• Wednesday, April 02, 2014 4:44 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    In a Darkened Countryside

    Stars waken slowly as day dies

    again their distant lights arrive

    to the mind as thoughts dawning

    too faint to see past the day

    with all its intersections traffic lights

    its browbeating glare passing over

    its obsession with work half-undone

    its judgments to be gotten past

    while there was light left to see

    whether we did well or poorly

    till with dark at last we rest our eyes

    on sights beyond reach or reproach

    in motion far out on the edges

    pinpoints adrift mere smatterings

    rumored neighbors all but overlooked

    who still need to farm something like us

    Paul Hunter

    Paul Hunter’s most recent farming book is Stubble Field, from Silverfish Review Press. He is just finishing an autobiographical book of prose poems, called Clownery.

  • Wednesday, April 02, 2014 4:40 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Still Life in the Physical World

    We desire this ripening — 

    green pears in southern windows,

    shiitake mushrooms nested in a basket

    from the corner grocery —

    all the abundance of duty

    and want.

    No, what I want is more.

    How our lives collide

    like strange sketches,

    your small talk no different

    than a woman’s.  You are

    my double, the mirror

    message I leave for

    the visitor who pauses

    in the hallway.

    The mind creates the world,

    but the body inhabits it,

    draws all the edges we count,

    such as index finger

    tracing background air.

    Or, say we walk beside the river

    on this brilliant day.  How different

    to have hair defined by tree,

    clothes outlined by water.

    Still, there is always the body

    displayed against sheets — pale

    green or deep lavender. And

    there is this, the best

    any artist could ever do:

    the body outlined by body —

    arm across thigh, head

    to belly; this is the portrait

    we most desire, each of us

    separate, revealed

    by the other.

    Gayle Kaune

    First published in Still Life in the Physical World, Blue Begonia Press

  • Wednesday, April 02, 2014 4:32 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    The Day the Plein Air Painting

    class met it was hot,

    exuberant, after months

    of gray. I turned left

    at the Jesus is Lord sign

    and met six women,

    at the Jesus is Lord beach.

    Vermilion, orchre, cerulean blue,

    the colors were all out that day,

    and we learned to create

    the palest wash, search the horizon

    for light and shadow.

    We painted on the muddy banks

    of Chimacum creek, while heron

    kept watch and eagles circled.

    And we worked all afternoon

    until the tide filled the creek

    to overflowing.

    Then we stripped off our clothes

    and entered the water undefined

    left the shadows of the trees

    to become the light

    in our very own landscape.

    Gayle Kaune

    First published in All the Birds Awake, Tebot Bach.

    Gayle Kaune is widely published in literary magazines. Her chapbooks include, Concentric Circles, winner of the Flume Press Award and N’Sid-Sen-Star. Her books are Still Life in the Physical World, published by Blue Begonia Press and her latest, All the Birds Awake published by Tebot Bach. She lives in Port Townsend with her husband and a ghost dog. She paints occasionally, when she gets up the courage.

  • Thursday, January 02, 2014 1:53 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)
  • Thursday, January 02, 2014 1:39 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)
    Back in November of 2009, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, a Texas Democrat (which has got to be a pretty sticky thing right there), echoed the point that it was funny to call health-care reform rushed, "America has been working on providing access to health care for all Americans since the nineteen-thirties."

    I have often felt the same way about writing.

    Not that I, for a minute, compare writing, mine or anyone's, to the crucial issue of health care. I'm just struck by how often there is this misconception of time, how long it takes to accomplish certain things, how slow and arduous hard work really is.

    For instance, you might think all my thoughts come to me as I write this, and in one sense, they do.

    In another, they've taken all my life to uncover.

    All that comes to me now is an intensified need to meet my deadline.

    I’ll say this though, when I first began to write for you, I was determined.

    But some of my earlier columns, well, kind readers, thank you for not pointing out how naive I was.

    Well, actually, a few of you did.

    In my defense, I was writing from a younger perspective. A glorious deficit, yes.

    Still, I had to learn to surrender (and "surrender" is the only word) to the other - the smarter, more sure-of-herself other - within. And come on, surrender takes time.

    Every writer talks about this "otherness," this voice inside that just knows.

    Then comes the moment when there might be another way of saying something and I agonize, because I should. . .I shouldn't. . .should. . .shouldn't submit this to my editor.

    But it’s only when this “other” insists, that I know it’s over.

    "It's time," she will say. "Press SEND!" So, first and foremost, in my annual post-holidaze, which always make me overly sentimental, I want thank her. Our relationship has evolved nicely through the years. Though, like most couples, we still bicker about a thousand little things.

    For instance, right now she reminds me that I've written a lot over the years about this end of the year transition that always feels monumental. . .maybe because columnists are always writing about it with a much broader brush than it really deserves, I don't know.

    Still, I know that you don't necessarily have to be a writer to want to try, at least, to pinpoint why December is such a mixed bag of emotions.

    2013 finished? It's impossible!

    Eventually, though, it sinks in.

    What next?

    Out of the corner of my eye, the morning sun creeps across my carpet and everything about the way the sunlight stirs me.

    "Spring is next," my otherness will say, "that’'s what. We just have to get through the longest, bleakest months, that's all."

    To which I will answer, "Not a problem. Piece of cake."

    On the bright side, there are things that can help. My new favorite is the spa at downtown's Olive 8. Oh my God, for the price of a manicure you can use the steam room, Jacuzzi, heated saline pool, and sauna. Plus, cocktails are served to you while you lounge in a terry cloth robe!

    I was waiting for something dramatically warm to pop up in my neighborhood. It fills me with hope I can hardly wait to air. And I have a sneaking suspicion this will always be so.

    This month, well, it's going to be merry, sure, why not? But it's still going to be winter raining down.

    So why not think about steamy warmth and a well-stocked bar by the pool? Because there is nothing wrong with having a little of both.

    Mary Lou Sanelli
    First published in City Living Seattle. For more information, visit Mary Lou Sanelli's website at
  • Monday, July 01, 2013 1:54 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    It was a bright and beautiful day in the rainy city. And it had been nearly two weeks since the last First Thursday so I was feeling a little art starved. Since NYC is crawling with tourists this time of year, not to mention the heat, humidity, and invasion of baby strollers from Brooklyn, I did what any other sensible art seeker in my shoes would do. I hopped a ferry and went to Winslow.

    What? Okay, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but very soon, that's exactly what sensible art seekers are going to be doing now that the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art is open.

    At the risk of giving you the impression that all the sophisticated art-crit vocabulary got knocked out of my head the moment I walked into this place, I just need to say that BIMA is so totally cool. Honestly, I tried to maintain my visitor-from-the-big-city demeanor but this place is hard to resist. The curved concrete, glass, and steel building designed by architect Matthew Coates is big and handsome - it kind of dares you to walk by - it's walking distance from the ferry. Take the first left turn and you're there.

    I think that the best and most surprising thing about being inside BIMA is all the natural light that pours in everywhere. If you're one of those people who gets gallery fatigue from the lack of light and air in those cloistered spaces where art usually lives, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all the views of the outside world. If there ever was a museum that's ideal for seeing and being seen at the same time, this is it. A good place for both of those pastimes is the John and Lillian Lovelace Gallery on the first floor. It's a rare and delightful experience to be wandering through selections of Northwest art from BIMA's permanent collection while ferryboats float in and out of view and people stroll the streets of Winslow just outside the window. Especially when the collection is as much fun as this one is.

    I like the pair of elegant but cheeky Philip McCracken sculptures - different versions of eternally suspended tension - that are sitting right next to each other. In one, a dangling stack of scissors, pliers, and a wrecking ball threaten the structural integrity of a delicate china plate; in the other, a drawn steel bow is loaded up with an arrow that's ready to fire but never does. There's also a painting by Max Grover ("Red Car Trip at Dusk"), a serene Harold Balazs steel sculpture, and Karen Hackenberg's incendiary "American Pie." I love the fact that many of the pieces in this disparate collection are staged in clever little narrative vignettes, like the Patty Rogers painting "Each in the Other's Heart" that hangs above Robert Spangler's chair that sits between a Philip Levine sculpture and a wedding crown by Hekki Seppa.

    Upstairs in the Rachel Feferman Gallery you'll find "First Light," a regional group exhibition that's wild and wonderful, which is not surprising since it was assembled by BIMA Executive Director Greg Robinson, with the expert assistance a stellar list of Pacific Northwest curators that he rounded up for the occasion: Max Grover, Norie Sato, Cynthia Sears, Jake Seniuk, Janice Shaw, and Barbara Earl Thomas. If you recognize any of those names, I don't have to tell you any more. If you don't, then just trust me when I say that you’ll wander happily through this show with your eyes wide open and your brain buzzing.

