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Journey American Hero

Journey American Hero:
Journey American Hero takes on the daunting task of revealing the contemporary hero.

June 9th – July 12th,
opening reception Saturday, June 9th, 6-9pm

Seattle (Ballard)


Artist's candy breaks the mold


Artist’s candy breaks the mold
Thursday, May 11, 2006


Toi Sennhauser’s husband is delicious.

“I made him from chocolate espresso caramel with chili oil and Szechuan pepper,” she said. “He’s a stick-to-your-teeth kind of guy.”

Her dad is an enigma: plum and coca with a hint of green peppercorn. Her mom is salty orange, partly because mom eats oranges dipped in salt but mostly because she has a crusty exterior.

“My mom’s not easy or warm,” Sennhauser said. “She’s loving on the inside, where I don’t see it always.”

Sennhauser’s candy versions of her loved ones’ personalities are available in large glass jars at the Kirkland Arts Center during the run of “Menu: edible elements of art.”

At the opening, Sennhauser will invite the audience to participate in a puff pastry purge-your-soul ceremony. It works like this: Each person pays a dollar to step up to a mouthpiece covered in white yarn. A tube connects the mouthpiece to a puff pastry. After whispering a secret into the mouthpiece, people watch as Sennhauser fills the pastry shell with cream.

They can eat their own secrets or exchange with others, symbolically solving problems with a little help from a friend.

“Secrets aren’t usually positive,” Sennhauser said. She’s expecting everything from “I don’t floss” to “I’ve abandoned my aging mother,” and she thinks of it as a puff pastry first step to conscience clearing.

Sennhauser, 29, is best known for the bread she baked with her vaginal yeast for last year’s Seattle Erotic Arts Festival. The Seattle Health Department said she couldn’t offer it to anyone, even though, thoroughly cooked, it wasn’t a health risk. She displayed it along with the Health Department warning. Whether people ate it or not (many did) was up to them.

What she does falls into the loose category of body art performance, heavily influenced by Germany’s Joseph Beuys. He served in World War II as a fighter pilot and made art in an attempt to come to grips with the taint of his country’s Nazi past.

“He’s huge for me,” Sennhauser said, mentioning the felt, fat and honey he used in performances. While fat and felt haven’t appeared in her work, she’s upping the ante on the honey.

She has appeared on stage behind a black stretch-velvet screen, only her naked legs and bare feet showing. First she poured honey on her feet, then washed them, foot rubbing on foot, with milk. The honey milk ran into a cooking pot, from which the audience could serve itself a nourishing beverage.

She and Jodi Rockwell once balanced 100 raw egg yolks on thin Plexiglas strips, performing a wobbly ballet until all the yolks hit the floor.

Eggs are on her mind once more, as she’s carrying a fertilized one. She and husband Peter are expecting a baby in September. She is waiting, she said, till her belly button pops to film a video of herself in the tub, her pregnancy a perfect metaphor for island masses that emerge and disappear into the sea.

She doesn’t find her work as transgressive as, for instance, Karen Finley’s, who made controversial history in the 1990s when the National Endowment for the Arts had partially funded a performance of her smearing her naked self with chocolate and inserting yams into various orifices.

“I’m not trying to shock people,” Sennhauser said, “but some people are too easy to shock. I think in first-world countries people are encouraged to think their own bodies are disgusting.”

She was born in Thailand to a Thai mother and Austrian father. As she, her two brothers and a sister grew up, they moved between the two countries. In Thailand, she felt at home physically but not mentally, as she didn’t want to conform to her mother’s strict version of appropriate girl behavior. In Austria, she said, she felt comfortable mentally as a part of Western culture, but not physically. “Austria is 99.9 percent white,” she said. “I encountered a lot of racism.”

In deciding where to go to college, she had two homelands she wanted to get away from. She picked Seattle and graduated in 2000 with a degree in sculpture from the University of Washington.

She works full time as a cook in a local restaurant she preferred not to name, as she wasn’t sure the high-toned joint would want to be associated with what she does in her free time.

So far, she has exhibited only in alternative spaces, such as Soil Art Collective, Thread for Art and Crawl Space.

