Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wish you were here

The postcard show

"Wish You Were Here" at the Minnaert Center

This untitled piece by Gail Ramsey Wharton is part of the "Wish You Were Here" exhibit.

There are a lot of artist-made postcards in the Wish You Were Here postcard exhibit at the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts Gallery at South Puget Sound Community College. More than 75 local and regional artists submitted more than 250 works. Sorry, I didn't count how many made the cut, but there are a lot of them and they run the gamut, from sweet and sentimental to corny, wise, clever, beautiful, stupid and amateurish. The postcards include paintings, prints, photography, drawing, ceramics, sculpture and mixed media. (There are no wall labels to indicate media, so if I say it's a watercolor or a photo-collage or whatever, that's my best guess.)

A few of the postcards in this show are clichéd, and there are some that are badly done; but for the most part the works are very inventive and skillfully executed. Since there are so many, I'll just mention a few of my favorites to give you a taste of what to expect.

Steven Suski brings back the '60s with a series of brightly colored photo collages, some with images viewers will recognize from famous album covers (such as the Hair cast album), and some with recognizable rock icons like Ringo Starr and George Harrison. These cards are dynamic and expressive.
Patricia McLain has done cards with images of Olympia scenes that are dark as night with brightly colored contours that glow like neon. Very beautiful. I suspect they are night photos manipulated with a computer. My paint program has a similar effect that can be done with the click of the mouse, but being that simple doesn't lessen the effect.

Frank Frazee has done a number of collages and drawings on brown cardboard with a strong graphic appeal. I particular like the one with the cartoon rabbit saying "Wish You Were Hare," and the very sensitive drawing of a moody woman resting her chin on her hand.

Linda Eitel has some very nice works with drawing and collage. One of the strongest images in the show is one of hers that shows a cut-out image of a face with huge, green cat eyes hovering in a bright blue sky over a desert scene. And I really like another one of Eitel's that pictures a frantic little man with a bright orange shirt standing amidst a bunch of socks scattered on the floor, perhaps desperately searching for a mated pair.

Some of the most inventive cards in the show are by Gail Ramsey Wharton, most of which include clever plays on the "Wish You Were Here" theme - many of the artists in this show use variations of those words on their cards. Wharton's include one with a reference to the Occupy Olympia movement and another bizarre little image of the old hangman's spelling game.

Amanda Miller has one very stylish card with a two figures, one a featureless silhouette and the other a simple outline in white on a textured background, and a nicely executed studio nude in what looks like graphite.

I like Robin Ewing's face with a cat, a line drawing with simple washes of flat color. It looks like possibly a silk-screen print.

Jane Stone has a group of painted and scratched images on clay stone that look like archeological finds from Egypt. Very nicely done.

Finally, I really like Karen LaGrave's painted photo collages. I particularly like the heavy impasto look of her brushstrokes, which is highly exaggerated due to scale and contrast with the glossy-print photographic images. My favorite of hers is a yellow house with a blue van parked in front.

There will be a special opening reception Friday, Jan. 20 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The opening reception kicks off the six-week silent auction, with all proceeds from benefiting the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts Gallery. A "People's Choice" award will also be announced at the closing reception.

Wish You Were Here

Through March 2, noon-4 p.m., and by appointment
South Puget Sound Community College
2011 Mottman Rd. SW, Olympia

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