    It includes more than 50 artists, established and upcoming, from all over the Northwest, working in every possible medium. You should go to the BIMA website for the complete list (, but I want to list a few of my favorites: Lucy Congdon Hanson's big kinetic "Spoon"; Chris Jordan's "Oil Barrels," a hypnotic modern mandala with a rusted oil barrel at the center looking for all the world like our poor planet Earth, which is hung next to David Kroll's haunting "Koi and Blue Flower Vase;" a drawing and dry-point etching by the endlessly amazing Carl Chew; Allen Moe's elegant pottery vessels that are startlingly enhanced by what I will only describe as unexpected accouterments; Steve Einhorn's timely Peace Piece ("Guns Into Ukes") musical contraptions (look for the vintage Packard hubcap); and "Fire Inside the Heart," a big, sexy painting by Linda Okazaki that's full of secret symbols. If you ever find yourself regretting your decision to skip the NYC art scene, sit down in front of "Roundelay," Heather Dew Oaksen's video installation and watch the subway cars shoot by for a while.

    The views from the second-floor Beacon Gallery (or as I call it, the prow; sometimes I can't tell if this a museum or a luxury yacht) are even better than those on the first, but you’ll find yourself distracted from all that natural beauty by the unnatural beauty of "Sea 'scape" an installation by Port Townsend artist Margie McDonald. It's an invasion of fanciful and delicate marine creatures, made from recycled copper, yacht rigging wire, and fishing line, that look like the merging of sea-life and neural synapses. On opening day, this was still a work in progress so it's impossible to say what it will eventually look like, but McDonald definitely won my award for most creative use of gallery space thanks to the spidery sea stars that cling to and crawl out from the crevices in the glass wall panels.

    On the ferry ride back to Seattle I felt a little turned around, like I was returning to the quiet island from an art adventure in the big city. That alone was worth the trip. And given how easy it is to walk on the ferry downtown and walk off the boat at BIMA’s front door, I’ll be doing it again soon because there’s still plenty more to see.

    Kathy Cain

    Kathleen Cain is a Seattle-based writer who has been spending an inordinate amount of time on the Bainbridge Island ferry lately.

    Bainbridge Island Museum of Art is located at 550 Winslow Way East on Bainbridge Island Washington and is open dailty 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. Admission is free. For more information, visit

  • Monday, July 01, 2013 12:11 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Soon after their 1958 wedding Lucy and Herb Pruzan wanted to do something to make their house a home. The answer was artwork and their first acquisition as a couple was a 1959 abstract painting by C. Louis Hafermehl purchased at the Bellevue Arts and Crafts Fair. This was the start of something big, the beginnings of a stellar collection of regional artworks that the Pruzans are still adding acquisitions to. 

    Poet Theodore Roethke would have said that the Pruzans learned by going where they had to go. Since they could not afford works by then well known artists such as Mark Toby and Kenneth Callahan the couple began a journey of discovering lesser known artists by talking with dealers, attending openings, and befriending the artists themselves. "They acquired art," says critic Matthew Kangas who wrote one of the catalog's essays, "by looking and learning and educating their eyes." 

    This method of acquiring art out of curiosity and love versus ego and investment glues this collection together in so palpable a way that the collection feels like an extension of the couple's relationship. 

    Rock Hushka, Curator of Contemporary and Northwest Art at the Tacoma Art Museum, described the Pruzan's as a fixture of Seattle's art scene, "They are known for attending receptions in Seattle." Gallery owner John Braseth says that he thinks they have come to every opening but three at his gallery in the past 30 years. No wonder the Pruzan's needed to forgo getting another family dog in order to free up time! In the catalog Herb Pruzan is quoted as saying, "What we look for in art is the excellent use of materials and techniques." The couple has literally invested in the ability for artists to remain here and grow. 

    Hushka describes a subtle chronology in the way the exhibit is composed. Besides wanting visitors to experience what it must be like to live with the art and ideas, Hushka and preparator Cyrus Smith designed the exhibit to reflect how the Pruzans collected. "They started with figuration and abstraction," explained Hushka, "then moved to glass and ceramics, and they most recently have collected landscapes." 

    The latest acquisition in the show is a large 2011 painting by Nathan DiPietro entitled "Elwha." The dam, so much in the news of late, is seen in the background yet is at the painting’s center. A stream flows toward us flanked by large, what look like old growth, trees. Above the stream nurse logs have fallen crisscrossed, looking like the laces of Mother Nature's corset. It's a stunning work by a young artist, clustered with other landscapes from the collection. 

    A number of works here make the eighties look good. 

    Paul Horiuchi's "Blue Transition #2" from 1981 is as transcendental a Morris Graves. Andrew Keating's "Interval" from 1986, painted with his then signature Pepto-Bismol palette, is now a weird classic. Michael Ehle's large gouache on paper titled "Five Wise, Five Foolish" is a breathtaking example of the late artist's work. 