“I can’t imagine I’m going to make a living from art, which is why I’m working in a restaurant,” she said. “Food is my subject matter, and the more I learn about it, the better.”

Pregnancy will soon extend that subject matter. Besides her belly as an island, she is thinking of using breast milk in performances (“if there’s any left”) and maybe doing something with her placenta.

The possibilities for a body artist are endless.

Also in the Kirkland Arts Center exhibit are Josephine Balakrishnan, Patty Cokus, Dee Fontans, Edward Kranz, Theresa Lovering-Brown, Tom Muller and Carmen Valdes.



WHEN: Opens tonight, 6-9, runs through June 3. Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday


P-I art critic Regina Hackett can be reached at or .

© 1998-2006 Seattle Post-Intelligencer


The Modern Bird

Forget everything you thought you knew about birdhouses.

Design Commission’s The Modern Bird, an exhibition of designer birdhouses created by more than 20 of the top artists and design studios worldwide, will show how far contemporary visionaries have taken the traditional wooden birdhouse.

The structures—of laminated wood, plastic, clay, and even stainless steel—include several designed especially for this show. They range in size from a six-inch creation to a 2-foot birdhouse.

The eclectic mix includes Modern Birdhouses’ sleek architect-designed homes made with oil-finished teak, stainless steel screws, and sandblasted aluminum roofs. For a little whimsy, there’s even J. Schatz’s colorful ceramic birdhouses shaped like eggs. Seattle artists Erich Ginder and Toi Sennhauser are also contributing original pieces to the show.

The exhibition will open July 5 at Design Commission’s gallery () in the historic Tashiro Kaplan Building in Pioneer Square during the city’s First Thursday Art Walk.

A birdhouse is a birdhouse is a birdhouse? The Modern Bird will change your mind. See you there.

For more information about Design Commission, please visit www.designcommission.com

Opening event:
July 5, 2007
(First Thursday)
5:00PM – 10:00PM

Design Commission


Download Press Release.

Here’s a sample of some of our contributors:


Softly Threatening: Artwork of the Modern Domestic

Bumbershoot 2006
September 2-4, 2006
Artist Reception: Friday, Sep 1, 6:00 – 9:00 PM

Artist Trust

Artist Trust – Art by Artists Recognized by the Prestigious Regional Awards Program

June 12 – August 4, 2006
Artist Reception: Friday, August 4, 5:00 – 8:00 PM

Related Links


Menu: Edible Elements of Art

May 12 – June 3, 2006
Curated by Leslie M. Riches
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 11, 6:00 – 9:00 PM

Menu: Edible Elements of Art (Invitational)

Food is an explosive subject. Our society has such a food surfeit that eating choices have come to involve politics, morals, and popular trends over simply what is available. Social and economic factors have resulted in a population of overweight poor—junk food being cheaper and more readily available in urban centers than nutritious foods. Religious factors influence food choices and preparation. Even what is accepted as a food item differs from culture to culture.

There are many parts of the world where food destitution makes the use of edibles in artworks impossible, if not unthinkable.

At the same time, food is beautiful, colorful—pleasant to the eye and sensual to experience.

The Seattle Times - August 29, 2003


Bumbershoot Preview – Visual Arts Exhibit Guide

By Sheila Farr, Seattle Times art critic

Just a piece of friendly advise: Don’t start your tour of the Bumbershoot art shows at the edible-underpants booth. You’ll get all sticky from the slather of honey, cream, berry and chocolate sauces that drench the fried confections (your choice boys or girls) and will be distracted from the awesome and totally fun exhibits that make this years line-up one of the most satisfying ever.

The fried-underpants booth is Toi Sennhausers contribution to “Fashion is ART” – a romp through the unzipped clothing fantasies of 22 artists and designers selected by independent curator Rhonda Howard of Thread for Art. Each was invited to fill in the blank “Fashion is ____” with a word or phrase, and then illustrate it with some spiffy clothing designs. Sennhauser dubbed fashion “delicious” and the fried undies (don’t expect this critic to divulge the recipe) prove she is oh so right.

