47° North, 122° West

October 9, 2017 - January 19, 2018
Untitled by Shon Frostad. Mixed media on wood panel

Foss Waterway Seaport is pleased to present 47 º North, 122 º West, an exhibition of paintings by Shon Frostad, October 9, 2017 through January 19, 2018. The sea, and the language of universal symbols created to navigate its vastness, are the subject of this show. Picture a shipping vessel at sea: on its side is a system of letters and numbers which can be decoded at a distance by maritime operators. For the uninitiated, these cryptic symbols remain unknown; Frostad enlarges their mystery in mixed-media canvases whose layered and textured surfaces appear aged by the effects of time, weather and salt-water submersion.


“The symbols on the ship's hull indicate such things as a vessel's 'draft', or depth in the water, what the allowable draft is for that vessel depending on the season, and even the particular ocean the ship may be traveling in,” says Frostad. “One circular symbol indicates the insurer of the vessel; another where a tugboat may or may not contact the ship's hull. Yet others show where a ship's inner bulkheads or compartments are.” These symbols describe the anatomy and other important aspects of a particular vessel. The works in this show are brushed on large (up to 4'x4') wood panels, made to echo the weathered skin of a container ship. “This body of work gives a close-up view of the aging process of steel-hulled marine vessels resulting from time, sun, salt and the living sea.”


Frostad is a Washington native, “Raised in the 'inland empire' of eastern Washington, where one isn’t exposed to the marine world. Growing up, however, I frequently visited family in the Puget Sound area and loved the sea, the ocean, and this cool, wet environment that was so much different from my home.”


He has also lived in Japan and on the island of Kauai, environments that have influenced his painting. Now based in Tacoma, “I’m inspired by the way that the light, water and sky of the Northwest act together in changing color tones and intensities. My color palette is derived from the light-affected colors found in the natural world, as well as the man-made objects within it that are constantly transforming through the organic processes of rusting and decay.”


The title of this show, 47 º North, 122 º West refers to the geographic coordinates for Tacoma, Washington. But Frostad's semi-abstract paintings might also be located on a broader metaphysical map, one where humans forever seek to identify their bearings on the sea of place, chance and history. -Lisa Kinoshita


47 º North, 122 º West by Shon Frostad, October 9, 2017 through January 19, 2018 at Foss Waterway Seaport, 705 Dock St., Tacoma, WA 98402.