    Matthew Kangas' catalog essay describes how the co-founders of the University of Washington's School of Art "combined Paris atelier methods with a Bauhaus philosophy espousing the equality of all the arts; hence, courses in graphic design, ceramics, metals, and textiles." This explains a lot about the wealth of craft in Northwest art in general and the influence of that program on artists in this collection. 

    A sampling of the heavy hitters and their works represented could go something like this: Gaylen Hansen has never been so Guston-y! Jeffry Mitchell can do no wrong. Gene Gentry McMahon has a Country and Western singer's name (and a killer painting in this show). Claudia Fitch's fuzzy "Berry”"ogles Jamie Walker's minimalist pop sculpture "Handsome" across the way. Faye Jones' works are the closest thing to dreaming. Whiting Tennis made a sloppy, post-expressionist painting! Gloria DeArchangelis where have you been? Mark Calderon's refined skills can't hide emotion. Akio Takamori's "Actor" in porcelain and ink jet print allows us to magically compare something to itself. In David Kane's "Acme" blue collar climbs the stairs toward white. Howard Kottler's plate will surprise diners once the food is gone. Michael Stafford's sexy Hercules lives! Fred Bauer's 1970 "Super Cereal" is neon fortified while Eric Elliott's still life is gently visceral. 

    These artworks are moving toward history on a conveyor belt of time. I had a strange feeling walking through the gallery because enough time has passed that these artists have shifted from being my contemporaries - artists I saw at receptions or felt intimidated by, was glad for, or maybe jealous of - to being a canon of sealed up history that now belongs to the world. 

    Because these artists have risen like cream among us, we are also a part of it. So visit this show, which will not travel anywhere else, in order to find your place in this unique history. 

    Saylor Jones

    Saylor Jones is a Pacific Northwest writer and illustrator. To view her work, visit "Creating the New Northwest: Selections from the Herb and Lucy Pruzan Collection" is on view through October 6, at the Tacoma Art Museum located at 1701 Pacific Avenue in Tacoma, Washington. Museum hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. and Third Thursdays from 10 A.M. to 8 P.M. For more information visit the website
  • Thursday, April 04, 2013 10:20 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)
  • Thursday, April 04, 2013 10:10 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)
    I don't know how much longer I can live in a condo. Seriously. I'm looking at houses again.

    And there is this one house. The first time I parked in front of it, I was more than a little taken with it.

    The second time I parked a block away. I wanted to stroll up to the house more slowly, view it as a passerby would, rather than a woman in love. And I began to think about it not only as a more spacious way of living, but as a reflection of my inner life. I long for a house again the way some women long for children.

    Perhaps I peered in too closely, interpreted the house as a mirror more than I should have, but, suddenly, it was as if no other house would do.

    I rely on this feeling, this sense that something is precisely right, the way others rely on tools that are specific, like, oh, I don't know, an omelet pan when an ordinary frying pan won't do.

    By the third visit, I'd read all the information I could find at the library about affordable restoration of a frilly old Mini-Victorian, considered a little shabby, even kitschy, by some of the neighbors.

    But their houses are more, well, the word "established" comes to mind. It's the kind of neighborhood where a house may boast a few clay flower pots leading up the front steps or a hot tub off the back, but, by and large, they are basically all the same house. And in such reserved company, "my" house must prevail on her own, head held high.

    Not to say the house isn’t admired, she is, just not readily accepted as a "local."

    "Whatever that word means by now," said my librarian, handing over another book.

    "It's hard not to think about how much work owning a house will be again," I told her.

    "How can you not think of it?"

    "My husband is trying to talk me out of it BIG time," I said.

    "Of course he is. Larry is a sensible man."

    For the rest of the day, I thought about what she said.

    And I thought about how my conversations with her had begun years ago, in a low register at the counter of the library, how she would always give me a little gift of knowledge to take home along with my books.

    The friendship we developed never went beyond the walls of the Carnegie, but it was continually a lesson it how much easier it is to be yourself when you don’t feel yourself trying, how much better we get at being ourselves in certain company. I have her to thank for that.

    My earliest memory of adoring her was the day I overheard her tell a particularly ornery man who spent his afternoons in the library to stop pestering unsuspecting walk-ins with his political views. Obama was up for his first election and tempers were flaring even at the library. "I don’t care," she said in a loud whisper, "if you are a Democrat or a Republican, old age is not an excuse to be rude."

    Who knows if we would have become better friends if we were closer in age, or lived next door to each other, or if I wasn’t so preoccupied with work, with other friendships, with life?

    But it felt like an honor, a miracle-of-an-honor, to chance upon my librarian admonishing a man close to ninety, like seeing a flower open. It hardly matters when we came to trust each other.

