A seasonal sojourn on Camano Island
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Everyone enjoys a seasonal sojourn to the Matzke Fine Art Gallery & Sculpture Park on Camano Island. On the 10-acre grounds, it’s possible to peruse more than 100 sculptures by the best American and international artists. There’s plenty of room for children to play and families to picnic.
Within the 3,000-square-foot gallery, Karla Matzke has tastefully curated each large room with sculptures on pedestals, surrounded by brilliant paintings.
In the current “Summer Moments” exhibit, Ann Martin McCool’s abstractions play off nicely against Peter Kuentzel’s whimsical ceramic boats. Her “Memory Moon” spins with textures of ferns and dancing figures, which merge into soft, blended hues of sunset and ice-blue. Influences of Paul Klee, Kandinsky, and Georgia O’Keefe show strongly in her work, along with references to her beloved Northwest landscape. McCool never runs out of fresh ideas, expressed in her recognizable style.
A center point is Richard Hestekind’s “Chrysalis II”— a commanding carving in fuchsite, known as the “healer’s stone” for its power to bring happiness, laughter and joy. Its rough, rusty natural surface contrasts dramatically with the polished jade-green and white interior. Despite its large size, it is intended to be housed out of the weather, as the material is not waterproof.
Hestekind grew up in Japan and has remained imbued with a Zen sensibility to life and art, enhanced by training under sculptor George Tsutakawa at the University of Washington. He creates in the hope his art can enrich our spiritual life.
In the central gallery, visitors will find that the mantle of “Northwest mystic” painter has fallen upon Todd Horton’s shoulders. He enjoyed a year-long residency in Clayton James’ studio, and recalls his first impression of it as “shockingly minimal for being used as for 60 years…like a Zen lumberjack and devotee of wabi sabi [had been] living in the space.”
Under James’ aura, Horton imbibed the deep spirit of the Skagit. An intimate essay on his experience is available to read. And his new landscape paintings exhibit strength and majesty. “On the Shores of the Salish” appears to be an encomium to James in its resemblance to the iconic painter’s “Geologic Menhirs” (1997), while displaying the characteristic color modulation of Horton’s best work.
The pieces harmonize perfectly with Jan Hoy’s sculptures in bronze, clay and steel, each one a fresh take on shape and material. “Cardinal Connection” is a fascinating giant bowl neatly severed and stacked. Cast in bronze from the original clay model, it beckoned me to tap it lightly to feel and hear the musical resonance.
Sharon Kingston’s popular “atmospheric” oil paintings surround the remaining space. The Bellingham-based artist’s canvases bloom with subtle gradations of tone, endlessly entertaining to the eye and restful to the soul.
“Evening Poem” is inspired by “that caressing moment” when the hills embrace the clouds—fulfilling Kingston’s wish that “rubbing pigment on canvas can create spaces that translate emotion, memory and thought.”
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