Bag Painter

Paper bags are useful for a variety of tasks, from carrying groceries and your lunch, to covering up grade school grammar books and the heads of girls you're really, really attracted to, and just happened to meet at the very end of the night. For brown paper bags as artist's canvas; Bag Painter.

Using paper bags because the wrinkles and folds add texture to his pieces, and the color makes his acrylic paints "pop", Seatown artist Chris Crites' brutally graceful portraits breath new life into the everyday, disposable medium and into his favorite subject matter -- forgotten mugshots of everyday early-20th century criminals and appropriately Nick Nolte. These brightly colored moments are typically drawn from local court records including "Extortion" depicting a glaring old man in faded teal, the queasily yellow "Driving Drunk" capturing a vacant-eyed intoxicant, and the steel blue/purple image of a large sensually-lipped woman in "Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor"; there're also varied pics like the garishly orange aforementioned Nick Nolte and a purple/yellow piece featuring a hideously cross-eyed and crooked mouthed woman in "Prostitution", which apparently is safest if you're similarly committed to bagging it up. CC's other work ranges from erotic (hands holding a pair of large blue breasts in "To Have And To Hold", a nude woman in profile crying out in "Don't Limit Pleasure") and violent (a series of cheery, side-on depictions of weapons like AK-47s, revolvers and brass knuckles) to 80s, with a collection that includes a power suited, smiling Ronald Reagan, a cartoonish Pee Wee Herman and a muted gold/brown Mr. T portrait, which pities the food (that ends up in its bag).

CC is one of 5 artists being featured at the Twilight Art Collective's 5 year anniversary show opening Thursday during the West Seattle Art Walk; admission is free but alcohol is no longer served at the events 'cause "things got too crazy" last time -- not like you could tell, what with the bag over your head.