“Once upon a time, in a time both past and present, there lived an ancient castle upon a rock – surrounded on all sides by a dark and churning sea and only accessible at low tide. Over this castle a spell has descended, a spell of sleep – rendering the inhabitants somnambulists trapped halfway between life and death and forced to walk in languid nightmares. From the castle and into the woods, two sisters have fled. From their makeshift shelter they try every day to craft a spell to break the spell – to awaken the inhabitants and set them free.” Evocative of gothic tropes and imagery culled from contemporary fashion, Marci Washington’s watercolors in Sleeping Spell lead the viewer through this tale of enchantment.

Equally engaged in narrative idioms, Tracey Snelling’s new sculptures and assemblages are influenced by old horror films, true-crime TV shows, and island voodoo who-done-its. Mystery Hour invites viewers into another dimension; sculptures of haunted houses and damsels in distress are illuminated by glowing, sinister neon words while a large projection of a nighttime island mystery looms behind three-dimensional tropical seams of mayhem. Rum and whiskey will be offered from a life-size swampy Tiki-bar. Large-scale posters, movie displays, and a billboard eerily announce the horror and suspense thrillers that never existed…but do now.

Washington grew up in the Bay Area and received her BFA and MFA from the California College of the Arts in Oakland, CA. She has been the recipient of awards from both the Anderson Ranch Foundation and the San Francisco Foundation. Recent exhibitions include Secret Drawings at the Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto, CA in 2010, The Blood is the Life: Vampires in Art & Nature at the Everhart Museum, Scranton, PA, as well as a solo show at Leeds College of Art, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK in 2013. Marci Washington: Selected Works 2005 – 2013 with an essay by Nathaniel Rich is scheduled for publication this December.

Snelling was born in 1970, in Oakland, California. She received a BFA from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque and currently lives and works in the Bay Area. Recent exhibitions include Nervous Women: Two centuries of women and their psychiatrists, Museum Dr. Guislain, Ghent, Belgium and a solo show at Aeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels, Belgium. Snelling’s installation, Woman on the Run, has been travelling to First Museum, Nashville, TN, SECCA, Winston Salem, NC, and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, VA.

All images: Courtesy of Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA