Visual

Alien Alphabet

A WoodFish state of mind

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Randy Clark is standing in the middle of his colorful home gallery in Bellingham’s Sunnyland neighborhood when he holds up a photograph of his longtime friend and fellow artist, Tom Wood. In the picture, Wood is standing outside under a summer-blue Pacific Northwest sky. He’s wearing sunglasses and a hat.

“This is the one I’m using to help paint your portrait,” says Clark—also known as FishBoy—to Wood. “It’s gonna be a lot of fun. Your hair’s going to be green, if you don’t mind.”

“I’ll loan you the color,” Wood says.

“I have my own colors,” Clark responds.

“I was going to loan you your own colors,” Wood answers without skipping a beat.

“And then you’ll charge me for them. I’ll get billed!” Clark adds with a flourish, before reassuring everyone else in the room that they’re not fighting. This spirited back-and-forth, he says, is just how they work.

In the course of the next two hours, I’d discover Clark wasn’t joking. And, although I didn’t see them paint together, watching the duo in conversational action as they described what led them to collaborate on their upcoming “Alien Alphabet” exhibit opening Feb. 17 at the Lucia Douglas Gallery made it clear that, even though they’re completely different artists, in many ways they’re on the same creative wavelength.

The short story of how a craft-oriented oil painter who tends to take his time when focusing on landscapes and etchings (Wood) joined up with a fast-and-furious folk artist who mainly paints with acrylics on recycled wood (Clark) is that, in 2008, they collaborated on a series of cut-outs Clark called “18 Heads” and Wood called “Psycho Killers.”

Not long after, they were in the FishBoy studio and worked together to come up with a piece called “Red River.” In it, a man is wearing a big black raven like a backpack. It’s weird, and it’s also quite wonderful.

Looking back, that may have been when their shared entity, WoodFish, was born. If the extra personality wasn’t fully formed then, the past few months of working on the 40-plus pieces for “Alien Alphabet” cemented the collaborative aspect of their 20-year friendship, and saw both artists working outside their typical parameters to come up with shared visions.

While they weren’t standing side by side for each and every painting, each work was made collaboratively, and both artists had the authority to nix what they thought wasn’t working. In some cases, one would arrive to work on a painting that had been started to find out that it had completely changed overnight.

“Once in a while, I’d paint something out and he’d be like, ‘Way to ruin my painting.’ And I’d say, ‘Yeah, man, I did,’” Wood says. “There were times I was attached to something, and I came back and it was all blacked out. Mostly it was an improvement.”

“In that sense, we’re like an old married couple,” Clark says. “It’s like, ‘I trust you to do the right thing, baby.’”

After getting a sneak peek at a number of the paintings for the show, I can happily report that WoodFish is one creative fella. The works are not instantly recognizable as either FishBoy or Tom Wood paintings and etchings, but instead are an amalgamation of the two (the one caveat being that they were mostly painted with Clark’s fast-drying acrylics instead of Wood’s slow-drying oil paint). There are icons galore, animals doing things they normally don’t, men riding fish and so much more.

“We got to know each other through artwork,” Clark says. “And by having a chance to do it together, we’ve both grown, and we’ve both really enjoyed it. It’s been a pretty amazing process, even though sometimes I’m crazy and sometimes he’s sometimes a train wreck. Am I right, Tom?”

“You’re right,” Wood says with a smile.

BTown
More Visual...
Sew Excited
A time for textiles

Ever since I attempted to make a flannel nightgown as part of a home economics class in junior high school, I’ve been in awe of people who can sew.

While my finished frock looked like something someone in a mental institution might wear instead of a straitjacket—one arm was…

more »
Evidence
A magical resonation

In “Evidence,” the current show at Smith & Vallee Gallery, two exceptional artists give us their views—David Blakesley, of a world that might have been or what it might become, and Kathleen Faulkner, images of the forest, examined close-up and transformed by the creator’s eye.…

more »
Native Son
The life and art of James T. Pickett

Pencils and paper were scarce commodities on the remote Mason County homestead where James Tilton Pickett grew up, but that didn’t stop him from drawing.

Instead of filling sketchbooks and stretched canvasses, he committed his lines to a variety of repurposed barnyard materials. Charcoal…

more »
Events
Today
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Lynden Farmers Market

12:00pm|Front Street

Together for Peace

6:00pm|Majestic

Stream Tour

6:00pm|Whatcom Creek

Day of Peace observes those displaced by war

6:00pm

Trash Talk

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Travel Talk

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Balkan Folk Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Chuckanut Radio Hour with Nancy Pearl

7:00pm|Village Books

Authentic Illusionist Jay Ownehouse

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

The Addams Family Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

2020 Solutions Sept 2017
Tomorrow
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

The Addams Family Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Whatcom Falls Park

Ferndale Farmers Market

3:00pm|Centennial Riverwalk Park

Foof Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Farm Tunes

6:00pm|BelleWood Acres

Oktoberfest Cruises

6:30pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

The Last Outrageous Women

7:00pm|Village Books

7-Day Dance Festival Finale

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Forever Plaid

7:30pm|Conway Muse

The Mousetrap

7:30pm| Bellingham Theatre Guild

Friday Night Flicks

7:30pm|Van Zandt Community Hall

Figmentally, Circus for All

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Welcome Back Students Shows

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Bellingham Farmer’s Market Village Books
Saturday
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

The Addams Family Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Oktoberfest Cruises

6:30pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Forever Plaid

7:30pm|Conway Muse

The Mousetrap

7:30pm| Bellingham Theatre Guild

Welcome Back Students Shows

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Figmentally, Circus for All

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

South Whatcom Birding Walks

8:00am|South Whatcom Library

Harvest Happens

8:00am|Bellewood Acres

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Hall

Southside Rummage Sale

8:30am| Our Saviour's Lutheran Church

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Mount Vernon Farmers Market

9:00am|Riverfront Plaza

Make It and Take it

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Twin Sisters Farmers Market

9:00am|North Fork Library, Nugents Corner

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|H Street Plaza

Little Mountain Trail 10K

10:00am|Carpenter Creek Winery

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Salmon Sighting

10:00am|Thompson Creek Bridge

Pesto Perfecto

11:00am|Ferndale Library

Council of the Animals

11:00am|Boulevard Park

Trial Vineyard Open House

12:00pm|Cloud Mountain Farm Center

Sedro-Woolley Brewfest

2:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

The Art of Living

3:00pm|Deming Library

River Walk

3:00pm| Horseshoe Bend Trailhead.

Nooksack River Walk

3:00pm|Horseshoe Bend Trailhead

Kulshan CLT Community Party

5:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Democrats Dinner

5:30pm| Silver Reef Hotel Casino Spa

BowEdison Anniversary Party

5:30pm|BowEdison

Fall Demo Derby

6:30pm|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Moment

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Salsa Night

9:30pm|Cafe Rumba

see our complete calendar »

2020 Solutions Sept 2017 MBT Janis Joplin Bellingham Farmer’s Market Village Books BOB_2017 Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove