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  • Friday, July 02, 2021 2:02 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    We are so fortunate to have “Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem” at the Frye Art Museum (until August 15).  Delayed for a year by the pandemic, we can now enjoy this selection of world-class artworks from The Studio Museum in Harlem’s outstanding collection. Founded in the watershed year of 1968 by artists, activists, and philanthropists, The Studio Museum’s mission is to provide a place for “artists of African descent locally, nationally, and internationally.” It has long been an anchor of culture of the African diaspora, led by a succession of dynamic curators and directors.


    In the first gallery a selection of work by the Founders of the museum introduces the range of approaches seen in “Black Refractions:” realism in Jacob Lawrence, figurative collage by Romare Bearden, and abstraction by Norman Lewis. His Blue and Boogie, named after a famous jazz piece by Dizzie Gillepsie and Frank Paparelli, also points to another theme that permeates the exhibition—music. 


    In the next gallery, Benny Andrews’ “Composition (Study for Trash)” immerses us in a strange sight: the Statue of Liberty, flaming torch aloft, crosses her legs sitting atop a globe held up by headless white man wearing only boots. In a United States shaped gap below her, men are hauling on a load we can’t see. One of many studies for the mural Trash, one panel of Andrews’ twelve-part iconic and sardonic “Bicentennial Series” of the early 1970s, it immediately tells us of both the radical attitudes of the artist, and the activist roots of  The Studio Museum itself. Benny Andrews co-founded the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition in response to the Metropolitan Museum exhibition “Harlem on My Mind,” of 1968 which, astoundingly, completely excluded Black artists. 


    Not far away Elizabeth Catlett’s life size mahogany Mother and Child, instills immense tenderness into this familiar subject. In stark contrast, Melvin Edwards welded steel “Cotton Hangup” menacingly hangs from the ceiling nearby. 


    The next section, “Abstraction,“ highlights that the museum’s early years included the peak years of abstraction in the arts, and Black artists made it their own. Such well known artists as the sculptor Richard Hunt, and painters William T. Williams, Charles Alston, Sam Gilliam, and Jack Whitten dazzle us with their complexity and subtlety. 


    “Framing Blackness,” opens with a vivid painting by Henry Taylor of the 1948 Olympic gold medal high jumper Alice Coachman leaping over a high bar (she broke the record at five feet six and a half inches. The painting also subtly refers to overcoming barriers for all Blacks.  Among other well-known artists here are Kerry James Marshall, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, Barkley Hendricks and Fred Wilson. 


    “Their Own Harlems” includes heavy hitters like Lorraine O’Grady, Chris Ofili, Willie Cole, Betye Saar, and Faith Ringgold. Ringgold’s early quilt, a final collaboration with her mother, celebrates the diversity of Harlem. Dawoud Bey’s small 1970s photographs of ordinary people in Harlem build on the work of the famous Harlem photographer James Van Der Zee (also included here), and lead directly to his major works today (He just had a one person exhibition at the Whitney Museum).


    The next gallery honors a series of Studio Museum shows known as the “F” shows “Freestyle” (2001), “Frequency” (2005–06), “Flow” (2008),” Fore” (2012–13), and “Fictions” (2017–18).” Their purpose was to reach out to young artists of African and Latin American descent. The inclusion of diaspora artists emphasizes the museum’s commitment to reach into the world, even as it is embedded in its own geography. Nigerian Otobong Nkanga’s small watercolor “House Boy” of a headless child with multiple arms each pursuing a mundane chore, contains a world of references. 


    The last gallery “Artist in Residence,” features artists who have worked at the Studio Museum from the early 1970s up to the present, a concept pioneered by the abstract artist William T. Williams. The museum’s physical location in the heart of Harlem, the epicenter of Black culture for decades, led artists to simply look out the window or walk the streets for material for their paintings. One of my favorites is Jordan Casteel’s “Kevin the Kiteman.” 


    Many current superstars held residences at the Museum including Kehinde Wiley, Titus Kaphar and Mickalene Thomas (All of these artists have shown at the Seattle Art Museum). Chakaia Booker’s extraordinary sculpture of rubber tires evokes black hair with the double take title “Repugnant Rapunzel (Let Down Your Hair).”


    The fascinatingly complex Kenyan Wangechi Mutu has a small bronze sculpture of a “nguava,” a mythical creature, and a large intricate watercolor/collage, “Magnificent Monkey-Ass Lies.”


    Take a side trip to see her life-size bronze sculpture, “The NewOnes, will free Us: The Seated IV” at the University of Washington on West Stevens Way just east of 15th Avenue NE. 


    African American and diaspora artists have come a long way since the protests of “Harlem on My Mind.” This exhibition demonstrates the breadth, variety, and brilliance of some of those artists from The Studio Museum’s collection.


    Don’t miss it! 


    Susan Noyes Platt

    Susan Noyes Platt writes a blog www.artandpoliticsnow.com and for local, national, and international publications.


    “Black Refractions” is on view Thursday through Sunday from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. until August 15 at the Frye Art Museum located at 704 Terry Avenue in Seattle, Washington. For more information and to reserve a timed ticket, visit www.fryemuseum.org.


  • Thursday, July 01, 2021 2:02 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)


    What does a successful collaboration require? How can an epic and ancient tale be combined with a moment captured in the present? The upcoming exhibition at Perry and Carlson in Mount Vernon addresses these questions and more. The show provides guests with an opportunity to experience a collaboration by two well-known Northwest artists working in drastically different media: Michael Spafford and Spike Mafford. From 2000 to 2021, these artists went on an adventure of collaboration. To many, photography and painting have almost no attributes in common, and yet these artists decided to combine their talents to connect Spafford’s epic masterpieces with Mafford’s ability to capture the moment. 


    Michael Spafford’s work is iconic and instantly recognizable, especially in the Northwest. Rooted in Greco-Roman epics and mythology, his work utilizes ancient themes to comment on issues in our contemporary society. Often the fundamental theme is masculinity, or perhaps how our idea of masculinity has influenced popular thought about war, sex, and the concept of achievement through herculean effort. But Spafford describes himself first and foremost a formalist, meaning that the formal qualities of his work are his focus. Spafford achieves his aesthetic goals through line, composition, color, shape, and balance, not through the content of his work. This is one reason this collaboration is so interesting. 


    In contrast to Spafford, Spike Mafford’s photography focuses on the real and the physical. In fact, the differences between their chosen mediums are a topic of conversation between the father and son pair. The methodology of painting is inherently different than photography. The evidence left by the artist’s hand and how each medium communicates ideas are also different. But like Spafford, Mafford focuses on the compositions in his photographs. He can capture a specific moment in time while also alluding to the unknown outside the borders of the picture plane. The dynamic and mysterious images often comment on the passage of time and nostalgia; two fascinating themes in connection with mythology. 


    In 2000, the two artists were awarded a grant from the Behnke Foundation which provided them the opportunity to collaborate.  The pair and their families went on an adventure to Greece to find the sites of the labors of Hercules, an ancient epic that is also one of Spafford’s main subjects. In essence, Hercules must undertake twelve labors that are seemingly impossible, including kidnapping Cerberus and defeating the Lernaean Hydra. Finding the sites was not easy. According to Mafford, the artists used both ancient and contemporary maps to identify possible locations. After asking a few locals, they finally found the site of each labor, which Mafford then photographed to capture the landscape as a background for Spafford. Back at the studio, Spafford painting the characters on the large photographs. 


    It is interesting to note that the act of finding the locations, photographing them, and then painting over the photographs is epic. Like a work of performance art, the artists journeyed to each site and then had the monumental task of blending their two mediums to convey an ancient story. After taking the time to identify the physical locations, Spafford then painted on the photographs, a challenging task. The resulting artworks are gestural yet removed, timeless but also a moment in an ever-changing landscape. One aspect that this viewer finds very fascinating is the juxtaposition of perspective in the work. Spafford’s compositions are composed of minimal and direct shapes and lines, while Mafford’s photographs portray a vast landscape that the viewer imagines extends far beyond the frame. This tension makes the collaborations even more dynamic, as there is an inherent push and pull occurring throughout. 


    In addition to the labors of Hercules, the pair also revisited another Spafford series: “The Swimmers.” Like Hercules, Olympic swimmers vanquish natural elements to obtain victory and then are celebrated for their achievements. Photographs of water are overlayed with black paint that must have been challenging to channel on the slippery surface. All these artworks provide a unique opportunity for the viewer to gain insight into various artistic practices. There is something compelling about reducing an epic to its visual, formal qualities and then placing that composition on top of a photograph of the physical backdrop. This artistic test raises numerous questions about abstraction, realism, the visual passage of time, and how concepts are communicated in art. It is certainly a collaboration that should not be missed. 


    Chloé Dye Sherpe

    Chloé Dye Sherpe is a curator and art professional based in Washington State.


    “Michael Spafford & Michael Spafford: Collaborations 2001-2021” opens Saturday, August 7, 2-5 P.M. at Perry and Carlson located at 504 South 1st Street in Mount Vernon, Washington. Visit www.perryandcarlson.com for more information. 





  • Thursday, July 01, 2021 2:00 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)


  • Thursday, July 01, 2021 1:43 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)


    Where I Am. Now.


    Even if I consider picking dead leaves off potted succulents “gardening” these days, I have a friend who does not. “Succulents hardly qualify,” she says. “They need no maintenance whatsoever.”


    To which I reply, “Exactly.”


    She is one of my friends, and I have a few, who has sizeable grounds and likes to tease me about calling my tiny balcony a garden. To her, a huge house and garden means she has arrived. But I am lost in all that space.


    “Like plants,” I say, “we tend to gravitate toward people who don’t give us a hard time.” She frowns, but her eyes smile.


    She came by to drive me, along with three others, up to Skagit Valley. Just the thought of traveling to farm country cancels every guilty thought I have about playing hooky on a weekday. Sometimes I wonder how such guilt is even possible.


    I love the idea of walking without a mask through fields far from anyone, not to mention how five of us will fit into a Mazda. “You’re riding shotgun,” she says, and off we go.


    No sooner are we on the freeway when one of us lights up a little, as she put it, “non-habit-forming inducement.”


    “But you smoke that stuff every day,” I say.


    “Your point being?”


    “No point.”


    “It’s not like I’m addicted.”


    Fortunately, we all laugh. None of us really wants to be reminded of ourselves, we simply want to be ourselves. We are middle-aged women and thank goodness we have middle-aged acceptance of our vices.


    Of which there are a few.


    Farmland, now on both sides of the freeway, makes me remember a time, early into my marriage, when I planted a container of Night Blooming Jasmine against my husband’s advice. I thought that if I placed it close enough to the house it would absorb the reflected heat and eventually trellis over the doorway. “There are pictures,” I said, handing him a magazine. “Look.” He thumbed through the pages, shaking his head.


    The next day I bought what he called my “potted pipe dream.” It lasted right up till our first freeze. Undaunted, I bought more and more plants, more and more seeds. I scattered them everywhere because this is how I like to spread seeds, a little recklessly.


    I think of that haphazard garden often. Really, the memory of living in that house is nothing without that garden.


    I recall something else my husband said, how some women are turned on by strong abs, others by wealth and power, and others by seeds sold in small packets. It will never be even remotely possible that I don’t remember him saying that.


    I suppose I thought of my garden in the same way I thought of my marriage at the time: in its possibility, I’d find protection. That garden was a metaphor for a lot of of my hopes, discoveries, and disappointments. But I hardly saw it like that. I was still so blasé about what nature has to teach us.


    One last thought: Gardening taught me a lot about possibilities.


    Possibilities.


    There it is again. That word.


    And why, in La Conner, I buy a succulent called Moon Glow. The sign says the plant is well-suited for small spaces in that it likes to spread out but is not aggressive.


    I read that sign again.


    I had been swept back in time for the last forty minutes. I thought the best choice would be to choose the present. Where I am. Now.


    Mary Lou Sanelli

    Mary Lou Sanelli, author, speaker, and master dance teacher, published her first novel, The Star Struck Dance Studio of Yucca Springs, in 2019. Her newest collection of essays, Every Little Thing, has been nominated for a Northwest Book Award and is to be released in September. This column is an excerpt from this collection. For more information about her and her work, visit www.marylousanelli.com.




  • Thursday, July 01, 2021 1:22 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    As art venues open and restrictions are lifted, there are many exciting art events in the area visit. If you live in Western Washington and want to take a road trip in the beautiful Pacific Northwest summer, please consider making Skagit County that destination. There are several art events that deserve your time and attention. One such art experience is a quick drive across the river from downtown Mount Vernon. Here you find the Bitters Co. barn where Sarah Jones’ installation, “W(h)ither The Garden” is being exhibited. The title of the show is inspired by an essay about gardening during times of war by English author Vita Sakville-West and is meant to evoke both sense of loss and hope during times of deterioration. A historic barn in the pastoral Skagit Valley creates the perfect setting for Jones’ installation.


    Bitters Co. is a design and product development company based in Skagit Valley. Amy and Katie Carson are sisters who founded the company to share their appreciation of craft from around the world. In their words, “Located in rural Skagit Valley the spacious, unobstructed hay loft of our 1900’s barn is a welcoming space for art in its many forms; installation, two dimensional, culinary, musical, performance, and literary. We call it a flex space for promotion of the arts.” And from July 17-August 14, “W(h)ither The Garden,” an installation by artist Sarah Jones, is on display in the loft. The installation includes two key components: mixed media and plant parts on paper and silk banners that stretch from ceiling to floor. Both aspects of the installation feature three main themes of the artist’s body of work: botanicals, the documentation of loss that is often seen or referenced through memento mori imagery, and the invisible. These ideas come together to create a powerful statement about climate change and how people can emotionally move through the loss. 


    The works on paper are reminiscent of early botanical drawings. An attempt to document newly discovered plants and animals, these drawings blended scientific observation with artistic expression. However, Jones’ works take on a different meaning. A mix of dried and pressed plant specimens, cut-outs of plants in paper, drawings, and pieces of tape used to adhere the materials, these works take on a more documentational quality than some early botanical images. In a conversation with the artist, Jones described these as archival and a way for her to detail loss. There is beauty in this work; the materials are dissected and then rearranged in various scenes and compositions. But there is also something uncomfortable or unsettling about how these once living things were plucked from the land. The viewer is reminded that these beautiful objects are now dead. Once living and flourishing, they are now used to archive a species or type of plant. Maybe this is a way for Jones to help the viewer mourn the loss that is already occurring. 




    The suspended banners are made of white silk with white botanical appliqués and pair nicely with the works on paper. This combination results in a show that is quite experiential and immersive. Imagine walking up the stairs to a loft in a barn: your vision is the first to enter the space, which is filled with white, flowing banners. The interior space becomes a white meadow moving with the wind blowing in from the outside. The scene is intended to be comforting and familiar, like curtains on a windy summer day. However, there is still an undercurrent of loss in the work. The banners are suspended to occupy a liminal space in the loft. Not quite grounded, they aren’t on the same plane as the viewer. At the same time, the scene is both sad and comforting as if Jones is assisting the viewer through the process of grief. 


    According to Jones, we can create meaning out of loss. In her statement for the show, she writes about the importance of the Skagit Valley and how the act of traveling to such a serene and nostalgic place helps guide the viewer through this experience. The pastoral, the nostalgic, the closeness of the water, all these factors create an atmosphere for the viewer to encounter this challenging message. The relics created by Jones are a contemporary memento mori, a soothing reminder that the meadow is withering. Wither to the garden to experience both its beauty and its loss. This play on words poetically summarizes the artist’s thesis and bids the viewers to enter the meadow. 


    Chloé Dye Sherpe

    Chloé Dye Sherpe is a curator and art professional based in Washington State.


    “W(h)ither The Garden” opens Saturday, July 17, from 12-3 P.M. at Bitters Co. Barn located at 14034 Calhoun Road in Mount Vernon, Washington. The exhibit is on view Thursday through Monday from 12-4 P.M. For more information call (360) 466-3550 or email studio@bittersco.com.





  • Wednesday, June 30, 2021 3:32 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Back by popular demand, the Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair returns this summer! In August, come celebrate the resilience of visual arts in Seattle with over 40 galleries, non-profit organizations and art institutions participating in this month-long event. 






    Through the collaborative efforts of the gallery community, the Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair aims to raise awareness of the existing vibrant arts and culture available in the area, celebrate the re-opening and recovery of our neighborhoods, and invigorate the cultural capital of our city in this important time. Participants include members of the Seattle Art Dealers Association: Davidson Galleries, Foster/White Gallery, Patricia Rovzar Gallery, Greg Kucera Gallery, Traver Gallery, Harris/Harvey Gallery,  Gallery IMA, and Linda Hodges Gallery, along with J. Rinehart Gallery, Zinc Contemporary, Gray Sky Gallery, Columbia City Gallery,  Wa Na Wari, Method Gallery, Roq La Rue, i.e. gallery, Smith & Vallee Gallery, and many more. 


    Art enthusiasts and collectors are invited to view all Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair exhibitions online at www.seattledeconstructedartfair.com and in person at individual gallery locations. Check out the consolidated calendar of activities—featuring in person exhibition openings, artist meet & greets, and other events throughout the whole month.


    Viewers are invited to use the website portal to see the online map of participating galleries, explore venue websites, plan visits, and learn more about this vibrant arts community.


    Though COVID restrictions may be lifted, individual art venues might still have requirements for wearing masks and may still have other protocols in place. Visitors are asked to respect these requirements as we all work to get our community fully vaccinated.


    The Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair is made possible through the support of the Seattle Art Dealers Association. 



  • Tuesday, May 04, 2021 12:30 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    We are so fortunate in Seattle to have the only West Coast showing of Jacob Lawrence’s “The American Struggle,” a series of 30 panels created in the mid 1950s that re-think American history and American struggle. What could be more timely as we face so many struggles today. 


    Although Lawrence includes some familiar figures, such as Paul Revere, or well-known events, such as the Boston Tea Party, his interpretation is so original, that we understand these events entirely differently. In the case of Paul Revere he is shown almost in the dark, with a black cloak, suggesting the secret nature of his ride, a stark contrast to the famous moonlight aerial view by Grant Wood. The insurgents at the Boston Tea Party are dressed as Mohawk Indians, factually true, but not much emphasized. In other words, if they are caught the Indians get blamed. We see Sacajawea, the famous Native who was the only woman on the Lewis and Clark expedition, reuniting with her brother in a stunning juxtaposition of the drab explorers and the colorful robes of the Natives.


    Throughout we see the meaninglessness of conflict, the sacrifice of those who fight, and the huge efforts of ordinary workers, as in the building of the Erie Canal. The movement West is seen with two oxen weighted down almost to the ground, as a metaphor for the struggle.


    The dynamic compositions express struggle in every line. Most of us are familiar with Lawrence’s more realistic “Migration of the Negro,” 1940-41. “The American Struggle” still has the same small format, but the thrusting diagonals and dramatic spaces convey the meaning of each event. The color also creates rhythms and relationships. Clearly Lawrence absorbed the principles of the then-dominant Abstract Expressionists, but wedded abstraction to the realities of the bloody struggle for democracy.


    As Lawrence worked on “Struggle,“ the 1954 Civil Rights Act banning segregation in public institutions passed in May, Emmett Till was lynched in August 1955 and Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in December 1955. In the same years, government persecution was rampant as McCarthy saw communists everywhere. The FBI described Lawrence himself as “subversive” because he “propagandized alleged acts of racial discrimination of Negroes.”


    Lawrence planned to continue through the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution up to 1908 when, as he specifies, “the American fleet sailed around the world.” But he created only half of the planned sixty works, stopping with the beginning of the movement West in 1817. He suspended work on the historical study of struggle in 1956, immersed in contemporary events, as well as his own financial and professional disruptions. He never completed the second thirty works, instead moving to the contemporary Civil Rights movement and other topics.


    The series of 30 paintings have not been shown together since 1958: they were scattered for decades among private collectors. But as the finally re-assembled series went on exhibit last year, two more missing panels were discovered, Panel 16 “There are combustibles in every state that a spark might set fire to – Washington 26 December 1786” and Panel 28 “Immigrants Admitted from All Countries: 1820-1840,” both incredibly timely topics today.


    The “American Struggle” also includes provocative work by three contemporary artists, Bethany Collins, Hank Willis Thomas, and Derrick Adams, each exploring aspects of struggle through contemporary media and perspectives.


    At the Seattle Art Museum we have the unique opportunity to go from Lawrence’s “Struggle” to Barbara Earl Thomas’s “The Geography of Innocence.” It offers a perfect partner and contrast to the bloody confrontations of “Struggle.” Thomas gives us instead an homage to the innocence of black children, who stand threatened and accused by their very existence. The shimmering installation with images of black children in shrine-like niches invokes a spiritual environment that encourages awareness of the fragility of black lives. The children are people whom Barbara Earl Thomas knows personally, based on photographs, subtly elaborated with cultural references. As she says “the face of the dark child…is often misread as older and wiser than his years or misinterpreted as hostile, angry, and cunning. With this work I offer an alternative view, one that brings the dark child into a definition of the every-child. I put my children in stances where each face might be considered an unwritten slate.” 


    Barbara Earl Thomas was Jacob Lawrence’s student when he taught at the University of Washington. The connection between these two artists is thrilling.


    Susan Noyes Platt

    Susan Noyes Platt writes a blog www.artandpoliticsnow.com and for local, national, and international publications.


    “Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle” and “Barbara Earl Thomas: The Geography of Innocence” are on view at the Seattle Art Museum located at 1300 First Avenue in Seattle, Washington. For more information, visit www.seattleartmuseum.org.


  • Tuesday, May 04, 2021 12:10 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)


    “When we enter the Garden 

    the boundaries of the self are blurred.

    When we enter the Garden 

    we enter an erotics of perception.”

    — Kimberly Trowbridge


    What does it mean to lose oneself in a landscape? Maybe it’s your shadow joining the others in the forest, or your fingers brushing the fronds of a fern, or even your reflection in the water. How do you experience time, space, light, or darkness in such a situation? Would you feel out of space and time, perhaps on the threshold from one moment or plane to the next? Kimberly Trowbridge’s time at Bloedel Reserve and the resulting paintings are a visual manifestation of her experiences and observations about light and dark, time and moments, and space and observations. The paintings are an exploration of perception and self; each captured from either a specific moment, series of moments, or reality.


    From 2018 to 2020, Kimberly Trowbridge was a Creative Fellow at the Bloedel Reserve, a public garden and preserve located on Bainbridge Island. The Bloedel Reserve residency program seeks to provide artists with the opportunity to connect with the environment and nurture creative thinking through experiences with nature. Trowbridge’s paintings focus on four areas of the reserve: Camellia Trail, Meadow Trail, Moss Garden, and the Reflection Pond. Each area provides the artist with an opportunity to develop a new way of seeing the world and method for translating that into paint on canvas.


    Immediately upon entering the exhibition, the viewer is connected to Trowbridge through physical objects. Her easel, table, paints, and brushes are all on display for guests. Even her apron is draped over a stool as if to signify she just left the scene. From this vantage point the sightlines from the entrance of the gallery place a strong emphasis on tone, time, and light. Trowbridge writes that how she perceived light and shapes in the twilight hours deeply impacted her work. The three large paintings to the left of the entrance are an example of that heightened perception. First, “Light in the Forest (Annunciation)” illustrates the changing light beaming through the branches onto the forest floor below. Next, “Camellia Walk (IV)” portrays the tones that Trowbridge writes about in her wall text. But is also begs the question: is this one moment in time or one figure throughout time? Lastly, “Theater of Destruction” completes the informal triptych. Is the light coming or leaving the forest? It is hard to tell, but the leaves, meandering branches, and fallen tree remain either stuck in time or timeless.


    The paintings mentioned previously are all observations from the Camellia and Meadow Trails, but Trowbridge also places emphasis on both the Reflection Pond and Moss Garden. In fact, the first painting in the large gallery focuses on the Reflection Pond. “Reflection Pond Persephone I,” is almost divided evenly between physical objects and their reflection in the water below. Gestural strokes of blue and green paint activate the canvas. The painting is laid out in a grid, but the paint often spills from one cell to another as if to show the viewer that the planes are overlapping and not as structured as once thought. The primary character in Trowbridge’s paintings of the pond is Persephone. In Greek mythology, Persephone was abducted by Hades and forced to spend part of the year (the winter) in the Underworld. However, as a goddess of nature she could leave for most of the year and is often associated with the spring season. It makes sense that Trowbridge uses this character to demonstrate this place as one of rebirth, transformation, and passage.


    It would be easy to continue writing about Trowbridge’s use of composition, narrative, and the conceptual depth of this new body of work. However, it would be an error not to comment on the use of color in the paintings, especially the vibrant earth tones. When asked about what they appreciated most about the exhibition, the gallery attendant commented, “The greens.” Spend time admiring and getting lost in the colors of “Nymph and Skunk Cabbage,” for example, from the Moss Garden. Each curve of the leaf generates a new color, either highlighted by the sun or hidden in shadow.


    “In the Garden” has been extended through June 27, and there are several other exhibitions on display at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art as well. Enjoy Kimberly Trowbridge’s exploration of the consciousness through her direct observations of nature. And maybe, the viewer will notice something new on their next visit environmental exploration.



    Chloé Dye Sherpe

    Chloé Dye Sherpe is a curator and art professional based in Washington State.


    “Kimberly Trowbridge: In the Garden” is on view through June 27, at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, located at 550 Winslow Way East on Bainbridge Island, Washington and open daily from  10 A.M. to 5 P.M. Visit www.biartmuseum.org for more information. 





  • Tuesday, May 04, 2021 11:59 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Bob Lucas’ latest show presents his solo works as well as collaborations with artists Tim Beckstrom and Gary Nicholson.


    Once again Lucas presents us with an oeuvre that carries us through and beyond the personal into a paradigm of universal expression that is both archetypal and dreamlike. If one could ask for anything more from an artist, I don’t know what that would be.


    Lucas’ works are multi-media creations as befits an expression that seeks to engage us on a multitude of levels. They stand like holograms of the human spirit, captured by one who dives deep within the psyche to document the rich yet dark foundational substrata upon whose surface our day to day cares seem to float like the random sparkles on a wind swept sea.


    Lucas’ opening work is called “Show Statement Portrait” which is reminiscent of the first line of the Tao Te Ching, “The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao.” A glass enameled and fused image of Lucas enigmatically pointing to, or maybe holding up, an ear surrounded by some sort of wavelike pattern, (sound waves or the Higgs field), that itself occludes a hand written “show statement” from the past. This piece is indicative of his trust in his own intuitive process. For Bob Lucas every foray into the morass of art making results in a self portrait. But Lucas’ self portraits, and thus his work, occlude the rationalizations required by the ego so that he may reveal a deeper, hidden self.


    Lucas’ “Family Portrait” from the collection of Jeffrey Moose, is a waking portal into the realm of dream. To try and interpret this piece is to miss its impact completely. An army of psychologists, philosophers, clergy, and scientists could wax poetical ad nauseam yet still miss the heart of this art.


    It is a dream experience made manifest in space and time. In this, and other of his works, Lucas shows us that our dream world and our waking world aren’t just intricately connected, they are one.


    In his piece “Lights Over Vicksburg,” Lucas’ internal compass steers him to combine historical “events” with “dreamlike” power. The incongruity of the brutality of actual war making (the Civil War) and the imaginary power of space aliens being involved in that war could not portray the polarity of the human psyche in a form that reveals more chiaroscuro than this.


    Lucas’ piece, “3D Cube,” is a masterwork of the integration of the material and the ethereal. The profundity of its simplicity leaves us wondering whether we can ever really see the truth behind the appearances.


    Every piece in this show is a tour de force, though easily passed over by the worshipers of superficiality, their power is fed by nature itself. And so lastly, but not in the least, I want to mention Lucas’ piece “Dis Coagulation,” a piece of art where the dream world meets the devil. Nightmares are real and events like Dachau and Dresden, Stalingrad and slavery meet. Lucas is willing to suffer in order to bring these images to consciousness, not as propaganda but as art. Small, easily ignored yet powerfully manifest in space and time. Many are called to witness but few will leave a trace. Bob Lucas is one of the few.


    Robert Carlson

    Robert Carlson is an artist, glass workshop teacher, and arts writer who lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington. To view his glass sculpture visit www.robertcarlson.net.


    “Non Local” is on view through the end of May from Tuesday through Friday from 10 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. and Saturday from 11 A.M. to 6 P.M. at Jeffrey Moose Gallery, located at 181 Winslow Way East, Suite F on Bainbridge Island, Washington. The gallery hosts a Zoom session with Lucas on Friday, May 7, from 6:30-7:30 P.M. For more information, visit www.jeffreymoosegallery.com.


  • Monday, March 01, 2021 2:18 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)



    How are museums using this challenging time to analyze and review their collections? With many museums closed to the public and traveling exhibitions on pause, some museums are using this time to look at their collection with renewed vision. Are key artists missing from the collection? How can the museum’s collection represent more diverse voices and perspectives? What is working in the collection, and what is not? Museum collections are constantly being reviewed and this is precisely the exercise that many museums are undertaking during this time. Whatcom Museum’s exhibition, “Anatomy of a Collection: Recent Acquisitions and Promised Gifts,” is both a celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the opening of the Lightcatcher building and a testament to the many long-standing relationships between the museum, artists, and art patrons. 


    The exhibition includes both artworks that are recent acquisitions to the museum but also pieces that are promised gifts by art collectors and museum supporters. The exhibit text also seeks to explain the “how?” and “why?” behind artwork acquisitions and the various collecting goals of the institution. Visitors will notice that the exhibition includes a multitude of different mediums, sizes, and spans nearly 100 years. A sculpture of a bird by beloved Northwest artist Philip McCracken greets visitors up on entry and to the viewer’s left is an impressive triptych by Gregory Amenoff. The burst of color exemplified in the artworks by Amenoff, Mary Henry, and Cris Bruch are a delightful re-entry into a physical art exhibition after months of viewing shows online.  


    The exhibition is organized in several categories, including medium, geography, style, and time period. However, the artwork placement feels intuitive and the groupings of artworks bring many questions to mind. The inclusion of Clayton James was an unexpected, but delightful, surprise; almost like seeing a long-time friend. James studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and was later relocated to a camp for conscientious objectors in Oregon during World War II. Both James and his wife Barbara Straker James were friends with Morris Graves and they spent many years in La Conner, Washington. Three of Clayton’s landscape paintings are on display. James stopped making sculpture and turned to painting, but thankfully the museum also chose to exhibit two of his ceramics as well. Neither are titled or dated, but the work truly speaks for itself. Both are in James’ iconic style: white finish and smooth, organic forms. 


    Around the corner from James’ sculptures is another area dedicated to other Northwest artists. A suspended painting by Mark Tobey shows off both sides of the canvas. The paintings are a wonderful example of Tobey’s white writing. Nearby are three photographs by Mary Randlett, including a portrait of Jacob Lawrence in his studio. One of Lawrence’s hand rests on his hip while the other grasps an artwork that is resting on the ground. The viewer can imagine that Randlett and Lawrence are conversing as friends and this photograph captures a moment during their conversation. The other two photographs demonstrate Randlett’s mastery of capturing movement and light. “Palouse Falls Gorge” is a look into a gorge and the light beautifully reflects off the rocks. The other, “Falling Waters (after a Neil Meitzler Painting)” is a moment in time as a waterfall careens down the cliff onto the rocks below. A guest familiar with Neil Meitzler will immediately recognize the similarities. One artist capturing the falling water with a camera and the other painting the rush of movement with a brush. 


    Around the corner from the Tobey paintings are several prints. All are excellent examples of a variety of printmaking methods, but guests may be surprised to encounter a print by Käthe Kollwitz. The artwork is from 1899 and titled “Uprising (Aufruhr)”. The print features a group of people marching in unison with a floating figure above them, appearing to encourage them to keep moving forward. The viewer can assume that they are member of the working class, a group that was often a subject for Kollwitz. The print demonstrates the artist’s ability to express the impact of poverty and war on the working class. 


    Chloé Dye Sherpe

    Chloé Dye Sherpe is a curator and art professional based in Washington State.

    “Anatomy of a Collection” is one of three exhibitions currently on view at the Lightcatcher building. “Conversations Between Collections: The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Whatcom Museum” and “People of the Sea and Cedar: A Journey Through the Tribal Cultures and History of the Northwest Coast” are also on display. While the museum is not open to the public, they are allowing individuals to make private gallery tours. Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher Building, located at 250 Flora Street in Bellingham, Washington. Visit the museum’s website www.whatcommuseum.org to learn more about their COVID updates and to sign up for a private appointment. 






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