Friday, July 10, 2015

Southwest Washington Juried Exhibition at SPSCC

Photo: “Jungle Crossing” acrylic on wood, by Bernie Bleha. Photo courtesy South Puget Sound Community College

Published in the Weekly Volcano July 9, 2015
"Jungle Crossing," painted wood construction by Bernie Bleha. Photo courtesy
South Puget Sound Community College
The Southwest Washington Juried Exhibition at South Puget Sound Community College is better than your average juried exhibition. It’s such a stellar collection of regional artists that I should be able to list the names and leave it at that, and readers would rush to see it.
There are a lot of artists whose work I know well, such as Tom Anderson, Susan Christian, Evan Clayton Horback, Hart James, Becky Knold, Barlow Palminteri and Gail Ramsey Wharton — all of whom I’ve reviewed before — and some I’m not familiar with, such as Bernie Bleha and Eric Sandgren whose work I’ve not seen before, but whose pieces in this show I like a lot.
Sandgren’s cleverly titled acrylic landscape “Raven and Cranes” is a waterfront scene with cranes in the foreground (the type that unloads boats, not the birds). Seen across the water are amorphous and mist-shrouded buildings on the farther shore and a sky with swirling clouds like a daylight version of van Gogh’s “Starry Night” but in soft tones of yellow and violet. It is a beautiful image, but try as you might, I’ll bet you can’t find the raven.
Bleha’s “Jungle Crossing” is a small free-standing sculpture with sensuous frond-like shapes that, on one side, have faces on them — almost hidden pop-surrealist faces that remind me a lot of faces seen in paintings by Nathan Barnes, who runs the gallery at SPSCC (coincidence, or is he influenced by Barnes?). Conceptually Bleha’s piece is a painting even though it is three-dimensional and designed to be seen from two sides, but not from all around. The colors are highly saturated and fiery.
Christian is showing two of her wall hanging pieces made from painted scrap lumber. These are works I reviewed when she showed them at Batdorf & Bronson in April. If you missed that show, I urge you to take this opportunity to see these works at SPSCC.
Nancy Thorne-Chambers is represented by a single figure from her life-sized ceramic diorama, “A Story Place,” which was installed in the former Matter Gallery before they went out of business. The full installation is magical. I hope she gets opportunities to show it in other venues. The single figure of a sporty hare shown here is also delightful, but nothing compared to the full installation.
Also enjoyable are two nice landscapes by Mary McCann and a mixed-media abstract painting by Mia Shulte called “Looking Out,” which has rich colors and an excellent use of shallow space.
Barlow Palminteri’s “Console” is densely packed with realistic images and patterns.
Knold’s “Night Comes” is moodier and more ominous than many of her paintings, and
Horback’s mixed-media and acrylic painting “Subhadra” hangs just inside the door as an excellent welcoming image.
This is a show featuring the best of the best of mostly Olympia artists. There will be an opening reception with artist talks tonight, Thursday, July 9 from 6-8 p.m.
[Southwest Washington Juried Exhibition, South Puget Sound Community College, Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts Gallery, Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m. and by appointment, through Aug. 26, 2011 Mottman Rd. SW. Olympia, 360.596.5527.]

No comments: