This week’s edition of The Stranger, Seattle’s alternative weekly, declares artist Gretchen Bennett a genius. We already knew that, but at least they made it official. Bennett’s work has been on the radar all year: In January, at Howard House in Seattle, her installation Community World Theatre threw a shard of light on Tacoma’s legendary 1980s punk venue of the same name. At the Kurt exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, her “low-fi” pencilwork placed Cobain inside shimmering, soft-focus landscapes. In July, Bennett installed Window #4: Tacoma, commissioned by Spaceworks Tacoma, before flying off to New York for a residency with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Most recently, a series of drawings involving Beyoncé, Crazy in Love, appeared wheat-pasted on a construction barrier on Broadway, on Capitol Hill, in Seattle.
The Stranger shortlisted Bennett for its annual Genius Award, putting her a hairsbreadth away from the $5,000 prize. Stranger art critic Jen Graves wrote: “In her work, images and voices are always in circulation–being passed around inside living systems. Bennett’s two favorite systems are music and the streets of a city.” Bennett has found both of these meshworks locally; Window #4: Tacoma is an evocation of vagrant Tacoma streets anchored by a shrunken, cut-up Hudson’s Bay blanket that resembles a wilted map or a hide (the installation is on view at the Woolworth Building through Sept. 24). Graves also lauded Bennett’s video work and vocal ability. Congratulations, Gretchen!