A magical resonation
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
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. Although each artist’s medium and conception are vastly different, the works the gallery has chosen resonate magically together.
Both Blakesley and Faulkner have long been identified with Edison and the Skagit Valley. Blakesley is well known for his popular eatery, Tweets, and his gallery/store, Shop Curator. Faulkner is an Anacortes resident whose art recently earned her a place in the book 100 Artists of the Northwest.
Visitors are met at the entrance by an assembly of wood blocks studded with cut nails—Blakesley’s “Portals.” Subtle angles of the salvaged wood align in a satisfying way. The scars of past uses under the white paint convey a sense of endurance and the drilled holes might be welcoming eyes. You’re in the presence of a master designer.
Several more constructions are upside-down baskets armored with hard plaster. Their names, “Hunger Lodge” and “Crystal Skeep” (Dutch for “ship”), imply shelter, perhaps from some distant past. They are bleak refuges, armed with spines and shards to protect shadowy interiors. The feeling of loss and isolation continues in a nearby gouache drawing of a writhing tree trunk with amputated limbs.
Blakesley’s “Head Forms” are at once whimsical and menacing. Nails, again, pounded into salvaged hat-makers’ forms, as if a row of hedgehogs had punk haircuts. You may chuckle, but the sharp edges of the nails give an undertone of violence.
Above them flies “Hour Town,” an expansive drawing suggesting a futurist city. Its tan and white harmonize with the sculptures, but this vision of geometric dwellings filled with angles of pure light shifts the mood to one of peace and harmony.
Set off against these abstractions are Faulkner’s realist meditations on nature. Her touchstone piece is “Under Story,” a dreamlike forest of moss tendrils, ferns alive and decayed, dead branches and leafy ones, all shrouded in mist, happily brightening in the distance. The scene is painstakingly constructed from thousands of overlapping strokes of multicolored oil pastel.
Faulkner can document nature with clinical exactness and great beauty, as in her “Horse Tails.” She’s equally open to abstract possibilities: “The Afternoon Breeze” is a zany capture of a wind-driven tree channeling modernist sculpture.
And then there is her “Evidence,” the namesake work of the exhibit. Evidence of what? Not a mushroom or slime mold. Let’s just say Faulkner is able to contemplate and portray beauty even in the transformation of all organic matter from one form into another.
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…
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…
Logan McQuaig goes solo
Among the eye-catching paintings Logan McQuaig will be debuting at his upcoming “Creative Control” exhibit are a stern buffalo with a bird on its shoulder and a gun held between its hooves (“Stand Your Ground”); a hapless guy munching on a McDonald’s Big Mac while a nuclear bomb lights up…