Seattle Weekly 12/07

Amsterdam in 3D

by Adriana Grant

London – born Oregon artist Matthew Picton is a mapmaker, charting cities by waterway, road, and train.  He creates lush overlays of wandering lines with a very sketchlike hand.  Crafted out of Dura-Lar  (plastic sheeting sinilar in texture to Mylar) and pinned to foam core, his sculptures are technically accurate charts, while evoking a sense of possibility.  All routes by which to traverse a city are laid out before you, an offering to the hopeful tourist (or the nostalgic traveler), perhaps.  Tucked into the back room at Howard House is Picton’s 3-D depiction of Amsterdam, it’s concentric train tracks pinned in red above the blue canals, curving around gray streets and what appears tto be yellow trolley lines.  These physical mappings evoke a city’s circulatory system, as well as the wanderings of a person on foot, or maybe, in this case by boat.  Amsterdam’s network of canals provides its own system of travel, with the squared-off corners of manufactured waterways connecting to the curvier, somewhat less contained, urban rivers.  Picton creates an immediate visual history of this beautiful old city, using what appears to be purely factual shorthand to chart layers of construction and travel.  A similar map of Jerusalem, tracing the city’s ethnic and religous populations in 1938, 1962 and 2007, illustrates the political shifting of physical facts.  When I stopped by, this piece was on it’s way to Miami, as so much of Seattle’s top art is right now.  If it doesn’t get snatched up at Aqua Art (just one of the several Miami Art Fairs with Seattle galleries represented), you might get a chance to see this piece again in late December.