    All that matters is that, in the end, there she is, an easy friend. So wise. So right.


    Sanelli's latest book is Among Friends. She'll be presenting her staged version of The Immigrant's Table at Nash's Organic Farm in Sequim, Washington on April 20th. For more information,
  • Sunday, March 10, 2013 2:43 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Patricia Rovzar, whose gallery has been representing Lyle Silver since 1997, recalls meeting the artist: "When he first came to me for representation he was skillfully immersed in working as a courtroom artist. He was getting out of that mode and wanted to focus on his fine art. Since I have been representing him he has gone from making pretty straightforward landscapes to those that are a lot more gestural and less refined, less confined by the landscape itself." 

    Lyle Silver does make the world seem fresh. 

    For instance, in an oil bar on board painting entitled "5th Street Alley in Winter," cobalt and turquoise blues churn atop snow while a structure beyond could be mistaken for a quilt built of colors. The painting has an intimacy-in-public feel of a Charles Burchfield, a sense that you are waking from a deep sleep to find this scene materialize before your eyes. 

    Using traditional subject matter has allowed viewers to trust Silver enough to fall completely into his abstract visions. In his most loose renderings of figures, land and cityscapes marigold yellows, persimmon reds, lavenders, bottle greens, deep browns, and coldblue pigments hover in streaks and daubs like space aliens attempting to spell out to their home planet what Earth has in store. 

    Rovzar says, she is "not calling this exhibit a retrospective because we are not going all the way back sixty years. Instead I am calling it 'A Life in Art.'" 

    The title aptly describes what Silver's life has been.

    The artist had a studio loft in downtown Seattle for 25 years where he and his wife Lois, also a painter, hosted weekly drawing sessions for artists. They lived there and were fully immersed in the art community. When that building came down he and Lois moved into a big house where they were able to have both of their studios – yet, they continued hosting life drawing sessions in the basement of Art Not Terminal Gallery for another thirteen years, a location just around the corner from their former loft space.

    Of all the married Seattle-artist couples, Lyle and Lois Silver's works appear the most similar. Rovzar believes it is partly because of having studios in the same house. "His wife is an integral part of his process," says Rovzar, "and he with her. They are each others' critics. They work separately but together in their studio spaces and so are able to draw on each other for artistic nutrition. It's kind of an interesting balance - they both work with oil bar and they both have developed different techniques in terms of how they use oil bar. And every once in awhile they influence each other to the point that you're wondering, "Is that Lois Silver or Lyle Silver’?"

    Silver got into using oil bars during his courtroom drawing days - a profession that his wife still partakes of. "We got into oil bars because they are pretty easy to pick up," says the artist; "If you had to go to the courtroom they were pretty handy."

    The exhibit offers 25 or so sketches, drawings and paintings that represent a wide scope of the artist's oeuvre, including the large landscapes depicting rural areas in Washington state. When asked about the locations, Silver said, "I've gone all over. Skagit Valley, Cle Elum, and the Willamette Valley. You know, anywhere is okay." On Gage Academy of Fine Art's website Silver is quoted as saying, "Getting into the mountains from the city is always awe inspiring; I never get tired of it."

    These landscapes are often seen from the point of view of the driver or passenger of a car; the road is out ahead or a guard rail peeks from a composition's corner. They also show visual echoes of one of Silver's influences, landscape painter Wolf Kahn.

    It is fantastic when an artist lives long enough to loosen all the way up. Sometimes this looseness results from a physical challenge such as Edgar Degas' blindness or Auguste Renoir's paintbrush tied to his arthritic hand. Yet, for some artists this freedom is due to mental release, like in the case of Lyle Silver. 

    Says Rovzar, "I think what happens [with age] is that you care less about selling the artwork as opposed to creating it. You come full circle. I think that in Lyle's heart of hearts the looser was always the better. I think he was always that way. But I think he felt that in order to make a living at this and become a commercial success he had to paint what he thought people would embrace and he didn't think that people would embrace the looseness of his larger pieces. He found out that was untrue in the end."

    When asked if he had any advice for young artists, Silver replied, "Be focused. If you want to be an artist you need to focus. Keep working. Keep associating with other artists. And keep looking, keep looking."

    Young artists, take heed. 

    Saylor Jones

    Saylor Jones is a Northwest illustrator and writer. To view her work, visit

    "Lyle Silver: 60 Years in Art" is on view January 3 through February 5 at Patricia Rovzar Gallery, located at 1225 Second Avenue in Seattle, Washington. The opening reception is Thursday, January 3, from 6 to 8 P.M. For more information visit
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