I entered “Fashion is ART” on a purely professional basis, notebook in hand, prepared to look and pass unbiased critical judgement. Thus, I duly took in Dylan Bolles and Nathan Lynch’s “Fashion is Heavy Accessories” display, a glittery regiment of found helmets lined up on the floor in what looked like an aerial view of some swish football team; and Sami Ben Larbi’s “Fashion is Self” with blow-up latex pants that turn the wearer into a modern Humpty-Dumpty.

I admired Michelle Kumata’s “Fashion is Conversation”, as in a conversation piece. The costume artist and Seattle Times graphic designer contrives fabulous shapes out of capes and drapes that show slips of suggestive color with underthings that sneak from inside out. And I went on to concur with “Fashion is Ridiculosity” (by Cathy McClure and K.D. Schill) a compendium of bustles, humps and embellished bosoms, lampshade sleeves and towering headdresses: odes to the dictatorial nature of the fashion industry.

Then, I got to Jean Hicks’ fabulous display of red felt hats and lost every iota of objectivity. In a heartbeat, I turned from critical observer to rabid shopper. All that remained, after trying on every hat in the display (with Hicks’ help) was to slink out of the show pocketing her business card and planning an order.

After the effervescence of “Fashion” the philosophical depth of transplanted curator Stefano Catalani’s “The Last Judgement Project” might come as a bit of a shock. That’s just fine with Catalani. ”It’s all based on surprise, this show” says Catalani, 35, who invited an international cast of artists to consider the biblical story of the Last Judgement ‚ but not to make any judgements about it themselves.

Catalani chose well, and his show is worthy of more than a brief stint at Bumbershoot. Particularly strong works comes from Seattle artists John Feodorow, whose installation”Souls awaiting a future” marries a grid of armless clay figures with the electronic eternity of a starry-night computer screen-saver; Pam Keeley, with her delicate, Dante-esque drawings of the Last Judgement; and Chris McMullen, whose sculpture “Estimate” weighs the relative value of two liquids: blood and oil.

The real stunner of “The Last Judgement Project” is a giddy strangeness of Ted Grudowski and Adrienne Taggart’s multimedia installation “Circumambient Tribunal (The Way Ahead, The Far Behind)” viewed through red-and-aqua 3-D glasses. It’s a must. But be sure and save time to savor the subtleties of French photographer Jean-Jacques Ringuette’s series “About the soul of Pierre Mouchon.” The poofy stuffed pig’s dilemmas are both profound and dear.

After “The Last Judgement Project” don’t despair: More wonders await. There’s Ben Rubin’s “Spin” in which a line-up of light projections – circles with a dark band across them resembling the head of a screw – perform in their own idiosyncratic ways. Nearby whirls the miniature carnival of Cathy McClure’s installation “Get me off this crazy thing” a group of strobe-lit zoetropes performing to the piped sounds of a player piano and organ music. Another area features the artist cooperative Soil, which set up “The Gallery of Collections and Creations” a series of amazements in the form of video projections and cabinets of curiosities.

Topping off this year’s Bumbershoot agenda is “Wouldn’t you know it” an umbrella-theme show. For ”Under Construction” Bumbershoot hosts invited 40 favorite Northwest artists to make or in some cases mutilate a unique piece of umbrella-shaped art. The results are sensational. All Bumbershoot visual-art exhibitions continue through Monday at the Northwest Courtroom Galleries.

The Stranger - January 2, 2003

By Emily Hall

Of Sustenance, Secrets and Two Girls

(ART) In Toi Sennhauser’s past performances, she’s poured milk over her bare legs and had bright raspberry sauce dripped – ever so slowly and bloodily-over her thumb, which stick lonely and alone out of a felt backdrop.

This month she’s teamed up with sculptor Jodi Rockwell to produce a galleryful of food-as-art, including heaps of sugar, armies of eggs, and portraits done in candy-all of which will change over the course of the month as it variously rots or disintegrates. The contemporary masterpiece is as ephemeral as it is philosophical (and delicious !).

Opening reception, Sat Jan 4, 7-10 PM, SOIL Gallery, Through Jan 26