The Weekly Volcano, Dec. 26, 2013
|"Cloud Form Number 1, September 1998" by Mary Randlett.|
If we can trust the evidence of the past three months, Salon Refu in Olympia is now one of the best art galleries between Seattle and Portland. And Mary Randlett is the most celebrated photographer in the Pacific Northwest.
Recognized as an outstanding landscape photographer and celebrated for her marvelous sensitivity to the unique Northwest light, Randlett is one of the few surviving members of the Northwest School; she has shot portraits of all the great artists from Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan and Guy Anderson to Mike Spafford, and has been represented in some of the best museums.
Now a large selection on her landscape photographs is on display at Salon Refu — black and white photos that show an unerring eye for light and the subtleties of gray tone and the ability to capture the perfect moment: when the sun lines up with a silhouetted tree or rock or when a shadow highlights a fish in shallow water.
Artist and friend Jeffree Stewart wrote of her photographs, “They’re quiet, like mist, revealing light that moves over waters dark as ink.”
In looking at her pictures at Salon Refu I noticed that she has a particular penchant for finding the single, isolated image like a tree on top of a cliff with nothing else around. If we were to step back for a wider view we may see many other trees, but in her photo that one tree stands alone in quiet beauty.
You see it in the single dark log lying across ripples of water in “Shoalwater Bay” or in an untitled photo from July1999 with the aforementioned single naked tree standing on top of a ridge on Mount Rainier where a snow plow has recently pass through, or in a fish on its side underwater framed by shadows of trees on the bank in a photographed titled “Spawned Out Humpy.” The fish looks dead and ghost-like.
In “Teal Slough Esturary” small islands of mud in shallow water look like alligators.
“Lunar Halo” presents a dramatic picture of a halo around the moon behind a tree on the horizon — another example of her ability to find the single image isolated in a larger landscape.
These are but a handful of the many outstanding photographs in this show
[Salon Refu, Thursday-Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. through Jan. 5, 114 N. Capitol Way, Olympia, 360-280-3540.]