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Grandmother’s Attic

Ryan Ostler and Pan Pantoja relax in <i>Grandmother’s Attic</i>.

Ryan Ostler and Pan Pantoja relax in Grandmother’s Attic.

Photo By megan berner

Grandmother’s Attic is on display at the Hobson Gallery, 315 Spokane St., through May 15. There will be a closing reception on Saturday May 14, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Stacked boxes, wicker furniture, baskets, trunks, and a tricycle all painted white—reminiscent of a layer of dust that has collected over the years in someone’s basement or attic.

“As we were talking, we wondered if this was a universal thing—that as you get older, you accumulate things,” says Pan Pantoja, part of The Salvagery art collective, talking about their latest show at the Hobson Gallery, Grandmother’s Attic. “We realized our grandparents all had piles of stuff,”

Almost everything in the gallery is painted white. This show is a collaboration among the artists of The Salvagery collective, who have taken over the gallery space with sculptures and projections. The front windows are draped with yellowing blankets and tablecloths, all various shades of white. At the initial opening, an aerialist, dressed in all white, dangled in front of a video being projected onto the drapery.

Pantoja’s part of the installation represents a dining table with a family sitting down to eat. The figures are cloaked in white and look somewhat ghostly. Over the top of this, a projection of footage from his childhood flickers in and out.

“This show is about memories and dreams,” says Ryan Ostler, another of The Salvagery collective’s artists. “It was intended to be thoughtful and solemn. And, when people first came in at the opening, the reaction was incredible. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.”

The installation creates an atmosphere of mystery and heaviness, and the effect is thought provoking. As a whole, the space gives the feeling of being in someone’s attic, full of forgotten objects. The name tags on the wall break up the cohesion the installation might otherwise create. Some pieces are better integrated into the installation than others, but even the parts that don’t seem to embrace the nostalgic feeling have their place. A mounted unicorn head seems campy and slightly out of its element but also seems like something from an abandoned carnival or a reference to a hunting prize or outgrown stuffed animal.

“We picked objects and things that might have a connection to everyone,” Pantoja says. “The idea was to create a sense of nostalgia.”

An entire area of the gallery is filled with white painted boxes stacked against the walls from floor to ceiling. Wicker furniture, a wheelchair, children’s toys, a bowling pin, and an old school desk are placed among and in front of the boxes, all painted white. Two videos play on the screen of the boxes showing scenes of buildings and old cars, families dressed in retro clothing, and other images from someone’s past.

Although the overall feeling in the room is slightly somber, there are many playful elements in the installation. Against one wall, an oversized pair of long underwear—like someone’s grandfather from the Midwest might have worn—hangs from the ceiling, cascading onto the floor. In another corner, a trunk with a glass top lights up to reveal vintage issues of Playboy magazines. And, you can’t miss the giant silver Peep in a nest of silver sticks.

“This is our most successful collaboration to date,” says Ostler of Grandmother’s Attic. The show includes work from all of the members of The Salvagery collective: Pantoja, Ostler, Alex Lemus, Nicole Seaton, Natalie Lind, Kendall Knowles, Carrie Lynn Smith, Artie Richmond, Pobby Heglar, Meghan Hellier, Aric Shappiro, Mallory Mischler, Justin Cunningham, Eric Santti and Kelly Ogilvie.

Maybe it’s the white paint that ties it all together—“I had an excess of beige so it was a good way to get rid of some old paint,” jokes Ostler—or maybe it’s that the theme is, in a way, all encompassing. It’s an eclectic yet cohesive show, much like the memories and things tucked away from someone’s life—full of stories and discoveries.