After the gift shop at the Henry Gallery failed and the space went dark, Seattle painter Matthew Offenbacher proposed turning it into an artist space. Different teams of artists run it on themes of their devising. Through Dec. 13 is The Gift Exchange by Claire Cowie, Sol Hashemi and Jason Hirata, based on a come-one, come-all version of a potlach. Anyone can bring a gift and take one, or bring several and take several. Cowie, Hashemi and Hirata set a high standard for the exchange by seeding the original stock with their work.

Since it opened Nov. 14, the audience has risen to the occasion. Although some people tear open corners of wrapped gifts and keep going until they find treasure, many, many others bring treasures and take what they’re given in a blind exchange. Not all gifts are blind. Some lack wrapping, in the interests of making sure a gift goes to someone who will value it.


Regina Hackett
Another Bouncing Ball