Push/Pull – Seattle, WA
Entering Push/Pull in Ballard, Seattle, feels like stepping into a stranger’s living room. Go a bit further into the main corridor and the space still feels more offbeat gift shop than art gallery, with keychains replaced by politically-charged zines featuring macabre and occasionally erotic illustrations.
Maxx Follis-Goodkind started this underground (literally and figuratively) art gallery and collective four years ago with this kind of casual atmosphere in mind, designed to encourage would-be art collectors and to foster community among the artists. DOPE Magazine spoke with Maxx briefly in November 2017 to hear, in her own words, what makes Push/Pull unique.
What motivated you to start Push/Pull?
I started it about four years ago. At the time I was part of a different gallery collective, but I didn’t find it encompassed everything I made. I wanted more control, so I opened my own space and asked about two dozen artists if they wanted to be members of this cooperative art gallery that was also about illustration, comics, screen-printing. And out of all those artists, only one said they wanted to join. That was Seth [Goodkind], who’s now my husband. The space we started in was only 300 square feet, about as big as our lounge is now. There, we were hosting less than 15 events in a year. Now, we do about that many in a month.
How did you want to make Push/Pull different from other art galleries?
I wanted it to have more events, to be more inclusive with the audience, and to feel like this is a place where anybody can afford something from an artist. And somewhere you want to stick around—a lot of art galleries can feel really intimidating. They’re very stark, very open, so you’re sort of on display with the art. This is a lot more casual.
How do you define the ‘underground art’ you exhibit?
It’s heavily curated, but it’s really hard to define exactly what fits. Seth and I figured it out in the first few years, so we know when it’s right and when it’s wrong. Usually it’s art that is representational and has some sort of character in it. We don’t do abstracts. We try to look for stuff that is emotional, political, that presents challenges to the audience.
Why do you think it’s necessary to innovate the way art is consumed?
People tend to have two ideas about art: you either buy it at IKEA or you buy it at a fancy gallery, and there’s not really anything in between. The movement to have art in places like bars and coffeeshops helps, but you still don’t see the other things the artist creates. Usually, that artist isn’t just making art that hangs on a wall—they’re making patches and buttons and comics and t-shirts. So we carry all of that.
And people need to get an entry level into collecting art—to get this idea that there’s something better than the IKEA print, and something more affordable than the $5000 original you don’t really understand. By providing that in a casual environment, it gets people to ask questions, to talk to each other about it and try to understand it.
Address: 5484 Shilshole Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107 | (206) 789-1710 | pushpullseattle.weebly.com | Sun-Thurs: 11AM-7PM | Fri-Sat: 11AM-9PM