McCool and Friends

Creating worlds with art

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

From childhood, Anne Martin McCool found comfort and self-expression in art. Early influences, by creative masters such as Paul Klee, Kandinsky, and Georgia O’Keefe, still show strongly in her work.  She admits to using “symbols” of her beloved Northwest landscape, but it’s the spirit of the paint that dominates in these abstractions. 

On a recent visit, McCool’s attractive gallery on a choice block in downtown Anacortes was shared between her paintings, some by Cathy Schoenberg, and the fabric wall art of Louise Harris. Each employs a congenial palette of warm reds and orange, cool blues and greens.

McCool’s painting “Color Wall,” inspired by a visit to Egypt, suggests a ghostly minaret emerging from an Oriental carpet. It is flanked by two Harris panels: “Double Vision” and “On the Roads Again.” Together, the three make a welcome centerpiece to the show.

Several other large McCool canvases command attention. Her recent “Spring Opening” dominates the north wall. Dashes of pure red enliven dominant, transparent greens and blues. A few wrinkles of texture don’t frame the colors, but have a rationale of their own. Her smooth brushstrokes blend one color imperceptibly into the next.  This is a beautiful canvas, which provides continual interest.

In “Villa Windows,” five muted columns ascend into an azure sky set with moons the color of oranges; they are energizing but peaceful. In “Journey,” the eye is drawn to a pale, vanishing human figure floating into the distance above a dawn horizon, leaving behind hills—or temples—and a single, green leaf. 

McCool’s style is strong and her vision consistent. Her paintings are decorative, but not merely so. There’s much to delight the eye and to wonder about without taxing the mind—as if Kandinsky had returned just to make everybody happy.

Louise Harris has sewn since she was in high school and quilted for 20 years. Traveling to exotic locales where she saw colorful costumes gave her a love for “primitive” materials. She soon abandoned patterns to cut and sew freehand. She dyes much of the cotton fabric herself, works the surface by stamping, tye-dyeing in shibori technique, or incorporating photo transfer. She sews smaller pieces of contrasting colors together and quilts them into fascinating mosaics. 

In Harris’ “Garden 2050,” brilliant red and orange forms support twisting violet and green as if they are branches, reaching upward toward the light. “Double Vision” is a complex geometry of right angles and rectangles stitched and pieced together. The very striking “Forest Medley” features fern leaves bleached in reversed color as the centerpiece of other, harmonious (commercially obtained) prints. 

Cathy Schoenberg, a Guemes Island resident, is known for her impressionist portraits of dreamy-looking women in tropical settings.  She places them within a flattened space, wrapped in foliage or resting upon tiles. Many of her small pieces—“Monday, Tuesday,” “Lupe,” and “Step Back”—will be found tucked away in the back of the gallery. The women portrayed—or the same young woman, sometimes with a cat—appear to be deeply absorbed in their environment. Is Schoenberg riffing on Gauguin? 

In any case, once you have studied those works at Anne Martin McCool gallery, you can seek out more, out of doors, displayed in the alley north of Pine Square in Mount Vernon.

Skagit-Stack the Deck
More Visual...
River's Edge
Seasonal sights in Mount Vernon

The River Gallery on Landing Road near the lower Skagit River, once a commercial greenhouse, is a natural home for art. The light is perfect and it’s roomy enough to show off works by 38 artists—more than most museums.  I always look forward to the harmony and balance of the exhibition…

more »
Studio Stats
An abundance of art

As the Whatcom Artist Studio Tour has grown near, organizers of the event that sees dozens of area artists opening their creative spaces for public perusal for two weekends every October have been highlighting on their Facebook page the various painters, sculptors, journal-makers, jewelers,…

more »
Stitching Stories
Twenty years of fiber art

The classy Gaches Mansion atop the hill in La Conner has a new name, but it’s the same institution. Now known as the Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Arts Museum, it continues to host exhibitions of the best fiber art in the northwest—and Oct. 6-8, will celebrate two decades of…

more »
Nature's Gym Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Mediterranean feast

6:30pm|Gretchen's Kitchen

Sasquatch Stories

6:30pm|Mount Vernon City Library

Books on Tap

7:00pm|North Fork Brewery

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Comedy Open Mic


Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
MVHS Fall Concert

4:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Book Group Mixers

5:30pm|Village Books

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Seasonal Beers

6:30pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

Life of the Arctic Polar Bear

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Creekside Open Mic

6:30pm|South Whatcom Library

Anyone for Stew?

6:30pm|Gretchen's Kitchen

Birds and Plants

7:00pm|RE Store

Jeremy Kahn Quartet

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Thriving in the Middle

7:00pm|Village Books

Scottish Dancing

7:30pm|Fairhaven Library

CWWarrenMiller Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Book Group Mixers

5:30pm|Village Books

Fall Craft & Antique Show

10:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

U.S. Citizenship Class

6:00pm|Lynden Library

The Women of Lockerbie

7:00pm|Lynden Christian High School


7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Balkan Folk Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Summer Bike Stories

7:00pm|Cafe Velo

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Mt. Baker Theatre Undersea Bubble Trove Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books CWWarrenMiller Bellingham Farmer’s Market