Davidson Gallery + Joe Rudko: Creating Connections Coast to Coast

July 30, 2018
Working with gallerists across the country, Seattle-based artist Joe Rudko has quickly expanded his artistic presence from Seattle to the East Coast and beyond.  

Rudko first established a connection with PDX Contemporary in Portland when Jane Beebe, the owner and director of the gallery, saw his work at an art fair.

“Jane saw my work that had been curated into a recent graduate booth at the Affordable Art Fair,” said Rudko. “She reached out and asked if I wanted to show some of my pieces in a group show. Shortly after, I was given a solo show and, in 2014, PDX Contemporary began to officially represent me.”

Joe Rudko discusses the inspiration behind his artwork.
Extending his network throughout the West Coast through the relationship with PDX Contemporary, Rudko’s representation grew from one gallery to two when he began to work with the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle.

Rudko initially met Kucera as a temporary worker assisting in exhibition installations at the gallery.   

“Working with Greg at the gallery allowed him to get to know me,” said Rudko. “Then, he began to come to my shows in the area. He liked my work and offered to do a studio visit.”

After the studio visit, Rudko continued to keep in touch with Kucera, cultivating their relationship. In 2016, Greg Kucera Gallery started to represent Rudko, showing his work in both group and solo exhibitions.

“Connecting with Greg allowed me to show work in my home town,” explained Rudko. “It really helped that Greg got to know me when I worked at his gallery. It allowed us to build a connection with each other.”  

"Linked" by Joe Rudko, courtesy of Davidson Gallery, will be shown at the Seattle Art Fair this year.
Rudko has continued to develop relationships with gallerists as his career grows. More recently, his work has been shown in New York City at Davidson Gallery.

“Davidson Gallery was started as a way to help younger artists get exposure,” said Charlie Davidson, Senior Director at Davidson Gallery and member of the 2018 Seattle Art Fair Dealer Committee. “We hope to take artists who are not yet household names and give them their own space to show outside of more established artists.”

Davidson first came across Rudko’s work while browsing the internet.

“I immediately added his name to a list of artists whose work I like,” explained Davidson. “Down the line, I came across his Death Cab for Cutie album cover artwork for Kintsugi. It’s one of my brother’s favorite bands.”

“Because I was familiar with Joe’s name from my master list, I decided to follow up with him over email about his work,” said Davidson. “I bought an amazing piece for my brother’s birthday that was similar in style to the album artwork Joe had done.”

Despite their transaction, Rudko and Davidson did not meet in person until the Seattle Art Fair in 2015.

“He stopped by my booth and introduced himself,” said Davidson. “After that, I saw him year after year at the Seattle Art Fair. We became friendly and I decided to ask him to participate in a group show I was putting on.”

For Rudko and Davidson, the fair created an opportunity develop a relationship and get to know each other in person even though they lived on opposite coasts.

“Without the Seattle Art Fair, I am not sure that Joe and I would have connected in person for years,” said Davidson. “It’s great that the fair has allowed me to get to know people like Joe.”

In addition, Davidson notes how the formation of the Seattle Art Fair has allowed many artists with representation on the West Coast to gain exposure around the country.

“Seattle’s art community is a bourgeoning hub of young artists,” explained Davidson. “Having a fair in Seattle allows those artists to show their work to a wide range of people, and meet people from the East Coast. It has been really fun to see and to be a part of.”

Joe Rudko’s photo collection at his studio near SoDo.
Bringing Rudko to the national stage, Davidson Gallery is currently displaying his first solo exhibition on the East Coast titled Advanced Techniques of Photography through the end of July.

It is a continuation of two exhibitions on the West Coast: Basic Techniques of Photography at Greg Kucera Gallery and Intermediate Techniques of Photography at PDX Contemporary.

Advanced Techniques of Photography combines drawing, collage, and sculpture, creating images that include old photographs, postcards, and even advertisements. The title refers to the textbook Ansel Adams Guide: Basic Techniques of Photography. Rudko challenges the traditional approaches to photography by creating new images out of old photographs.

“There are traditional academic methods that teach people how to create photos,” said Rudko. “I think it is fun to twist what Ansel Adams originally said. The judgement call in photography that defines what is good and bad creates a lot of strict rules, but I believe those rules are made to be broken. Let’s play around with them.”
Joe Rudko’s "Triplets" will be shown at the Davidson Gallery booth.
Beyond Rudko’s current exhibition in New York, Davidson plans to expand his presence at future art fairs and exhibitions, including at this year’s Seattle Art Fair.

“We are taking a broad array of Joe’s work to the Seattle Art Fair this year, and we would love to take his work to more art fairs in the future,” said Davidson. “His work is only going to become more interesting. Advanced Techniques of Photography is the first time we’ve had any significant amount of his work in house, and it is really exciting.”

Find Rudko’s work with Davidson Gallery in booth D09.

Seattle Art Fair tickets are available here.