burlap), into hand-hooked wool rugs. As Heishman describes it: “One process is rapid and spontaneous, the pulp frozen in place as the water quickly drains, and the other is deliberate and repetitive, slowly hand-hooking wool yarn into the rugs.” This technical yet loosely informal combination of materials is at home within the rest of Heishman’s body of work.

For Heishman the act of looking down inspired her newest pieces. Whether it is the image of “confetti littering the floor after a party or the asphalt when the rain is rushing to the gutter,” the pieces in rectangle, rectangle present a beautiful simplicity within their complexity.

 rectangle, rectangle is on view at Specialist from Thursday, October 4th - Sunday, November 18th.


Jenny Heishman was born in Gainesville, Florida and lives and works in Seattle, WA. She received her MFA from Ohio University in Athens, OH in 1998. Her work has been shown solo and in group exhibitions at SOIL Gallery, James Harris Gallery, and Howard House, including others in Seattle and across the country. She was the recipient of the 2011 Betty Bowen annual award from the Seattle Art Museum, and has been commissioned for numerous public works by the city of Seattle, 4Culture, and the Seattle Art Museum.


With history in a room filled with people with funny names 4 , part of Becoming American

Korakrit Arunanondchai

August 2 - September 30

Bangkok-raised, New York-based artist Korakrit Arunanondchai engages a myriad range of subjects from history, authenticity, and self-representation to cultural tourism, transhumanism, political unrest, and the uneasy place of spirituality in a globalized world. Through a lens of a cultural translation and medium hybridity that is both earnest and skilled at parody, Arunanondchai’s immersive installations and videos mine the tensions between technology and animism, painting, a fractured cinematic space, and religion and popular culture, to create a contemporary mythology entirely his own. 

Featured within the exhibition Becoming American are new paintings and a solo presentation of Arunanondchai’s video With history in a room filled with people with funny names 4 (2017).  The most recent work from an ongoing cycle titled Painting with History in a Room Filled With People with Funny Names, the video’s narrative follows a recurring surrogate character for the artist himself, a Thai denim painter, who plays up and off projections of otherness and difference here. A Chris Marker-like voiceover queries philosophical and poetic observations and is put into dialog with the responses of a drone presence named Chantri, who answers in a soothing sage female French voice inflected with a Thai accent. Existential questions like “who forms the design of death?” and “will you find beauty in this sea of data?”, reinforced by their subtitles, give way to more prosaic inquiries, including “how was your life during the Vietnam war?” or “how was Iran during the revolution?,” intimating that Chantri is perhaps an all-knowing seer of history capable of responding to the chaotic portrait of our current climate, captured and dramatized in the work via a mix of fantastical scenes and documentary-style footage.  

Scenes of protest in the United States shot over the past two years appear throughout as if in slow motion and on constant repeat, tracing an incredulity in the face of a new fragility that seems to permeate and haunt everyday American life since the 2016 election. Offset with clips from the massive public funerary rites of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, including his cremation, one year following his death at the age of 88 in late October 2016, the artist stitches together what might appear to be far-flung civic moments in order to put them in relief as indicative of an uneasy surreal that is increasingly pervasive worldwide. Public mourning and the framing of authoritarian fallout interweave as major events in the United States and Thailand share a collaged proximity in Arunandonchai’s portrayal of rupture and irrevocable change.

With Chantri’s cautioning yet oracular responses offering an elegiac yet calming tone, a hypnotic backdrop unfolds as performative scenes show a non-gendered futuristic species of green humans taking form as well as tragicomic interactions between a dystopic race of humanoid rats and awestruck humans, as if both visions await us. Declarations of a coming hybridity seem to promise a future in Arunandonchai’s work where “there will be no music in this room only scars left on the face of the planet,” as Chantri intones, and a “new species will rise from underneath these scars with fresh wounds.” Intermixed with a quiet breathing throughout that is equal parts anxious and meditative, the work forces uneasy cultural comparisons throughout as a pristine aerial shot of Thailand’s largest Buddhist temple, Dhammakaya Wat, home to the fastest growing and controversial Thai Buddhist movement (often compared to Scientology), is contrasted with the downtrodden yet ostentatious excess of the Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan as a crowd of protestors gather.

Against the omnipresence of instant mediation, self-broadcast, and expanded network control that late capitalism touts as our inevitable reward, Arunandonchai morphs transhumanist promise into a schism-laden vision of what’s to come, the twofold hope of a new syncretism alongside a corrosive vision of constant crisis. 

—Fionn Meade


Korakrit Arunanondchai (b. 1986) earned his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2009 and his MFA from Columbia University in 2012 and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2012. He has had several solo exhibitions at CLEARING gallery in New York and Brussels and has been featured in major group exhibitions at the Sculpture Center and the Fisher Landau Center as well as a solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1, S.M.A.K, Ghent,  Palais de Tokyo, Paris, the Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, and at J1 in Marseille, France. His work belongs to the collections of The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA; SMAK, Ghent, BE; Museion, Bolzano, IT; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, FR; K11, Hong Kong/Shanghai/Beijing, CN; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, IT; Aishti Foundation, Beirut, LB; and the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, USA, among others.


It Ain't What it Seem

Elias Hansen

June 24 – July 22, 2018

With It ain’t what it seem, Hansen offers a lifeboat to the platitudinous genre of Northwest glass art. His steel wheelbarrow could have been driven into town by a kooky, traveling vendor of laboratory glassware. Volumetric flasks, graduated cylinders, and pipettes clank together above a steel barrow. What could be the discarded paraphernalia of the finest methcook in the woods or a rusted chandelier resurrected from a sunken ship with a wink to the man with the eyepatch. These assemblages have been tinkered together with affection by a blissfully blazed Gen x’er on a quest to make significant art while also making a bong that draws well and doesn't splash water on your face. Morandi's world of vases comes to mind. Hansen takes us on a trip into refraction and reflection of color through his bulbous forms and seduces us with his mastery of glassblowing.

Hansen’s work has been exhibited internationally at the Maccarone in New York; Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle; The American Academy in Rome, Rome, IT; Palais de Tokyo, Paris, FR; OSL Contemporary, Oslo, Norway; COOPER COLE, Toronto, Canada. He has also participated to the Yokohama Triennale, Yokohama, Japan. His works can be found in the Saatchi Collection in London, Fondazione Giuliani in Rome, in the Coleccíon Jumex in Mexico City, in the Boise Art Museum, and in the Seattle Art Museum.

Please join us on Sunday, June 24, 12-4PM for the opening reception. This show will also be open to public for First Thursday, July 5, 5-9PM.


Nostalgia for naught

Dori Hana Scherer

May 3rd - June 10th, 2018

Specialist presents Nostalgia for naught, a solo exhibition by Dori Hana Scherer. For her title piece, or what she refers to as “the title track of my first record,” Scherer adapts Seattle’s Parks and Recreation signage throughout the city into a memorabilia poster. While the parks department is currently in the process of revamping their iconic ‘rainbow’ stripes, Nostalgia for naught sets the tone for the show, recalling personal and vernacular imagery that has been lost
in a sea of plasticized fantasy and projection.

Scherer’s low-relief objects suggest exterior signage, interior decor, and toys. They mix familiar icons and hackneyed aesthetics as a sort of visual and psychical game. Her titles are hints or doorways with which to enter the work, while the abstraction of symbols and process become a tool to both make and negate meaning. Scherer began this body of work after moving back to her hometown of Seattle, processing the rapid development of the city. In confronting her emotionally distant nostalgia for the “old Seattle,” and relating this feeling to her dissociative generation at large, Scherer fabricates the negotiations of personal identity.


Dori Hana Scherer lives and works in Seattle, WA. She got her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently getting her masters there as well in their low-residency MFA program. She has shown at Actual Size Los Angeles, WERK in Los Angeles, and SOIL Gallery in Seattle, and has been included in numerous other group exhibitions throughout the country.



Leonardo Kaplan

March 1 - April 22

The question isn’t if something is real, but how something is real.  

For this exhibition, Leonardo Kaplan is presenting a new series of canvases titled “Chase Freedom.” The images replicate institutional forms, applications for services and official notices from the city of Chicago. Kaplan’s canvases are manipulated with household cleaning materials, over-the-counter hair products, and other conventional chemicals to evoke narcotic, diluted, and stained effects.

These works are the materialization of systems of power that invisibly dominate the administrative regimens of our lives, systems like finance and legality. Through a distorted lens we reconsider the actual aesthetics and semantic nature of these systems, their assigned structuring, meaning and accountability.

