Life-long Seattle resident and self-taught artist Joe Max Emminger has quietly built a large and enthusiastic following in the 20 years he has been exhibiting in local galleries. His work — sometimes lumped in with artists dubbed folk or outsider — is, in fact, a very pared-down and sophisticated visual diary of his life and preoccupations. Places he frequents, like Green Lake or Lopez Island, make repeat appearances, and many of the characters are those from his domestic life. An exhibit of his newest paintings is now at Grover/Thurston Gallery in Pioneer Square; here with our review is KUOW art critic, Gary Faigin.
Telling stories is one of the oldest functions of painting, and it remains one of the reasons many people paint. Unlike artists of the past, however, who painted tales (like those of the Bible) that their audience already knew, contemporary art features narratives that are often subjective and self-referential. Artists as different as Edvard Munch and Marc Chagall have used narrative art to explore the world of their own memories, experience and desires, and their pioneering work has inspired many artists who followed.