Questioning the scope, ethics, and metrics of language, its capacity to operate our reality, Kaplan’s paintings underscore the gravity of how we believe in systems and how value is reshaped, counterfeited, and molded to our perception.


Leonardo Kaplan is a working artist in Chicago Il. He has exhibited in Chicago with New Capital Projects and The Graham Foundation, in Berlin at the Freies Museum, and in Miami at the NADA Art Fair with ACRE projects. He has co-directed two artist run spaces, The Hills Esthetic Center and BOYFRIENDS, and currently works for the ACRE Residency.



Coley Mixan

January 4th - February 18th,  2018


Eat more F.I.B.E.R. You've probably heard it before. But do you know why F.I.B.E.R. (feminists improving boundless, eternal rock'n'roll) is so good for your health?

Dietary F.I.B.E.R. — found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, organix music, information nuggets and legumes — is probably best known for its ability to prevent or relieve white patriarchal & capitalist constipation/conspiracies!

A high-F.I.B.E.R. diet has many benefits, which include:









and much more! the first ever Intragalactic SYNKHRA Library will be landing in Seattle on Jan. 4th. You can sign up for your membership card to experience workshops, book clubs, soft pink lounging opportunities, snuggle tits, computer games, neon wiggles, free access to books/articles/journals/zines, live art & music performances, vegan treats, coley eyebrows, donut slingshot practices, potatoes, etc. !! persons that undergo F.I.B.E.R. initiation sessions will also get a power staff at the F.I.B.E.R. training center being installed at the Gallery 4Culture in june. members will get their own library card and access to contacting @astro.ooze for scheduling feminist-centered events, healing classes and much more!! stop by on opening night for a party and an abundance of donut hole fun. library event schedule to be posted soon. 

i'll read with you there !! #librarylife #SYNKHRA #queerart #seattleart #specialistgallery #mandy #fiber

FOREVER 22+.jpg

Forever 22+

December 7 - 30, 2017

Specialist presents F O R E V E R  2 2 +, a holiday salon style show, bringing some of our favorite artists together under one roof.
Come celebrate with us and get some dope ass pressies for your friends and family, while supporting Seattle's newest artist-run contemporary art space!We look forward to seeing you on Thursday, December 7, 5 - 9 PM, for the opening reception.



Ready to Gift

Hongzhe Liang

Thursday October 5th 2017


Calvin Klein underwear for my best friend, 5-pack cotton bikinis and 2 briefs

used Burberry wallet for my good-hearted uncle who once drove me around Beijing at 3am just for fun

5 dollar kimono for my nephew, sorry, really could not afford an iPad

4 Kirkland Dried Blueberries for not-so-nice aunt

honey honey honey honey honey honey calcium calcium calcium calcium fish oil fish oil fish oil fish oil

Classic Tortoise watch for whoever else will ask for a gift

old fashioned linen handbag for my step-mother and hope she likes it?

MacBook Air that I need to erase everything from before I give it to my cousin

brand new leather belt purchased online, Italy 

ebay Leica snapshot camera for Lei, my favorite

oh dad said a big bag of pistachio


Hongzhe Liang (b.1992, Yueyang, China)  is a Seattle based artist. He received his BFA in Photomedia at University of Washington, Seattle. Liang has shown at Veronica (Seattle),  Glass Box (Seattle),  3BHK (Fort Cochin) among others.

View Documentation Here


it's me and it's you and it's yes

William E. Shields and Alexi Brown-Schmidt

August 3-September 17, 2017

Specialist presents its inaugural exhibition with works by Alexi Brown-Schmidt and William E. Shields. “It’s me and it’s you and it’s yes” is made of concrete and oil paint.  The title of the show comes from YouTube enthusiasm for the music of Yes, the 1970s prog rock pioneers. The concrete sculptures consider weight and support, anchored between comforting ballasts and begrudged stumbling blocks. These items are monitored by the painted posters of some long-forgotten community theaters’ memorable performances.


William E. Shields (b. 1987) was born in Canterbury, New Hampshire. He now lives in Seattle, Washington.  He makes three dimensional objects out of common materials.

Alexi Brown-Schmidt (b. 1980, Coupeville, WA) lives and works out of his home studio in Allentown, Tukwila, WA.  He takes images from his surroundings of the Duwamish River, the bar, Southcenter at large, and television.